Forlorn Hope Ost-Intrigen 2016
“St. Laurent: a dark-skinned, aromatic enigma filled with the swirling sights and sounds of a Medieval trading post on the frontier between old Europe and the Orient: strange beasts, exotic incense, wrought metal, redolent spices. A perfect combination of Pinot Noir + Syrah: bright fruit, spicy aromatics, medium-light tannins, with cured meat savory elements.”
I didn’t write that. But it sounded so good to me, that I just had to try a bottle. And much to my pleasure, this bottle was delicious.
So who wrote it?
Matthew Rorick of Forlorn Hope winery. Matthew graduated from UC Davis and worked through a diverse set of wineries around the world – some super prestigious, others dedicated to large-scale production. At each winery, he encountered a different philosophy of making wines. This led him eventually back to his native California and his own label.
Along the way, he also attempted to be a professional punk musician, a skateboard pro, as well as healer to an arrow shot miniature donkey named Hercurmer.
While I have not meant him, I am guessing through my research that what we have on our hands is a rebel with a cause – a winemaker who loves the unique mistfits, the longshots, the outsiders, the lost causes – and the unsung grapes abandoned as not having a chance in this world (hence the name of the winery).
Now I suppose all that philosophy, or lack of it, would mean nothing if the wine wasn’t tasty. But indeed, the wine is tasty. As you might guess, Forlorn Hope is a bit of a cult thing, and it usually sells out nationally. We just got a tiny allocation in and well, to follow in the footsteps of the winery, we thought we’d pursue a wine that has little to no chance to success – domestic Sant Laurent.
Saint Laurent’s claim to fame – if it has one – is being one of the major three of Austria’s black grape varieties (the other two being Zweigelt and Blaufrankisch). For a long time Saint Laurent was thought to be some sort of cross between Pinot Noir and Syrah, and when you smell it you’ll understand why. But it is actually a crossing of Pinot Noir and Savagnin, which makes it all the more obscure. In fact, obscure to the point that Ost-Intrigen, the “East Intrigue” is probably the only American Saint Laurent being produced today.
Again, this exercise in intellectual curiosity wouldn’t be worth your time if the wine wasn’t tasty. But it is. For those of you who love full-flavored reds at 11.19% alcohol (and there are many of you), here’s your new hot jam.
The description from the winery fits perfectly. Here it is in full:
“St. Laurent: a dark-skinned, aromatic enigma. Grown by Dale Ricci in his Carneros vineyard, the 2016 Ost-Intrigen is filled with the swirling sights and sounds of a Medieval trading post on the frontier between old Europe and the Orient: strange beasts, exotic incense, wrought metal, redolent spices. It carries the soul of Burgenland, but at its heart is distinctly Californian. St. Laurent can be described as a perfect combination of Pinot Noir + Syrah: bright fruit, spicy aromatics, medium-light tannins, with cured meat savory elements. 100% whole cluster fermented; aged in neutral barrique for 10 months.”
I’ll close – it’s fun to sell wines like this in Wisconsin. It’s even more fun to see wines like this even being made. I’m not sure which of those factors is the longest longshot but no matter; here’s a delicious wine for the drinking. Serve ever-so-slightly above cellar temperature in a Zalto Bordeaux glass with steak Diane, roasted mushrooms, and asparagus coated with crushed walnuts.