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Through the Grapevine: Your personal Moulin Rouge

Wine Review: The Crossings 2013 pinot noir

Rating: A

Good friends may bake you a cake for your birthday. Great friends give wine.

Such was the latter this past week, after my birthday on Nov. 15, when a dear friend graciously handed me a bottle of The Crossings 2013 pinot noir.

And, after imbibing in one, two, maybe three glasses, I can’t think of a wine better suited for those nights when I want to just throw on a bathrobe, light a few of my musky Bath & Body Works “man” candles and watch reruns of “Will & Grace.” With this bottle by my side, I don’t need any company. There is only one word to describe this wine: sexy.

As any good pinot noir should be described, really. Pinot noirs stand out from other reds for their lack of boldness, for their deeply-rounded, earthen flavors, softer tannins and complexity. This is a wine that should not taste like grapes, nor should it have any reminiscence of grape juice.

Thankfully, for both the sake of my own pretentiousness and the sake of my friend’s feelings, this wine was spot-on.

The winemaker, New Zealand-based The Crossings, state their vineyards in the Awatere Valley produce wines with “heightened aromatics, intense varietal character and vibrant acidity.”

Turning off the cap, those heightened aromatics immediately came to the forefront. At first whiff, a rich fig aroma became dominant, with undertones of spring rose and other florals. This may be a stark contrast from what the winemaker lists — black plums and violets — but is in essence very much the same.

When this velvety vino is poured into a glass, the aromas come alive. It is as if they dance a can-can through air, kicking their legs in careful tempo to the music, which has just begun to play in the inner-workings of your anxious mind. This, I imagine, is what it smells like to be in Paris in spring.

The color of this wine screams intimacy. A deep red with chocolate undertones, one wonders if it has been lifted straight out of Baz Luhrmann’s “Moulin Rouge!” It is from where the can-can originates, after all.

The dance crescendos at the first sip, when rich, luxurious notes of plum and cranberry bounce on the palate in tandem, spicy clove dances backup, subtle tannins entertain and a buttery complexion prepares the stage for the main attraction. And, while nothing can quite compare to Nicole Kidman’s role as Satine in Luhrmann’s 2001 film, a bright pop of grapefruit takes the starring role in this pinot noir. Not only does this citrusy note steal the show, it delivers one hell of an encore.

Per the winemaker, “On the palate, ripe berry fruit flavours combine with savoury notes in a delicious, elegant and approachable wine.”

And approachable this wine is. I can see myself, with confidence, walking up to this wine in a bar and handing it my number. Unfortunately, we likely won’t have the most meaningful of conversation. The only criticism of this wine is, in fact, its approachability. While certainly complex, the wine lacks a strong earthiness that would resonate with the namesake grape — ”pinot” is French for pine, and the grape bunches resemble pinecones — and would have nicely rounded out the flavor.

But I suppose no one goes to a bar looking for depth or complexity. No, we look for the one dancing in the forefront, the one with the biggest of grins and the least shame. I don’t need to go over the finer details of the Magna Carta; I want to dance. In this case, this wine nails it.

I don’t personally see the value of eating anything with this wine — it is its own meal, in my opinion — but if I wanted to nibble, I could really choose anything. Go for a tomato-based pasta dish or a tender, braised pork chop. I would stick to something more on the side of hors-d’oeuvres or an amuse-bouche; the best pairing would be a charcuterie platter and a chunk of good, crusty bread.

But I think I’ll pair it with a quiet night spent inside, with my feet up and a compilation of Chopin’s greatest works playing on loop. After all, this is the wine for which Titus Andromedus, the character from Tina Fey’s “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” named his song, “Pinot Noir,” in which he (in)famously rhymed pinot noir with “boudoir.”

It’s a match made in Heaven.

With this wine, you can take center stage at your own personal Moulin Rouge. This is the wine I purchase when I need a good boost of self confidence, when I’m lonely but don’t feel like interacting with people or when when I want to go on a date, but only with myself.

“Pinot noir, au revoir.”


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