Sprezzatura! An Italian word, coined by Baldassare Castiglione in the 16th Century to describe the attitude and style the ideal attendant to the court should have. Castiglione describes it as “a certain nonchalance, so as to conceal all art and make whatever one does or says appear to be without effort and almost without any thought about it”. In other words—total mastery felt deep in the bones. It is, in part, what we admire in any performance.
Milla’s Blend has it in spades. A fascinating blend of 57% Syrah, 22% Counoise, 14% Pinot Noir, and 7% Marsanne, this is as elegant as Syrah gets thanks to its blending partners and a deft hand with the oak.
Lovely charred cedar with soft vanilla overtones introduces the nose displaced by black cherry and black pepper as the wine aerates. The fruit is rich but there is no hint of jam and nuances of eucalyptus keep vying for more attention. The evolution from secondary to primary flavors is surprising and interesting. The 33% new French oak (18 months) is just enough to get your attention without seeming woody or smoky.
The complexity unfolds over time in the continual play of oak, fruit, and spice on the palate that keeps you absorbed from first whiff through the medium length finish.
Possessing a svelte, medium body with silky tannins playing a supporting role, this wine exudes charm, clarity and focus. There is plenty of alcohol (14.5%), acidity, and concentration but nothing big or noisy to distract from the overall impression of balance as befits the experienced courtier who knows what the court likes and sets the perfect tone for any occasion.
If balance and elegance turn you on, you will love this wine.
Olsen Ogden makes small-production wines in the Russian River Valley.
Good: Balance and elegance
Bad: Not a powerhouse
Distinctive: Evolution of fruit and secondary flavors on nose and palate.
Price: $35 A good value for a distinctive wine.