david girardI suppose it’s inevitable. When we think of pleasure we tend to think in terms of quantity. The more the better. Wines that give the most pleasure are big wines with more power,more body,  more flavor, more intensity, greater length. These are wines that get big scores; they stand out in a comparative tasting because they are easier to notice, they have impact, they announce themselves. You don’t have to think about them; you just drink and say wow!

Of course this is a big mistake. Pleasure doesn’t work that way. We get satiated. Too much of a good thing becomes tiresome and loses its ability to satisfy. A true life of pleasure is one that can take pleasure in small things, that is sensitive to finesse as well as power, delicacy as well as richness. So it is with wine. The more I drink the more delicacy and finesse matter. It’s a shame that our obsession with wine scores doesn’t capture this dimension well. How do you quantify finesse or delicacy? I have yet to figure that out; even my wine scores reflect a prejudice toward power and big flavor.

This is why I like to give recognition to wineries such as David Girard Vineyards in the Sierra Foothills. Their Rhone-style blends all strive for a light touch and restraint that is as satisfying in a wine as it is in a person. This is not to say their wines lack flavor. To the contrary, their wines are lush but they don’t sacrifice elegance to achieve power and they maintain acidity levels  so they complement a variety of foods.

The Coda Rouge is a blend of Grenache (50%), Mourvedre (26%), Syrah (17%) and Counoise (7%). The nose opens with the characteristic raspberry jam from the Grenache, but the Syrah provides enough warm spiciness, clove and vanilla, to keep the jam in the background, so hints of anise are allowed to show. The palate turns a bit darker, almost cola like, that leaves the mouth tingling from a burst of tangy acidity that carries through the medium-length finish.  A medium body wine with soft, delicate tannins, this is a lovely wine that will not knock your socks off—it will just satisfy in the way a Mozart sonata or a walk in the park can satisfy.

Score: 89/100

Price: $30