Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The River of Skulls: A Halloween Tradition, Since 2008

I've started a new, grown-up Halloween tradition.

I took a tasty journey down the River of Skulls, the latest special bottling from Twisted Oak. Yes, that's the label. See why it's perfect for Halloween?

The 2006 Twisted Oak River of Skulls is made from 90% Mourvedre and 10% Syrah. If you've found Mourvedre to be dusty and muddy in its flavors and texture, you clearly haven't tried this wine. This is a big red that's surprisingly light on its feet. It starts out with a bright ruby color. When you swirl it in the glass and then sip it, you will find it has a decadent, silky texture. I smelled cherry jam, cinnamon and baking spice--which gives it a very autumnal feeling. The flavors reminded me of cherry pie, allspice, and clove. Then I got a deliciously dark and smoky aftertaste that is in beautiful balance with all the fruit. But the best thing about this wine is the gorgeous, lip-smacking acidity. This is a wine with structure, and has the acidity that will make it age nicely over the next three to five years. If you can resist its considerable young charms right now, that is. Excellent QPR, even though it's a bit more than you might be used to spending on Mourvedre at around $35. But I can say without hesitation that it is also the best Mourvedre I've ever had, so it's well worth its price tag.

What to have with your River of Skulls? I tried a dish that is fast, and can reasonably fit a Halloween theme: a whole wheat spaghetti dish sauced with a lamb and cumin-spiked tomato version of the more traditional Spaghetti Bolognese. This pasta was robust, nutty, and aromatic--and therefore the perfect pairing for this bright, well-structured wine. The wine helped to keep the dusty cumin taste from getting to heavy, and the wine's acidity made it an ideal partner for the tomatoes. And Mourvedre and lamb is a match made in heaven. Try it when you get home from taking your kids trick-or-treating, or make a big batch and have your friends over for some River of Skulls and bowls of pasta to celebrate the night when witches and ghosts come out to frolic.

I received this bottle as a sample. If you want some, head over to the Twisted Oak website immediately and sign up for the allocation since there is limited availability due to the small number of cases produced. It will set you back between $28 (if you're in the Twisted Few wine club) and $35 a bottle (the regular price). As allocations go, this is a reasonable splurge. I'd suggest buying it in multiples now, while you can, so that you can have some this Halloween, and the next, and the next. I'm going to be really interested to see how this wine ages.

Why should the kids have all the fun? This is way better than a Twix bar. Trust me.

11 comments:

Joe Roberts, CSW said...

All that, and it's Lil' Dudette approved as well!

http://www.twitpic.com/awb3

cheers!

Loweeel said...

Dr. Debs, check your math :). It's 10% Syrah. Even the most extracted Turley PS isn't 110% :)

The Wine Brat said...

Great review! And I'll have my allocation in time for Halloween too ;-)

I found, after tasting this wine twice that it benefits from serious decanting & air time if you aren't going to hold.

My first taste was after it had been open all day, and my second was a new bottle at the winery. Both were wonderful, but the open bottle was softer & went better with dinner.

Cheers!

Dr. Debs said...

thanks, Loweel! Can you tell I'm NOT a mathematician??

Dale Cruse said...

You may have to change the name of your blog to Good Wine OVER $20!

Seriously though, I have a two-bottle allocation of this one as well. Some friends and I enjoyed a bottle a few weeks ago with steak. It was decadent! I'm saving the other bottle for a dress-up Halloween wine tasting. I'm sure it will rock!

Dr. Debs said...

Dale, I think GWU$20 is safe. I've only reviewed around 50 wines over $20 in 2 years--and that includes 2 visits to Pinot Days! :)

Lynn_in_Sac said...

You've captured the essence of what I taste in RoS too. The cherry pie, clove, juicy acidity... I'm in for a few more!

Aylin said...

Interesting..! Halloween has gone far beyond the traditions.

Sonadora said...

Loved the River of Skulls. Excellent review Debs, sorry for my tardy visit over here to comment. I signed up for more to pick up when I'm out in CA in a couple week, looking forward to squirreling it away and seeing how it develops over a couple years.

Dale Cruse said...

Dr. Debs, I finally published my review of this wine at: http://www.DrinksAreOnMe.net

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