Friday night was sort of an impromptu tribute to the British. Broiled boneless ribeyes with a bleu cheese-butter-garlic-rum sauce, potato salad, and a viewing of Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World. And the wine? In honor of the great Winston Churchill, who drank enough of the stuff to float a whole feet of battleships, it had to be claret. And which claret did I choose? 2002 Francis Coppola Diamond Claret.
Claret presents an interesting riddle... In England, it was the name given to bottles of Bordeaux as a convenient bit of marketing deception. Yes folks, long before America was ridiculed for "freedom fries", the landed gentry of Merry Olde England were referring to the wines of France's premier region as "claret", a harsh word that begins with a fricative and ends with a glottal stop.
All of that aside, this was one damned good wine. Since claret is a generic term that is not restricted by any regulations, it can mean pretty much anything, but today generally refers to a Bordeaux-style wine produced just about anywhere. This wine from Coppola breaks down as follows: 89% Cabernet Sauvignon, 4% Merlot, 3% Cabernet Franc, 2% Malbec, 2% Petit Verdot. I've never had that last grape as a separate wine on its own, so I couldn't pick it out in a lineup, but I assume it's a tiny grape like Petite Syrah. Despite the odd colleciton there, this is a very well balanced wine, and easily drinkable. In fact, a substantial proportion of it disappeared while waiting fo rthe steaks to cook.
There's a lot of dark fruit flavors like blackberry in there, and just enough of a tannic/tart element to keep it interesting. Not a lot of complexity on the nose, but amazing flavors on the tongue, and it paired quite well with the meal. At $17 a bottle, this isn't an everyday wine, but I'd highly recommend it.