At the sign of the loon
Smoking Loon 2005 Cabernet ($7.99 750 ml)
If you’re looking to impress your Three-Buck Chuck-swilling friends with your class at the next party, I’d recommend the Loon as definitely worth the extra bucks. It’s a dark, opaque purple, concentrated drinking experience, an intriguing, well-balanced blend of potent flavors that can stand up against the spiciest food or the most charbroiled piece of carbon to come off the barbecue. (Well, maybe not Indian hot, but pretty hot). My dad recommended this wine, and it confirms my opinion of him as a highly intelligent man with discerning taste and a liking for a bargain.
A distinguished panel of experienced drinkers (two friends and I) road-tested this wine at a cookout a few weeks ago and in the backyard last weekend and pronounce it highly satisfactory. The panel:
Experienced Drinker #1 craves intense tastes: coffee should be dark roasted, opaque, and thick as tar; chocolate must be at least 70% cocoa and not too much sugar in it; barbecued food should have half its exterior surface caramelized and/or carbonized, preferably both. Food ordered in America should be American hot, though not Thai or Indian hot.
[Or, heaven forfend, West African hot. Those people are crazy and their peppers are evil.
On one occasion E. D. 1 entered a greenhouse where West African varieties of peppers were growing, and was forced to leave by the mere fumes of the peppers growing on the plants. They hadn’t even been bruised or cut, yet drove her from the premises. Those are some strong peppers].
Experienced Drinker #2 has regularly imbibed a wide variety of wines over the past three decades, as well as being an aficionado of small-brewery beer. She also enjoys American-hot peppers and intense tastes. E. D. 2 is also a vegetarian, for what it’s worth.
Experienced Drinker #3 favors light, fruity wines such as chardonnays and white zinfandel. She tasted one small sip of the Loon, scrunched up her face, and pronounced it “Very dry.” This reaction constitutes a recommendation to those who crave intense flavor.
The remaining members of the panel continued about our serious work of tasting, sipping assiduously until we reached the bottom of the bottle. We came up with these flavors:
Full-bodied but not overwhelming, dry but not too tannic [to me a mark of too-cheap wine], a nice blend of flavors with no one note overwhelming the rest. Mainly we got a definite blackberry jam-like flavor, spicy with hints of cinnamon and woodsmoke, with an even slighter dusky flavor of mushrooms and walnut skins.
Finally, we detected a faint trace of banana oil, otherwise known as fingernail polish remover, but that was when we were almost at the bottom of the bottle. Anything was possible.
With a name like Smoking Loon, and a price at $7.99 for a 750 ml bottle, that the damn thing also taste good is almost like icing on the cake [which we did NOT discern in this particular wine, at this particular tasting, anyway]. If you love strong flavors or are going to a place where you’ll be eating carbonized whatever off the grill or spicy foods, bring a bottle with you. You won’t be sorry.