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Sans Liege 2009 The Offering

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Sans Liege 2009 The Offering For the holidays this year I made my first trip across country from the mid-west snow belt of Ohio to the sunny state of California, and in specific to the beach side city of Santa Monica. Visiting my twin sister and only staying for less than a week I knew I would not be able to make it up to wine country, but I also knew that my Christmas present to myself would be a bottle of wine that is exclusive to the thriving California wine industry, and in specific a wine that is not available to me out in Ohio. I knew finding this one specific wine was going to take some searching, and to be honest I had not set out any specific style of wine-- I just wanted something different. Something different I found -- and completely unexpectedly.

After a long day of shopping and beach walking, my sister and I were walking through a neighborhood town in Santa Monica, in search of a quick bite to eat. As I walked down the street, gazing into hip boutiques and trendy cafe's, I found myself suddenly stopped and staring into the most quaint wine store . The windows were big and open and the layout was simple and inviting. I gave my sister a look that a little kid must give their parents when they want to go inside of a toy store; she quickly nodded, allowing me to step in. I was in heaven as I walked around the store looking at wines from all around the world. The most fascinating aspect of this store was the fact that I had not ever heard of or seen one of these wines-- I knew this was my spot for "something different".

Once the owners in the store realized that I was interested in buying a bottle of wine they quickly became attentive and willing to help me find the right wine for us. I was picking out a wine to bring to Christmas dinner, therefore I knew I had to take into account others when choosing this wine and I used my sister as the basis. I asked her what wine she would enjoy and she mentioned that she had been interested in Syrah or Shiraz-- I was interested in a French blend, or French style of wine, no specific varietal. The owner of the store once hearing this quickly walked over to one of the cellar doors and handed me a bottle. The bottle was dark and before even noticing what varietal of wine this was, I found myself staring into quite a piece of art work that was the main focus of the label. The owner informed us that this is a classic Rhone blend from the central coast of California. He had picked out a wine that was very much so Syrah, yet contained the other classic Rhone varietals from France and to top it off was made right here in California! As if I had not been sold already, he also informed us that this previous vintage just made Wine Spectators top 100.

The wine, produced by Sans Liege and in specific wine maker Orin Swift is named "The Offering", and depicts a dark, almost creepy picture of a person looking down, with hands risen holding a bundle of grapes (giving an offering). The Sans Liege 2009 The Offering vintage blend of Grenache (42%), Syrah (31%), Mourvedre (25%), and finally Viognier (2%) -- you can find all this information right on the front label of the bottle. I kept the wine until Christmas with the utmost care and self control to not indulge prior. When Christmas came around, due to driving arrangements, my sister had brought the wine with herself, and I came later to the dinner party. I informed her that she should open the bottle two hours prior to drinking (recommendation of the store), therefore I was not there to open the bottle, but when I arrived the cork was intact and beautifully stamped with a deep, dark, plum coloring. Though we did not have a decanter, the nose of the wine was unbelievable. The nose carried hints of blackberry, hazelnut, cinnamon, coffee, and leather. The nose was complex producing smells reminiscent of structured traditional Rhone wines with an unstructured yet intoxicating smells caused by new world California wine making.

I poured the wine into my glass the color was a beautiful deep burgundy with shades of crimson and hints of caramel coloring all brought together with ruby highlights. I allowed the wine to swirl in the glass unable to forgo noticing the giant legs on the wine, slowly draping the side of the glass like curtains, giving way to the high alcohol level of 15.6%. So far the wine was far surpassing any expectations, and all that was left was to taste the wine. I tasted the wine and allowed the first sip to coat my mouth and then going back for my second sip the sophisticated, bold, and completely innovative flavor profiles of the wine became apparent. Tones of strawberry jam and peppercorn combine with flavors of black currant, cinnamon, and licorice all mixing together in gallant flavor profusion. There was an abundance of oak spice which was produced from the 22 months this wine spent in oak Barrels. The flavor was intense and daring and did not stop changing and producing more complexity as I enjoyed it through the dinner.

Once the meal was over and the bottle was gone, everyone was in agreement with how delicious and dynamic the wine was. This wine at first appearance looks like your standard GSM (Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre blend) but the incorporation of Viognier and the innovative wine making went beyond any standard. The wine was surprisingly radical with structured tendencies, really making for an enjoyable and affordable bottle of wine; only $30 retail. Though this previous vintage made Wine Spectators top 100, I was unable to find a score for the 2009. This Sans Liege 2009 The Offering was phenomenal and well done-- and I am scoring it at 90pts due to its only small amounts of organization marbled throughout bold and unorganized flavors, but still making this a Bombastic wine!!

Angela Campanella--Wine Contributor

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