2007 Intelligent Design Cuvee

Smart Central Coast Southern Rhone-style Surprise

There were reasons I thought I wouldn’t like Intelligent Design.

I’ll be perfectly honest, I’m not a fan of the name. Sure, this is my personal bias showing as if my zipper were down (XYPB, Steve), but when I hear the term “Intelligent Design,” I think of crazy fundies trying to teach kids creationism in science class. Rubs me more than just a little the wrong way.

I’ve got another bias to admit, and it’s this: I have something of a bias against wines that state a region on their bottle of either “California” or of one of the Super-AVAs (North Coast, Central Coast, South Coast, Sierra Foothills, Central Valley1). I usually prefer my wine with a bit more geographic specificity than can be offered by these topographical behemoths.

But, as in all things, bias must be set aside (or at least recognized and accounted for) and wine must be tasted and judged on its own merits.

The 2007 Intelligent Design Cuvee from Wesley Ashley Wines is a serious blend of southern Rhone varities: 51.5% carignane, 15% grenache, 14% cinsault, 11% petite sirah, 4.5% mourvedre, 4% pinot noir.

Yeah, I said pinot noir. That was another reason I eyed this bottle with more than a little suspicion: who blends pinot noir with the southern Rhone Valley?

My biases and prejudices were all totally thrown out the window when I tasted the wine. This is very tasty stuff.

The wine has a ruby red core in the glass, that lightens to edges of dark pink. On the nose is a simultaneously bright-and-dark mixture of stewed cherry, blackcurrant, black pepper, and just a hint of raspberry.

The wine is light-bodied, lighter than its look in the glass belies. There are notes of spice and earth and smoke that mingle with a touch of the nose’s red fruit. Really awesome mixture. My only complaints here are a relatively short finish, and tannin that is just a touch too sharp. Perhaps more time in the bottle will solve the latter issue.

And a small issue it is. This is a very tasty wine from a newcomer to the California wine scene. I know I for one will be paying attention.

Verdict: 88/100
Price point: $38

  1. is the Central Valley an “official” Super-AVA now? Is there an “official” status of Super-AVAs?

Full Disclosure: This wine was provided to me by someone involved in its production, sale, or marketing.

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