It’s a rarity for me to be in a quandary about how I feel about a particular wine. I usually either really like it, really hate it, or am just kind of ‘meh’ about it.
But from the ‘inception’ of my sampling of this particular product, I was conflicted. I knew my husband would like it. And he did. In fact, I kind of liked it, too.
I use ‘kind of’ as a qualifier, because I’m not in love with this wine. But I know — I guarantee, in fact — others will be. And here’s why.
I got a bottle of the 2011 Inception Deep Layered Red, which is a South African blend made from mostly Shiraz, with a bit of Petit Verdot and Mouvedre thrown in for good measure. As soon as I unscrewed the cap, and those aromas hit me, I knew I was in trouble.
(I adore screw caps, by the way. While the bias against these wondrous little closures still lingers in some areas, they’re the most efficient way to preserve wine. I’ve been told by those in the biz that while bottles stoppered with natural corks have about a 10 per cent rate of return for being ‘corked’ or ‘off,’ those packaged with screw caps have less than one per cent. And while they lack the romance of the uncorking ritual — the ‘skrrrrrick’ of the cap coming off doesn’t, for whatever reason, have the same elegance of the delicate and promising ‘pop’ of a cork being properly removed — I like the assurance that the wine inside the bottle is exactly as it should be. I just wish the screw caps didn’t drip so much more than cork-sealed bottles. I don’t know why that’s the case, but they do.)
Anyway, the aroma of the Inception was of cherry, raspberry, blackberry, coffee, and leather. My esteemed colleague, Ben McPhee-Sigurdson, said he detected smoke in the mix, too, but I just couldn’t find it. At least, not at first. I just noticed the intense berry aromas that were followed through by their appearance in the flavour profile.
I had a suspicion the Inception would be a bit sweet, and it certainly was. Which is why I told my husband I thought he’d like it. Which, as I’ve already mentioned, he did. But while he’s not always a fan of sweet wines either, he’s much more drawn to them than I am.
At a Champagne tasting a few years back, he loved all the sweet-tinged ones while I opted for the Brut. And it’s not like I couldn’t find plenty of merit in the sweeter ones — I just liked the dry ones better. Same in reverse for him — he enjoyed the dry ones, but preferred the sweet ones.
The night we tried the Inception, we were having barbecued steak for supper, and since the label said Inception would be good with grilled meats, I thought that night would be the perfect time to give it a go.
And while my husband sipped contentedly away on the Inception, I had a small glass of it for tasting purposes and then switched to my favourite, the J. Lohr Seven Oaks Cabernet Sauvignon.
But here’s the catch: the Inception is $14.99 a bottle, while the J. Lohr is $22.30. Both are smooth and delicious. One is sweet, the other is not.
And with the steak, both were delightful. I still preferred my J. Lohr, and Ken still preferred the Inception. But I had a tiny glass of each so I could go back and forth between the two during the first few bites of my supper. And the Inception really held its own with the food. The only real difference, other than the sweetness, is the price.
And for those folks — and I know there are many out there — who enjoy Apothic Red, the blend that’s taken North America (and maybe the world — I don’t know for sure) by storm, I really encourage you to give Inception a try.
The Apothic is the same price, and I’m willing to bet if you love Apothic Red, you’ll love Inception, too. In fact, I’d suggest the Inception is a more layered and complex wine, which, to me, makes it that much more interesting.
Incidentally, after the first few bites of steak, I went back to the kitchen to get replenishments of both wines. I poured the Inception into my glass, gave it a swirl and a sniff, and there it was! The smoke! I guess it took the slightly charred nature of the grilled steak to bring that quality in the wine to the foreground for me. But there’s no doubt it was there.
Inception is also good with dark chocolate. Wine that’s paired with sweet things should be ever-so-slightly sweeter than whatever treat you’re matching it with in order for the wine not to taste sour in comparison. And with very dark chocolate, Inception was a real winner.
Dictionary.com defines “inception” as being a “beginning; start; or commencement.” In science fiction, it is “the act of instilling an idea into someone’s mind by entering his or her dreams.”
I’d suggest in the case of Inception, the wine, both are true. For a sweet-wine fan, this could be the beginning of a beautiful relationship, thoughts of which may indeed seep into one’s night-time imaginings.
Happy sipping — and sweet dreams!