Dear Enthusiasts, May the 4th be with you!
To celebrate Star Wars Day, I tasted the Force. By which I mean I rummaged through my cellar for two drastically opposing wine styles, one to represent the Dark Side and the other, the Light Side. Don’t get me started on moral ambiguity and how no force user is strictly good or evil. We’re keeping it simple this time.
The Light Side
A Light Side wine should be bright, fresh, and spunky, like baby Grogu in season one of The Mandalorian, or Princess Leia except for when she’s being held captive by Jabba (that’s sexy Zinfandel Leia). It should represent hope, goodness, the fight against the oppression of a tyrannical regime, and orphans scavenging up a better life for themselves after the destruction of their home worlds. I would’ve chosen a Gewurztraminer if I had one, but my cellar is severely lacking in the white wine department. Instead, I went with a 2020 Okapi Wines Sauvignon Blanc.
This wine is pale lemon in color, like a Jedi Sentinel’s lightsaber, signifying the balance between physical strength and cerebral agility. Strong notes of grapefruit and mandarin waft from the glass, followed by less intense aromas of cut grass, lemon verbena, orange and jasmine blossom. Is that a hint of toasted pie crust, suggesting lees contact? Yes, I think it is! On the palate, it has a round, medium body, medium plus acidity, and strikingly high alcohol (14.5%!) while remaining bone dry (no residual sugar). These grapes were grown in a warm climate and were ripe and full of sugars at harvest, landing a swift kick of powerful, citrusy liquid to the throat, as surprising as Obi Wan slicing Darth Maul in half. Anti-violence are the Jedi? Hmm… disturbance in the Force, there is.
The Dark Side
Is the Dark Side evil? Depends on who you ask. In a past life, I spent hours debating exactly this topic, and no, I do not think the Dark Side is evil. What does it represent, then? It is anger, fear, a desire to control the uncontrollable. It is structure and regimentation, black capes and six-pointed polygons, raw power and James Earl Jones’ voice. It is a mealy whisper egging on reckless ambition, “Do it.”
Petit Verdot, characteristically inky in color and rich in tannins, perfectly represents the Dark Side, and I happen to have a 2018 Whitehall Lane PV that will suit the occasion well. This wine is deep ruby, edging on purple, as dark as a Death Star garbage chute. Its aromas need to be coaxed out, since it’s still a bit youthful and hasn’t yet evolved into its full, bottle-aged potential. Delicate crushed blueberry vanilla aromas hit my nose first, but there’s still so much complexity to be pulled out of this wine as I swirl and swirl and swirl: herbaceous notes of black currant and sweet tobacco leaves, dried mission fig, bright raspberry, and some woody, dusty notes of cedar, cigar box, dark cocoa, and graphite. I close my eyes and imagine hunkering behind a tree as chicken-like AT-STs stomp through the forest, leaving squashed wild berry vines in their wake. The wine has a medium plus body, high alcohol, and a high level of gritty tannins. As I mentioned before, it needs more time to smoothen and balance out. It is ethereal, perplexing, and as full of inner turmoil as any dedicated Sith Lord wannabe. As Sith must persist by the Rule of Two, this wine is must be accompanied with food. I recommend pairing with something akin to braised Shaak roast or Bantha Suprise Stew.
If I had to pick a winner of the “Duel of the Fates” tasting, I’d say it was the Porg that didn’t turn into Wookiee grub. Just kidding, I’m not that diplomatic! The Light Side is today’s winner. The Sauvignon Blanc is simply drinking better right now now. However, like all good Dark Side character arcs, the Petit Verdot will be in prime drinking form in a couple of years. By the time the next Star Wars trilogy has released, it will have earned its own Anakin Skywalker redemption.