Well, it is happening again.
Twin Peaks Season 3 kicked off on Showtime last night, and one thing is clear: Special Agent Dale Cooper’s been drinking something besides black coffee. The first two paired episodes were a sprawl of Lynchian obsessions, metaphors, references and symbolism, and unlike the first two seasons, it did not stay confined to the Eastern Washington sawmill town that contained the original episodes. See our review of the episode here.
I’ll be honest: I didn’t know what was going to happen so the beverage my friend and I uncorked was a Charles Heidesieck Brut, because after 27 years it seemed like a celebration was in order. But I have been challenged with preparing a Twin Peaks Episodic Wine Tasting, and now that I’ve seen the first, um, course-here goes nothin’.
Episodes 1-2: The Return. This pair of eps was wide-ranging and took familiar concepts and characters into some new and weird territory (I know, shocker). So I’m opening with a pair of wines that are the same but wildly different.
Savage Grace Syrah/WT Vintners Syrah
In keeping with the light/dark, nostalgic/horrific, here/there feel of last night’s premiere, I’m suggesting two very different takes on the same wine-doppelgangers, almost. Evil twins? Neither of these wines are evil per se. But bedevilingly different.
In Woodinville, WA, there are scores of wineries, most of them making wine in warehouse facilities from fruit sourced on the others ides of the mountains in Walla Walla, Yakima Valley and elsewhere. Washington is a diverse and experimental wine region and you can find just about anything there, but Syrah seems to be emerging as one of the signature grapes of the area, and that seems right for a Twin Peaks WA Wine Flight, since it tends to have the brooding, deep blood red of the Red Room curtains and since its typical aromatics and flavors include Special Agent Dale Cooper’s fetishes: Coffee and cherries. Here’s a funhouse-mirror pair worthy of Twin Peaks
Savage Grace Les Collines Vineyard Syrah (about $30): This is a Loire Valley style rendering of the Syrah grape. It is lean, almost bony. It’s low-alcohol and shows a heady floral bouquet, intense freshness, a certain austerity. Coffee note definitely present, along with stewed cherries and spices. It’s a subtle, nuanced, highly refined Syrah. And highly tasty. Food-friendly, easy to drink, affable and gracious.
WT Vintners Les Collines Vineyard Syrah ($45): I asked the guy at the WT tasting room what made this wine so different from Savage Grace. Same grape. Not only same grape: Same vineyard. The answer? “Twelve days.” Sorry? “Twelve days. Savage picked their fruit twelve days before we did.” If you think people are being fanciful, or pretentious, when they geek out on the seemingly microscopic (I mean how could they not be microscopic) variations in two bottles of the same varietal wine from the same region (the same site!) you need to put these two things side by side. That 12 days makes a huge difference. Where Savage Grace’s Syrah is light and lean, WT’s is voluptuous and full-figured and bursting out of the glass. Standout aromatics include cherries too, but also violets, grilled meat, bacon, blueberries and cracked peppercorns. It’s a dark, dark wine. Like Black Lodge dark. And I mean that as a compliment.
Oh, and I’m not saying one’s good and one’s bad-they’re both excellent. But they showcase the light and dark sides of an increasingly definitive Washington grape. Almost… well, almost like distorted mirror images of one another. So, for your Twin Peaks: The Return viewing pleasure, I’m suggesting you get in the mood for things Not Being What They Seem with two great Washington Wines that both are and profoundly are not the same thing.