Velvet. The word alone conjures many an image. Mysterious, seductive, shadow and soft. Wearing velvet is like being surrounded by a magic powder. Drinking the Velvet Glove Shiraz from Australia’s Mollydooker winery (who also recently was voted #2 in the world by Wine Spectator for its Carnival of Love Shiraz), is not even a wine drinking experience. It is a life experience. It is one of the wines that will engrave a memory on your tongue for the rest of your life.
Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet is a symphonic poem that, like the Velvet Glove, leaves an indelible impression upon the ears. This work of 1880 is so famous that one tends to forget the elements that make it so effective. It narrates the Shakespearian drama in sound, from sword fight to love making to death scene. The sound of the orchestra envelopes the listener like a balsam that, by the end of the piece, leaves one breathless.
The Velvet Glove is the same. After the first taste, you are intoxicated. Not because of the high alcohol content, which at 16%, by Shiraz standards, is above the highly rated Sine Qua Non Queen of Spades from California (though Carnival of Love is also topping at 16%). This queen should be wearing velvet. The Velvet Glove is a wine with a residual sugar level of 3.6 grams per liter, and so much fruit that it tips the scale of the Marquis fruit weight, which is the “percentage of your palate (from the tip of your tongue going all the way back) that's covered by the velvety sensation of fruit, before you experience any of the structural components of the wine.”
Tchaikovsky’s work is not so different. From the opening chorale to the final syncopated chords and timpani swell, this is an overwhelming sonic experience. Tchaikovsky, the master of melody, creates a tune that captures the quality of innocent passion between these young lovers. The love theme, played by the English Horn, is a reminder of the natural truth of what love can be. And, of course, the final cataclysmic blast representing the death of both Juliet and Romeo just keeps the listener, like in the play, wanting more.
The Velvet Glove, smooth and silky with every mouthful, is the same. It is a passionate wine, made with a care that corresponds to love. Like the tapestries and rich colors of the fabric of of Verona, this wine has a brilliant deep color, with flavors of rich black cherries, blackberry, creamy vanilla, chocolate, mocha, coffee and spice. Quite a combination of perfected elements.
With Romeo and Juliet, one might expect an Amarone from Verona. While it is true, the best of Amarone is on par with the Velvet Glove, this wine, like a glove that covers the tongue with smoothness and sophistication, is a better juxtaposition with this Shakespearian masterpiece. Why? Because the Velvet Glove can never be forgotten. So, too, the love between Romeo and Juliet.