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(The Bottle In Front Of Me is a series of regular, brief tasting notes from the Rogue Estate’s resident wine guy, Ian.) The stiff upper lip. Imagine an Italian immigrant living in New York during prohibition, buying grapes from California to make wine in his basement. From these passionate beginnings we finally arrive at a flagship French-inspired wine favored by the British early in the 20th century. Kind of make you dizzy, doesn't it? But the wine in question stands on its own, albeit supported by a sinfully large marketing budget. It's a strong wine, but reserved - an even blend between old and new world style. It's a serious step above plonk, relatively risk-free, and wisely priced for the nervous buyer (plus, wrapped in a gold wire net!). That being said, the Coppola Claret will never give you that funky, unique love-it-or-hate-it "Wow" factor, but it's a great doorway into better class of wine for a lot of curious drinkers. 2009 Coppola Claret (About $17) Learn more about the winery: http://www.franciscoppolawinery.com/ Learn more about the bottle in front of me: http://ffcp.s3.amazonaws.com/fcw/wine/diamond/claret/09_DiaClaret_FS.pdf SEE: Rich deep ruby, fading to a slight rose at the rim. SWIRL: A medium body coats the glass with prominent legs. SMELL: A tight nose at first. As the alcohol burns off, aromas of wood, leather, plums and a hint of salted licorice. There are familiar Cabernet scents but in a more reserved style than California usually delivers. SIP: Quiet blackberry and cassis slowly open to reveal faint woody spices. Coriander, allspice, clove and orange peel in careful amounts. SAVOR: A moderately long finish adds bitter vanilla, and faint tobacco smoke. As the wine opens caramel, apple skins, and even Concord grapes emerge. Final impression: This Claret take a long time before you can even think about unbuttoning its blouse. Patience and attention pays with a balanced and very nuanced flavor. Dependable. Pair with: Nice with the Sunday roast, stews, and most British versions of French winter classics.