Yes, I did a double-take reminiscent of some of the old stand-by comics of the Golden Age of Cinema when I heard the name of this wine. The name was very unique and my brain was trying to conjure up images for Wabi-Sabi. I immediately thought of Kemo-Sabi from the Lone Ranger which originated on radio here in Detroit. I even thought of Ben Obi-Wan Kenobi of Star War’s fame, I mean this is how my brain works. Even the word Populis brought up visions of political aspects that I try to avoid when I think of wine. Here I was at Fine Wine Source in Livonia tasting some wines and this was one of the wines that I tried and I was intrigued.
Populis Wines of Orinda, California is a joint effort of Diego Roig, Sam Baron and Shaunt Oungalian and is made in a partnership with Les Lunes Wines. Their goal is to “Bring the wine to the people.” They work with Northern California vineyards that grow with no herbicides and no synthetic pesticides. They are trying to be an organic winery and they also search for vineyards that have old vines for concentrated flavor. They also have a goal to make affordable wines, which is very laudable. Along with the Wabi-Sabi, they produce a Sauvignon Blanc and a Rosé wine. I had never heard of the winery or of the wine, but that is not something new, as there are thousands of wineries that have that distinction with me, after all of these years I am still learning.
Populis Wabi-Sabi 2016 is a very mixed bag, it is made with juice from Syrah, Carignan, Zinfandel, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Tempranillo. It is a juxtaposition of Bordeaux, the Rhone and several other points. Originally this wine was marketed as Populis Red Wine. Perhaps I am not so keen, but I could not discern from the nose exactly what I wanted to know. The wine had a nice deep color with a bit of a pink rim at the edge of the poured glass and it was very pretty visually. I was really excited to try this wine, as there were only ten cases produced, but after a couple of good chews of the wine, I could not put my head around what I was tasting. There was nothing wrong with the wine and I am sure with some food, it would have been better, but I could not taste one grape or flavor enough to get a handle on this wine; though it was bold, it was not a shrinking wall flower. I was stymied as I thought my taste buds had given up on me, as I really thought that the Syrah or the Zinfandel would come through as a dominate taste, but if I drank it blind folded, I would not be able to even tell you what I was drinking. I thought it was unique enough that I should mention it, and perhaps others have tried it as well, though with the limited production, perhaps not.