For this Friday's Happy Hour we are having Californian Cycles Gladiator Pinot Noir from 2009. Price: $9.99.
I was drawn to this wine by its label, which is actually taken from an 1885 advertising poster for the Parisian Cycle Gladiator bicycle company depicting a nude nymph with long, fiery orange hair latching onto a bicycle, seemingly floating.
It was intriguing to find out that because of this label, the wine has actually been banned in Alabama (you can read more here). The artfully depicted profile of the woman's body was deemed too offensive for the eyes of Alabama residents, justified based on a prohibition on advertising displaying persons "posed in an immoral or sensuous manner." Subsequently to the ban, the Alabama Alcoholic Beverage Control Board denied a reapplication by the vineyard for the wine with a new label, a similarly-styled poster image depicting a woman with a cloth draped over the immoral or sensuous parts of her body, because the board was able to detect a nipple upon enlargement of the image. The wine continues to be sold in the other 49 states.
The color is a lovely plum dark-red; it is playful in the light allowing some to pierce through it. The smell is savory, rich and mouth-watering, hinting at spices and black currants.
The taste does not disappoint the promise of the nose. It is rich, full-bodied and smooth. It is also complex. There is a faint smokiness combined with a stronger oak flavor. There is also a silky, black currant-like sweetness, and a hint of plums or prunes. I was impressed by the complexity of the flavor and found it quite enjoyable.
I would pair it with grilled steak or lamb.