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2006 Murphy's Law Red

2006 Murphy’s Law Red … but nothing went wrong!

Sometime around 2005 when Christophe Bakunas told his friend David O’Reilly of Owen Roe Winery that he was thinking of creating an artisan rosé wine called Murphy’s Law and that he was planning to do nearly everything wrong as he entered the venture, O’Reilly asked, “Can I make it for you?”

Thus began a business relationship that now produces one of the best red wines I’ve ever had.  I was so fascinated with the value of the 2006 vintage of their red wine, that I really wanted to learn more about how the name came into being and how a wine entrepreneur living in Chicago manages the production of eight separate Oregon, Washington and California wine labels and over a dozen different wines…not to mention a couple domestic brands of gin.

Christophe was kind enough to spend some time on the phone with me one evening and, like the wine he produces, our conversation did not disappoint.  First, as it has been with nearly every winemaker I’ve ever met, you could feel the passion for what the man does coming down the telephone line like a bolt of energy…which by the way, could describe Christophe as well.

So the name…as I said, a fascinating story.  “Me and my partners were talking about rosé and what a difficult wine that it is to sell to consumers,” Christophe told me.  “We got to laughing about how when you over produce rosé no one wants it from you, but when you don’t have enough that’s when the fax machine won’t stop spitting out orders.  Same thing holds true for half bottles.  If you don’t make them, you are assured that someone will request half bottles; then you bottle up a batch and they say, 'Oh no, we’re all good.  Just bought half-dozen different brands for the season.’”Christophe Bakunas

“Knowing that domestic rosé was an uphill battle we decided that a little humor would fit the bill.  So we started Murphy’s Law as a rosé only brand and did everything wrong.  We vinified blaufrankish (hardly anyone knows what this grape is but Mike Sours at Red Willow Vineyard in Yakima has some awesome Blaufrankish that he planted in 1978), launched it in the winter and only made it in half bottles.  Oh ya, we packed it in 11 packs as well.  As you might imagine this marketing scheme of ours went over like a lead feather.  But the wine was fantastic and people started asking us for a red and white.  So we obliged.  And voila, you have the Murphy’s Law Red.”

This wine lover, for one, is very happy about that.  The ’06 Murphy’s Law Red found a place on that short list of very special wines I’ve happily discovered over the years and if I were pressed, I would have to say that it stands as the best wine value I’ve ever found.  And I’ve done a lot of looking!  Carol found the ’06 at UFS in Peoria sometime in 2009 for about $11.  We liked it enough to go back and buy all they had at the time and we enjoyed those bottles over the next two years, having the last one just weeks before this writing.  I can’t say the vintage had peaked just then, but I can’t imagine it getting too much better.  It was simply perfect…great licorice nose, beautiful body and wonderful smoky yet fruity flavor.  It was a privilege to be able to tell Christophe how much we enjoyed it.

The 2008 vintage is out now and it’s quite good as well, though with full disclosure, not as magical as the ‘06.  But Christophe told me that the growing season weather and grape characteristics of the ’09 vintage, which is due for release in autumn 2011, closely resembles those of the 2006 vintage.  You can be sure I will be watching very closely for that release date.

As I’ve written elsewhere on this site, wine is such a personal thing; from the production of it through the last glass from the bottle.  It’s singularly amazing to me that I can still run across new wines that thrill me like the Murphy’s Law Red has done.  Somehow, the winemaker’s passion creeps into the bottle and is expressed at the pour, unlike any other hedonistic endeavor I can think of.  Humans have been enjoying wine for 3,000 years or more and I’m humbled to play this small part in that long tradition.  And if some day I can no longer write about my love of wine, I pray I can still enjoy the pour.

Have a look at all of Christophe’s wines and spirits on his website at http://www.localwinecompany.com/



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