Events, Review

Pride and Prejudice: Hyde de Villaine Belle Cousine Napa Valley

When my friend Will Hargrove from Corney & Barrow said to try this, I said YES OF COURSE THANK YOU. But really I had been around the whole room and purposely skipped Hyde de Villaine Belle Cousine because it was from Napa. Why so perverse? (I get asked this a lot). It’s a £50 bottle of wine!

I don’t know. There’s just too much talk about Californian wines, sorry. I’ve tuned out. It’s like at school when it was popular to see Dirty Dancing, and everyone pretended to do the sexy dance with Patrick Swayze, and I would not see it on principle. Then I saw it about twenty years later, and I really liked it. Up there with some of the best 80s films: Dirty Dancing, Ferris Bueller and Ghostbusters.

My teenage self says, I don’t want to pay for a heavy bottle or a brand name and I don’t understand their system of allocation based on being on a mailing list that hikes up prices. If I want a drink to have with a cigar then I’ll have a dark rum. Too much, already. Whatevs.

Recently Californian wines are becoming more balanced. Sommelier-turned-winemaker Rajat Parr calls it “In Pursuit of Balance” and it is all over the wine chat on the internet. And I agree, focus on the vineyard you have in front of you rather than chase points (obviously? maybe not by the sound of it). But apart from a few exceptions, and there are a few, if I want a big fat Chardonnay then I will go to California. It’s not very often, and I am sure it will change: fashion is a constant cycle of love and disgust.

Now I know better not to wait 20 years before seeing a film or tasting a wine.

You don’t get into wine, and travel a lot, because you want to be a closed-minded idiot. So, what was the wine like? Before Will could say anything, or I had a chance to look at the label, I gave it a taste.

It’s a good wine when you start feeling poetic from the get-go.

Polished plums with bloody butcher’s block and an acidity that is like perfectly executed guitar distortion. You know how Sonic Youth tuned each guitar in it’s own way to get the right edgy sound? It’s a wall of distortion that makes this wine edgy and dark under the Californian sun.

The song that came into my head was “Soon” by My Bloody Valentine. For once, the comments underneath the video on youtube actually make a lot of sense, the sound is

“a mermaid falling into a black hole” 

Amazing. Who made this wine?

We are at Corney & Barrow, the exclusive importers into the UK of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti so there’s the connection. It is a joint effort where Burgundy meets Carneros: Hydes of Hyde Vineyard (Carneros, Napa), their cousin Pamela (née Fairbanks), and her husband, Aubert de Villaine, co-director of the Domaine de la Romanée-Conti (Burgundy).

They also showed the A et P de Villaine Bouzeron, one of my favourite wines when I am in Burgundy after a day tasting – the acidity is very refreshing and I feel human again. Now the pieces of the puzzle started to fall in place. This is the same exciting zig-zag acidity but with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.

Reader, it was good. I took it home, drank it all and listened to the whole album.

It pays to have an open mind.

Special mention to the excellent arancini at Mission E2 in Bethnal Green London

Special mention to the excellent arancini at Mission E2 in Bethnal Green London

Hyde de Villaine Belle Cousine Hyde Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2009

Napa Valley

£49.95 per bottle

Corney & Barrow

A video posted by Juel (@winewomansong) on