All posts tagged: wine

What haunts me

The irritation and resistance melted from Elisa’s face. “Oh, those are chrysanthemums, giant whites and yellows. I raise them every year, bigger than anybody around here. “Kind of a long-stemmed flower? Looks like a quick puff of colored smoke?” he asked. “That’s it. What a nice way to describe them.” “They smell kind of nasty till you get used to them,” he said. “It’s a good bitter smell,” she retorted, “not nasty at all.” He changed his tone quickly. “I like the smell myself.” – John Steinbeck, The Chrysanthemums It started before we even arrived in Burgundy. Way before that. On the road to Macon from Geneva. Like a shadow it kept showing up in the brightest of places. Our Sat-Nav must have been drunk, that’s the only way I can describe how it could possibly want to navigate us off the highway into the darkness. Into Jura. “I would love to take a quick detour to Jura,” I said, half-jesting as I knew all the great wines lay ahead of us in Burgundy. These …

Why Carruades de Lafite is an important indicator for 2010 Bordeaux En Primeur

The ultimate wine brand in in the world is not Lafite. It is Lafite’s second wine: Carruades de Lafite. Once the Bordeaux circus returns, the points are published and the prices are drip-fed out to the buyers by the Chateaux, keep an eye on the prices of Carruades de Lafite. If the “Carruades trend” continues, this could signal the end of the critic-led Bordeaux price. More than any other wine, quality is irrelevant to its price: over the years, Carraudes de Lafite has

Languedoc Seduction: Domaine Peyre Rose Clos des Cistes 2002

Winemaker Marlene Soria has achieved a grand clandestine moment with 2002 Peyre Rose Clos des Cistes. Perhaps the most intriguing thing about this wine is not the dramatic Mediterranean garrigue character, nor the resolutely non-berry style of the dark rose and golden figs, leather and slight bay-leaf menthol. It is the fleshiness given to this powerful, idiosyncratic voice from the South of France: a region where a lot of voices have yet to find out what they exactly want to say. Compelled to find out more, I learned Soria stopped shipping to the US soon after gaining recognition in Wine Spectator as well as dumping the three previous vintages (1999, 2000, 2001) with the local wine co-operative due to taint from faulty enamel tanks. This, for a wine that easily commands over £60 a bottle. I questioned whether I should write about the vinous equivalent of a one-night stand, one that you and I may never see again (it is found in the UK in seriously low quantities). Yet, weeks later, its mysterious voice and …

Anglo-Saxon Wine Style: Sequencing & how to do it right

I may bang on until I am blue in the face about food matching, but the Anglo-Saxon way is not to think about wine as something to match with food. We can fight against it by suggesting foods, but let’s be pragmatic. What is the best way to drink wine if you are not going to eat much more than a packet of crisps?

Vino Nobile di Montepulciano DOCG vs European Union

Some headache! The morning after the party to celebrate 30 years of DOCG status in the ancient Tuscan town of Montepulciano, winemakers were making their way to Brussels to confront the European Union’s decision to change Vino Nobile di Montepulciano DOCG to simple “Montepulciano”. What’s the problem? Montepulciano has 6 syllables already, that is enough for a name isn’t it? And isn’t Montepulciano just a cheap red wine found in most supermarkets for around £5? What’s the problem with shortening it? The problem is this: say Montepulciano and most people think

Brave New World: Italian varieties and the future of Australian wine pt2

The image of Australian wine at the moment overseas is supermarket-driven, Chardonnay-championing, industry-driven pah! You’d be forgiven to think Australia is only a vast industrial complex run by blokes in white coats performing Ludovico treatments on unsuspecting international wine writers who are held clockwork-oranged, wires holding their eyes and mouths open to drink high-alcohol wine full of splinters.

The Mysterious Lady: Hunter Valley Semillon

Hunter Valley Semillon is the reclusive star in Australian wine. While other Australian wines have been all-singing, all-dancing on the world stage, Hunter Valley Semillon has been elegantly waiting in the wings or outside the theatre smoking a cigarette with an attitude of whatever, so what? I don’t like fashion and I’m not signing autographs. For Hunter Valley is the oldest wine region in Australia, nearly 190 years old, and has seen a few fashions come and go. As a style, it has been seriously unimpressed with the fashions over the past 20 years for high-alcohol, oak bombs despite the rest of the country diving in head first. It could not be a fruit bomb even it if tried; it is inimitable and timeless. That is why Jancis Robinson once described this unoaked white wine as, “Australia’s unique gift to the world”. Despite the fashions, Hunter Valley Semillon has remained slender and elegant: generally 12-12.5% alcohol, mostly boutique production, excellent aging potential and no oak whatsoever. Sounds familiar… The parallels between Hunter Semillon and German …

Librarians love 01 Les Pagodes de Cos

The 01 Pagodes de Cos, the second wine of Cos d’Estournel, is reckless, obstinate and from all accounts of previous vintages, annoying. The initial brett farmyard characters will either delight or disgust you depending on whether worn leather smells like the promise of sitting in a new car or crusty old boots. But to me, it’s not that simple. I started tasting this wine and for a full half-hour still no fruit but only a durm und strang chord of leather and farmyard (the Cos style). Was it corked? I left it, but then got caught up in a party of bubbles at work for a couple of hours; I came home, and found another party in the kitchen drinking Caprihinas. Dang and argh, said the grumpy worker in me, I just want some peace to understand this wine! Pagodes longed for a library and a cigar and a serious conversation. So did I. It asked for the luxury of quiet that is so hard to find in London. So did I. Thankfully while I …

What is a ‘vino da meditazione’?

I love reading wine tasting notes in Italian. I always want to sing it back. For example, What is a vino da meditazione? It’s an intriguing term often seen in Italian wine notes. It looks like the word “meditation”, but it’s not quite. Coined by famous Italian gastronome, Luigi Veronelli, meditazione is often used to describe sweet passito wines or red wines aged for a long time such as Barolo or Brunello di Montalcino. From my Italian sources, a vino da meditazione can mean: 1. Calm, sweet wine (without bubbles); 2. Important red wines; 3. Wines with a long vinification process from vine to bottle such as Brunello di Montalcino Riserva (at least 5 years in oak), Barolo Riserva (5 years) or Vin Santo (8 years in oak); 4. A way to drink these wines with an attitude of understanding its complexity:”Stop and slow down – this wine should be approached calmly, reflectively to understand its complexity and composition”.   Holy Wine   A classic vino da meditazione is Vin Santo (holy wine), a Tuscan sweet …

English Wine Week: Curiouser & Curiouser

Curiouser and Curiouser, said Alice in Wonderland, and she could equally be saying the same about English Wine. As it’s English Wine Week (29th May – 6th June), let’s go down the rabbit hole and find the English Wine bottle labelled DRINK ME. 

Rose 101 – Why drink Rosé?

  Before I tell you about Bibendum’s Rosé tasting last night, I have to admit: Rosé has a special place in my life. I won my first serious job after university by writing a sales letter on Rosé. Nobody wanted to touch it. The manager flicked it at me across his very large desk with a hopeless smirk, “see what you can do with this”. The letter did quite well. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Theory of Capacity by Len Evans

The Len Evans THEORY OF CAPACITY 1. There is an awful lot of wine in the world, but there is also a lot of awful wine. 2. No sensible person drinks to excess. Therefore any one person can drink only a certain predictable amount. 3. There are countless flavours, nuances, shades of wine; endless varieties, regions, styles. You have neither the time nor the capacity to drink them all. 4. To make the most of the time left to you, you must start by calculating your future capacity. One bottle of wine a day is 365 bottles a year. If your life expectancy is another thirty years, there are only 10,000-odd bottles ahead of you. 5. People who say, “You can’t drink the good stuff all the time” are talking rubbish. You must drink good stuff all the time. Every time you drink a bottle of inferior wine it’s like smashing a superior bottle against the wall. The pleasure is lost forever. You can’t get the bottle back. 6. There are people who build up …