I’m no stranger to the odd bottle of wine and that’s thanks in part to a dear friend and godfather to my daughter who bought me a share in The Wine Society for my 40thbirthday. I can’t lay all the blame with James and his generous gift, for even prior to entering my fourth decade, I had a penchant for the plonk.
It wasn’t until the membership came through that I actually began to take an interest in wine. It’s as though a combination of the onset of middle age (that’s forty years through sixty in my book) and the arrival of a splendid red portfolio containing a stiff cardboard share certificate, engineered some change in my person. Whilst before I’d quaff merrily away, nowadays, I find myself bothering to read the label.
I’m no expert and, like many people, I feel a little embarrassed about trying to describe a wine in polite company. I’m not sure why, but there’s something a little uncomfortable, almost pretentious, in racking your brains for adjectives and suitable descriptors for taste. The word wine itself seems to beg ostentatious companion nouns such as ‘connoisseur’ or ‘expert’. These are words, which do little to encourage plain amateurs to move beyond pulling a cork and swigging away.
To make up for my failing fungiform papillae and lack of viticulture prowess I bought a couple of books. Jancis Robinson’s Wine Course “A guide to the world of wine” (published by BBC Books, 1995) is a superb introduction to a whole new world. Together with the World Atlas of Wine (by Johnson and Robinson, Mitchell Beazley, 2007) these two tomes have opened my eyes, as well as my mind, to appreciating wine beyond the alcohol content alone.
Thanks to Jancis, I can now spot an older wine at a glance, get an idea of the alcohol content merely by swooshing it around in the glass and also tell if a wine is ‘corked’ or not. I still lack the descriptive and observational powers of someone who knows what they are talking about, but make up for those by pretending that I do. As I have an appalling capacity for remembering the name of wines, which I have drunk, I’ve recently taken to drawing a little sketch of the label of wines that I have particularly enjoyed. My sketchbook acts a little bit like Hansel’s trail of breadcrumbs left through the forest, it enables me to find my way back. Here are three which have tickled my fancy.
Domaine Tempier Bandol Rose
This is the archetypal wine to drink for the summer wine (at just shy of £20 a bottle I couldn’t afford to drink it all year round!). A mixture of Mourverdre, Cinsault, Grenache and Carignan grapes, with Mourverdre making up the majority. A delightful almost antique, pale colour, the hue of organic salmon flesh. I’d climb up a waterfall for a bottle of this.
Finca la Colina
This was a chance discovery in a mini market in La Heradura in Andalucía. In all honesty, I was attracted by the label and went for it. It’s a Verdejo from the Rueda region, north west of Madrid. Verdejo is a common grape in this region, along with Viura and Sauvignon Blanc. It took a while to track down a supplier back in the UK, but AA Wines came up trumps.
Corcovo Blanco Arien
In many ways this was a bonus wine, in as much as I merely ordered a couple of bottles to make up the numbers in a mixed case once I’d tracked down a supply of Finca la Colina. It’s a superb value wine. Apparently, Arien is the most widely grown variety of grape in Spain. A beautiful pale yellow colour in the glass, it’s a young wine but by no means naïve. Blanco Arien – I’d drink that again!
Josh Sutton writes a food blog at: www.guyropegourmet.com
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