Sunday, 30 January 2011

One for the boys

Looking back through my tasting notes I have noticed reoccurring themes and that the wines tend to fall into two broad groups - no, not red or white - but pointy and curvy.  What am I talking about?

New wines are all sharp edges and pointy lines.  This is not always a criticism - the best young wines are  clearly expressed and tightly defined.  The separate elements of the body, aroma and flavour come together in beautifully intricate structure.  Where the facets cross and overlap one can glimpse how the wine will age and develop.

However, at its worst young wine will be agressive and unapproachable.

Individual components clash and grind against each other; the wine has no rhythm, no surprises or mystery.  One particular characteristic will always bully its way to the front: biting acidity; hand-grenade tannins; splintered oak; an abrasive finish.  Like a talentless burlesque dancer, there's no tease and everything is on display.

So, if in my wine-world new wines are pointy, the  mature wines must be curvy.  Time mellows a wine, eroding the edges like a pebble which is washed on the beach.  Over time, the individual characteristics of the wine drift apart before reforming into something more homogenous; your palette is forced to work much harder if you want to describe the separate elements of the wine.

I have another way of thinking about pointy and curvy wines - and I hope it doesn't offend anyone - as it involves comparing wine to women.

The ladies on the left front the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty - which aims to encourage women and young girls away from today's beauty stereotypes and to be confident and proud.  As a husband and father to a young daughter I wholeheartedly support these sentiments.

But what has this got to do with wine? Well, let's consider the alternative?

The picture on the right is of  the contestants from Britain Next Top Model 2010.   These are young girls who work incredibly hard to meet an artificial expectation of beauty - one which appears to require women to be thin, angular, and pointy.  Do these adjectives sound familiar?

So, on the one hand we have the Dove girls - all natural curves and confidence, and on the other we have the Next Top Models not looking very inviting with their pointy elbows and delicate necks.  I can appreciate the inherent beauty in the aspiring young models, but I hope that given time they will realise that beauty is achieved not through hard work but comes naturally through confidence - and it takes time to develop real confidence.

I know which group of ladies I'd rather be buying the drinks for and I also know which wines I prefer to drink - give me confident and curvy every time.

Mont Tauch Fitou 2008
Morrisons Supermarket £7.99 (tasted 16 January 2011)

A clear bright and ruby red wine giving both red and black fruit on the nose with some white-pepper spice.  It is dry with a big burst of acidity and a nice wash of tannins, medium bodied at 13.5% alcohol, the black fruit and cinnamon spice is more pronounced on the pallet and is now supported with chocolate notes and medicinal oak touches.  The length, whilst pleasant, was shorter than expected.
A perfectly acceptable southern France red which you should enjoy by the carafe.

 Clos St Magdelaine Cassis 2007
Yapp Bros (tasted 13 January 2011)

A beautiful golden luster precedes the rich complex aromas rising from the glass: bananas and melons, vanilla and coconut blend together into a quite heady bouquet which lingers and continues to fascinate long after you have drained the glass.  Dry, with medium acidity and no tannins, the 13% alcohol ands structure to the body of the wine giving a terrific mouthfeel.  The same aromas return in the flavour but with more depth and also a distinctive pear component.  A excellent length rounds off this very good wine.  This wine as subtle curves - wonderfully complex and sophisticated.
Cassis is the oldest AC in Provance and 75% of their wines are white.
Thanks to Personal Wine Buyer for this fact and picture.

Taltarni Victoria T-Series Shiraz 2006
Latitude Wine (tasted 2  November 2010)

The intense ruby red colour is matched by an equally intense nose full of black and dried fruit and spicy hot hot hot white pepper.  Big tannins and the 14% alcohol bounce around your mouth in contradiction to what is a surprisingly restrained body and flavour: more black fruit and white pepper obviously, but supported by coffee and tobacco. A decent length concludes what is a surprisingly elegant Aussie shiraz.

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