Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Wine Wanker


Two posts about wine in the space of a week? There’s something afoot you might think. Old MG’s addictive personality has found something else to latch on to since he gave up the smokes and he’s figuring himself a wine buff, you’d say, he’ll be holding forth on screw tops and phylloxera by the end of the week. You’d be somewhere near the truth.

I think you are meant to have a wine epiphany when you taste one of the greats, some grand cru sends you spiralling into lust for old vintages or a life long hunt for the rare and bizarre. You’re meant to become a bit of a bore and get a great splotchy red nose and use the word oenophile. I’ve tasted some of the greats and liked them all well and good. A fair few years ago the very generous father of a girlfriend I had opened his cellar with startling regularity and even more startlingly, he would open the good stuff on a even more regular basis. I had the good fortune to enjoy his hospitality and his Petrus, Margaux and Haute Brillion on more than one occasion. This was serious stuff. He was attentive and receptive to comments but somehow the experience terrified me and I don’t really remember that much about it. I really didn’t get it I don’t think. I’ve enjoyed wine since then, read the odd book, talked with the old man. I’ve found things that I liked in Millroy’s in Soho or more recently in Green and Blue’s in East Dulwich or leisurely leafed my way through the Corney and Barrow catalogue but it’s never really gripped me.

Until recently that is. The trip to Napa and environs seems to have been the catalyst for some serious interest in all things grape related for me. The epiphany came slowly over the course of day and then hit like a train over the week. The wine lists in restaurants like Aqua and Incanto in San Francisco had me rapt and on my return I’ve been eagerly browsing the wine books in Waterstones and signing up for vintners news letters left and right. I think I was primed for it by a competitive wine tasting I went to at Milroy’s about a month ago. I was on the money in terms of recognising grape variety and country of origin with a fair bit of consistency and I’v e always been a bit of know it all. I still know fuck all mind you, but it gave me a bit of confidence that my taste buds still worked after the years of smoking, high strength beer and recreational drug use. My liver is shaking in its boots in fear at what all this means. It probably means I’m getting old.

Anyway, here, as promised, are the wines that led to my coming of age and my acceptance that I’ll be buying pipe, slippers and leather elbowed cardigan at the weekend:

Gary Farrell 2002 Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma County
Arista 2005 Pinot Noir, Sonoma County
Sapphire Hill, Winberrie Vineyard 2005 Zinfandel, Russian River County
Davies Family Vineyards, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
Cuvee de Trois, Joseph Swan Vineyards, 2004 Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley

Now, you’ll probably be hard pressed to find most of these in the UK as they are relatively small production wineries but having said that they were excellent examples of their type and indicative of what you can expect from Sonoma and Russian River; the Cabs and Zins a combination of big fruit, berries, chocolate and vanilla with just a little restraint. The Pinots were still big on the fruit, just a little more sophisticated and not as weighty, a touch of spice and a hint of leather and tobacco.

1 comment:

Dagny said...

I am quite happy that I live within driving distance of all of the places you mentioned. Thank you for the list.

One of these days you should return in July. The California State Fair holds a wine competition. In July, all of the vintners who have entered the competition have a tasting. Many of the smaller wineries show up for this. And there's food samplings from restaurants as well. I have a feeling that this would be right up your alley.