The Hopeless Romantic

In a week that saw the French government condemn wine on health grounds, one story shook me like no other.

In a bid to make room for the promising 2009 vintage, it seems that several New Zealand wineries are considering pouring away hundreds of thousands of litres of wine from the vats, rather than selling it to the market more cheaply and risk damaging their premium reputations for future vintages.

I cannot imagine what went through the chief winemaker’s head when he was told by the managing director that the wine he had nursed night and day, rigorously re-testing and safe-guarding from faults, was to be tipped out and forgotten about. How heartless. How cruel.

When it comes to wine, I am, quite unashamedly, a full-on romantic and I wholeheartedly believe that a single wine is worth more than the reputation that it attains. It is the culmination of worked earth, patient time and arrayed sensation, and distinguishes that which is communal, from that which is personal.

This week, I was invited to give a presentation to the Teesside Wine Maker’s Club, and what a privilege it was. Aside from tasting some of the finest South American wines in the Majestic range, we discussed many wine related issues, touching on everything from corks and the dreaded TCA, to single vineyard wines, the addition of sulphurs and yeasts, and the topical issue of duty vs. exchange rate vs. the real value of a bottle of wine.

To see such enthusiastic interest in a small church hall on what proved to be a particularly cold Tuesday night, was heart-warming and inspiring. It reminded me that wine, unlike most other consumables, provokes passionate debate, divides opinions and unites all who drink from its containing barrels and bottles.

How could this romanticism be lost on the very people who release the product of their soils to the world? I was somewhat dismayed and confused.

In her typically appropriate way, Jancis Robinson was on hand to cement the sentiment. Re-reading her memoirs, I came across this paragraph:

‘There is nothing whatever wrong with wine lovers who simply pour wine with careless gusto down their throats. There are times when that and only that will do. But those who will not meet a wine halfway, and ignore the story each wine has to tell, deprive themselves of a large part of the potential pleasure associated with each bottle. As I was to learn, a wine is more that just a liquid.’

As an amateur de vin and ardent terroirist, I believe every wine has, in some form, a sense of place and, perhaps more interestingly, a sense of the person whose love for his art allowed him to sculpt ripe fruit into liquid enigma.

Enchanting and mystifying, wine has introduced places of the world formerly unknown to me, acquainted me with a dear and special many, and inspired some of the most interesting conversations I could ever have hoped to have had.

In the fervent hope that the New Zealand wineries decide not to pour away the potential discovery of millions, my glass is full and my cellar nervously open-armed.

Here to hoping.


My Wine of the Week

The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.Corralillo Winemaker’s Blend Merlot/Malbec 2006£12.49 or Buy 2 Matetic Wines save £4 = £10.49

To be honest, rather than this specific wine, my recommendation this week lies within the entire Matetic range of wines.

The multi-award winning EQ Syrah, the stunning EQ Sauvignon Blanc, and every other wine in their range is an absolute pleasure.

Their style is quite unique in that they manage preserve an unbelievable purity of fruit, particularly in the red wines, that fills your mouth like a raging tidal wave.

The wines are fresh, balanced (EQuilibrada) and ready to drink right now. No overly obtrusive tannins, no harsh edges.

This current promotion is a particularly good chance to try the whole range at a very good price. I’ll certainly be following it up.

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