You Shouldn’t Have…

June 13, 2011

wine pressie

Enjoy...

A friend was visiting from out of town a few weeks ago. Upon arrival she plunked 2 handsome traditional-method sparkling wines on the counter for me. “You’ll love these”, she said as she wheeled her suitcase inside. Nothing more was said. I mention this because as I stare at my wine shelf (I have no cellar, for shame!) I observe a row of wines that, although were given to me, I feel I can’t drink. At least not without the people who gave them to me.

I’m sure you’ve experienced this juxtaposition: Someone gives you an outstanding bottle as a gift, with the caveat, “let’s open this some time together“. (Read: “don’t you dare drink this without me”) Now, I happen to be very fond of the people who’ve bestowed these wines on me and would be completely willing to share with them without even being asked… but, it feels less like a gift when the giver tells you what you’re allowed to/not do with it. It’s like your Gran handing you a fiver when you were a kid and saying, “now don’t go spending this on junk!”.

I fully appreciate the torture of parting with a good bottle and wanting very badly to enjoy some of that gorgeousness so generously being given away, but should you find yourself in this conflicted position, I offer some advice: Bring it to dinner instead. Or, invite the person over and open it together. If you must hand it over as an official pressie… do so condition-free.

meerkats

Sharesies! (Credit: Posters Guide)

As it happens, I opened one of those sparkling lovelies with said friend over dinner one night. The other one I took to a Sunday night kitchen party – where I was called a ponce (more or less) for bringing champers to a kitchen party… but the point is, I enjoyed it very much – in my own time and in my own way. I even shared it with other people.

Oddball Winespotting

February 28, 2010

Oddballs. Without them, the world would be rather dull. Genuine oddness is refreshing and interesting, so I like to seek it out whenever I can.

Odball

A loveable oddball

Wine is not especially odd. I suppose it can impose oddness if consumed in volumes, but on its own it’s pretty tame. At this very moment it’s probably being swirled and sniffed in some civilised restaurant, or collecting dust in some extremely normal person’s basement. You need to look deep for the oddball factor in wine. But thankfully this week I spotted a couple of examples. And they’re both French, go figure. (Ha ha, oh, je rigole!)

Malbec Bordeaux

75% Malbec from Bordeaux

Oddball #1.
Château Relais de La Poste, Cotes de Bourg 2005. 1
Why?
Because it’s a Right Bank Bordeaux made from 75% Malbec/25% Merlot. Malbec is typically a minor, blending grape in Bordeaux, but here it features as the main show.
Notes
On the nose, characteristically Malbec – blueberry, fig, chocolate – but without the jammyness sometimes present in Argentine Malbecs. Mid-weight in the mouth, slightly bitter, and not much fruit. Tannins felt tight, but there was still good acid. Slightly out of balance, I thought. 2005 is still very young for a Bordeaux, so it might benefit from ageing which would help soften the tannins and allow some of the fruit through. For the cellar!
Picpoul de Pinet

2008 Picpoul de Pinet

Oddball #2.
Domaine des Lauriers Picpoul 2008 2
Why?
Because Picpoul (or Picpoule) is a funny name for a grape, and it usually goes unnoticed in posh blends of the Southern Rhone – most notably Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Here it is upfront and centre in a Languedoc white, and in a flute-shaped bottle (a la Alsace or Germany).
Notes
Youthful, pale, nearly clear colour with a touch of green. The nose was floral and fruity – almost muscat like – with a briney/seaside character. The palate was fresh, clean and really vibrant – lots of acidity but not tart. My immediate reaction was: FOOD wine. Seafood, clearly. Digby scallops if we’re getting specific.

1. About $20 at Cristall & Luckett at time of this writing.
2. About $15 at Cristall & Luckett at time of this writing.