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Showing posts from January, 2008

Terroir and underestimated white Bordeaux

Recently I learnt about an Indian IT millionaire who co-owns a vineyard in his home country. He had been buying grands crus from Bordeaux, started to love them, decided he wanted to create similar wines in India and planted Cabernet and Merlot. I do not know the precise characteristics of the area, but I would be surprised if these grape varieties would be ideal for that Southern region. And there it is: the concept of terroir – in future postings I will further explore this complex but key concept.

In any case, (micro) climate is an important aspect of terroir, and the climate in India is obviously not similar to that of Bordeaux. I would suggest this wealthy man to import cuttings of more heat resistant varieties like Mourvèdre, Grenache, Tempranillo and Primitivo. Then – provided that he also takes the soil into account – he maybe could obtain wines not only of good quality, but also of great character and originality. And that brings me to white Bordeaux.

Whereas the terroir of this…

France steps up anti drink publicity laws

Since I am not currently drinking, I can only write about wine in an academic sense.

I have been on the wagon for at least 10 days now and it has been relatively easy, once you get through the first day and that early evening 'I really should be treating myself to something at this point' feeling.

Wine, happily and sadly, is alcohol like any other alcoholic drink - despite the fact that many French people will tell you that wine is food, or say, in response to the statement that one is not drinking, "But you’ll have a glass of wine?" Or "But you'll have some red with your cheese?"

"Well actually no, what I meant was I am not drinking," one ends up saying lamely, again. Then they look at you, as though you are a genuine alcoholic, or just mad, and ask why? This is the French, mind you, who tend to avoid personal questions.

I explain it is an after Christmas, de-tox sort of thing. And then... they laugh. And get all coy about how much one might have…

Lafite Rothschild 2005 released in bottle

On the 11th of January Château Lafite Rothschild released its 2005. That is, the bottles were presented to the world. Quite remarkable are the scales that are drawn onto the bottle of this exceptional Bordeaux vintage. Scales weighing sun and rain. "As a reminder of what nature generously gave us." Scales that will still be looked at by our wine-loving children and grandchildren when they inspect the great cellars of the future...

Shown below is Lafite's official announcement of the 'birth' of their 2005. Note the interesting phrase "For those who will have the pleasure of drinking this wine (...)". Probably not very many people will have this pleasure: Lafite Rothschild 2005 was initially released en primeur on 21 June 2006 at about € 500,- consumer price, and in the meanwhile the wine has about doubled in price. Precisely that is the other reason for Lafite Rothschild to put an illustration on their bottle: it will help them preventing counterfeit.

Notes from a Sauternes tasting

Drinking good Sauternes can be moving. Is it because of its great power of expression, its luscious sweetness, its fathomless depth? Or is it because I hardly ever drink Sauternes on a 'normal' day? In a way Sauternes appears like a Harp does in a concert: at the highlight. In an attempt to have a great evening last forever, we return to our cellar to dive up one of our golden treasures. Nine out of ten bottles are enjoyed within this best possible environment: among friends, who are all reluctant to call it a day.


Most bottles that I enjoy are lonely bottles. For example one to wrap up the evening, or one as the very last bottle of a tasting. It's not a deliberate thing, but I am not drinking Sauternes every week, or every month... but after the tasting of last weekend I know that I will shift my attention – again – to this great classic region. If only it were to experiment with new wine-food pairings; there are so many more possibilities than the obliged combination with…

Chateau du Gaby 2005

Early January our son turned three years old. An exciting event, both for himself and for his inexperienced parents - the presents (mainly little cars), the young visitors running around, etc. And as I am always trying to find reasons for opening a good bottle of wine, I thought his birthday certainly was a valid excuse. Luckily the parents of the young visitors agreed.

THE FEATURED WINE IN THIS POSTING AS IT WAS WRAPPED BY JOB VERHAAR, A FRIEND WHO RUNS THE AMSTERDAM-BASED WINE STORE "DE GOUDEN TON" (THIS IS INDEED A SORT OF FREE PUBLICITY). FOR THE UNWRAPPED BOTTLE: SCROLL DOWN.

But opening bottles is preceded by buying bottles. With buying it works more or less the same: finding excuses to do so. And I must say I am pretty good at finding these excuses. So when our first kid was born in 2005 it was crystal clear that enough Bordeaux from that year would have to be bought. (He was born in January and we had no idea about the incredible prices to come; but in the end, the mon…

Guinness and wine in Ireland

Being home in Ireland for Christmas has meant two things drinkwise. Good Guinness and an international selection of wine.

In even the smallest shop down to the local garage in Dalkey­ there are reasonable wines from South Africa, Chile and Australia.

In larger shops you will also find French wines, mainly Burgundy and Bordeaux, but the prices are so outrageous, I only look at them for a laugh.

On average, a bottle of wine that costs about 6 euro in France will cost about 16 euro here. Partly, that is the result of VAT at 23 per cent, and partly shipping and transport costs, but that still leaves quite a wide profit margin. And since VAT and shipping apply to all wines, not just French, quite why Bordeaux and Burgundy prices are so crazy compared to the New World selection is not clear.

Turning away from the French shelves, the New World is laid out in force. America, Chile, Argentina, Australia, South Africa all have major presences. And asking the often fruitless question about biodynami…