Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Holiday wines

For a change here's a post about wine, not that we drink much these days, work and kids kind of curtailed this hobby several years ago but once a year the Christmas holiday (+lack of early mornings) present a great opportunity to crack open a few bottles and remember why appreciating wine is such an ethereal, diverse and social pastime.

On Christmas day I opened something from the Southern Rhone, red, rich, warm and flavoursome, a bit like the climate there. It was a 2007 Coudoulet de Beaucastel, the less famous sibling of the world renown Ch√Ęteau de Beaucastel but about a quarter of the price (£10-15). Unfortunately the wine was corked, not too badly but the tell tail odours of green vegetables and cardboard were obvious. Some people reckon that if you stuff a plastic bag into the wine for a few minutes that this removes the taint (not sure about the Chemistry of this?) I tried it and it did seem to make a difference, it made the wine drinkable but not as nice as a good bottle would have been.


Boxing day we had a treat over at my parents house, a 1999 Sassicaia from Italy, this is a famous wine often referred to as a "Super Tuscan" belongs to a group of wines made from atypical grape varieties in Tuscany, where usually wines are made from the Sangiovese grape. Super Tuscan wines tend to use grapes more common to Bordeaux in France like Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, they caused a stir when they first appeared in the 70s but are part of the landscape now, often commanding very high prices. This example was really fine, inky red, smelling of tobacco, vanilla and dark fruits it took a while to come round but was a delight to drink with lunch, a memorable wine at it's peak.

Last night I opened a bottle  (2002 Domain Courbis, La Sabarotte) from the Northern Rhone (France) and a small region called Cornas; grapes have been grown here since Roman times and it's the spiritual home of the Syrah grape (red), the same grape that found it's way to the new world (Australia) where it's known as Shiraz. The expression of Syrah in the Rhone is very different from the ozzy versions, more subtle, often more complex and perhaps less "obvious", lighter fruits, raspberries & redcurrants and a fabulous liquorice finish very enjoyable with a midnight supper of cheese and crackers.

Tonight I'm thinking we might switch to white since a traditional turkey curry is on the menu something flavoursome from South Africa or New Zealand perhaps, more to follow.

7 comments:

Chairman Bill said...

Lidl Cabernet Shiraz - drunk by the gallon in the Chairman's household. Couldn't give a toss about the year or where it comes from (although I do believe it's California). Needs drinking before it stops breathing - or I do.

Steve Borthwick said...

LOL, although be careful CB, that cheap stuff gives you a rotten headache..

Wine Gift said...

I love coming to this blog. There is always new information on wines and brings together people who love all types of wine together to discuss.

Archdruid Eileen said...

This explanation sounds vaguely plausible.

Steve Borthwick said...

AE, ta for the link, you'd have to think that any kind of absorption reaction like that would bugger up the complex mixture of compounds that makes a wine taste like it does; In my case I'd say the improvement was only 5-10%.

Archdruid Eileen said...

If there's a non-polar polymer that removes hydrophobic compounds from wine, then it's going to remove any non-polar organic chemical. I got turned down when I suggested I study the chemistry of Pernod for my Part II, but I'm going with it will remove some of the lovely esters and stuff that give your wine its rounded and complex flavour.

Steve Borthwick said...

AE, sounds reasonable. I not sure Pernod would be my choice, you'd have to explain the obvious correlation between Frenchmen and seemingly effeminate drinks. ;)