Tuesday, 18 February 2014
Sunday, 15 December 2013
Sunday, 8 December 2013
Monday, 2 December 2013
Wednesday, 20 November 2013
was Abe. Philosophy has a loose connection with wine: Paul Draper, Randall Grahm and Jancis Robinson all studied the subject, and they are much better qualified than me to discuss its content. Indeed, if they ever read this they might become irritated at the thought that a non-philosopher is queering their patch, but then aren't we all on each other's patch a bit now, anyway? Besides, I've read books, some of which had philosophical themes. And it's the books that catch my eye on Abe's shelves, particularly the pastel 1983 Pelican reprints of Freud. Abe must have bought these at the same time as me - they're in my cellar now - but given the different directions our lives have taken, Abe obviously read his Standard Edition much more closely.
Wine is full of numbers, scores, cod-commentaries, and classifications. It tries to reproduce itself in styles, such that “Bordeaux-like” and “Burgundy-like” have become the trade’s two most overworked phrases. There is an attenuation of interest that comes with rationalisation, a narrowing of thought. Returning to those pastel reprints of Freud, I remember reading that we are drawn to those who exhibit patterns of desire we once had, but have now given-up. I am attracted to the Scholium Project, even though I’ve never tried a bottle, because their relationship with wine seems to be one of pleasure, expansion and indulgence; things I’ve repressed as my tastes have become more institutionalised; as I’ve drifted into a self-censorship that refuses to acknowledge wine in the immediacy and purity of its effects. Abe is right: we need to drink wine with our bodies, not just our minds.
Monday, 4 November 2013
Blending originally comes out of pragmatism, and the need to overcome seasonal climatic anomalies, but it has become creatively refined. Bad blends repel, like the identical poles of magnets that are forced together. The Chef de Cave is looking to create vectors of flavour, small synergies, and energies of combination. Too often blending is depicted as a potlatch which proceeds haphazardly, crashing the new into the old.
The Chef de Cave is like the Jesuit priest who takes the child and returns the man. He makes decisions at a very early stage of the process, the final elaboration and consequences of which may not become clear for 10 years.
Yields are something of a red herring in Champagne. The prise de mousse boosts the wine's power and intensity. Wines coming off a low yield may end up lumbering, particularly if the time in the cellar is over-extended. Champagne offers drinkers a reflux between refreshment and sapidity: salt, citrus, bubbles, malt. It entices its drinkers to drink again, so it needs to combine delicacy and intensity: delicacy comes from the climate; intensity from the terroir, blending and the prise de mousse. The best wines are mutually dominated by their origins and Champagnisation. Heavy base wines from low yields that are subjected to long lees ageing can be every bit as poor as wines given the minimal term in the cellars.
Champagne Houses understand the relativity of consumption. Most of their drinkers don't go through the Newtonian ritual of the ISO glass before taking a sip. Festivity is Champagne's natural form of expression, but this does not imply a lack of integrity on behalf of the Houses. Just as the handsome architectural facades of Reims hide a subterranean world of hard work, so most blends are the articulation of hard earned preferences. The best wines are an extraordinary expression of intellectual property that can't be revealed by disgorgement dates and the like. Sometimes it's best to wonder at a process, particularly one as beguilingly creative as blending.
Thursday, 29 August 2013
|Pinot at fruit set|
|Pinot Noir with reflective mulch between the rows|
|Acolon at veraison with two leaf excision|