Wine can be a fickle mistress, not least because we associate so much with the drink.
Tekst: Jessica Senning Foto: Nadin Martinuzzi og importørene
Since we rely on our senses and palate to evaluate wine, wine analysis is by necessity a subjective field. While sauvignon blanc may give me a pleasant sensaton of ripe gooseberries and citrus you might associate the same aromas with your least favorite vegetables; stringy, tough asparagus and the spinach your mother forced you to eat when you were young. A white burgundy wine might for many of us present aromas of fresh butter, nuts and brioche, while the same wine for some reeks of old milk, stale bread and mothballs.
But it’s not just aromas that we disagree upon. Some find a dry riesling with high, mouth puckering acidity and fresh fruit to be the perfect aperitif, while others deem the wine too ”sour” and request something with a lower acidity and fattier fruit. Tannins tend to divide us in a similar way; many find them tough and dislike the dried out sensation they bring to the palate, others revel in the massive, overpowering sensation of highly tannic wines and see them as a delightful challenge.
That being said, few would go so far as to regard all wine evaluation as a show of subjective preference. Mature tannins, clean aromas, rich fruit, good phenolic ripeness, sufficient acidity (you don’t need extreme amounts but the wine should have a certain backbone) and length are all components that make or break a great wine. They depend on the quality of the vineyard and grapes and the selection and method used in the winery. They separate plunk from wine.
If you are one of those willing to explore a few wine-styles that certainly divide wine-drinkers into ”love” and ”hate” I’ve listed a few titles below that have all the qualities to define them as wine rather than plunk, but that can still present a challenge for those who aren’t used to drinking demanding wines.
A challenge and an adventure.
Domaine Rolet Père et Fils Côtes du Jura Blanc Savagnin 2007, varenr.1725701, 259 kr
Savagnin is an underdog in the world of grapes. It is primarily grown in Jura and is the only grape allowed in the vin jaunes of Château-Chalon and L’Etoile. Savagnin is often blended with Chardonnay and produces wines with length, complexity and aloof strength that seem miles away from ordinary terrace wines. Savagnin can be quite subdued with elegant hints of apricot and honeysuckle, yet when aged under flor or vinified with microoxidation it shows notes of almonds, mushrooms and yeast in a style mostly reminiscent of amontillado sherry. Food-wise it pairs well with white meat, comté cheese, mushroom and white fish with rich sauces.
Pardas Collita Roja 2008, varenr. 9864701, 249 kr
The next wine poses a bit of a challenge. How do you love a grape that is extremely diffucult to grow, matures very late, shows large grapes that are prone to bursting in wet seasons and has reputedly harsh tannins in youth? In the back- lands of Penedes two friends have learned to cultivate the more than fickle grape-variety Sumoll, producing wines with a bright cherry color, aromas of raspberries, herbs and grapefruit and a juicy acidity coupled with strong tannins and impressive length. The wines pair well with white meat and roasted vegetables, while fans of grapes like blaufränkisch and mencia may chose to drink it on its own.
Marco de Bartoli Grappoli di Grillo 2012, varenr.9408001, 265 kr
Grillo is and will always be known as the only quality grape used to produce marsala. While the bigger companies tend to blend it with amongst others zibbibo and cataratto to maximize production, the top-producers swear by it and it alone. Grillo has a dendency to reach very high sugar levels when left on the vine, which is perfect for fortified wines but problematic when it comes to whites. Grillo also has a naturally high glycerol content and high potassium levels that can lead to a perception of salinity on the palate. All these qualities should lead to a volatile wine with low acidity, overly plump fruit and a fat, unpleasing finish. Hardly something that would please either professional wine-tasters or private enthusiasts. Except… when vinified by the experienced hand of marsala producer Marco de Bartoli it reaches an almost Burgundian finess, combining structure and length with rich opulant fruit yet still bringing enough acidity to the table to handle a variation of fish and vegetable dishes.