They look great in a cellar, but are cases the best way to buy wine?  image from www.thewineweddinglist.com

The Terroirist: A Column about Wine

An exploration into the world of wines

After consultation with some of the rest of the team here at blogTO, I'm happy to announce that The Terroirists format will be changing: only we're not sure to what quite yet. Over the next few installments we'll be trying out some new formats, so please let us know what you think. Email me at StDan@blogTO.com with your comments/suggestions. But now, onto the recommendations...

Something Red:
Cuvee Mythique Reserve 2004 (Pays d'Oc, France) $17.95, 352468

Pays d'Oc wines are part of the 'Vin de Pays' programme in French Winemaking. Not as constricted by the rules of the Appelation Controlee system of quality wine in France, VdP winemakers have more leeway to explore and test out new methods and new grapes. In this case the winemaker has chosen to go with a traditional southern Rhone blend of grapes, and the result is very successful. A bright ruby colour, this youthful wine brims with aromas of fennel, earth, spice, plum, cherry, and smoke. In the mouth, it is very fresh and vibrant, with lots of fruit forward flavours including cherries, spice, vanilla, and earth. Drink it now, and enjoy it with duck or lamb.

Something White:
Chateau de Quantin Blanc 2004 (Pessac-Leognan, France) $18.95, 525402

White Bordeaux, to many minds, is very much the lost child of French wine; completely overshadowed in its region by the reds of Bordeaux, and in its grape by the Sauvignon Blanc of Loire. Nevertheless, they produce tasty, full bodied whites that are different from Sauvignons the rest of the world over. The Chateau de Quantin is a good example of white Bordeaux, with a touch of oak exposure giving it its bright fold colour, and slightly buttered nose, along with notes of granny smith, minerals, and nettle. In the mouth it is dry, clean, and crisp, with flavours of apple, gooseberry, and minerality. Drink now, and enjoy it with a tilapia sandwich from The Fish Store

Something to Dream About:
Zind Humbrecht Pinto Gris 'Herrenweg de Turckheim' 2004 (Alsace, France) $38.95, 680348

Pinot Gris (more commonly known as Pinot Grigio in most of the world) from Alsace is unlike what you'll get from anywhere else in the world. While often, especially in its northern Italian incarnation, comes across as light, easy drinking, and moderately flavoured, in Alsace it couldn't be more different. When it comes from Zind Humbrecht, one of Alsace's top producers, the contrast is even more dramatic. The first thing that gives it away is the colour - bright coppery gold, indicative of the not-quite-red, not-quite-white skin of the Pinot Gris grape in general. Next is the aromas, which are powerful and direct, while still showing nuance. Odors of spice, pine, kumquat and apple predominate, although there is more to be found if you look for it. Finally, the mouthfeel is full and rich and luscious, with flavours of apple, pear, minerality, orange, lemon, citrus, spice, and earth washing over your tongue in alternating waves. It's not often that a nearly forty dollar wine offers good value, but this one is just that. Enjoy now (or save for a few years) either on its own, or with a tarte flambee.

***

Recently people have been asking me about the merits of buying cases of wine. While the best rule of wine is to do what makes you enjoy it, I would certainly caution people away from the notion in most situations. I do remember the first time that I bought a full case of wine - it made me feel as though I was taking a step into the world of proper appreciationi for the wine; doubly so the first time I bought a case of wine en primeur. But then when I drank the former box over the next few months, my palate began to get bored; the wine was nice, but I wanted more.

Especially in Ontario, where the LCBO will carry some products only once a year for a week or less, it can seem a good idea at first to find something you like and buy a case - or more - of it. But in a world where there are hundreds of thousands of wines to explore, who would want to drink the same wine over and over again? Even with wine designed to be aged, often three or four bottles is enough - one to see how it's doing now, and the rest to taste how it's evolving over time. And really, why get 12 bottles of one vintage of a great wine, when you can get 3 bottles of four different vintages of that same great wine? If you're looking to discover terroir, and to really see how weather and nature affect what goes into a bottle, there can be no better way that tasting vertically.

As always though, explore, drink, and enjoy!

The Terroirist is published fortnightly on a Thursday


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