Stand by your wine
“Love is not love which alters when it alteration finds, or bends with the remover to remove.” Since quite a few people wrote exclaiming over quotations in past columns (alas not my words but famous others’) I thought, why not continue? The above, written by that playwright and poet fellow, most people will recognize. Those who read Shakespeare will know it as sonnet CXVI which begins, “Let me not to the marriage of true minds admit impediments.” Those who love movies will remember in the recent adaptation of Sense and Sensibility the talented Kate Winslet murmuring the lines as she gazes across the moors to Willougby’s estate.
I have long admired that particular sonnet and while to compare it to wine might prove an imperfect analogy and a wee stretch, I think there’s a case. Just as I have always admired those couples who work out differences, gaining a deeper love and appreciation for one another, so too do I admire those winemakers whose wines reflect the varying weather patterns and off vintages. There are certain wines I love even when they fail to live up to some previous and unforgettable incarnation which first spoke to my heart. This is why I’m bothered when a person dismisses a wine simply because it tastes different from a prior vintage.
To borrow from a great wine maker, Serge Hochar of Château Musar: “You will learn not to condemn any wine until you have stayed with it through all its stages. When you understand that, then you can learn not to condemn any person until you have watched him through many stages, too. You can learn to tolerate life through all its stages, never to make a complete judgment.”
Therefore, unless we want to see the wine world populated with monoculture wines the likes of Yellow Tail and its ilk, wines that taste exactly the same year in year out, I encourage you to ‘stand by your wine’ even (or especially) if it tastes different from one year to the next…that means it’s alive.
Domaine Richeaume, “Cuvée Tradition” 2010 – I’ve long since forgotten the first time I tasted Richeaume, but the impression it left has remained. In a world where once mediocrity predominated (Provence in the 70s) Richeaume has been making organic wines of exceptional character for decades. The Tradition is made from the unorthodox combination of equal parts Cabernet Sauvignon and Grenache. Sexy Grenache gives feminine opulence, while sturdy Cabernet lends its masculine weight. The resulting wine is dark, rich with notes of vanilla and blackberries, and full and smooth on the palate. $33
Château Pibaron Bandol, 2007 – South of Richeaume lies the Mediterranean sea and the small appellation of Bandol. Bandol offers a unique microclimate which often presents a cloudless sky when beyond the protective Sainte-Baume mountains it may be pouring with rain across the rest of Provence. Ideal, as strong sun is necessary in order to fully ripen Bandol’s Mourvèdre grape. Hailed as the apogee of Mourvèdre, Bandol makes a distinctive addition to any collection of fine reds. Notes of plum, dark cherry and tobacco box. $42
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