A winter Maury warmer
I feel a cold coming on. Colds are a pain for wine tasting. I find you have a couple of days where you can still taste well after the first signs of a cold, and then that's it for a few days. No point in tasting. And for me, there's no point in drinking wine if I can't 'get' the wine, unless of course I have a pressing need to get drunk (which, fortunately is rare).
This point about 'getting' a wine is an interesting one, philosophically. It suggests we all think that there is an objective side to wine tasting: that there is something of the wine that is there to be 'got'. Irrespective of differences in perception, education, and cultural leanings, the wine itself possesses something that we strive to capture in our tasting.
I digress. Tonight it's time for something warm. After an abnormally warm October, November has seen the onset of some reassurringly cold weather, and even a bit of frost in the morning. The wine this evening, to accompany some home-baked bread and a big slab of Comte, is a Maury. From the far south of France, these are fortified wines made in a similar style to Port.
Mas Amiel Vintage 2004 Maury, France
Beautifully packaged, this is a fortified Grenache made by the addition of spirit to part fermented wine. It's not as alcoholic as Port - weighing in at 16% this is only a little stronger than many modern table wines - and it is made in a Vintage Port style, with the wine ageing for just a short period in cask before being bottled. The result is a complex, vividly fruity wine with a nose of spicy, herby red and black fruits that leads to a palate with lovely vivid, spicily tannic red fruits that shows warmth and grip. Quite sweet, but this sweetness is well balanced by good acid and spicy tannins, so it is not at all cloying. A thought-provoking wine that's drinking very well now but which will probably also age nicely into a mellow softness. Very good/excellent 91/100 (£14.95 Lea & Sandeman)