Not all wines are easy. There’s a stream of thought in the wine world that the wine industry should do better at giving ‘consumers’ what they want. We change wines to suit peoples’ tastes and preferences. If people find sweetness in red wines delicious, then let’s give them red wines sweetened up with a bit of grape juice concentrate.
I’m not so sure. I think that our most enduring tastes are ones that we have learned to acquire. Our preferences are malleable; our tastes change. Sometimes it’s nice to have wines that challenge us a bit.
This session at Texsom was titled ‘S&M wines: they will hurt you and you will like them’, and it was exploring wines that can be seen as a bit challenging, perhaps because of their high tannins, or their acidity. With the exception of one or two of the wines, I found them quite delicious and not all that extreme.
Champagne Drappier Pinot Noir Brut Nature NV France
Zero dosage. Lively fruity nose with citrus and cherry notes. Very fresh palate with some assertive lemony acidity, but also some apple and cherry richness, with a bit of toast. There’s a good balance between the richer, broader fruit characters and also the crisp acidity. Rich, in a slightly oxidative style, this really doesn’t need any dosage. 92/100
Family Deicas Tannat ‘Deicas’ 2015 Uruguay
Tannat has a reputation for being hard and tannic, but this is pretty easy going and very drinkable. There’s some classy, sweet berry fruits on the nose. The palate is surprisingly fresh with some polish, but also some nice tannic structure. There’s a sweet fruit profile, but there’s also a brightness and vitality with firm but well integrated tannins. Lovely wine. 93/100
Massolino Langhe Nebbiolo 2014 Serralunga d’Alba, Piemonte, Italy
Nebbiolo can be difficult, but this wine is quite beautiful. It’s really expressive with amazing elegance to the pretty red cherry fruit and lovely floral overtones. Roses, dried herbs, and faint hints of earth and spice. This has texture, with the tannins tamed, but no loss of Nebbiolo’s personality: it’s a lighter, elegant wine that’s drinking perfectly now. This is so pretty. 95/100
Kir Yianni Ramnista Xinomavro 2012 Naoussa, Greece
Xinomavro has a reputation for being very tannic: the Greek equivalent of Nebbiolo. This is a very tannic wine, but it has the fruit to accompany these tannins. Sleek, fresh red cherries and plums with some leather and spice, and lots of tannic grip, leaving a slightly drying finish. But it really works. Structured and fresh and really intriguing. Firm but with some polish and finesse. Drinking well now but it will age, too. 94/100
Antonelli San Marco Montefalco Sagrantino 2011 Umbria, Italy
This is interesting. It’s a wine that comes in layers. First of all you get some sweet, lush cherry and blackberry fruit, but then there’s a wash of tannin, and it leaves a very astringent finish. There are some herb and leather notes here, too. Combines very sweet fruit with nice grip and presence on the palate. A bit of a paradox. 90/100
Vinkara Bogazkere Reserve 2011 Anatolia, Turkey
There’s a distinctive mintiness to this wine, with sweet, forward blackberry fruit, a hint of medicine and some tannic grip. This has appeal, but the medicinal/minty character is quite distracting. Some sweet fruit, though, and it’s well made. 88/100
Paternoster Don Anselmo Aglianico del Vulture 2010 Basilicata, Italy
Aglianico is the Nebbiolo of the south of Italy in terms of its structure. This wine has lovely fresh, vibrant raspberry and cherry fruit with good acidity, and lovely tannic grip that adds some lovely weight to the wine. It’s a big wine, but I love the freshness and structure. Some earth and herb notes. Lovely. 94/100
Henriques & Henriques Verdelho 15 Years NV Madeira
Sweet and spicy with bold, rich intense toffee and raisin notes. Very sweet and more-ish with lovely intensity and depth. Has great concentration. 93/100
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