Monday, April 13, 2009
Overcoming grape fears
Since last I wrote, I have continued valiantly affronting my prejudices. Now, of course, we all have grapes we don't like. I know some highly recommendable people who have, shall we say, issues with Cabernet Franc or Grenache. (Actually, the most common bête noire among wine-drinking friends seems to be the oft-maligned yet intensely wonderful (well, to me) Chardonnay grape. I will have to get proselytizing). That said, I must reluctantly remind one and all that I myself am known for not consuming hogsheads of Chenin Blanc or Gewürztraminer, say.
But as ever, I like to be on the frontlines – or down in the trenches, pick your military image – of my own preconceptions, flighting that fight. Because, really, it's a voyage of learning, now, isn't it? Well, along with getting tipsy, carousing, and having shared mini-epiphanies with friends.
This week, two towers crumbled right down to the dust. How's that for Ozymandias?
2002 Huet Le Haut-Lieu Demi-Sec - this wine knocked me off my feet, and I sat down next to Brad Kane and nodded with that half-smile that indicates great pleasure and surprise. My notes from the evening I tasted it have long since disappeared into some dumpster behind a tony midtown restaurant; suffice it to say that this wine opened my eyes in a particularly crystalline way. I wanted to cup it to me, but of course that would have warmed it up, so I just stared deep into it, then gradually drank it away.
2006 Jérôme Prévost "La Closerie" - Eeeew, pinot meunier. That was the thinking. But this was immediately more imposing than other expressions I have had of that grape. A rich, vinous nose met me as I leaned into the glass. Dark amberish color, with just a touch of walnutty oxidative overtones. I was enchanted by its smell. On the palate, however, at first, this was tight, hard in its lines; very low in dosage, it was clear. The apple, quince notes were pleasant, but they were somewhat pushed aside by a hard mineral finish. This needed more age, and first, more air. So I let it open up, expand in the glass. It did come into its own with some breathing, broadening, becoming more smooth. Being a few degrees warmer also did it a nice turn. It does need age, but it is already an impressive drink.