Monday, April 20, 2009
Wine for rain, wine for sun
I had never thought about it before, but there is something about the delicious minerality of a Puligny-Montrachet that goes well with the rain.
The other night I ran out with not one but two umbrellas (well, I was using one, and one had been loaned to me on some other rainy day, and I was returning it to its rightful owner, who would be on hand). Finally, despite wearing new shoes that kept wanting to remove themselves from my feet and go flying into a puddle, I managed to turn up at the set destination: a wine restaurant.
Once wet things had been cast off to some coat area, it was time to have a seat and ponder the wine list.
As the rain splashed lightly against the front window, a few minutes later, the sommelier opened a bottle of
1985 Carillon Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru "Combettes" - Well, as Tina Turner did not sing, I can stand the rain. In fact, the sound of cold patter on concrete was a great backdrop for this deceptively simple and increasingly enthralling wine. There's a term the French use that I like a lot: évidence. It indicates something's "of-course-ness." There was about this wine an ease of being, a raciness, a stony, high-handed purity, an évidence. It was youthful (not a drop of oxidation to its brisk yellow body) and a little shy until maybe a half-hour in. Then it bloomed. Blossoms under the rain.
A few days later, the sun was out. It was warm. A bunch of us decided to gather in the park, and I threw a slightly chilled bottle of López de Heredia into my bag, reasoning that the ambient temperature would warm it.
2002 López de Heredia Rioja "Viña Cubillo" - all part of my enthrallment with Riojas from this producer. Interestingly enough, I had had a bottle of this same, younger-drinking cuvée a week earlier at a wine bar: there, it was more austere, harder around the edges, tighter and more tannic. Here, under the sun, with a dog slobbering around (Peanut would eventually eat the Rioja cork) and people nibbling cut sausage, it was lighter in color (maybe the wine bar had been too dark), lighter-bodied, fresh and earthy. God, I said to myself as I cosseted it, it was such a pleasure of a wine to sip on a breezy, warm day. A wine for sun, clearly, with all its broodiness cleared away, replaced by a daringly rustic backwardness to it that had immense charm.