Thursday, 29 January 2015
I got a lot of good feedback from the people who came to the tasting of my new wines the other night at the Petit Bistrot. There were not many of us there which was a good thing as I could circulate and chat to the different groups, who didn't really know each other.
It was quite an informal affair as far as tastings go. The normal procedure seems to be to set up a sort of 'high table' or stage with the speaker speaking at an audience who are all sitting facing him or her. But in this case we were all just standing around in groups in a restaurant which, being a weekday, was empty apart from ourselves.
I came away with a very positive feeling of satisfaction and of the certainty that I must be doing something right! A feeling that I really needed, given my recent string of acetic disasters (see my previous post).
Here are the wines I presented:
Sauvignon Blanc 2013
The first three were very young whites, which are not even bottled up yet. I bottled six bottles of each specially for this tasting straight from the stainless steel fermentation tanks (Airén and Doré) and from the amphora (Albillo). I am very happy with all three, and I think they should be drunk between now and this summer, ie young, while they are nice and fresh, especially the Airén. I know my Airens can last for years and still be drinkable, but they evolve into a different wine, which becomes less and less fruity and more and more Sherry-like as time goes by. Again, there's no accounting for taste, and many people like them that way. It's just that I personally like the Airén while it's young and fruity and full of complexities.
Regarding the Doré, there's not much I can say as it's the first time I've used that variety. So, I will keep back several cases and taste them over the years. At the moment, it's interesting to drink.
The Albillo 2014 is enormous! It's super complex and interesting and intense. It has the body of a big red wine but the aromas of a white! I'm pretty sure it will evolve well over time too, but it's perfectly fine right now too.
The Sauvignon blanc 2013 is an orange wine, ie made with white grapes but macerated on the skins like a red wine - and then racked into an old clay amphora, then bottled and aged.
I have to say that I myself was really surprised and impressed by the reception the wines got; which sounds like a silly thing to say, as I'd obviously tasted them all before. But I'd always tasted them on my own, straight from the tanks, in a silent and empty winery. Whereas at the tasting, it was like being an actor on stage, with all the related nerves and stage-fright! Especially during the first wine, when everyone is paying close attention to what I'm saying (as opposed to chatting with their mates like they were doing by the sixth wine!)
So, I think I've managed to tick all those natural wine boxes that I'm interested in ticking:
- Express the terroir
- Express the grape variety
- Pleasant and enjoyable to drink
- Complex and interesting aromas and tastes
I won't go into details about the actual aromas and tastes perceived or comments made by all the different people who kindly shared their opinions with me, as they were all different and even conflicting! Never would it be more appropriate to say "There's no accounting for taste"!
In any case, I'd rather let the wines speak for themselves, and I'd also rather let tasters and critics and winelovers in general speak their opinions, instead of me. Just because I can grow grapes and make wine, doesn't mean that I can write critically and usefully about my own wines! Strange as it may seem!
During the course of the evening I had an interesting discussion with a group of people about the visual aspects of my wines, which were all rather cloudy, all had sediments, and one even had some precipitated tartrates. In a nutshell, my opinion about the visual aspect is, as Clark Gable said to Vivien Leigh: "Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn!". Now that's not meant to be rude or disparaging or anything like that, it's simply the reduction or summary of a topic that I've though about for a long time. A more detailed explanation for this attitude is as follows:
1. I believe that the current modern standard of beauty in wine is just a mere casual collateral consequence of industrial large-volume producing wineries' need to stabilize their wines for transport and storage purposes. I don't think that all these wineries independently and simultaneously started thinking about how to make their wines look better; no, they looked for a way to be able to transport and store their wines cheaply and over long distances and for a long time.
2. I don't believe that transparent, shiny, liquids are for some reason intrinsically more pleasing to look at than cloudy, semi-opaque liquids. This is just the prevailing opinion in the spirit of the times in which we happen to be living. The analogy that sprang to mind in the heat of the moment was of nude paintings of the past, where the subjects were fat! The opposite, in fact, of what is held to be beautiful today, ie not an intrinsic, universal quality, but based on other criteria that are held to be valid at the time in question
3. I also believe that wines are primarily best enjoyed for their taste, and secondarily for their aromas (which are of course closely related), while the visual part is in a different league altogether. I mean how much enjoyment can you get from just looking at your glass of wine? Most winedrinkers don't pay that much attention to it anyway - just a cursory glance I would say. Most winedrinkers don't even smell their wine before drinking it - I'd say that smelling your wine is a rather geeky thing to do. So actually looking at your wine and analyzing all those points that you read about in "How to drink wine" manuals seems to me to be only for people studying to become professionals, and a completely useless (and maybe even pretentious) exercise for 'normal' winelovers.
I have an info sheet for each one of the wines we tasted, so if anyone is interested, just write me an email or whatever and I'll send it along. Ideally I should just put them online somewhere and make a link, but I don't know where to upload them to!
For a post in Spanish, written by Vicente Vida, a Spanish wine blogger, who came to the tasting, click here.