|December 29, 2004|
|My wine resolutions for 2005|
One of the things I like about wine (aside from drinking it) is that itís an endless journey.
Every bottle is a new experience — sometimes wonderful, sometimes all right, sometimes disappointing, but always an experience I can tuck away in my memory for future use.
I feel Iím perpetually on this learning curve that sometimes seems steeper than ever. I canít think of anything more pointless than aspiring to know everything about wine, because you just canít keep up with it. Every day, it seems, a new winery opens. Every yearís harvest is different.
And winemakers constantly catch you off-guard with something new.
Itís a great journey, and at this time of year itís time to pause, take stock, and think ahead. Itís time for my annual vinous resolutions, so hereís a six-pack:
First, Iíll continue to resist being called a wine ďexpert.Ē Itís a word often used when Iím introduced publicly, but it makes me shudder because I know how much I donít know about wine.
I also shudder when I read websites and books where writers and reviewers describe themselves as ďexpertsĒ or, even worse, ďyoung experts.Ē What the heck is a ďyoung expert?Ē Is it better than being an ďold expert?Ē Is it someone whose expertise is to be that much more admired because they achieved it before reaching 40?
I resolve not to be a young expert in 2005.
Second, Iíll try to make my wine reviews as accessible as possible. Itís a constant temptation to describe wines with a string of offbeat descriptors, but no one ever bought a bottle of wine because it tasted of earth, a sweaty saddle, or nutmeg. Itís the style (smooth and fruity, full-bodied, off-dry, etc.) that most people are interested in, and thatís the criterion they use when they choose wine. I hope readers will keep me in line here.
Third, and along the same lines, Iíll try to find mainstream food matches for the wines I review. It just looks unimaginative and boring to refer constantly to red meat, spicy chicken, Thai food, and pasta. But I know itís not helpful to recommend a wine for herb-encrusted sea bass or grilled loin of kangaroo with a guava jelly. Just read the food recommendation for the style of food, not the actual dish.
Fourth, Iíll continue to push for more wines under screwcap and to urge you to buy them (assuming the wine is good value), so as to convince nervous marketing people that consumers know a good thing when they see it. The British have set the pace for innovations in wine ever since they discovered Bordeaux eight centuries ago, and virtually put it on the map. They later followed by popularizing Champagne, sherry, and port, and now theyíve rallied to screwcaps in a big way. Itís time the trend gathered a bit of steam here.
Fifth, Iíll do more ďOttawa TastesĒ this year — asking you all to taste a specified wine and send me your ratings. The last one I did was a couple of years ago and, as I recall, 600 readers sent in ratings.
Finally, Iíll lay off Yellow Tail.
Four good values today, starting with a truly great Champagne. If you havenít splurged yet, this is the one.
VEUVE CLICQUOT LA GRANDE DAME 1996 A spectacularly elegant Champagne with delicate floral, citrus, apple and hints of almond, and complex citrus, mineral, peach flavours. The mousse is fine and luxurious and the long acidity is crisp and fine. A beautiful way to see in 2005. Alcohol 12.5 per cent; $171.95 a bottle. LCBO No. 354779 (Vintages).
DEAKIN ESTATE VICTORIA CHARDONNAY 2003 Terrific value in this classic fruit-forward Australian Chardonnay, with a smooth texture, ripe tropical fruit flavours, and very good acid balance. Versatile with food, including spicy chicken and grilled white fish. Alcohol 14 per cent; $9.95 a bottle. LCBO No. 588418.
VELLETRI CENTURIO 2003 A dry, quite weighty and great value red from Velletri, a small wine region south of Rome. Itís very complex with dried fruit, spice, cherry, plum and earthy flavours, has good acidity and pairs well with hearty lasagna. Alcohol 12.5 per cent; $7.20 a bottle. LCBO No. 602474.
YALUMBA ĎY SERIESí CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2002 A full-fruit (cherry, blackberry) Australian Cabernet with spicy, minty aromas and flavours. Itís a really lovely, full-bodied mouthful with good acidity and light tannins. Just the thing for a full-bodied beef dish. Alcohol 14 per cent; $14.95 a bottle. LCBO No. 635839.
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