Last time, when I touched on the ‘place’ subject, I didn’t use the word terroir but essentially it is one in the same. It is place, and a culmination of all of the physical and geographic aspects of that place that differentiate one wine from another. When you blend wines from various places you first and foremost blend away the place, although the resulting wine can be wonderful. Last time I also recommended a handful of wines under $10 that, regardless of the comfortable price, still showed a regional style. This time I want to offer selections over $10. I didn’t go nuts with the price, but I believe these choices capture a sense of place, wines that could only be what they are and no matter where or how hard others try to emulate them, these are the originals and just can’t be replicated.
First, understand that like art, wine beauty is in the eye of the beholder… there is no foolproof way to assign quality to a bottle of wine. “But Shayne, it’s a Spectator 92!” Well, yes, but that is only one taster’s opinion of one bottle on one day. Same guy tastes the same wine six months later, different score. Same wine, right? Wrong! It is the same wine six months older, so it is in fact a different wine. So when you read the ratings, remember that! So then how can we organize this so it makes sense to the average Josephine? Well, it’s not easy. Many consumers are very, very happy NOT knowing too much about the wines they buy… as long as it tastes good. As long as it tastes good every time they buy it. Raise your glass to consistency! If you buy wines because they have a pretty label, you can stop reading here. And oh yeah… if Mother Nature is one thing, she is inconsistent!
Rather than allowing me to tell you all the wines I think are good, maybe we can allow the government to dictate to us which ones are better (better is a bad word) or at least which ones are held to a higher standard and are protected from imposters. Yep, the good ol’ wine police! All wine regions anywhere have at least some rudimentary form of classification. Some regions take classifying their vineyards to an art form! Some places are just naturally better for grapes than others. And some grapes naturally make better wine than others. You see, Mother Nature is at work here. Most of the ‘wine laws’ at home or in Europe all really are designed to protect one thing: place, authenticity, you know, the real McCoy. But what they are really classifying and protecting has absolutely no person’s name attached. It’s dirt. Well, sunshine, soil composition, aspect, exposure, rainfall… and dirt. Mother Nature pretty much dictates which grape variety should be planted based on all that other stuff. As long as we listen, and if we do – that’s just about all there is to great wine. Yes, you need a winemaker to not screw it up. One who follows the flow of nature and not one who superimposes their ideas into an otherwise perfectly good wine.
Great wine can come from anywhere. What makes a wine great is not a big score, not a mortgage sized price. It really is all about place. If you believe that, then finding great wines anywhere, for cheap, is easy. Now, if you only drink mega Cabernets, sorry. Those only come from a few places and usually cost more than most can afford on a regular basis. But if you enjoy WINE… red, white, rosé, bubbly whatever, then you are the enlightened one – the world is your oyster, eat well my friend!
Wine for thought
Charles Mignon Brut Champagne Premier Cru, Champagne, France $40
Valckenberg Libefrauenstift Dry Riesling 2014, Rheinhessen, Germany $14
Maison de la Chapelle Macon-Villages 2014 , Burgundy, France $15
Tenuta Cavalier Pepe Falanghina Beneventano 2014 , Campania, Italy $12
A’Dair Sancerre 2013, Loire Valley, France $24
Ch. Trians Rosé 2014, Cotes de Provence, France $15
Stepping Stone Pinot Noir 2013, Willamette Valley, Oregon $28
Buillat Morgon 2014, Beaujolais, France $17
Poggerino Chianti Classico 2013 , Tuscany, Italy $20
Ch. Serilhan 2010 St. Estephe, Bordeaux, France $22