It looks like you're trying to self-isolate…
The late radio John Peel used to list ‘looking out the window’ among his interests in Who’s Who. It’s a hobby we might all soon be enforced to enjoy. Perhaps a little vino on hand might help though? So what do we think makes a perfect wine for self-isolation?
Zeno of Citium, taking it as it comes
Wines for Stoics
'Taking it as it comes’ might be the modern interpretation of the Hellenic philosophical school known as Stoicism. Advocates for the thoughts of Zeno of Citium did not, sadly, record their opinions on wine. But we can perhaps assume that they would take a look around their abodes and begin to open those ’special occasion’ amphora they had been saving for the right moment.
Yes, we all do it. That special wine, that special moment. Hoard, hoard, hoard. But really there could be no better moment to take the corkscrew to your treasures than this. If, as is often the case in these situations, the reality of the wine doesn’t live up to the expectations you had for it you can practice that 'take it as it comes' philosophy to the max.
Your corkscrew and that dusty bottle in the wine rack
The remotest vineyard in the world? There’s lots of claims for this title. From high altitude Salta in Argentina to the minuscule plot of vines on the island of Cape Verde in the mid-Atlantic. The lure of ‘apartness’ clearly informed Mendel’s choice in naming their wine estate Finca Remota too. But the Torres family from Spain may have the crown for the most southerly, and separate, vines having acquired around 800 hectares of land for experimental vine growing near the gateway to Patagonia city of Coyhaique. Located on the 45th parallel it seems to be the southernmost point of viticulture on the planet.
Colomé, Salta, Argentina
Noemia, Patagonia, Argentina
Tara, Atacama Desert, Chile
Wine for inspiration
Yep, having a lot of time indoors can get a bit dull if you’re used to a hectic social life. But it’s a good time for planning the parties and people you’ll catch up with after this is over.
The ability to bring great ideas forward is always one of the great pleasures in wine. Roughly around the middle of that second glass something seems to kick the creativity nuclei in our brains into action. How many great nights out have had that ‘we ought to do that’ moment only for it to be lost half way through the the third glass?
For us the perfect ‘brain enlivening’ wines need to be light in alcohol and zippy in acidity, you can virtually feel the creative energy coursing through them. So put down that hefty 15%er Shiraz and get your lips around some Mosel Riesling or any of the new-wave of ‘glou-glou’ natural wines.
2018 WEINGUT SCHMITGES Urgestein Riesling Kabinett Trocken 75cl
We all love the wines of Joh Jos Prüm too which encapsulate the feather light style of Mosel Riesling perfectly.
2018 DAMIEN COQUELET Beaujolais Villages 75cl
A true low sulphite smasher, virtually impossible to resist a second glass of this.
Wine for contemplation
The Italians are our heroes here having coined the term Vino di Meditazione for a variety of after dinner sweet or strong wines. Probably most famous in this category would be the Vin Santo wines of Tuscany made from air-dried grapes and given long ageing in small casks. The results are nutty and mildly sweet. The occasional dunking of a biscotti in Vin Santo is certainly allowed but remember this isn’t a cup of tea so keep your Hob Nobs out of the wine. But do look for the Recioto of Soave (white) or Valpolicella (red). Similar methods to the Vin Santos and perfect for that kicking back and dwelling upon the mysteries of life, the universe and everything.
Vin Santo is also produced on the Greek island paradise of Santorini
Wine for Story Telling
There’s a copy of Hugh Johnson’s The Story of Wine that’s been sitting at home for a couple of years that needs my attention. We’ve been making and trading wine for 8000 years so there’s maybe a time to learn about the trading routes of the Phoenicians and the agricultural practices of the Roman empire during this time of aloneness?
For the non-wine geeks cooped up indoors our memories of adventures, brilliant meals, funny people and moments of heightened experience may start to flood back. We’ve all got some tale we love to share. And so it is with wines. The current obsession in wine marketing is for ‘wines with stories’. Even if that story often seems to be a variant on the ‘Dedicated artisan goes against the grain. Finds inspiration from the old ways of winemaking. Produces modern classic’ narrative.
In truth there are a myriad of people and places in the world who have a unique back story. But applying the big seven arcs gives us these options:
Overcoming The Monster
This has to be the storyline for wines that have survived the great vine pest phylloxera. Unwittingly unleashed into European vineyards in the 19th century this aphid like insect lived in harmony on the sap of wild vine roots in North America. But European vines had built no such evolutionary symbiosis and succumbed over 30-40 years to its predations. The only way to ensure that vines for wine grapes remain alive today is to graft the rootstock of American vines to the trunk of European vines. The only exception is for vines grown in sandy soils that have survived on their original rootstocks.
Etna reds, Zinfandel from Contra-Costa County, Old vine Barossa Shiraz.
Lots of rebirth stories in wine these days. The recent Vinaterros tasting in London showcased many Spanish wine regions previously doomed to low-grade hooch or abandoned due to excessively difficult vineyard work.
2018 FEDELLOS DO COUTO Bastarda 75cl
See also Garnachas from the Gredos Mountains, and Bobal from Valencia.
Striving to make wine as naturally as possible? That’s a quest right there. So many things that can go wrong in a fermenting vat but doing little is the hardest task of all we say.
2017 EL HATO Y EL GARABATO Otro Cuento 75cl
Made with 100% Doña Blanca on the Spanish/Portuguese border. All by hand.
2018 CONTINENTAL PLATTER Sac A Main Balinais 75cl
Natural wine practitioner Patrick Sullivan dives into the world of Yarra Valley Pinot Noir and comes up with a cracking example.
2015 LA STOPPA Ageno 75cl
Very orange. Lots of skin contact and made in the style of the ancients yet this is as fresh and perky as you’d ever want.
There & Back
Winemakers who have worked in different countries and imported methods they learnt in those places to their own back yard. Much like Bilbo bringing Gandalf back to the Shire for his Eleventy-First birthday.
2018 VAGABOND South African Chenin Blanc 75cl
Our resident winemaking guru Gavin is originally from Australia but has worked in Burgundy and helped us get this Chenin Blanc out of South Africa.
Rags to Riches
The South African wine scene is as vibrant as it has ever been today but that comes after thirty years of grind to find out the best places and styles it can produce. We’re certainly extremely thankful and have partied with the best of them to celebrate their successes.
2017 MOMENTO Chenin Blanc Verdelho 75cl
2019 CRYSTALLUM Clay Shales Chardonnay 75cl
Two of the best of the new wave of SA.
The death of Didier Dagueneau. The wild man of Pouilly revitalised the wines of Pouilly-Fume in the 1990s and lived a life of bravado and exception. So when he crashed his microlight plane in 2008 he left a gigantic void in the lives of many.
2017 CHATEAU DE TRACY Pouilly Fume Haute Densite 75cl
A wine arguably inspired by Didier’s methods and critical thinking. Increased vine planting density is thought to increase competition for nutrients among the vines thus creating finer quality grapes.
Is often wrought from the faux-bourgeois dressed segment of the wine trade who have fallen asleep in a corner at a trade tasting.
Fat Bastard Chardonnay perhaps?
It take thirty days to make or break a habit apparently. So fourteen days shouldn’t be so hard if there’s something wine related to hand. See you at the party after this is over.