The Sort of Wine My Wife Would Like

At the BYOB dinner at the beginning of the DWCC Wine Blogging Conference 2013 in Rioja the idea is of course to meet your fellow wino’s in an informal atmosphere. Nametags are not yet handed out, but there is always YOB to talk about. It’s a good opportunity to show off too, of course. I tried to do so with Terre d’Ombre 2012, a Southern Rhône of 100% Grenache; an “authentic” wine made by Eric Pfifferling that was listed in this year’s top 100 of an influential Dutch wine writer. It’s a fresh, light bodied red wine, herbal, yet floral and fruity, that I might have served a little chilled were it not that I had no opportunity to cool it before the event and didn’t feel like posting near the ice filled buckets at the event itself.

The first two reactions were a bit off-putting. One said it was not well fermented and tasting of yeasts. The other just sniffed and turned his head in disgust. Different tactics were needed, clearly. From now on I wouldn’t let it be tasted unawares. I introduced the wine with “forewarnings” like “organic”, “no artificial yeasts, no sulphites”, “an acquired taste”. I also asked everyone to be honest and to spit it out if they felt like it.

Did it help? Difficult to say, but the fact is that the critics weren’t as devastating since. There still were those who said it wasn’t their kind of wine. Fair enough. Others were quite surprised, but in a positive way: a Grenache like they never have come across. Was this really a Rhône wine? A professional wine communicator told me that though it was not to his taste, it was a well-made wine, actually the sort of wine his wife would like. Was he being mere polite, knowing we would be heading home together in the same group after the conference?


Wine&Dine: Lentils & Chianti

As rain and wind howled round the house we didn’t feel like going out to do some much needed shopping. What to eat? We were out of almost everything. Spouse muttered “pizza” and “delivery,” but seeing my not too enthusiastic reaction retreated to the utility room cum pantry to do a last and thorough inspection. A celeriac, a piece of chorizo, some lentils. That would do fine for a simpler version of Stephanie Alexander’s “Celeriac sautéed with lentils and walnut oil.” (See her The Cook’s Companion – it really is a companion.)

Dine: Celeriac sautéed with lentils
(1) Heat olive oil and fry onion and garlic, add not too small cubes of celeriac and a bay leaf. After a while add lentils, a twig of rosemary, some fresh oregano and stock. Cook over a moderate heat till lentils are tender but not mashed. The liquid should be almost gone. Discard rosemary, oregano and the bay leaf (lest it settles on your windpipe). Stir in chopped parsley (leave a little aside), pepper, salt to taste.
(2) In the meantime, cut the chorizo in small pieces (1 cm) and fry them in their own fat. Discard fat and lay aside.
(3) Meanwhile, cut some celeriac in julienne and fry in a little vegetable oil until brown. Lay aside, sprinkle with a little sea salt to taste.
(4) Ladle a generous portion of the lentils on a deep plate, sprinkle with walnut oil (if you happen to have it) and a little sherry vinegar (idem). This adds to the nutty, earthy taste of the lentils. We forgot but our two “side dishes” made up for it. Add the chorizo. Top it off with some fried celeriac and parsley.

poggerinoWine: Fattoria Poggerino – Chianti Classico DOCG 2009
Radda in Chianti, 14%vol, by Piero and Benedetta Lanza, € 14,95, for sale here.
The sweetish celeriac, the earthiness of the lentils and the fatty sharpness of the chorizo need a firm but not too firm red wine. One that won’t overrule the celeriac nor be overruled by the chorizo. This Chianti did the job alright. It’s a smooth, well-structured and well-balanced wine. Ruby-red in colour with aromas of red fruit, blackberry, elderberry and laurel. The wine has spent one year in barriques.


Unfettered Freedom

Indian authorities probably don’t drink Cycles Gladiator Pinot Noir, or else they hadn’t banned cycles from Calcutta’s main roads. They would have known that ‘[t]he advent of affordable transportation for men and women provided them [i.e., these men and women] with an independence and autonomy heretofore unknown.’ They would also have learned that Susan B. Anthony thought bicycles to ‘have done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world.’ There is so much wisdom to be found on wine labels.

Anthony, a prominent American civil and women’s rights activist who was arrested in 1872 for voting in the presidential elections, has done a thing or two for women’s emancipation herself. I do hope though she had other means of transportation whilst travelling through the US and Europe and delivering 75-100 speeches a year.

10-Cycles-Gladiator-wine-label-VSSI wonder if she, born a Quaker’s daughter but turning agnostic in later life (or so Wikipedia tells me), would have disapproved of Massias’ 1895 poster to promote a new bicycle for Cycles Gladiator. Alabama did. Its civil servants reviewing wine labels for anything obscene or indecent, deemed the poster-turned-wine-label pornographic and forbade its distribution in 2009. Much to the delight of the company’s sales department.

How did this ‘tribute to that spirit of unfettered freedom’ taste?

Cycles Gladiator Pinot Noir 2011, California, 13,9% alc., ca. £ 9
Brightly coloured, fruity wine with a little sweetness that I didn’t think of as disturbing. Served slightly chilled it will do as an agreeable summer wine.

The name of the UK distributor, you ask? Patriarche Wine Agencies.