Lunch yesterday stretched our fine wine fetishes from distinctly lovely experiences to downright perverted twistedness. Is not that what fine wine collecting and drinking really is? An intense perversion practised by fetishists? That in no way means that it is bad, just that it is perverted.
What I am suggesting is that if you are really into wine for a long time and taste broadly and deeply, you are likely to develop a rarefied and abstracted taste for wine. Indeed, it is highly likely you’ll find yourself loving things that are not conventionally nice. Think of all those miserable, dreary, minor-growth Bordeaux that people will buy every year because they have tuned themselves into thinking their unpalatable tough dryness is something they enjoy. The twisted perverts.
I freely admit that I am one too, as I have a taste for white Hermitage – possibly the world’s least loved Grand Wine. It is also a mammothly unprofitable use of highly desirable vineyard space where it is crazily in demand for red wines. At one point I think I owned more Hermitage Blanc than a decent sized producer of the stuff; and why is this perverted – see the note. See all of them, they were great wines for fetishists…
Riesling Goldtropfchen 2013, Julian Haart
Reinhold Haart must be constantly crapping his keks. whenever he looks at his vineyards in Piesport. This is because his nephew, Julian, is making wine from those very same vineyards that micturates all over his flabby, soft, beginners’ wine (in terms of viticulture, oenology and target market) from an ‘erotic gherkin’ skyscraper height.
It is true this wine is an extremely ripe, sweet and fruity wine. Indeed it is rather winsome. But we want more than just attractive, it has got to have screaming acidity (which this very nearly does, it hurt but I did not have to reach for the Gaviscon) and vineyard character.
Based on the examples I have had before this wine, the vineyard character seemed to be ‘baked to over-ripeness’. But this has a strong stone aroma and a similar character on the extremely long finish. Together with the merely good acidity keep it balanced and charged with some energy.
But it is all just a bit… agreeable… amiable… propitious… You know, a bit too nice for real wine pervs, so we must move on!
Hermitage ‘La Pierrelle’ 2012, Louis et Cherry Barruol
Jesus cock-sucking Christ, someone new has knowingly planted Marsanne on (maybe not the best bit, I admit) one of the great red wine vineyards in the world?!? The mind boggles to buggery and back!
This has a very faint aroma of glue, a fainter aroma of pear and a tit-load of booze to really burn the inside of your nose. They claim 13% on the label – purest bullshit! I would put this at around 14.5% if not higher. It actually smells like quite a good, young, enjoyable white Hermitage that has not shut down yet. Based on that description there is definite perversion when it comes to liking such a non-descript booze bomb.
I swear, that if you blindfolded most people and gave them a glass of this, they would say it was a red wine. It has a strong alcoholic power, perplexing astringency of impressive structure and hardly any acidity. That blend of alcohol and massive skin contact character do not make this conventionally nice. I am really pleased I scored it, but them I am a superior being of wine appreciation and so therefore a whopping great pervert.
The finish is incredibly long and grabs your palate into a tannic pucker as if the wine were trying to drag your mouth down into your stomach with it. The slight glue and pear flavours persist along with that incredible, grippy structure.
Serious white Hermitage that I really enjoyed. See? I told you, perverted me!
Vosne-Romanee Premier Cru Les Brulees 2012, Domaine Confuron-Gindre
I’ve written about this Confuron-Genderbender recently, but there is something I want to make as plain as the conversational ability of professional snooker players.
This is an enormous wine, it does almost everything to extremes: fruit is powerfully exotic (very powerful at that), the tannins are somewhat hidden by the lush fruitiness of the palate, but they are huge too. There is a fair old whack of acidity to it, as well as the slightly rustic character I am so familiar with wines from this Premier Cru.
The conventional wisdom argues that because it has so much of everything, and they are currently there in reasonable balance (as reasonably balanced as me when I have had a milligram of Clonazepam; good stuff, that, for we psychotic types), they will all mellow at the same rate and produce a beautiful mature, elegant wine. I view this with suspicion, it is the logic of perverts. How many wines have I aged that were monsters in their youth and lovely and refined when old… Hmmm… Does not help having all my red Burgundy Stolen… Pommard Premier Cru Rugiens 1999 from de Montille stands out in my mind. However, that was not so much of a monster when young. So, no, I have not witnessed this huge Burgundies developing into elegant, refined lovelies when old. That’s the kind of piffle perverts peddle.
I feel quite strongly, more strongly, perhaps, than anyone should feel about a style of Burgundy (so I am a pervert too, wine obsession is inherently perverted, you cannot deny it!) that these bruisers are better drank as young as possible so you get the full life, energy and élan the wine will ever show and there is no danger of losing any of that esprit de corps, that grandiloquent wines show, by ageing them.
Cellaring wines is a risky business, you need to have a good cellar and be au fait with a wine’s past performance in the cellar. So, if I just pick two as an example, I am quite good at judging how well Domaine Dujac and Domaine Arlaud wines will age because I have had them umpty-hundred and ninety-two times, at least!
Cellaring all or even most of the wine you buy is a recipe for disaster (Guy Dennis!). The vast majority of wines are made for enjoying when they are buxom and/or butch. If you put them in the cellar you are just throwing your money away very, very slowly, you pervert!
Hermitage 1999, Domaine du Colombier
This is truly glorious, the last of the elegant Hermitage style wines to be made during that brief time from 1983/85 to 1997/1998 when the style was in with the quality winemakers of Hermitage. Even Florian (of Domaine du Colombier) makes big, powerful Hermitage these days. We drink it at Elitistreview Towers naked with bleu steak. That is not quite a perversion, it is just how people in touch with their inner masculinity (even if it is the masculinity of a four year old and a seven year old) drink fairly young, butch, modern Hermitage: naked with barely cooked steak!
But this has an earthy, scented, meaty nose. There is not an amazing amount of fruit there, it is true, and there are apparently some celery plants growing on Florian’s plot of Hermitage. That hint of plum fruit is quite nice, though.
It is light and earthy on the palate, not too dried out at all, the plum fruit is more obvious here. Great balance, great elegance. I hope my other 1999s and 1998s were not stolen along with all my frigging red Burgundy, this 1999 suggests, if I have them, they will be most delicious too.
Back in the early Noughties Domaine du Colombier were an emerging power on and around the great hill of Hermitage. A couple of years later they became the only Hermitage one could possibly buy. They were very good (unlike booze-confection maker J-L Chave, or the international jet-set Swiss Claret-maker who ripped the soul and class from Jaboulet, or Chapoutier who were only ever interested in taking large amounts of your cash not caring a jot what their wines actually taste like), Grand Vin compared to their filth. Moreover, they did not require selling your children for medical experiments to afford them (unlike J-L Chave, Jaboulet and Chapoutier). Guigal squeezes into the quality Hermitage bracket, but you really should not be lining the pockets of a vulgar, rich, fool with no taste.
Florian is a nice chap, and his Domaine du Colombier Hermitage, both red and white, are really worth your time to seek out and put in your cellar. Is it not perverted to dictate that there is only one source of quality Hermitage?
Riesling Auslese Bernkasteler Badstube 2010, J. J. Prum
Only perverts could love a wine where almost all its direct citrus fruit is masked by Sulphur. It is so young and wound up it tastes drier than the Kabinett. But it is, possibly only for perverts, an amazing wine, it seems more like a Bernkasteler Doctor than a Badstube…