11.25.2010

France: Is vagueness a good thing?

nov. 25, 2010: ironically, it could only be after i compose a quasi-essay about the strengths of californian wines over those from france that my father would give us a case of french wines from his own wine cellar. i'm not complaining. i doubt he read my most recent post, and i suspect that every single one of the wines he placed in the wooden crate labeled "alan marty" was carefully chosen and placed inside. but our family celebrated the holidays early this year due to some upcoming travels to france, and as a result greg and i transported a very heavy -- and yet very appreciated -- collection of french wines we haven't had before to our own humble abode.

well, that's somewhat of an exaggeration. i'm having a 2007 chateau pesquie right now. this was part of the case my dad compiled himself, and it's actually a wine we brought to his attention at least a year ago. i should say i think this wine is bolder, and rougher, than some of the older french wines he's opened for us. so that made it an ideal wine to open after a fun thanksgiving day of family togetherness. still, the flavors of french wines, i have generally concluded, are hard to pinpoint. for instance: i've yet to experience any shining beacons of strawberry, like in californian or oregonion pinot noir. and blackberries don't announce themselves, it seems to me, as strongly as they do in australian shiraz. instead, i tend to taste earthiness, a vagueness that lends itself toward more of a mixture of flavors. this i find hard to accept, given the new world's tendency toward salad bowls. i don't mean that american and australian wines literally taste like salad. what i do mean is that i find it odd that the flavors of old world wines like this frenchman are so hard to distinguish compared to their new world adversaries. it may be because i spent so much of my life in the new world that i ascribe value to individuality. but there's also the old world part of me that acknowledges that, sometimes, it's good to mix with the crowd. confused yet? the simple way to say this is that it seems to go against the odds that, in a new world of so many individuals, there are actually so many wines that really do stand on their own, bursting with flavor and texture. so maybe i'm just looking at french wines the wrong way. maybe in these cases, vagueness is what they are going for. and maybe it's their malleability that makes them so good that they are sought after.

70 percent grenache. 30 percent syrah. 14 percent alcohol.

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