There is nothing attractive about being the one bitching and moaning, but an article in the November 13th Herald Tribune spun me into apoplexy.
Unusual Varietals for the Wine Cellar, penned by Holly Hubbard Preston was the culprit. The writer really made a mess of the story. In the biggest blunder category was singling out grapes like tempranillo, syrah nebbiolo as “previously obscure, or known as blending grapes.” Well, dear reader, as we all know, these grapes are neither obscure nor primary blenders. Poor Karen McNeil was the wine expert cited for the bulk of this misinformation. Another good boo-boo was declaring tempranillo as the major grape pf Port. That was a good one. There are several grapes allowed in Port, and tinto roriz was the name she was looking for.
So how is it that a presumably skillful journalist (though obviously not in wine) lumps these noble grapes in with something like the true oddball, the Japanese koshu, and advises that collectors start looking at these wines at auction. (Koshu? Is she kidding?)
Yeah. Wine is a fun topic and so a lot of writers like to dip their quills into the beat, but there are many technical aspects and loads of details to take in. Expertise in the field is needed to get the facts straight. Which brings me to Jeremy Oliver, an Australian wine writer who received the "Wine Writer of the Year, 2005" from the Australian Wine Selector Magazine.
I vaguely know Oliver's name. Fortunately for him his name bears a strong similarity to a certain London chef named Jamie. The Australian Wine Annual 2006 came unbidden in the mail. And like Ms. Holly's article, I sat up, steam streaming from my nose, causing me to repeatedly grunt in disquiet. Up front in the book (p.5) he froths forth a discourse on Technology in Wine. He writes " We are becoming besotted with the notion that wine must be biodynamically grown, made in small batches by hands and feet..."Provided it doesn't involve the addition of anything illegal or harmful, I am in favour of using whatever techniques are legally permissible to make a wine better, at whatever price it might be intended to sell." Probably the wildest sentence was "Take technology and interference away from wine and you get vinegar."
In this case, I've been drinking some very, very pretty vinegar these days. For example, have you had the Olivier Cousin "Pur Breton?" How about Philippe Pacalet's Pommard? Oh, well. He's in Australia. I will forgive him. I have a feeling natural wines there are considered illegal.