After delving into the world of work for last week’s post, we figured this week we better turn to leisure. After all, anyone who lives in the Languedoc knows that a little wine is a good way to follow up any business meeting!
Kate Wardell is the author of this week’s guest blog. Kate has lived in the region for nine years and is in the hospitality and wine industry. She works at Vin en Vacances running wine tours and private tastings throughout the Languedoc. After a local “women in business” networking event, Kate and her colleague Kay decided to start up a blog as a cathartic outlet and to make people laugh. This piece originally appeared on their site, Flights of the Wines Poured.
In The World Of Wines, Who Are You?
by Kate Wardell
So, this afternoon, I was having a conversation with my friend, boss, mentor, and ‘Yoda’ of the wine world, Wendy Gedney. The conversation bounced around a variety of subjects, an upcoming transfer tour from Barcelona to the Languedoc, our imminent trip to plan a tour in the Rhone, an evening celebrating the twinning of Carcassonne with Tallin, her recent visit to Amsterdam, and an evening last week when I held a supper at my house investigating the effects of tannin on food.
One of the wines on the table was from Ollieux Romanis – a lovely winery and one we visit regularly on our Corbieres Boutenac Tour. It was a 2006 Cuvée Prestige Rouge from 2006. Wendy asked me what it was like; a question that instills fear and dread into most people.
How do you talk about wine ???
Say ‘nice’ and you might as well sound the death knoll. Say ‘interesting’ and the winemaker may visibly bristle. Say ‘quaffable’ and you might as well absolve your tastebuds of any further responsibility.
Often we opt for the generic for fear of looking or sounding foolish. But why? Taste is subjective. I might not be getting peaches and lychees, but that doesn’t mean you aren’t.
Another friend, Daniel James – late of Domaine Sainte Hilaire in Montagnac, first introduced me to the concept of grape varietals as people at a party, and to be honest, I’ve mercilessly hijacked the notion, and developed it for my own amusement.
My description of the Ollieux 06 ? Miss Havisham. In her day, clearly a great beauty, now sadly, a little dusty round the edges, and devoid of much structure. Get your hands on a more recent vintage, and the class and elegance are there for all to see – even dare I say it, a little of the bodice ripping verve displayed here by the superb Helena BC.. But, she hasn’t aged well. There I’ve come clean. And it was a bit of a shame.
So where does this concept take us? Well, whereas specific wines can be drilled down to particular characters, I suppose grape varietals can, in broad strokes, be more generic ‘types’. Let’s look again at the ‘people’ at a party, scenario…
The Wines at the Party
Your hostess, Sauvignon Blanc : everyone’s current favourite socialite; inoffensive, pretty lightweight, and as pleasing on the eye as she may be, not the person with whom you want to spend the evening discussing Sartre. She’ll take your coat, introduce you round a few people and then flutter off to greet the next arrival.
Your mate, Chardonnay Dave : everyone has a mate called Dave, and on the whole, you’re pretty pleased to see him. He’s reliable, friendly, and always prepared to bore you for 10 minutes by reciting stats on football or rugby. Some people find Dave a bit heavy going depending on their predilection for wood ( insert your own joke <- here )
The mysterious girl you haven’t met before, Viognier : to be honest, this could go either way. If she was treated badly by her last boyfriend, she’s probably the girl with her knickers tucked into her skirt, sat on the piano, drunkenly singing show tunes, by 9pm. But if she’s in a ‘good place’ she’ll be the one seductively curled up on the chaise long with men hanging on her every word.
Of course, no party would be complete without those quirky friends you only seem to meet at these social occasions : the likes of Penny from accounts, whose astringent vetting of your expenses is spookily akin to the ‘brut’ Loire Cremant, she always turns up with – Sour grapes indeed. And of course, we can’t possibly forget the charming contingent from Alsace, who cares if they’ve overdone the perfume – open the damn window – it’s worth suffering the Arctic blast to get to know these wildly underrated creatures..
Maybe next time I’ll tell you who my Idris Elba of the Wine World might be, or perhaps you’d like to venture a guess…