Beijing, 11 August 2013

Last weekend, I was reading a really interesting article in the Sunday edition of the Financial Times. It was about winemaking in Georgia (the country, not the American state), which archaeologists tell us has been in the winemaking business for 8,000 years or so. But what really struck me in the article was the following paragraph:

“The result is a width, a tannic grip and a textural depth that no conventionally made white wine will ever have. The wines’ aromas and flavours are singular too. Their acidity is muted, since they have all been through the acid-softening malolactic fermentation, while contact with the other matter in the jar, especially the yeast deposits, rounds the flavours further. In place of the fresh fruits that so many white wines suggest, these evoke dried fruits, mushrooms, straw, nuts and umami. They have less of an oxidative tang than their colours suggest; indeed, their articulation is often understated and quiet, though orchestral in its allusive range. They are meditative wines, sumptuous and subtle.”

I’m always awed by this kind of writing about wines. Whenever I drink a good wine, all that comes to my mind is “Mmm, that’s good!”

I feel it shouldn’t be so. I mean, wine courses through my veins. My maternal grandparents, whom I have referred to in earlier posts, were both descended from families of vignerons, winemakers, who lived in these small villages in the Beaujolais.



We know that this is where they came from because my father, a passionate amateur genealogist, spent a number of summers in the 1950s ferreting around in the local archives and tracking down the generations one after another. It was a joke in the family that the villagers would see my father hove into view on a bicycle, whitened by the dust on the roads – they weren’t asphalted in those days – and announce in French, but with a very English accent, that they were his cousins.

But back to the matter in hand. Really, I’m just a vigneron with a thin icing of education. So I should be able to talk for hours on end about the orchestral and allusive range of the wine I’m drinking, pointing out the evocations of mushrooms and raspberries and nuts and whatever else. But all that ever comes to mind is “Mmm, that’s yummy! Pour me another glass.”

And the worst of it all – but don’t spread this around – is that I don’t really like Beaujolais. I much prefer Spanish wines.



Wines from Spain: