Monday, January 13, 2014

May one make a generalization?

If Tolstoy did it about families, I would think I can do it about wine. ("All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way," he begins Anna Karenina.)

My generalization is this: red wines are more succulent, more eatable you might say than whites, but they are much alike except for the Italian ones, which often have a distinctive olive-brine tartness. White wines are more varied in type, but for my taste, less delicious.

Cases in point:  three good reds, as follows --

2009 Masi Campofiorin, an Italian olive-brine red (very good);

2011 Matys, a cabernet-merlot blend from South Africa's Diemersdal region, very good -- with this we are perhaps learning to like some cabernets' green bell pepper aroma;

2008 St. Francis "Old Vines" Zinfandel, smooth, dense plum-and-cinnamon jam. Very good.

Now for two whites, both very different from each other and not at all equally pleasing. And yet the wines I get to taste come to me mostly at random. Possibly this accounts for my thunderclap generalization. If random samples seem to show that reds are good but uniform, and whites more variegated but an enjoyability crapshoot, why --  why, I must be right, mustn't I? Below, we find: 

2008 Miner Wild Yeast Napa chardonnay. Bright butter yellow; oily texture, all too powerful banana-and-wood syrup taste. I regret to say, for my palate -- undrinkable. A refreshment and a relief is: :

2011 Jean Vincent Sancerre. The grape is sauvignon blanc, the wine named for its area of production, the French village of Sancerre and the Appellation Controlee around it. If you like the bursting fresh grapefruit and kiwi tastes of a New Zealand sauvignon blanc, or the more pallid California styles washed over with a bit of vanilla, this will be (you guessed it) different -- dry, lean, and of a long lasting flintiness. Very good.

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