Offcuts: Picardy

I attended a showcase of Picardy wines on Wednesday evening. On offer were the 2001 and 2007 vintages of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Shiraz and Cabernets. The wines triggered a wide-ranging conversation amongst my dinner companions. I summarise some personal impressions here.

3 thoughts on “Offcuts: Picardy

  1. I have been made aware of the note above and your comments on structure. It is not an easy area to discuss as it breaks down into the “bits and pieces” camp and the “holistic” camp very easily.

    Structure to me equates in many ways to your “architecture”, but I believe it is more grounded than that. Like describing a face, tannins become the nose, acid the mouth, etc – but the look, or the symmetry, is the key to how the face will age and keeps its distinctive style. Without a grounding a wine will look more and more awkward with time, with the classic examples of collapsable wines being many of the fruit bombs generated in the late 90′s and early naughties. Without fine bones and a sense of elegance it’s not worth aging – and a simple fruit driven wine you really can only enjoy its baby face.

    Of course this is personal opinion and preference, but I’ve yet to have an excellent aged Bordeaux that doesn’t have a structure to die for underpinning the enjoyment…

    Cheers

    Mark

    • Hi Mark,

      You’re right, it’s difficult to discuss for the same reason wine is difficult to describe: how to create a coherent narrative around what are essentially abstract sensations? Like you, I believe structure (let’s call it that) sits somewhere between a reductive list of components on the one hand, and an holistic aesthetic judgement on the other. But how to describe it?

      I’m a firm believer in the utility of an appropriate metaphor, and your “face” does bring things into relief for me in terms of your intent when discussing structure. In particular, I think you’re right about its relationship to age. I’ve certainly been guilty in the past of simplifying the maturation process down to one or other element (tannin, acid). Perhaps you are right that a wine which glows in maturity relies on bone structure in youth that goes beyond simply having sufficient tannin or acid. After all, a wine may age without “falling apart,” but this is quite a different thing from a wine that ages beautifully.

      The aesthetics at play here are of particular interest to me. A well structured wine is immediately recognisable but perhaps not so easily understood, just as you might glance a second time at an especially lovely face without knowing quite why. You’re right — the harmony between each element, the proportion to their arrangement, defines whether the overall effect is grotesque, blandly handsome, sensual, etc. There is a degree of aesthetic judgement here (personal opinion and preference) yet, as with faces, I wonder if we tend collectively to gravitate towards certain expressions of beauty?

      I would do well to think more on it, but certainly lots of food for thought.

      Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment.

      Julian.

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