Tension is an underexplored dimension of wine that, in some respects, goes against the grain of conventional aesthetics. Balance, harmony and elegance are all buzzwords of significant currency, dictating a serene, classical conception of beauty that, I’ll admit, often holds a lot of appeal for me.
I also like Italian horror films from the 1970s. And Sandra Bernhard’s lips. And Michel Houellebecq’s politics. All angular, difficult things that, on some level, fill me with a sense of beauty. Lately, I find myself wondering on a regular basis whether a wine that is less than composed in its structure and flow can be equally, perhaps even more, beautiful than one which is perfectly built. I know the answer is “of course it can;” articulating why is more challenging.
In some respects, this wine is all over the place. Its flavour profile leaps from sulfur to rich, aromatic fruit to crystalline minerality. Its mouthfeel lurches from spritz to unctuousness to chiselled dryness. Yet, somehow, it all comes together in the most exciting, delicious way. The aroma shows slightly blunt sulfur, the dull ache of carbonated mineral water, tart marmalade and, strangely, the smell of white pepper. It’s a question mark of a nose, darting this way and that. It’s also subtly alluring, redolent of the smell of spice markets that I suspect have only ever existed in the pages of books.
The palate is a rollercoaster ride. Spritz registers on entry, cutting through what becomes a rich expression of Riesling fruit on the middle palate. Mango skins and lime juice, mostly. It’s delicious, if sweet, and begins to cloy just as a swell of minerality rises to temper any excess of residual sugar. I have been sipping this wine all evening, and have not remotely tired of the contrasting interplay between sweet fruit and dry flintiness. It’s one of the hardest things to get right with off-dry Riesling styles, and this wine makes it seem just effortful enough to help one appreciate the achievement. A lovely, long finish.
I see this wine as a contest of sorts, between elements that clash and come together not to cancel each other out, but to give rise through conflict to something quite lovely. It’s fabulous.