Humility’s in short supply when it comes to wine. Let’s face it, baked into the very idea of wine quality is the assumption that more is better – length, intensity, complexity, power. If a wine were to be described as humble, as I’d charactertise this, it’s at best a backhanded compliment, suggestive of a wine that succeeds despite itself, of something that should be condescendingly admired for its lack of pretension.
Here’s the case, then, for humble wine:
- Firstly, a decidedly un-noble variety: Pelaverga piccolo, from a mere four rows owned by the producer.
- Secondly, a style that’s best described as functional. Indeed, this wine presents so straightforwardly as to be completely disarming. There’s some fruit flavour, some acid, and some tannin; another sip, thank-you-very-much.
- Thirdly, flavours that recall nothing short of fresh, rather sweet, fruit, rattling about in a cage of tannin that allows plenty of elbow-room. How wonderful to taste a wine that doesn’t demand every ounce of one’s attention, but which still tickles the drinker’s sense of deliciousness and avoids even the slightest hint of pandering. Have you ever looked past someone for an age and then realised, all of a sudden, they are intensely attractive? It’s as much to do with their indifference as your perception, and this wine just doesn’t care if you notice its curves. It knows they’re there.
- Lastly, crucially, it fairly jumps down your throat. Low-ish (13.5% ABV) alcohol helps with this, and reminds me that I regret higher alcohol styles not because of any necessary sensory imbalance but simply because one can’t drink terribly much of them.
I’m not inclined to make statements like “this is what wine is,” simply because wine can be many things. To me, though, this represents one of the drink’s most intensely pleasurable forms.