As much as I adore aromatic white wines and light, elegant reds, after several weeks in Germany I have developed unhealthily deep cravings for something big, tannic and slutty. I’m in the UK right now, so my usual game of restricting myself to supermarket wine holds. A recent visit to a Tesco the size of a small village resulted in this, a Madiran with some Cabernet Sauvignon and Franc in addition to the usual Tannat. Surely a combination to salve some of my tannin withdrawl.
And yes, it’s reasonably tannic. It’s also, initially, pretty mean, showing little lusciousness of fruit and, in its place, a bloody flavour profile that’s not metallic so much as sinewy and spare. There are big holes in the aroma and flavour of this wine, holes that are are partially addressed with air, but it remains a fundamentally lean, savoury wine even through extended tasting. To the extent there is overt fruit character, it’s bright and red, with some sweetness but little weight. Structure is more gratifying, with tannins that are well textured and acid that keeps things fleet. Yet I can’t love the balance of this wine, and the whole is akin to someone painfully skinny who isn’t, alas, especially handsome either.
At Tesco, I also purchased a Cahors I hope will provide more satisfaction.
Vignobles de Gascogne
The generosity of wine lovers is endlessly fabulous. On Friday evening, I had the pleasure of Mark Gifford’s company, and not only did I retaste part of his Blue Poles portfolio (go the Allouran), but I was given the opportunity to taste this wine, which Mark had brought back from his last stint in France. Like Mark himself, this wine proved a deliciously easygoing dining companion, and one that demonstrates structure does not come at the expense of drinkability.
Tannat is renowned for its tannins, so I was looking forward to a mouthful of sweet sandpaper with this wine. But first, the nose, a balancing act of gorgeously voluptuous red fruits and strong savoury overtones strongly reminiscent of smoked herbs. Am I over-romanticising things to suggest that wines from warm climes smell like the summer days through which they evolved as fruit on vine? Perhaps, but this wine’s aroma strongly evokes lazy summer days, ripening berries, wild herb gardens and the thirsty laziness of balmy afternoons.
This wine’s contradictions come to the fore on the palate. It’s beautifully balanced for drinking, a gush of bright, medium bodied red fruit immediately presenting on entry. It comes across slightly sweeter on the palate, perhaps due to a relative absence of the distinctively herbal thread seen on the nose. Here, instead of savouriness, fruit is balanced by tannins that are both prominent and well distributed. This isn’t a monstrous wine, structurally, nor is it a wine that “demands food” like, say, Sangiovese. The tannins sprinkle, then shower, the tongue with loose-knit sweetness, while all that red fruit keeps driving down the line. So easy, delicious and unpretentious.