This didn’t quite work for me.
Nothing bad about it as such, but not my bag. A bit tepid. Sort of spicy and fruity, but with few distinct notes coming through. All-in-all, a bit flat. Possibly “flabby” if that’s the correct use of this word in wine terms. I’d probably edge more toward shapeless, boneless, or flumped.
It made me think; people – people who review wine – when reviewing wine seem inordinately disposed to justifying anything negative they have to say. In most fields of criticism there is no such concern. I know first-hand from my time as a(n award-winning) music journalist that subjectivity is no barrier to worthwhile reading; and that objectivity is nothing: a blue camel or a white whale or what you will. It basically doesn’t exist.
But is wine-making more science than art? Is this why people bend over backwards to be “fair”, and in doing so often say very little about wines they are less than bowled-over by?
Similarly, is a bad writer (and there are plenty of them) with a decent education in wine any better placed to form an unbiased opinion on a wine than a good writer (or indeed a bad one) who knows sod-all about viticulture?
This question used to trouble me when I began professionally reviewing wines, which was part of the reason I sat the WSET exam (albeit only at the “intermediate” level). Part of the reason I won’t sit any more is that I learned nothing on the course that I couldn’t learn (and little that I hadn’t already learned) from Wikipedia. Like so many other avenues of academia, WSET seems to be essentially an exercise in formalising – and therefore limiting – knowledge, and protecting a profession with a veil of elitism composed almost entirely of jargon. And partially of one historical narrative indicating a received wisdom about what constitutes good taste.
But taste and wisdom are both ephemeral concepts.
Back to the wine.
If I concede that I drank this wine at temperatures consistently exceeding 26°C – a full 10°C above the temperature recommended on the label – does that make my opinion of it invalid?
I have a perfectly good wine thermometer thank you very much. But unless I’m worried about wasting the considerable amount of money I rarely shell out on a “special” wine (say, £20+), I’ll probably rely on woolly terms like “room temperature” and “refrigerated”. These come to mean even less when you live in a 150-year-old cottage in British summertime, it turns out.
No, I believe a wine should taste good even when drunk at the wrong temperature. Just as I believe the new Cradle of Filth album (any given “new” Cradle of Filth album) should sound just as good sat at your desk with a black coffee and a blueberry muffin on Tuesday morning as down at Slimelight on a Sunday morning after your fifth cider and black.
So, no “fair” trial for this one. Just a couple of pithy sentences and an over-abundance of scare quotes.
In the interests of trivia, this comes from Madiran, an AOC that showcases Uruguay’s signature grape – and have you ever tried signing your name with a grape? Bloody nigh-on impossible.
In the interests of encyclopedicness, I got this wine from a mixed dozen of “summer wines” from Tesco (buy here). It’s not currently available on its own, but if Tesco’s retailing strategies are honest (ha-ha), it must be worth upwards of £12, in theory. The mixed case was pretty good overall. Well, the whites were good. The rosés were so-so and the reds were hit-and-miss.
I declare this a miss.