On a number of occasions I have been called a wine wanker. Not a term I like too much, but hey if the Riedel glass fits !
People are really interested in wine and love to hear stories about wine and where it comes from etc. However there is a very fine line between telling an interesting anecdote about your latest winery visit, and boring the pants off someone
I know I have been there and I have seen the boredom in their eyes
I like to call this the “Wine Wanker” Spectrum and if you love wines at some stage you will be on it.
If you answer yes to any of these questions, then you may have to consider yourself on the “wine wanker” spectrum
- Do you always order the wine at a restaurant?
- Do you always swirl and sniff your wine before you drink it?
- Do you spend more than 30 minutes walking around a bottle shop before you purchase anything?
- Do you have more than one wine reference book?
- Are you able to describe wine flavours and aromas as if you were in a Fruit and Vegetable shop?
Now there is nothing wrong with this, as you have just described me and a lot of people I know.
But like anything there are degrees and I like to think less is more.
When telling a story about your favourite wine, leave them wanting more. Save all your wine wanker tendencies for when you go to tastings with other like minded individuals
Speaking about this spectrum, I recently attended a Spanish tasting where I hate to admit I was on the extreme side of things. Lots of swirling and spitting and taking notes
Oh well someone has to do it. This was put on by the major importer of Spanish wines in Australia (The Spanish Acquisition) and some of the wines were amazing. I hate to say though, the wines that caught my attention were also on the extreme side of pricing, but when they come from the top producers of a country, price can be a little relative. When you consider the 2010 Penfolds Grange is retailing for $700 and first growth Bordeaux wines are selling for $2000 a bottle, these all of a sudden looked really cheap.
Spain is not all about Tempranillo and Rioja. Other areas to keep an eye out for are Ribera del Duero and Prioriat. These relatively newish areas are generating most of the buzz coming out of Spain and the prices and fame they are achieving, particularly in the US, have to be seen to be believed.
One of the finest producers is Alvaro Palacios. From a well known wine family in Rioja, he left the safe confines of this family estate in the early 1980’s to work at Chateau Petrus. He then ventured into the largely forgotten region of Prioriat, purchasing a vineyard in 1993 that would become the crown jewel of the area. A steep sloping, northeast-facing Garnacha vineyard on well-drained schist (rocky soil) that was planted between 1900 and 1940. Alvaro named it (L’Ermita) for a small chapel, or hermitage, that sits atop the hill. This wine if you can find it in Australia would set you back $1700
They did not have this wine available to taste (Those cheap bastards) but they did have the more reasonably priced 2011 Alvara Palacios “Vi de Gratallops”. This is Grenache but not as we know it! Elegance and sophistication are the two words that leapt into my mind as I tasted this wine. A floral, very feminine wine with great length and lovely tannins. It would retail for around $140 a bottle, which makes $1,700 seem very cheap, but is still a lot of money for a bottle of wine. Is it worth it? Yes, every cent, for you get to try a wine from the best producer of a country. You should indulge yourself if you see a bottle on a wine list
The other two wines that caught my fancy were Tempranillo based from the Ribero Del Duero .
2011 “PSI” Tempranillo is the brain child of Peter Sisseck, founder of Dominio de Pingus. Pingus is the other superstar of Spanish red wines, retailing in Australia for around the same price as the L’Ermita. (The bastards didn’t have this wine open either). But the PSI was a standout. Silky tannins and luscious fruit framed by lovely Oak. At $85 a bargain right!
The other Tempranillo was the 2009 Cillar de Silos “Torresilo”. I am pretty familiar with this producer, as one of the sommeliers chose a wine from de Silos for an earlier mixed dozen. However this Torresilo is at another level. A big oaky wine with plenty of flavour, but always in balance. One to keep in your cellar for a long time but it has that lusciousness that will make you want to open it and drink it right now. It will set you back $130 a bottle, but it is a lot of wine and relatively speaking, great value.
As I stated, these are wines for when you want to bring out your own inner wine wanker. You will want to share them with other wine lovers and then endlessly debate their qualities and virtues. To drink them by yourself would be too indulgent.