Ever try a wine and hate it? Yeah, me too. But before we blame the wine, maybe give it a second chance. Actually, give it some food.
It is freezing outside and I am in the mood for a hearty Bordeaux. Some Bordeaux need years to work, while others taste brilliant young. So, when I find a Right Bank, Merlot blend, from the ripe 2009 vintage, I consider myself safe. Doubly so, this is young Château Vignot (est 2003) with modernist Pierre Seillan at the helm, Kendall Jackson money backing it, and a website pushing words like “approachable”, “elegant”, “feminine”, “silky”, and the phrase, “meant to be enjoyed upon release”. It all seems overeager to please.
Château Vignot, Saint-Emilion Grand Cru, 2009 $60-$70
It smells tempting enough with plump aromas of dried blueberries, crushed raspberries, red cherry, toasted cedar, light caramel, and tobacco.
However, sipping it feels like licking a tree: a tart, dusty, angry tree. Green notes of olive, pine, stem, earth all frame some horrid prune juice…just no.
I give Vignot a couple hours to breath. But it still feels like reaching first base with tree bark.
Then I remember, the French eat to drink and drink to eat and eat and drink to live. Or something.
So, I whip out some aged cheddar from Scotland and Tillamook. The wine stands on its head.
That angry cedar tree remains, looming behind us, but we have walked out of its forest into a sunny grove with warm blueberries, black cherry trees, plum liquor, wafts of a nice cigarette: my kinda grove. Its acidity and tannin step back just enough to keep interest, the medium body holds, and the texture turns to distressed suede.
I know this is excruciatingly obvious. Food pairings make wine work. Yet, so often, we think ourselves wine gurus and dismiss them on first impressions. Crowds plow through wine tastings, judging them harshly, with nary a snack. As if speed dating ever worked.
This drives winemakers to manipulate their wares ever softer, sweeter, and dead on arrival.
So, to misquote John Lennon, give cheese a chance.