Returning to the old sod after a Tuscan summer is never that easy, but Giovanni Morelli was cheered to find a few bargains in one of our favourite discount supermarkets.
‘Wine is wonderful stuff. But so many people are put off by the snobbery of it’. — John Cleese.
Coming back to Ireland after a long hot summer in Tuscany was not easy. The happy faces of grandchildren helped, but it is difficult to get used to grey skies and I really miss the warm sun on my back.
It was a warm summer in Tuscany. Most days were 300C and the nights were warm. We were not complaining, but the farmers were. It hadn’t rained in Tuscany for about four months so things were really dry. Vines like warm days but cool evenings.
Shortly before we left Tuscany, the weather changed. The evenings became cooler and there were a couple of very wet days. When it rains there, it really rains!
I hate wine snobs. The interesting thing about wine is that you can often find bargains and this has never been as true as in the past year or two. A number of things have happened. We are all familiar, unfortunately, with the worldwide recession and this has provoked a wine glut. Coupled with this is the apparent collapse of the Chinese market.
The prices paid for Bordeaux have fallen spectacularly in the past year.
According to Matthew Stevenson, the average price paid for a bottle of wine now in China is about €25. Apparently it had been the custom to give gifts of very expensive wine in return for contracts etc, but this is now frowned upon.
For those of you who have not been affected by the depression, the news from Château Lafite is good. The owner, Frédéric Engerer, one of the richest men in France, has decided that too much Château Lafite is being consumed too young. So he will no longer be selling wine en primeur (buy from the barrel and pay when it is bottled and shipped) but keeping it in his cellar under ideal conditions. He will release it when it is ready for consumption, 12-15 years later.
So senior counsels and gynaecologists will not have to worry about storage any more. Just simply stay alive and wealthy for another 15 years or so and you can then buy and drink Château Lafite.
I can’t really believe that Monsieur Engerer is worried about his wine being consumed too young, but when he says (as quoted by James Molesworth and Suzanne Mustacich in the Wine Spectator): “In the first 10-15 years, the wine is travelling so much through the distribution system and secondary market.
“If you buy and open a ’95 Latour now, and take that risk, and it doesn’t show well because of how it was stored, you blame it on us in the end.” This sounds to me like a much more genuine reason!
However, all may not be as it seems in Burgundy. The two Directors, Armand and Louis Cottin, from the very famous Négociant Labouré-Roi vin Nuits-Saint-Georges were questioned in June this year by the police in Dijon about possible fraud involving up to half-a-million bottles of wine.
Accusations included topping up first-class wine with cheap supermarket wine, and swapping of labels. Whatever the outcome, it certainly will not enhance the reputation of Burgundy.
But not all the news is bad. A compound called piceatannol, a metabolite of resveratrol, blocks the formation of fat cells under laboratory conditions. As you have probably noticed, there is an additional hydrogen and oxygen molecule on piceatannol, which gives it a longer half-life. Long known for its putative antitumour and antioxidant activities, piceatannol, however, is a long way from solving our obesity problems.
The leading author in the Journal of Biological Chemistry, Kee-Hong Kim, said: “More studies in animals and humans are needed in the future to appreciate the claim that a red wine compound might be a fat-cell zapper.” Anyway it doesn’t sound as if it is bad for you!
I started off talking about snobs. Well, the two best values in Ireland at present are the 2011 Côtes du Rhône Villages, which at €5.99 is a steal, and the Cava, Arestel, at €7.99 likewise. Both are available from Lidl.