The vehemence with which people flick off one white varietal for another could only be considered viticultural vilification. We love them, then hate them, then move on. There can only be one white queen at a time. Chardonnay was crucified in the name of Sauvigon Blanc … which is now falling prey to Pinot Gris/Grigio, with Riesling experiencing some sort of revival in the background.
We don’t seem to do this with reds. They’re all in vogue at the same time. You can choose whichever varietal tickles your fancy, and no-one pooh-poohs it as blasé. But in recent years, I’ve been seeing a shift in thinking. People are starting to gravitate towards more blends.
Five years ago, only the enthusiasts knew what a Rhône blend was. Today, it seems I sell as many of them as I do bottles of Shiraz, or Pinot Noir. So perhaps a trend is emerging … Rhône is the new red.
I have this thing about butterflies. There’s a big blue Ulysses tatooed on my left shoulder. Not long after having it done, I went to Noumea, and on the beach the french people ‘oohed’ and ‘aahed’ over my “Papillon”. So, the other night, when a rep came in brandishing a wine of the same name, I had to give it a try.
This one’s not the usual GSM. It’s made from old vine Grenache, Cinsualt and Mataro. Brilliantly perfumed – like the fresh frangipanis of my home in North Queensland. Delightful raspberry, redcurrant and cherry aromas, some confectionary, woody spices … and just a touch of something earthy.
As I swished the medium-bodied liquid around, I detected the very berries I discovered earlier, along with some liquorice spiciness and the earthiness again. That was it – cold borsch! Suddenly I was back in Russia, and that fabulous borsch restaurant in Saint Petersburg my friends took me to.
The finish was long, mouth-watering and spicy, bedded down with drying, soft tannins. For less than $30, this is a great wine – light, easy to drink and a great alternative for those diligent Pinot Noir drinkers.
This is a wine I will revisit, for sure. So many delightful aromas, tastes and memories out of one bottle.