Drinking Outside The Box

With Simon Woods – wine for people who have a life

Gazza, Al Pacino and Cindy Crawford’s mole April 22, 2009 at 8:11 am

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Anyone see Gazza on Match Of The Day on Sunday? He’s had more than enough problems over the last few years, and he still came across as being too close to the edge to pronounce his troubles over, but he knows and loves his football. One of his comments particularly struck home, even if it’s not the first time I’ve heard someone say something similar. He said that there were many young kids who knew more tricks and skills than he’d ever done at their age. However, they were then taken on by football academies who proceeded to toughen them up, both mentally and physically, and encourage them to become solid team players rather than display their fancy footwork. The result he said was that the teams were becoming harder to beat, but that the game was far less entertaining than it used to be.

What’s this got to do with wine? Simply this. The proportion of bad wines in the world is lower than it has ever been, but they’ve been replaced by wines that are strong but dull. And not just at the cheaper end of the market, nor just in the New World. This struck home yesterday at the IWC when I tasted a row of Chilean Cabs and some Sicilian reds. With the Chileans, I missed the lively, just-ripe blackcurrant flavour of the past, while with the Sicilians, the problem was an absence of the slightly volatile, even rustic flavours that used to make them so appealing. In the first case, the change in style is due to lowering yields; in the second, to enhanced hygiene in the winery. Both on the face of it sensible steps, but the wines had suffered as a result. All winemakers now know how to make wines, but only the good ones know the right point at which to stop. Reminds me of the late Bailey Carrodus of Yarra Yering who said that you should taste the winemaker’s thumbprint rather than his footprint…

So please, winemakers all over the world, can you not act like football academies and eradicate all idiosyncrasies from your wines. Or to use a different metaphor, don’t make Al Pacino taller, don’t fill the gap in Madonna’s teeth, and don’t remove the mole from Cindy Crawford’s extremely beautiful face.

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