Sat 18 Aug 2007
… and their way with words, get a load of this comment from wine.elitistreview.com, the site whose motto is “If it is possible to live it is possible to live well.” Isn’t that what’s printed on Lindsay Lohan’s t-shirt in her latest mug-shot? Anyway, in writing, back in March — I stumbled upon this a few days ago, which happens so often on the Internet and makes surfing so much fun — about the Tim Adams Pinot Grigio 2006, from Australia’s Clare Valley, our elitist says: “Much better than that Italian pinot grigio filth.” Wow, I mean I know that I’ve had some pretty damned bland, innocuous, generic Italian pinot grigios, but that’s rather harsh, isn’t it? Swill, yes, but filth?
So while it may be presumptuous for me to recommend wine to someone of such strong opinions — I wouldn’t be surprised if our elitist flew to America and kicked my American butt — I’m going to name some pinot grigio wines that I think are of superior quality. They’re certainly better than, you know, “filth.”
From northeastern Italy, I recommend the pinot grigios from Alois Lageder from the Benefizium Porer vineyard (Alto Adige, about $20) and La Tunella (Colli Orientali del Friuli, about $17). Turning to California — quelle horreur! — I have recently enjoyed Morgan’s R & D Franscioni Pinot Gris 2006 (Santa Lucia Highlands, about $18) and the Terlato Family Vineyard Pinot Grigio 2006 (Russian River Valley, about $17). I would also look to Oregon for the Elk Cove Pinot Gris 2006 (Willamette Valley, about $15).
These are clean, fresh, lively and quite engaging pinot grigio-style wines (I mean not in the denser, spicer style of Alsace), packed with far more presence and character than our elitist might suspect.
Unusually for an Englishman, by the way, (or a British guy, is that what we’re supposed to say?), our elitist despises what the English (or the British) have called “claret” since time immemorial, “claret” being red Bordeaux wine. We mustn’t forget that a great deal of western France, including Gascony and Bordeaux, became English territory when Eleanor of Aquitaine married Henry Plantagenet in 1152 and remained part of England until the end of the Hundred Years’ War in 1453. Trade restrictions with Bordeaux were eased during those 301 years, leading to the English taste for what came to be called claret — pronounced “CLAR-ette” — though the red wines of Bordeaux were much lighter all those centuries ago. (And that’s your history lesson for today.) The English became great connoisseurs of the wines of Bordeaux, producing great cellars, a number of well-known commentators on the wines, from George Saintsbury to Michael Broadbent, and a healthy auction market.
Anyway, our elitist begs to differ. After opening a bottle of Domaine de Chevaliers 1995, a red wine from Pessac Leognan, formerly a part of Graves, he writes, on Monday, August 6: “I own only one bottle of Claret, I hate the stuff. Red Bordeaux is simply dull unless it is fabulously expensive, and most of them are still crap. After this I am not going to buy another bottle of red Bordeaux.”
If I’m ever invited to the elitist’s house for dinner, I’ll have to remember to take Burgundy. And a bottle of pinot grigio.
“The young man is used to claret” is from gutenberg.org.