… and i don’t mean that we need to look at James Hayter’s dentistry records to see how much red wine did effect the shocking condition of his visible teeth. But we can laugh at each other these days, a bit, especially after just a few hours at the ‘en primeur’ tastings, or one those Argie Malbec pushes, when being the merry folk we are in this Trade, we do laugh and smile rather too often, wether under the tannic influence or not, and reveal all the scariness of our scarred-tannic dentures. It could have easily put Klaus Kinsky on the horror movie map a lot earlier if his ancestry had got stuck into good old Claret rather than good old Polish Wodka!
However, the bone is not the colour of my fellow taster’s dentures, or mine for that matter, it is (the bone) about what happens before and after we swivel, spivel and spit out.
Now, in 2018 I hope to be giving monthly Masterclasses (as they are called these days) on a little professional wine tasting etiquette. One hour only, a bit of walking around and swilling, £50 quid a head, and then we all go home with a sore bottom, and my pockets full of your filthy lookar. Or as the first Welsh wine that I offered to London wine dealers back in the 80s, was called, Saw Butt Ox. I will try and find a label to show you how it all went.
So, what’s this all about then? Well to warm up the bigee, it is about being constantly sprayed by ones fellow tasters and where we all congregate around a spittoon, which normally sits gracefully, invitingly, and never really near enough, or far enough away from the tasting table (a small conundrum here). We swillage and we spillage, and very often the fellow taster, normally me, get totally sprayed, ‘tirimasued’ or splashed by the incumbent hose pipe. It’s horrible really. I am not suggesting one puts one’s head into the dam spittoon to make space for the next wine in your glass, but at least get close enough so that if there is a back spillage, splattage, you are the one who receives the dividend, and not me. I pretty much always home in, close, upright and non squirty. If I over enthuse my quirt, I will suffer the consequences, and not my fellow swillers.
Okay, the spittoon ditance from the tasting table may have en effect on the bigger bone here. Oh my god here we go, I cannot really believe I am doing this. It’s is not so important, but as I am the chief Kaiser of this bugga bloggy blog blog thing, then I will use the space as freely as it’s purpose was originally invented. What was his name again, Mister Applepie, bloggy Jobby. What a pain in the ass he must have been, and we are now left with all his global awkwardness, and in spades. No thanks Stevie non-wonder baby.
The rest of the BIG wine tasting bone. Why why why, and actually we know why, do my fellow comrades in wine insist on dominating the tasting table, when there are others behind them trying, so politely, to get their glass infront of the said pourer, for a taster of what is on offer, as if they were leaning and hogging the bar in a public house (a pub for the new world)
My splendid 2018 Masterclass will demonstrate, and with some considerable ease, how to get ‘in and out’ as gracefully and quickly as possible without having to cause a cough cough, a please let me though, ‘excuse me’ or a ‘can i’. I actually do have great arm stretch, thanks to my grandfather’s 19th century gorilla expeditions in the Congo. As my empty tasting glass can appear from almost anywhere. Between arms, between legs (rarely), passed shoulders, even over someone’s head, to receive the necessary pour. But what an effort it is when all one wants to do is receive the taster, and maybe see it being poured from the bottle and a moment of label awareness, and then retreat, allowing the next fellow, fellowesses, to move in for their portion. Imagine, walk up to the table, as everyone now knows, you can now retreat with your cuppa, to the said spittoon zone, do the business and return to the table for the next taster. In and out, in and out, as is what the Archbishop said to the spout. There would be no more hanging around endlessly for your opportunity to receive and taste. So, there we go, simple enough and bone now chewed.
Ah, I have got a bit more flesh on this one . So one more for you and me, as I am on a roll here. Opera!
Yes, Opera. And I don’t mean that fancy Parisiian restaurant either. Another one of my loves, needless to say is Opera (the restaurant aint bad either). The old ancient Art form of blending a musical score with a libretto (text) in a theatrical setting accompanied by musicians, commonly known as an orchestra. Lead by a conductor.
Clapping. Yes, clapping and other bits of bad manners that surpass in theaters around the globe, especially in Opera houses. So. When to, definilty, clap (applaud as it is now called in the front seats of R.o.H and or G’bourne or on dam TED talks, where the clapping is all recorded and repeated. If you listen it is always the same. God how boring and how horrible), and when NOT to clap? Let’s imagine the performance is terrible. Everyone claps anyway, why? For the perfumers having showed up maybe. Poor them. Or is the applause for you and each other having forked out an arm and a leg for the seat ticket. Okay, this one, let;s say the performance is amazing, and everyone claps, of course. But if the performance is so amazing and we have the ears to actually listen, hear the spiritual, artistic nuances resonating in our inner ears, why on earth do we want to destroy those valuable seconds of pure pleasure by violent and repetitive applause? I saw ‘Jenufa’ at Glyndebourne some years ago now. (I used to go a lot) It was a famous evening full of some of the most depressing storytelling, a beautiful beautiful Janacek score, and some sublime singing and acting. Great minimalist scenery to bang. Now, the minute the last note was played, the curtain lowered on the final scene and most of the, and should have known better, audience start applauding and bravOing even before the music had stopped vibrating around the walls of this wonderful opera house. What are they applauding? the fact that it is over? That it is an amazing performance? Maybe they are a little sadistic and enjoy applauding someones’ (Jenufa in this case) decision to commit suicide. Please just digest it a bit, sixty thirty seconds please, and let some of us slowees gather pace. Is everyone so insecure that if they are not seen to applaud and enjoy the performance, wether they did so or not is another matter of course, that they might end up in Stalag 21, and for what, maybe so that you can get it all over and done with so that they can catch the last train back to Victoria? It’s awful.
Happy flappy clap clap it would seem. Even when the curtain comes down and the performers are out back, applause fills the room as if to say, please don’t leave us, come back and we can thank you for your, good or bad performance depending. Thanks for showing up? We never really see the orchestra, who on the whole deserve such a bigger applause than they get. Yes, I know the ‘jefe d’orchestra’ goes up and does it for them. But then who is the funny little fellow who comes out at the ends dressed in mufty, that no one really knows or cares about. Yes, he is the guy that does the scenery or the production, but we are not applauding him. And if we are, please bring out the carpenter, the plummer, the house cleaner, the staff of the theatre and the ice cream maker to boot.
Almost done here. Now, If there happen to be any courageous Argentine readers of this buggaoff bloggyblog. Then I have more for you here. Please, please leave all your sweets, chocolates, sandwiches, cough pills and medicines at home. When the announcer reminds us politely to turn off our cellphones, please turn them off, as if you have not already, jajaja!! (and if for some reason you are introducing your lovely children to the opera and they are still in nappies or just out of them, please can you turn your children off aswell at the same time). If the vibrator on the cellphone starts vibrating (silent mode) during a performance, please leave it, do not under any circumstances answer the telephone and start talking in a normal and what is normally for you guys an ‘altovoz’. Refrain from talking to your neighbor at the same level of daily talking, please turn off the alarm on your phone that is reminding you take your medication bi-hourly, or whatever it dam well is. And please, if you need to go the bathroom, can you just hang on a bit until the interval. We are not on a long distance flight where you can get up and down as willy nilly as you please. But you do anyway. Each time there is a slight pause in the music, please do not clap as if it is the end of an act, or an aria. If there is applause on the stage, as it is written into the Opera, Mozart, Puccini or Verdi. Please refrain from thinking it is time to clap. It’s NOT.
Thank you dear reader. I have now finished chewing the bone. I must admit that I am writing this under the influence of a great blind tasting that we had today. And my coherent notes now follow, if you so wish. Most of my notes got drowned in deluge of washing up afterwards, so I have also borrowed from my fellow wine enthusiasts .
Arrival wine (blind)
2014 Aniello 006 Chardonnay, Rio Negro, Rep of Arg
This Chardonnay has a lovely streak of minerality and plenty of stone fruits and lemon zest. A good palate freshener.
Tasting (all are blind)
2016 Estival Vinedos de los Vinetos, Atlantida, Uruguay
No one could guess where this wine came from at all. You’d certainly note it’s clean, an unoaked New World style. A dry white blend that’s highly aromatic and fresh, with floral and apple fruit. Totally delicious, a blend of Chardonnay, Gewutztraminer and Moscato.
NV Egly-Ouriet Blanc de Noirs ‘Les Crayeres’ (yes I found another bottle that spent 75 months on it’s lees, thanks be to god) Ambonnay, Champagne
Orange peel, apricots, smoke, honey, almonds and dried flowers flesh out in a powerful, imposing Champagne loaded with class and personality. It is impressive for it’s pure power and breath. The aromas and flavours are laced with warm, oxidative overtones, but all of the elements are in the right place. The pure power of Ambonnay Pinot Noir comes through in spades and more spades. Thanks Ant.
2006 Dom Perignon, Epernay, Champagne
Crisp taut and smoky citrus on the nose with gentle blanched cashew notes in the background. On the palate there is beautiful marriage of concentration and fresh acidity, a texture of silk and a body of polished gold, sun warmed lemons and toasted hazelnuts fore, fine white flowers aft. Absolutely seamless and while concentrated and intense, also taut, fresh and mineral with wonderful lift on the finish. Still young, though highly enjoyable already, this is a Dom Perignon with excellent ageing potential. Lovely fresh nose and palate filling richness – a very vinous combination even though I served it over chilled, sorry!
2013 Finca Piedra Infinita Malbec, Mendoza
An intense red nose with violet tints. A non Argentine big red character, with notes of dark red fruits and marked mineral character. Good acidity and structure. Wet stone and graphite, that comes from the Zuccardi stable. What a surprise. Fabulouso!
1994 Domaine Trevaillon, Bouches du Rhone
A classic Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah blend (50/50). It was Claret-like, yet with pure elegance and full of Rhône spice. Super wine.
1987 Rioja Alta 904, umm? Rioja
A light red color, and mature reddish brown rim. Leather, blood, truffle and balsamic aromas, all lightly offered in this mature bottle.
Soaking up material
Bouillabese soup with Rouille on toasties
Farm-hunted roast chicken and veggies. Lashings of bread sauce
‘Brin d’Amor’ goat’s cheese, made by me
Night night! and before the bed bugs bite,above is a shot of last night’s performance of Kurt Weill’s ‘Rise and Fall of Mahagonny city’. You should have heard the applause. For some reason it is still ringing in my little olde ears.