Reasons to be cheerful, somewhat grateful, and has there ever been a time in our recent history, let’s just say 90-100 years?, when so much good & great wine is produced to be drunk today, tomorrow and the day after. Without going all Benny Disraeli on us now, I have to add a little to his more than well known ditti that infact ‘a day, is too short to drink bad wine’.
I don’t think that I have ever listed before so much good wine, from all corners of the world, that I would like to drink myself, and in some cases have done so already, lucky old me!
Of course some of the big hitters are now well out of range from mine and probably your corkscrew too, and will be for the rest of my life for sure, alas, when the Neal Mts and Bob Pks of this world continue to wax lyrical, and not a bad thing either, on just about anything that moves in this wonderous vinous world of ours. Please don’t get me wrong here, if I could have Neal’s palate and access to what he gets to taste, FOC, on a daily basis, I would probably swop shoes immediately. Does it sound like I am just a little bit jealous here? Well your darn right, I am but in a healthy way. This side of green that is.
I don’t know if you know this but after a bout of Wu-flu (C-19), it takes most people between 8 days and a month to regain their full sense of taste and smell. And for some poor buggers, six months+
One positive aspect of the past Covid crisis is that disorders involving sense of smell have gained some publicity. “Many winemakers, sommeliers, restauranteurs and perfumers have spoken about it in the media and I hope that their testimonials will lead to better recognition and treatment of this impairment which impacts the daily well-being of many of us, espcially in the wine trade”.
During her speech at the Cité du Vin in Bordeaux, Sophie Tempère recalled that before the pandemic, several studies had shown that around 20% of the populus suffers from anosmia (total loss of smell), hyposmia (decreased sense of smell), hyperosmia (increased sensitivity to smells), parosmia (distortion of smells), cacosmia (unjustified perception of unpleasant smells) or phantosmia (olfactory hallucinations).
The researcher at the Institute of Vine and Wine Science (ISVV) listed the origin of these disorders. “They can be present from birth, linked to nasal congestion, to viral infections, as is the case with C-19, to diseases such as Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s, to the use of certain medications, smoking, or to age, to mention just a few causes”.
And the good news is that the cognitive system is very flexible, so those affected can do exercises to recover their faculties. The same goes for people who have suffered a head injury, other pathologies, and for all those whose disorder does not stem from a genetic issue”, said Tempère.
Exercises can also help wine lovers improve their tasting skills. “The first exercise is simply to smell, through repeated exposure to certain odorous compounds. We can use essential oils by varying their concentration”, explained the researcher. Another exercise involves simply sniffing the air, like an animal, to stimulate the olfactory cortex. Mental imagery requires a little more training, but is also very effective. “In our case, the issue is about creating olfactory illusions. For example, we can close our eyes, imagine cutting a lemon in the kitchen and bringing half of it to our nose”. The third protocol involves education by association. “You can associate a smell with an event, an image or a word”. Isn’t Sophie terrific.
It would also explain why, when back in 2013 I flew to London for a few days before heading back to Buenos Aires. The last 48 hours in London where spent with a high fever, very weak indeed, total lack of body strength and zero olfatic sense. Couldn’t swallow a drop of anything and wondered if I was going to cop it. When I got to the ‘check-in‘ at Heathrow, I was in such a state that I even had to bump up my seat-class as I needed a bed, some peace and to be near the bathroom on the plane. Being offered delicious nibbles and Roederer Champagne when feeling this bad is absolute torture. I kept saying ‘Please leave me alone’. Getting home, after a day of travelling half conscious, I of course went straight to bed. Ill, knackered and wondering if I was still going to make it or not. Well here I am 9 years later and as fit as a fiddle, but the point of this little story is that later that week, back in March 2013, I went to an important wine tasting down here of some great and delicious Bourgogne Rouge. And guess what? I couldn’t smell or taste a dam thing. I was miffed and totally gutted, I thought this was all behind me. Sure, I got a little woozy as I was not going to not drink these wines. A good source of vitamins! of course. The wines drunk that evening, not just blind but 100% olfactory blind, where these:
1999 Clos de Vougeot Meo-Camuzet
1999 Vosne-Romanee ‘Les Suchots’ Prieure Roch
1999 Nts St Georges ‘Clos des Corvees’ Prieure Roch
1999 Gevrey-Chambertin Philippe Pacalet
1999 Corton Bonneau du Martray
1999 Morey-St-Denis Hubert-Lignier
It took a while to recuperate my sense of taste and sense of smell, maybe some weeks later, and of course I do indeed have them back in full swing today, one does adapt, but they are definitely not what they used to be.
The bug I caught in London back then, I am now being told was an earlier version of C-19, maybe a C-5 or a C-7! Something like this. By my nature I of course wanted to wake up my taste buds as quickly as possible, it’s my occupation for goodness sake. I need to pay the rent! Sense of smell & taste being utmost. So, I began my recuperation and purchased a number of small bottles of essential oils from the local pharmacy and every morning and every evening for the next four weeks or so, I would have a good old sniff of essential Mint, Eucalyptus, Lemon, Wild Lavender, Cloves, Rose and Neroli, Lime and even the Olbas (mix) oil. If you want to know the recipe and formula that I followed please do ask me via email. It does work. Now that my palate, fully restored and of course ever evolving in all directions. Nine years later on at lunch yesterday we enjoyed these two wines from Bordeaux.
The 2013 Echo de Lynch-Bages, Pauillac is an absolutely delicious, second wine bursting with sweet red fruit. Sweet floral notes add silkiness on the supple finish. This tasty, bistro-style red will be at its most expressive in its youth. The blend is 70% Cabernet Sauvignon and 30% Merlot. A very good luncheon Claret!
2009 Le Chartreuse de Ch.Coutet, Barsac is a blend of 75% Semillon, 23% Sauvignon Blanc, and 2% Muscadelle sourced from 15-year-old vines. The fruit was pressed three times then fermented and aged for 18 months in new French oak barrels. Alcohol 14%. The light to medium strength nose was of tropical white and yellow fruit along with floral, sweet potpourri. In the mouth there were apricot flavors. The residual sugar was integrated with acidity, a little spice, and banana. It was ripe with fresh spice, good acidity then tangy orange flavors and more spices in the finish. Delicious!
More news in April and for now a little, Buddy Holly, the working folly .. good golly, Miss Molly and boats
Hammersmith Palais, the Bolshoi Ballet, Jump back in the alley and nanny goats
Eighteen wheeler Scammells, Dominica camels
All other mammals plus equal votes. Seeing Piccadilly, Fanny Smith and Willie
Being rather silly and porridge oats. A bit of grin and bear it, a bit of come and share it
You’re welcome we can spare it, yellow socks
Too short to be haughty, too nutty to be naughty. Going on forty no electric shocks
The juice of a carrot, the smile of a parrot
A little drop of CLARET, anything that rocks
Elvis and Scotty, the days when I ain’t spotty. Sitting on a potty, curing smallpox
Health service glasses, gigolos and brasses. Round or skinny bottoms
Take your mum to Paris, lighting up a chalice. Wee Willie Harris
Bantu Steven Biko, listening to Rico
Harpo Groucho Chico
Cheddar cheese and pickle, a Vincent motorsickle
Slap and tickle
Woody Allen, Dali, Domitrie and Pascale. Balla, balla, balla and Volare
Something nice to study, phoning up a buddy. Being in my nuddy
Saying okey-dokey, sing-a-long a Smokie. Coming out of chokie
John Coltrane’s soprano, Adie Celentano, Beuno Colino
Yes dear .. Perhaps next year
Or maybe even now
In which case, Woody Allan, Dali, Domitrie and Pascale
Balla, balla, balla and Volare. Ian Robins Drury (1942-2000)