Some people drink wine for the alcohol. Some for the sweetness it brings. Some people like the feeling of wine in their mouth, the rich melding of tannins and fruit that creates a voluptuous texture.
Our team hopes not to be swayed by those aspects of wine. If anything, we bring a critical eye, nose and mouth to bear on excess or unattached alcohol—we enjoy drinking wine and want to keep our wits about us as we do— and on sugar, which, when it’s overt, tends to cover the identifiable character of a wine with generic sweetness. As do voluptuous tannins, which can be created in a cellar.
In perfectly ripe fruit straight from the vineyard, voluptuous tannins are rare, requiring the alignment of an optimal growing season and carefully tended vines nourished by living soils.
When those factors come together, the flavor detail excites us.
When we find fruit sweetness with dynamic energy, it catches our attention.
And when alcohol is invisibly incorporated into a wine, it tends to warm our spirits rather than burn our throats.
We drink wine for a connection, a signal from the place where it grew. The signal may be there in the flavor of the fruit, the texture of the tannins and in any number of ways that the energy of the wine may express itself.
This issue of Wine & Spirits is filled with the wines that excited us most over this past year of tastings, wines we tasted with friends in the trade. Knowing only their vintage, region and variety, several of us caught a signal that spoke directly to us. They are wines we want to share.
The best of these wines bring us joy; they fill us with energy. They seem to transmit their energy to us, unmediated, in a connection to the earth we rarely experience from foods, unless those foods are tomatoes picked from a vine and popped into the mouth, fish caught in a river and pan roasted over a fi re, or potatoes cooked soon after they were dug from the earth. Unlike most foods, wine preserves that immediate connection for months, or years, or decades. It honors our world, as it honors the place the vines live.
This story appears in the print issue of Winter 2020.
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