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Seismic Wine

It is not often that one gets to taste wine during an earthquake but on Monday it happened twice. In the morning, I sat down at my desk, set the timer on my phone for 22 minutes (I was only tasting two wines) so as to recreate the conditions of an MW exam, and began my sniffing and spitting. Whilst staring into the middle distance pondering the powdery nature of the first wine’s tannins, I became aware of the gentle pull and push of the quake and the swaying of the pictures on the wall. Those of you who have experienced this rather soothing effect may have noticed that most people’s reaction is to sit still. Whilst I contemplated getting under the table just in case the soothing morphed into something more sinister I knew that this seismic event was going to play havoc with my timing.

In the evening our tasting group had just poured the wines when the first of two aftershocks crept into the building causing more swaying of lights and human stillness. After that the wines were sure to be a disappointment…but they weren’t and although they may not have caused the earth to move they did provide plenty of animated discussion.

There were two wines in particular – a Chianti and a Muscadet – that proved deliciously atypical. The Chianti was soft, supple, lithe and delightfully refined with an almost Burgundian feel whilst the Muscadet had most of us looking at something Rhone-ish like Roussanne, so generous was the fruit and body. Lastly we enjoyed some Marsanne whose lemon verbena scented richness provided the perfect post quake quaff.

All of the wines below come highly recommended.

Domaine de la Pépière, Clisson, Muscadet Sevre et Maine, 2011, 12%
Grapes: Melon de Bourgogne
Wine-making: 2 yrs on the lees
Note: Alluring nose of candied pineapple, lemon oil and some cheesiness from time spent on the lees. This is generous, outstandingly rich for Muscadet, and persistent. A bargain.
Price: 800NT
Score: 16.5/20
Available from: 

Castello di Ama, Chianti Classico Riserva, 2008, 13.5%
Grapes: 80% Sangiovese, 20% Malvasia Nera, Merlot, Cabernet Franc
Wine-making: 12 months in 20% new French oak for 12 months
Note: Blackberry, meaty and graphite scented loveliness. The tannins, so often laced with astringency in Sangiovese are supple, almost soft, and provide a fine boned structure from which the fruit seductively hangs. Although not inexpensive (it is still cheaper than most Brunello) this is an excellent example of the elegance achievable in Chianti.
Price: 1900NT
Score: 17.5/20
Available from: 

Les Vins de Vienne, Les Bialères, Saint Peray, 2012, 13.5%
Grapes: 80% Marsanne, 20% Roussanne
Wine-making: 9 months in French oak (not new)
Note: Smelling of lemon oil and lemon verbena, this Marsanne is typically generous of body and soft in acidity and makes me salivate for some salmon.
Price: 1300NT
Score: 16/20
Available from:

Sniff NL Bottle Block