This weekend, we celebrate the underdog, the dark horse, the MAVERICK (get it?), the red-headed step child and all that is misconstrued and mistakenly maligned in the world of wine. Misunderstood wine is where pleasure is maximized, thirst is quenched and price is minimized. Thanks to the amazing persistence of these misconceptions whether by an accident of language (eg. Muscadet sounds likeMuscat) or the carpet bombing of branded knockoffs (think Chianti in a wicker basket, Blue Nun Riesling, or Beaujolais Nouveau), smart wine drinkers (like you b/c you’re still reading this) can and should short the market. As @candidwines tweeted today, you can spend $65 for a 2009 Grand Cru St. Emillon that you won’t get until 2011 (a vin de garde or wine to keep/lay down but not a wine to drink) or you can buy three bottles of amazing, single vineyard 2005 Chinon from Olga Raffault that is both vin de garde and vin de soif (wine to keep and wine to drink). A world of fantastic, interesting, and engaging wine awaits and all of it is between ten and twenty five bucks a bottle! In the immortal words of Bob Marley: “None but ourselves can free our mind.” And lest you spend more money on “oil”, keep these words in mind: “And I will glory as much when it is said of me, that I have spent more on wine than oil” Rabelais, the Dionysian high priest of Chinon.
Beaujolais/Gamay: Michel Tete Domaine du Clos du Fief Julienas 2007
Or how a flotilla of a wine-like beverage called “Nouveau” very nearly trashed one of Burgundy’s most ancient and beautiful terroirs.
Sangiovese/Chianti Classico: Fattoria di Felsina Berardenga Chianti Classico 2007
Or why Sangiovese is not broken so don’t fix it with Cabernet and wicker is so 70’s.
Cabernet Franc/Chinon: Olga Raffault Les Picasses Chinon 2005
“Do what thou will”: As Dutch traders transformed Bordeaux (au bord de l’eau) marshland into Cabernet Sauvignon gold, the once celebrated Chinon guzzled by Rabelais’ boozy monks lost favor (but not flavor).
Semillon/Hunter Valley: Brokenwood Semillon Hunter Valley Australia 2008
Wait, you’re gonna tell me they make subtle, unoaked wine in Australia? Yeah, right.
Riesling/Rheinhessen: Gunderloch Riesling Kabinet Rheinhessen “Jean-Baptiste” 2007
How really bad sweet wines with blue nuns and black towers trashed the reputation of arguably the world’s greatest white wine.
Melon/Muscadet: Domaine de la Pepiere (Marc Ollivier) Muscadet Granite de Clisson 2007
How an accident of language caused entire populations to write off one of the noblest DRY white wines in the world.