MUSIC TO MY EARS
Bear with me – this is the Wine Column!
Politically, it’s fair to say that I inhabit the middle ground. I abhor extremism, be it left or right. Blinkered allegiance to a political party is anathema, in my book. And the blind reading of the same, wholly biased, newspaper year in year out which is insidiously molding readers’ views whilst simultaneously honing and strengthening those already held, oblivious to any other view, has to be folly.
I trust politicians, like I trust Football Club Chairmen (I use the generic term, I’m not sexist) who publicly express their confidence in their current Manager!
My news-feeds are: Sky, on the radio, and, via the internet: the BBC, the Guardian, the Times and the Telegraph (the Costa News goes without saying, of course!). I find some newspapers’ bias to be so repugnant that I will not read another word, nor use them to wrap my chips or light a fire, lest I’m seen with them!
I look for a balanced view, digesting the wheat from the chaff of the above, when forming my opinions, and once formed, I’m not afraid to change my view.
So, why am I leaning so heavily on an article in a rather right wing newspaper like the Telegraph?
In some ways I’ve cut off my nose to spite my face regarding this newspaper. I have always considered the writing to be of a different (that’s higher) class than most, if not all, of the others. I used to relish the opportunity to sit down, more than once, with the Weekend Telegraph – reading, of course, the wine article, as well as lots more. It’s articulate and erudite, exemplary in fact.
Indeed, this is why I would often use articles in this section of the paper when teaching. Vocabulary, syntax, sentence construction, etc – they’re all there, plus the articles were often thought provoking and therefore super stimuli for young minds. But, I stopped reading it!
You’ll remember the Members of Parliament Expenses Scandal – I’m now, at best, skeptical about all MPs, and worst, well I expect the worst! What a great disservice these dishonest people did to their colleagues and their profession! Well at, I think a later stage during these revelations, the Telegraph wrote a damning piece about the MPs who had been sentenced and/or those who were yet to go to court – leading with, almost to the point of there being nothing else, the names of the Labour MPs who were guilty or going to trial. Only at the very end of the article, in a tiny paragraph, did they mention that Conservative MPs were also involved – no doubt, in their view, in the interests of balance! This ‘balance’ was almost obliterated by the smokescreen of that which went before it. That did it for me.
But, I’m back, if only for wine!
I was pleased to receive a link to said newspaper from a good friend recently (thanks Sue!). It took me, nostalgically, to Victoria Moore’s article in the Weekend Telegraph. Victoria is the current writer of the Telegraph wine column – over the years I’ve read many equally distinguished writers’ words there. However, there have been few which pleased me as much as this.
Victoria’s opening sentence, “When I started out in 1995,” says Pablo Calatayud, . . . .”, made an immediate impression on me – Pablo is a friend and colleague of mine in the Spanish wine scene! I read on with alacrity, and was delighted to see that it wasn’t just Pablo whom I knew in this very positive article, there were others, and lots of wines with which I’m on the friendliest of terms as well!
In essence, the article said that which I’ve been saying for several years now – Spain is a really happening place for wine making and indeed, innovation. I have the advantage over Victoria, et al, in that I have been saying this in situ. The British wine writing fraternity, mostly, only have the chance to taste a comprehensive number of Spanish wines at trade tastings, to which they are all invited, but only once or twice a year.
However, my colleagues in the UK have an advantage over me too – they write for a far larger audience, and therefore have a greater influence. In my defence, however, their articles do not just concentrate on Spanish wines, as mine do, so therefore their influence may be a little thinner than mine in that respect. No matter, it’s not a competition – the important thing here is that the word is being spread about the wines of Spain, and I’m all for that – always have been!
Victoria goes on, ‘Over the past couple of decades, vignerons in corners of Spain whose viticulture has been uncelebrated for too long have been redrawing the Spanish wine map.’ My sentiments exactly. She talks also of areas that I’ve been championing too – DO Valdeorras, DO Bierzo, the Canary Islands, the Balearics, Valencia, Utiel-Requena, Jumilla, Yecla, and Manchuela.
Also Victoria praises the grape varieties that are to us common currency: Monastrell, Mencía, Godello, Bobal, Merseguera, Malvasia – heard of these varieties anywhere else? Of course you have, here in Cork Talk. Of bodegas Victoria recommends: Pablo’s Celler del Roure; Mustiguillo; Valdesil and others too, most of which have figured in this column at some time or another during the last 20 years.
Victoria singles out the white at Mustiguillo as being a particular favourite, not surprisingly – this is the best example of Merseguera that there is. However, she doesn’t mention Pablo’s white, Cullerot, which was generally the best received wine ina recent high class tasting that I presented, which included wines from Priorat and DO Cava! So, stick with Spanish wines – and me, Victoria!
However, always the gentlemen, I’ll leave the last words to Victoria Moore, “So if you’re a Spanish wine fan still sticking to Rioja, branch out. Pick one from a place or made from a grape you’ve never heard of. And take things from there.”
Next Fine Wine & Gourmet Dine Programme on www.totalfm.es Sunday 26th March, 18:00 – 20:00 hrs. And after that, 9th April!