How many times have you opened a bottle of wine thinking “hey, this wine is going to blow me away” only to come away bored with what is in your glass. Or how many times have you opened a bottle of wine previously thought to be mediocre and had it blow you away? Or worse, how many times have you looked too hard for flaws in a wine that you expected to be mediocre just because you expected it to be mediocre?
Having preconceptions about a wine beforehand can be both a good and a bad thing. On one hand it is nice to open a bottle of wine and think, hey this is going to taste like Saint Joseph and having it conform to this is a pleasant feeling. It confirms things for you, it’s an ego booster, and it means you know your wines (this is one of the pillars of good old fashioned wine snobbery as well). This confirmation can also work the opposite way, you can dismiss wines out of hand because they are “just an 11$ muscadet” (another pillar). Having expecations, however, is never better than when you find a wine that manages to make you rethink everything you thought about the wine previously.
Yesterday i had three wines that ran the spectrum of expecations, from “holy shit this is Jurancon?” to “well that makes me want to fall asleep right here.”
We started out early with a bottle of 2007 Jurancon sec from Domaine de Souch that i figured was going to be thin, acidic, and dumb. Instead what i got was a bracing mineral explosion, like being hit across the teeth except instead of being sent to the hospital and enduring months of reconstructive surgery you just sort of, you know, drink more. The wine had everything that i wasn’t expecting, structure, depth, finish, balance (o lord the balance on this wine).
later we headed up to SF late night mainstay NOPA for a burger with two bottles of wine in tow. The first was a bottle of 2000 Overnoy Savagnin from Arbois-Pupillon, which is, to put it lightly, very revered in certain wine circles. The wines from Overnoy are wines that are difficult to judge in context. They are spoken of in hushed, reverential tones amongst natural wine geeks and on top of this they are very hard to find. So with all that said the wine lives up to its lofty reputation. The wine itself is puposely oxidized and sans-soufre, two things that, if done incorrectly can lead to wines that are, to say it lightly, “fucked up.” Not this wine, which is bright and fresh, a clarion call of wine.
The second bottle was a young bottle of 2006 Saint Joseph from Pierre Gonon that we wanted to test out. Both of us were expecting a collosal bottle of wine, a fresh superstructure tannins that shouldn’t be touched for years and strips the enamel off the teeth of those who dare try it (i seem to want to violence towards teeth today). Instead what we got was a flat, soft, rather boring wine. Neither racy or too young the wine didn’t offer much in the way tannins or structure (or anything else for that matter). It was swiftly dispatched to the kitchen staff when it was known that the wine was not going anywhere. Expectations don’t mean shit.
I wonder what the cooks thought of it?