Saignée 2009 Wines and Year End Posts

The year end wrap up piece can be divided into a few different camps, three of which i will attempt in a single post. The most popular amopngst reviewers is the list. The list is an amazing piece of journalism because how well it is written has an inverse relation to how much it is discussed. Throwing out a list of almost anything that is nuanced, well thought out, articulate and reasoned is going to get a few golf claps, but nothing more. Putting out a list that is meant to be bombastic, poorly thought out and written with phrases like “this was simply the best wine/book/movie of last year” with nothing to support the statement is a sure way to get readers and stir the pot. This can also just be a list with no supporting text at all so the reader is left to argue your points for you, like this:

16. 2005 Henri Gouges Pinot Blanc
15. NV Cammilo Donati Malvasia Dolce
14. 2008 Natural Process Alliance 2008 Skin Fermented Chardonnay
13. 2008 Thierry Puzelat Brin de Chevre
12. 2007 Arianna Occhipinti Frappato
11. 2001 Benanti Pietramarina
10. 2007 Dard et Ribo Pe de Loup
9. Marc Ollivier’s 2007 Muscadets
8. 2005 Massavecchia Bianco
7. 1996 Joguet la Dioterie
6. 1989 Comm. G.B. Burlotto Barolo Monvigliero
5. 1996 Thierry Allemand “Reynard” Cornas
4. 2006 Leon Barral Faugeres Jadis
3. 2002 Thevenet Morgon Vielles Vignes
2. 2007 Overnoy-Houillon Arbois-Pupillin Poulsard
1. Anselme Selosse “Substance,” 2007 disgorgement

This is a fantastically patronizing way to treat your readers, and is a really lazy way to do anything, but people like lists I guess. (Editor’s note: The above list, while actually being Cory’s favorite wines of the year, was thrown together as an example, and comparing Burlotto Barolo to Brin de Chevre numerically is fucking stupid. There are also other wines i can’t recall at this moment).

The next way to do a year end list is to tie whatever you’re reviewing to larger themes, whether or not they fit or are at all appropriate. the best critics (not me) are able to use this device to capture zeitgeist perfectly encapsulated in artifact, the worst are able to conflate the role of critic into interpretting the larger world through their specific specialty, to imagine that through their love of something they have tapped into some deep vein. This year was one of the ripest so far for figuring out that because you listen to X, you can feel the pain of people laid off in Detroit (bonus points for understanding the historic significance of Obama’s election, the economy, and health care interpreted through movies, for instance). I’ll try (and fail) with wine:

On New Year’s Eve i opened a bottle of what was surely the wine i drank the most of during the year Marc Ollivier’s 2007 Clos des Briords muscadet. While we had some champagne at midnight, as tradition dictates, the muscadet felt the most appropriate for a year that has been tough on America (and the world as a whole). It was not a champagne year to be sure, except for a brief moment in January (or, more cynically, if you’re a bailed out banker). In some ways it feels strange even writing about the year in wine after all everyone has been through, but there is something comforting about the beautiful simplicity of Ollivier’s muscadets. Marc makes wines that will never make him famous, or make him a tremendous amount of money. Muscadet is somewhat synonymous with cheap watery wines drunk on holiday unlike the Burgundies and Cult Napa Cabs bought in bulk during the boom years. they are inexpensive, and despite some rise in price in the past few years, are likely to stay that way because, after all, they are just muscadets, and in a year where a return to simplicity is what mattered, that counts for something.

i missed health care, but i feel i sufficiently puffed myself up, faux-sympathized with others, and understood the mood of the country all in an evaluation of a bottle of wine. Slap me if i ever write something like this for real. (Editor’s note: i honestly love Marc’s wines, and i’m sorry to subject them to the above.)

The third way to do a year end post is the personal journey. You can still add in zeitgeisty stuff, of course, but the emphasis is on personal experience. This to me, with the exception of the critics who can really nail themes, is the only way to go.

If i can describe the year in wine for me, it’s “freaking out.” The term isn’t mine, exactly, it’s borrowed from Guilhaume Gerard aka The Wine Digger. It is a term that best describes discovering a new wine that hasn’t yet been filed in your sensory memory. It isn’t a term that means you move that wine into the pantheon of all time greatest wines for ever, although at the time it seems like it might. It may turn out that the wine that you loved so much for two days isn’t all that good when coldly analyzed, but cold analysis is fucking boring anyhow and ends in wine scores and shelf talkers instead of drinking too much pinot blanc from Burgundy that you never even knew existed. It is the sensation that leads you to grab for another galss instead of a notebook, a bottle instead of a mouse. The first time i drank Leon Barral i freaked out, the first time i drank Dettori the same thing happened. Of course this often leads to you going out of your comfort zone, picking up a bottle on someone’s recommendation when a safe choice is staring you in the face. This kind of drinking is anathema to the culture of “tasting” that has permeated wine journalism. How the hell can you properly taste the next wine in a series if the one before knocked you on your ass? One comment about the 1989 Comm. G.B. Burlotto Barolo Monvigliero that was drank at a large wine dinner at La Ciccia was that the next wines suffered because everyone was geeked on the Barolo. Does that mean they were lesser wines? Of course not, but it sure seemed that way on that particular day. Could i have tried to suppress my joy at trying something complex and nuanced and tried to judge the next wines clinically? Sure, but i’d be lying. Some wines, in some situations, shouldn’t be ignored. That is why i’m writing this blog, i guess. Cheers.

So there, that is my year in review. Happy New Year.

~ by Cory Cartwright on January 2, 2010.

3 Responses to “Saignée 2009 Wines and Year End Posts”

  1. Happy New Year!

    This is one of the few blogs I look forward to reading. Keep up the good work!

    Joe Dressner

  2. Cory,

    Reading your list made my mouth water. I am currently on vacation in a place where it is IMPOSSIBLE to find any such wines and any that are even drinkable. I can’t wait to get home and pop open a bottle of Donati’s Rosso della Bandita! And I hope I don’t have to wait too long to drink another bottle of Overnoy!

    happy new year!

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