In London recently, I was enchanted by a newspaper column in which a medical man commented on the health of a prominent legislator who had recently undergone a heart operation. The MD, confirming something we’ve all known for a couple of decades now, reminded the member of Parliament that moderate wine consumption was good for his heart and urged him to resume drinking on a regular basis.
But this writer narrowed the choices, noting that the gentleman in question had been known to drink only good red Bordeaux. The MD stressed that it would be essential for the recovering patient to continue drinking only fine red Bordeaux and that any deviation, even the occasional fine red Burgundy, would be detrimental to his recovery.
Now there’s a doctor after my own heart, please excuse the expression..If I could get a physician to prescribe classified Bordeaux for my health, wouldn’t that make one great medical deduction on my next 1040! At this moment my doctor is just the opposite. He’s worried about my liver and has ordered me to stay off the juice for a while. It really hurts sitting down to a meal without wine. This, too shall pass, I keep telling myself.
More from Great Britain, this time on what makes red wine tasty. In a controlled test, 17 experts were asked to sample six Merlots and three Cabernet Sauvignons and to grade the wine for the strength of 12 aromas, such as plum, rose, caramel and coffee. The Merlots in every instance exhibited a stronger caramel flavor. Common between both varieties is a chemical known as HDMF and using gas chromatography techniques, scientists found the level of HDMF to be four times higher in Merlot.
The tests did not account for variations in body and texture and the researchers warned that man, with all his science, may never be able to replicate in a test tube the miracle that mother nature creates in the vine. In other words, Chateau Margaux still reigns supreme and all the technology in the world cannot come up to the combination of terroir and man’s helping hand.
Skipping across the channel, we bypass France and come to Germany where winemakers and their bureaucratic colleagues continue to try to find a way to make it easier to unravel those cumbersome German wine labels. The latest attempt calls for replacing labels like Spatlese trocken, Auslese trocken and halbtroken with two new designations, Classic and Selection
Classic will be applied to dry style wines of all varieties, and the key distinction is that grapes must originate in one specific region. Vineyard or village appellations are not permitted. Up the scale, premium wines from individual sites with hand selection of ripened grapes will be called Selection.
Wines bearing that designation cannot be released until September of the year following harvest so we won’t see Selection on a German label until September 2001. All labels will include region, producer and varietal, so that labels will still be information packed, but the dreaded word “trocken” is now a no-no. Some of the more advanced German producers have produced attractive labels that aren’t off-putting with all their information clutter, and this could be helpful. Dry is in, trocken is out, semantically at least.
by Morton Hochstein