Lovely Unloveliness

aged winesAndrew Jeffords comments, “The greatest wines often have a lovely unloveliness at their heart”.

Some old friends and I chewed over (the verb is accurate) my last and much-travelled bottle of Baumard’s Clos du Papillon Savennières 2002 recently. It was reticent; it, too, had a sort of lovely unloveliness: that scent of dry straw, dry flowers and a sharp, almost rancid buttery quality, then sour green plums in the mouth, stony austerity and a little oxidative bite. We liked it all the more for the fact that it wasn’t trying to be liked.

I couldn’t agree more. There are lots of really good wines that have bright, pure fruit, great intensity and complexity, and velvet textures. Great wines, by contrast,  are deviant, they don’t conform, they have an otherworldly quality, depraved but interesting, like that guy you decided not to marry. Rancid buttery quality indeed.

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