Thursday 6 October 2016

Coming Up: More Jefford - And Why The Label Is Everything

So last time I droned on about Andrew Jefford and his apparent change of heart concerning the best way to write tasting notes and the exciting new world of New Brutalist Wine Writing it conjured up. But dash my buttons if I don't come across another of his radical re-thinks - this time, giving up on the really high-end stuff, or, as he puts it: 'At some point over the last year, I realised something had changed in my relationship with wine. I didn't want the best any more.'

Of course, his idea of the best is some way north of my idea of the best, but his point is essentially twofold: that the market is overheated to a preposterous degree (cf footballers' transfer fees) leaving the very best wines beyond his means; and that, anyway, there's no real sense of adventure in reverentially drinking a wine which everyone knows to be fabulous - that life is more likely to be enhanced by finding something unexpectedly, less self-fancyingly, good, well away from the connoisseurs' circus and all that entails.

Since Sediment has been a tedious advocate of this kind of thinking for the last five years, I'd like to kid myself that at some stage Mr. Jefford stumbled upon one of our posts and as a consequence had his head all turned around, but I suspect he didn't. Still. If I were the kind of person who gets carried away with a hypothesis, I'd argue that we could be at an inflexion point in wine appreciation, the point at which the bottom drops out of the whole snobbish, pretension-ridden business and we can just get on and have a drink. Although that is implicitly crediting Mr. Jefford with more influence than even he may possess.

In other news, The Week In Wine has come up with this fantastic bottle of price-point cabernet sauvignon - something calling itself Le Réveil, which I got, I suppose, at Waitrose and which contained some wine sourced from a big metal container in France. What did it taste like? Muck, to be honest. What did you expect? But look at the label: when did you last see such a fantastic piece of design work on a bottle of filthy red wine? The letters of the words Le Réveil are actually embossed, so that they catch the light. The effect is so sumptuous, so fin-de-siècle, that even my wife, who hates wine, said That's a nice bottle. The thing gives pleasure outside and in - more outside than in, but it's definitely giving pleasure.

Not for the first time, a new criterion suggests itself by which to choose the next bottle: that magic moment at which the packaging of the drink is so much more highly-evolved than the drink itself that the drink becomes a blissful near-irrelevance. Doesn't work for everything, obviously - Coca-Cola springs to mind - but the idea is so intoxicatingly straightforward, I am convinced it cannot fail. Next move? I Invest in a dramatically handsome bottle of Coteaux des Baronnies, with a date (2013), a footnote announcing that it is in some way associated with the Cellier des Dauphins®, an Indication Geographique Protégée emblazoned on the front, a Cuvée Traditionelle picked out in gold along the bottom, and a cork to drive home the idea that this is a miraculously superfine wine. And on special offer at a whisker over £5.

It looks so fabulous - not as fabulous as Le Réveil, but fabulous enough - I don't even have to drink it. It's already given me so much satisfaction, just sitting there, this mug's eyeful, that I might never get round to drinking it. No, that's not going to happen, why would I even consider the idea, however Zen it might appear? But then again, for the first time in a long time, I'm excited by the thought of something to do with wine. So where do we go from here? Over to you, Jefford.


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