Wednesday 18 April 2012

Wine Society Corbières: Greatest Hits

So PK and I are at this agreeable wine-tasting event, France Under One Roof, but you know how it is, you cope with the whites, but after about seven reds, your mouth furs up and no matter how much you rinse with tapwater and nibble at dry biscuits, you can't taste anything any more except fag-ash and blotting paper. Your mouth becomes a toilet that won't flush properly. (The Ramones: I Don't Wanna Go Down To The Basement) But: I find myself staring at a Corbières Boutenac 2007 and it beckons me forward and I swig it and it is so relaxed, so charming, levitating above the dirty doormat of my palate so convincingly (Plastique Bertrand: Ça Plane Pour Moi) that I blag a whole bottle from the importers (the extremely helpful Val d'Orbieu Group) and take it home, noting principally that it comes in about the heaviest bottle I have ever carried, heavier it seems than a Champagne bottle, as if it might be needed for some kind of sabotage, such as derailing a train or blocking the barrel of a howitzer. And the stuff tastes just as great at home (The Damned: Neat Neat Neat) as it did at the tasting.

I conceive a plan (Iggy Pop: Lust For Life) to buy some more, not necessarily of this sleek 2007 stuff, on account of it costing in the region of £15 a bottle, but from The Wine Society, membership of which the wife gave me as a birthday present ten years ago, and which I have only used once since then (The Sex Pistols: Pretty Vacant). At £7.25 a bottle, the Wine Society's own Corbières is two quid over the high-water mark I normally try to observe and a cringeing shabby proletarian voice tells me not to get above myself, because it is invariably a let-down when I do, but I am so kinky for the Corbières after the 2007 experience that I repress all weakness and order half a dozen bottles, plus some jaunty odds and ends to make up the case.

Of course, it is impossible for any delivery of wine to make it to our house satisfactorily (The Clash: London Calling), and what do you know, but The Wine Society sends the order three bottles of Corbières short. I should have seen it coming, and plainly I can never use them again (Eddie and the Hot Rods: 96 Tears), or at least not for another decade. But there is still enough wine for me to get stuck into, which I do with the aid of my classy but practical 150ml Paris Goblet, plus a scrap of paper for the tasting notes.

And the Corbières is good: nice raspberry nose, narrow on the palate, good balance of tannins and acidity, nice finish with a bit of vanilla coming through (I'm not making this up, by the way) although a hint of chesty afterburn. Something to do with being a 2009 and 14.5%? 'Needs to settle' I write, sagely (Ian Dury & The Blockheads: Clevor Trevor). It covers all the angles: not as parched and niggardly as the kind of Bordeaux I can normally afford; not as egomaniacal as a red Burgundy; not as belligerent as a Côtes du Rhône. It is self-contained and civilised, and I kid myself that there's just enough resemblance to the now almost completely-forgotten 2007 to have made the experiment worthwhile. 'This' I say to myself, 'is a Wine for All Seasons'. Then I am struck with a terrible realisation (The Buzzcocks: Ever Fallen In Love (With Someone You Shouldnt've)): the Corbières, not quite one thing or the other, apparently containing good bits from everywhere else, is analagous to my tendency to buy music compilations, Greatest Hits and Best Ofs, cultural artifacts which allow me to dip my toe into something without actually having to commit. Which reveals a fatal lack of decisiveness, in other words. And the ultra-obliging Corbières (with all the spadework I've put into it) is actually just another way of saying I don't really know my own mind. Does that mean I have to start all over again? (The Ramones: Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue)



  1. Ah, you're getting ready for the Jubilee! Seriously, though. I bet John Lydon could do you a guest post about wine, these days. Back then he'd have just pissed in the bottle. (Discuss.)

    1. Although did you know that, according to an article he wrote in 2007, Malcolm McLaren was once a trainee winetaster for Sandeman? See


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