Best in Class
in the immediacy of its crisp bite and visceral simplicity, to Burgundy. Yet while the Burgundy failed me (or perhaps I failed it), bottle after bottle of the Txakoli disappeared as the day turned to night. Simplicity of wine and purity of spirit — that’s all that mattered! In that sense, Txakoli encapsulated the moment. It was all that we could have hoped for.
With that, I suggest that while intrinsic qualities of wine can be identified and sometimes quantified — length of finish, balance of acidity, tannins, fruit density, for example — these are indications only of a wine’s make-up. Assessment of these factors may allude to the cost of production and with that, the ambitions of the winemaker, but they are largely worthless when weighing the joy, or lack of, that drinking wine brings.
Of course, some grasp of a wine’s make-up can facilitate pleasure, just as an understanding of any discipline serves as a platform for greater enjoyment. Yet over-analysis and the quest to drink the “best” will only serve up the obvious culprits: wines from famous regions, with high scores from critics who increasingly say the same thing, while elevating scores to the point whereby they mean nothing at all.
These same commentators tell us that the quality of wine around the world has never been better. Yet depending on whether one seeks the likes of a Txakoli or an impeccably made wine that could have been made from any number of regions across the wine world, mind-numbingly dull in its blandness, one could argue that quality — if defined by wines of place and intrigue — has never been worse.
The concept of “best value” wines, or “great wines for the money”, too, can be equally nebulous. After all, as the wonderful blogger, the Hosemaster of Wine quips, there is no such thing as “great” wine under US$20. I would suggest $30.
If “best value” is defined by the number of wines in a region of veracity, or of a typicity true to their origins; wines that are affordable to many (under $50) while being capable of conferring immense pleasure across a breadth of expressions both highly ageable and complex; and those that serve up imminent satisfaction, here is a highly personalised list of fertile possibilities...