10 wines to try before you die
To celebrate the publication of her latest book, 101 Wines to Try Before You Die, Margaret Rand recommends a selection of offbeat bottles that no wine lover should miss
Margaret Rand selects offbeat options from her new book, 101 Wines to Try Before You Die
IT’s A woNDERful feeling, when wine across the world begins to turn in the right direction. By which I mean, of course, the direction I think is right: balance, transparency, poise and precision. Apart from a few dinosaurs of the wine world, we’re seeing the back of over-oaking and overripeness; producers in many areas are seeking ways of bringing down excessive sugar levels.
Narrowing the wines of the world to just 101 for my book was therefore an even tougher task than it would have been 10 years ago. Every region is sprouting new, ambitious and innovative producers. should I pick new and barely tried names because their first releases had pleased me so much, or should I look for a track record? should I focus on biodynamic growers, whose wines can be so wonderful even if the pseudo-science behind them can be so annoying? How many of the acknowledged icon wines of the world should I include?
This last was my biggest problem. why leave out latour and lafite, Ausone and Petrus, when those wines – when I’ve had occasion to taste them – have knocked me sideways? space, is the answer. To have included them would have meant leaving out the likes of wieninger’s Gemischter satz, Hatzidakis Assyrtiko or steve Pannell’s Grenache – and everybody knows about latour and lafite. You don’t need me to tell you they’re good.
sometimes a coin came into it: tossed in the air, and coming down heads or tails. A couple of wines were chosen like that. Honestly, how would you choose between Chablis from Raveneau or from Dauvissat? A 10p coin decided it for me. sometimes, with the great vineyard of Achleiten in Austria’s wachau, even a coin wouldn’t work, and I settled for the vineyard itself. It might be a cop-out to say that the wines are so hard to come by that you should grab any you see, but it’s easier than deciding between Jamek, Toni Bodenstein, Rudi Pichler or Domäne wachau.
some regions I left out altogether; some, given another 100 wines to play with, would have been more heavily represented. You might say: ‘oh, you wouldn’t have put in A if you had tasted B.’ And that may well be true. I haven’t tasted every wine in the world. My personal list of wines I still need to try before I die is probably a lot longer than 101. In the meantime, the 10 wines on these pages will offer you a snapshot of the selection in my book and provide some drinking inspiration.
‘Everybody knows about Latour and Lafite. You don’t need me to tell you they’re good’
101 Wines to Try Before You Die by Margaret Rand is published by Cassell, £12
Margaret Rand is a widely published and awarded wine writer and DWWA judge