Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Let's go outside

Some 7 years ago I attending a blind tasting – held on a splendid warm summer day. The tasting took place outside and I remember how we all were completely confused – resulting in wrong guesses and wines performing beyond their normality. So, like they do in modern football – we blamed someone else, we sacked Mother Nature and moved the tasting inside.

From this day I have often had the view, that tasting wine outside is problematic as there are simply too many things going on. Sure – it can be conducted – and we even have a term for the wines suitable for such in Denmark; “terassebasker” – which could be translated into a cheap wine which quench the thirst – but is never a great wine.

Currently – here in Denmark, we are riding a wave of beautiful summer weather. When you know how depressing the winter are here – and how a summer can rain away in temperatures below 20 degrees, you have to forge while the iron is hot, like now. I take every single opportunity I get to have dinner outside and of course also have a good glass of wine.

About a month ago I came up with the idea to write this post as I accidently took a phone call inside, with a glass of 2006 “Les Ursules” in my hand and noticed how different the Champagne was outside vs inside. Since then I have done the same exercise with all the wines I have (about 12 – se below) and with every single one of them, I have preferred them outside.

So why better and what is different??

First of all, it’s important that one takes into account the feeling of freedom when you are outside. When the weather simultaneously is good - like now, it makes us northern hemisphere Vikings a feeling of finally be alive and with a glass of wine we are in an optimal stage of relaxation.

Wouldn’t it always be better to taste wine under “controlled” circumstances?? But what are truly controlled and “correct” environment for tasting wines? A restaurant maybe – when the table next to you is covered with scents of perfume or just the food altering the wines profile completely. A cold cellar, when you are visiting a producer, where you can smell yeasty components maybe – or just the fact the wine is always a fraction colder?? I am confident you can achieve what can be view as an optimal environment for tasting wines – but I am merely saying that the subject holds a lot of grey areas.

So what was better?

A common thread running through this little experiment was that all wines could fall under the category; elegant wines. I am thinking that a certain type of wines might benefit from being served outside. The tasting 7 years ago was mostly blockbuster wines (we liked that back then) and all wines performed strange. So do we have a pattern? Elegant wines work – blockbuster don’t’? No – of course not. It’s the positive result of only 12 wines, nothing else.

Still it doesn’t stop me from wondering. You see, not only were these wines elegant – but also holding fresh and bright fruit cores. It’s also wines with moderate alcohol. Tasting these wines outside made them even fresher – their spices racier and simply just the joy of them higher. Inside made the flavours a bit duller, which corresponded with the simple equation of inside, was stuffy and outside was pure liberation.

So dear readers – don’t be afraid of tasting great wines outside and do posts back on what experience you have had – good or bad.

The wines involved in this small experiment.

2002 Chartogne-Taillet “Fiacre”, Champagne
NV Jacques Selosse “Rosé”, Champagne
2007 Fanny Sabre “Savigny-Les-Beaune”
2008 Alexandre Jouveaux “Le Mont” (tasted 3 times)
2004 Dönnhoff, Riesling “Hermannshöhle GG”
2007 Emrich Schônleber, Riesling “Halenberg GG”
2006 Cédric Bouchard “Les Ursules”
2008 Jean Foillard “ Morgon Cote de Py ”
2007 Jean Foillard “ Morgon Cote de Py ” Magnum
1999 Deutz “Cuvée William Deutz rosé”
2006 David Léclpart “L’Amateur”
2009 Dard et Ribo Crozes-Hermitage Rouge, “C'est le Printemps ”



Dan Samsøe said...

what a nice self portrait...

Thomas said...

Hahahaha….that’s what will happen when you drink too much Champagne – so watch out my friend.

Nanna Wang Carlsen said...

Hey Thomas,
Good news for you and other Champagne aficionados: http://www.berlingske.dk/verden/dykkere-fandt-230-aar-gammel-champagne

Better start saving for this one :-)
Have a great summer,

Thomas said...

Hi Nanna,

I have a case already – don’t you? ;-)

It will be interesting to see if these pre-auction prices can hold up. When 1907 Cuvée Jönköping / Heidsieck & Co. Gout Americain was found in the Baltic some some 10 years ago – there was also talks of insane auction prices. The Champagne were quickly dumped in price – but of course this wine, just found - is much older and the lot is also significant smaller.

I’ll love to taste it – but doubt I will be that lucky.


I wish you a great summer also.


Dan Samsøe said...

Interesting experiment Thomas. I have a new theory.... you started out by taking a sip inside and thought this is a good glass of wine/champagne. You then got outside in the nice sunshine and had a few glasses. All of the sudden you are feeling a bit tipsy and starts thinking... "Wauw, this is the best glass of wine I've had all day!" :-)

Have a nice evening and say hello to Lyster & Juhlin ;-)