"It’s SO nice to drink good wine again," a young friend of mine murmured when she returned home from university at the beginning of the summer.
She made the comment dreamily, a gentle, sweet smile playing across her face as she almost reverently contemplated her perfectly chilled glass of white while the sun filtered through the blinds and the giant hibiscus tree in her parents’ living room.
I knew what she meant. Although I wasn’t much into wine when I went to university — at least not into anything fabulous, since my taste in those days was more along the lines of anything sweet and spumante — I have, in recent decades, developed a mad passion for the fermented fruit of the vine.
But this young lady had been raised on the best, and knew a good thing when she tasted it. She’d naturally been watching her budget while attempting to survive on a student’s limited income, so had not been spending on the sort of wine she was used to. But when she got back home, her mother treated her and me to the 2012 Kim Crawford Unoaked Chardonnay from new Zealand ($19.99), which has become my (current) favourite chard.
As I’ve said in this space before, the Kim Crawford chard is a beaut — a tinge of lemon and grapefruit right off the bat softens to hints of pear, peach, melon, and pineapple. The wine boasts a lot of layers, and recently, when I thought I had a bottle of it at home and didn’t, I was downright peeved when I had to sip something else. I made a mental note not to EVER let myself run out of the KC unoaked chard again.
Anyway, my friend’s assessment of the situation — "nice to drink good wine again" — really struck a chord with me, although I did laugh, and so did she, when she uttered it. There’s something about getting back to your comfort zone, whether that involves wine, food or surroundings. It’s the familiarity, I suppose, that really makes one feel secure. And while it’s certainly not true in every case, many times, the wines that many of us classify as "good" come with a higher price tag.
But not always. The same young friend attended a party at my place recently, along with her very cool mom, and mom had left it up to daughter to choose which wine to bring. And she picked the St. Hallett Poacher’s Blend 2011 from Australia, which is a combination of Semillion and Sauvignon Blanc with just a touch of Riesling thrown in for good measure.
The Poacher’s had been her mother’s favourite white for a long time, and I quite liked it, too. But a few years back, we both became disenchanted with this wine — I don’t know if a couple of vintages were just not what the earlier ones used to be, or if we’d just gotten tired of it. But it didn’t hold the same appeal for us as it had in the past.
So we stayed away from it for at least a couple of years — maybe three. And maybe the 2011 vintage is just better, or perhaps — and this is probably the most logical explanation — the old adages hold true, that a change is as good as a rest, or a rest is as good as a change, or absence makes the heart (or in this case, the taste buds) grow fonder. But I know that when we sampled the Poacher’s Blend after our lengthy hiatus from it, it tasted pretty darned good once again.
A delicate wine that’s still crisp and fresh, the 2011 Poacher’s has notes of lime, apple and melon that are nicely balanced, and it’s certainly very pleasant for $13.99 a bottle.
So yes, m’dear, it IS nice to drink good wine — again, still, and always. Here’s hoping none of us ever has to drink anything BUT good wine ever again!
» Diane Nelson is a long-time journalist and former Sun staffer who really likes wine. A lot. Chat with her online at vinelines.ca or on twitter @vinelinesbdn
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition October 12, 2013