WELL, well, well... we’re three days into Lent and you’re reading the wine column.
Have you no shame? Myself, I would love to forsake the devil’s buttermilk for this holy season of fasting and abstinence but, alas, it’s my job to write about wine.
So I thought I would go off coffee instead. However, my darling wife, the illustrious Madame G., objected. She declared that it was she who would suffer most by being trapped in our lovely home, Rose Cottage, with a grumpy, dangerous rhinoceros. Poor girl, she’s been watching rather a lot of David Attenborough recently.
As for me, I love cheese and eat it every day, with a particular fondness for cheese and coleslaw sandwiches on work days, and therefore I suggested giving it up instead. But my Madame asked me, “why on earth would God want you to give up cheese?” Well, who knows? Perhaps God would be delighted to see me give up cheese. My ability to debate this point was however sorely tested by the fact that I seemed to be losing my voice. Whereupon it struck me that this was a sure sign from God and that this year I could take a vow of silence. Maybe by resting the outer voice I could finally tune in to the wisdom of my inner voice!
To celebrate this wonderful epiphany I cracked open a bottle of today’s WINE OF THE WEEK, the elegant, savoury and light-bodied 2011 Brown Brothers Tarrango (available at good independent off-licences and wine-shops, generally £11.99). The Tarrango grape is unique to Australia and yet it produces a very un-Australian wine which is much more reminiscent of the fine, delicate wines of Bordeaux. A fresh and fragrant bouquet with hints of red cherries and vanilla leads to a tangy palate with lots of summer berry flavours and a supple, smooth texture before a lengthy finish with very subtle hints of cloves and dark, bitter chocolate. If I could speak and we were discussing this bottle face-to-face, I would suggest that you pair it with poultry - as it happened my Madame’s delicious coq-au-vin proved ideal for me.
But I cannot speak. So we will not be having that conversation. I can only make signs and write out my thoughts. And comfort myself by silently eating cheese or chocolate, drinking coffee or wine and gazing lovingly into my woman’s enigmatic, mysterious and very beautiful eyes. The wine which I have been mainly consoling myself with these last few days is the devilishly smooth, exquisitely balanced and exuberantly juicy 2012 Vinalta Malbec (reduced to £5.49 from £7.49 at M&S until February 24). This mellow, easy-drinking Argentinian red combines rich flavours of plum and blackcurrants with softer cherry notes over vividly atmospheric aromas of wild violets before a luxurious finish with lots of well-judged oak and spice.
I would like to say that my wife has been incredibly supportive of my Lenten vow but my lips are strictly sealed for 40-odd days. Anyway, the sad truth is that she has raised no objections. Not a single one! Indeed, she tells me that studies have shown that in conversations we humans don’t really listen to others but just assimilate enough information to make an appropriate response. It is to be hoped that by not talking for a while I will learn to listen to others, to God, to myself and to my Madame. I wish you similar success with all your own Lenten endeavours. Till next week, sssshhhh... And sante!