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New Year's Resolutions 31/01/2005 (TNB)

This evening I couldn't resist opening a half bottle of de Villaine's Rully blanc Les Saint-Jacques 94, part of a mixed lot bought recently at auction. I suspected it was what I really wanted to drink at the end of a long day: not over-ambitious, not "in-your-face" and certainly not fruit-driven - but something with character. It didn't disappoint, really nice drinking, simple yet individual, characterful and engaging.

It takes me back to another evening recently when I was drinking a good bottle of Wachau riesling having opened that rather than a bottle of Jermann's 2002 Pinot Bianco that I was also contemplating. We had drunk a bottle of the latter (obtained from Valvona and Crolla's January sale) very recently and it goes against the grain to drink the same wine twice in a fortnight.

But I rather regretted that decision. There is something about Wachau wines that seems a bit heavy on the palate to me sometimes, particularly without food, despite their fineness and the quality of the fruit. And so I found myself lusting after the easy drinkability of the Italian wine.

This is a great turn-round for me. A few years ago I was really down on Italian whites in general, feeling them to be devoid of character and now I am really quite keen - although it is only the best producers that I really like.

It is hard to express the appeal of wines like these. There is a sense of place. A great Burgundy (for example) can be quite big and attention-grabbing, but has the precision and complexity to repay the resulting contemplation. What I am looking for in a lesser wine is something scaled down but in proportion; what I want to avoid is something attention-demanding but simple and just fruity.

So one New Year's resolution is to stock up a bit on whites like that Rully and top Italians from growers like Pieropan and Jermann. My other, by the way, is to pay a bit more attention to growers Champagnes rather than continuing my recent habit of just drinking the (generally excellent) wines from the likes of Billcart Salmon , Pol Roger and Roederer.

Article added to Fine Wine Diary 31/01/2005   Return to top