Time for a bit of crowdsourced Christmas cheer. Your advice, please.
One of the curses of adulthood is patience. Grown-ups know how to defer gratification. It usually works out for the best, but from time to time, you have to loosen the corset, open the poppers, and live a little.
I've collected wine, in a modest way, since university days. A few dozen nice reds actually got schlepped across oceans and equators. Since arriving in Munich, Master Right and I began to hunt for bargains at wine auctions—the Munich Wine Company in Diesenhofen offers some real gems if you look carefully.
In a wine-auction house, most of the stock is nicely long-in-the-tooth. Much comes from estate sales; previous owners stockpiled wine in the cellar, waiting for it to age, and never quite made it to their last tipple.
It occurred to us that some of our wine is so old, that it may no longer improve with age. And that if we drink the stuff at our current modest rate, it could end up with a new owner, yet again.
So Master Right and I have declared 2012 the Christmas of Drinking Half-Decent Wine for a Change. We're having a quiet Christmas at home, but you can celebrate with us. Tell us which bottle to open with tonight's traditional baked ham. The choice is between two chardonnays, and a pinot bianco.
The bottle in the centre is a classic 2001 White Burgundy from the Mersault appellation near Beaune—a find from the MWC. This wine is so smooth that you scarcely know you're drinking it, until you suddenly realise how happy you are. We bought half a dozen to impress my high-school pal Neville.
Neville poses a grammatical problem when I choose to describe him. That problem is the order of adjectives.
Is Neville the cigar-smoking, ballroom-dancing, black-belted, corporate-compliance-credentialled, wine-connoisseur banker? Or is he the banking, ballroom dancing, corporate-compliance-credentialled, wine-connoisseur, black-belted cigar-smoker?
(You needn't look for him amongst my Facebook friends; one could include internet-prudent on the list of adjectives, too.)
Of course, the aspect of his many-faceted character that concerns us is wine-conoisseur.
The bottle on the left is an Eileen Hardy Chardonnay, sourced in cleanskin. Neville offered it as a gift in exchange for one of the bottles of Mersault. The grapes for this vintage probably came from the limestone soils of the Padthaway vineyards, in the far south-eastern corner of the state of South Australia. Online reviews call it "plump". Online merchants call it expensive, but sourcing it in cleanskin makes it consumable with a good conscience.
The bottle on the right is a younger choice, from 2006. Given the sweetness of the meat, someting drier and fruitier may be in order, like a Pinot Bianco. The Jermann wine has a misleading name—it's not German at all, but Italian, from the region just to the north-west of Trieste. My maternal grandfather was born not far from there.
So help us choose. Better palates than mine have given a merry thumbs-up to all of these.
We're giving you all a nice big, plump thumbs up, too, for the holiday. May you have a happy one.
Stay tuned to help us decide how to wash down the duck on Christmas day.