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Daily Glass: Uncomfortable Wine

October 11, 2021 4 comments

“Uncomfortable wine”??? What utter nonsense, right? Did the author had one too many glasses while writing this post?

The wine can be spoiled. The wine can taste bad. We can call it plonk, we can pour it out. But uncomfortable?

Shoes can be uncomfortable. The dress can be uncomfortable. The shirt’s collar might be too tight. Not knowing how to start a conversation with an attractive stranger might be uncomfortable. Not knowing how to answer a live interview question for the position you dreamed of your entire life is uncomfortable. Many, many things can be uncomfortable. But wine?

When I refer to wine as an art, the typical association in my mind is painting. As an art form, I imply that there are similarities between the bottle of wine and the painting on the wall. But maybe a book would be a better art form to compare?

Reaction to painting is instantaneous – you can, of course, spend hours looking at elaborate details and discovering new elements even if you saw the painting a thousand times before – but your first impression is unlikely to change, it might only deepen as time goes on. But with the book, first we see the cover, then we start reading, and if we found the book which speaks to us, by the time we reach the second page, nobody cares about that cover anymore.

When it comes to the wine, the bottle and the label matter – until we take the first sip. If we found “our wine”, the same as 300 pages book can be obsessively consumed within a few hours, a good bottle of wine will be gone in no time. And while you will be enjoying it, most likely you wouldn’t even remember how the label looked like.

What’s with this interlude and our comfort/uncomfort discussion you ask? Don’t worry, this is all connected.

So what can be uncomfortable about wine? Actually, many things. Remember – in the wine world, it is all about perception – except the taste, the pleasure, and your desire to have a second glass – of course, if you chose to be honest with yourself. Otherwise, perception is everything. Enjoying a glass of 2 buck chuck is uncomfortable. Bringing a $5 bottle of wine to your friends’ house is uncomfortable – knowing that it is an amazing bottle of wine without any regard for a price doesn’t make it less uncomfortable. Enjoying the glass of wine while your best friend hates it is uncomfortable. And then there are labels.

Okay, call me “captain obvious”, but this is where I was leading you all the way – the label can make you uncomfortable. There are enough wines in this world that have, for example, sexually suggestive or simply offensive words or images on the label. Ever saw the bottle of If You See Kay? This is a perfect example of suggestive language on the label – the book cover – for a perfectly delicious wine produced by Jayson Woodbridge. And there are wines that don’t even use suggestive language anymore – like the Little Fuck Malbec from Cahors.

When a friend sent me a picture of this label a few days ago, my first reaction was literally WTF – how can such a label be even approved (Jayson Woodbridge had lots of trouble getting his If You See Kay label approved 9 years ago)? But as the wine was available, I decided that I would not judge the book by its cover, and actually try reading it – and so I got the bottle.

I have to say that as soon as I got a hold of the bottle my negative impressions instantly started to diminish. This is hard to explain, as I don’t know if all the oenophiles feel the same way, but there are bottles that express “comfort” with its shape, weight, and overall feel in your hands. Once you take such a bottle in your hands, you can’t help yourself but say “oh, this is nice”. This was precisely the bottle. Outside of the wine name and the image on the label, the bottle was very comfortable and really created the anticipation – “oh yeah, I do want to open that bottle”. Even the label looked well designed in its shape and size and added the overall “comfort” feeling.

The wine didn’t disappoint – 2020 Vellas Père Et Fils Little Fuck Malbec Cahors AOP (14% ABV) was unapologetically a New World Malbec – big and brooding – and in a blind tasting I would confidently place it into Argentina, but never into the old world. The wine was full of raspberries, smoke, and sweet tobacco – on the nose and on the palate. Big, full-bodied, and powerful, but also well balanced and delicious – a very unapologetic Malbec I might be ashamed to bring to the acquaintance’s house but would be happy to drink at home or with close friends.

I’m really curious about the backstory of this wine. I don’t believe the name and images are random. Nicolas Vellas is a vigneron in the 4th generation at Vignobles Vellas, farming 300 acres of vines and producing a wide range of wines in the South of France. If this would be the only wine produced at the winery, yes, we could dismiss it as a gimmick. But this is simply one of many and the only one with such a unique label, so I truly believe there is a story for this wine, which is not easy to figure out – I even sent a message to the winery asking them to share the story if they can, but I’m not very hopeful. Well, actually lots of Vignoble Vellas wines have very creative labels – you can see them here, but I don’t know if there are any more of the “uncomfortable” ones.

Here you go, my friends. Uncomfortable wine which also happened to be delicious. Yeah, I’m okay with that. I’ll take delicious any day. And comfort? It comes after delicious.

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