a tired expat on the Green Island
And so it came to the point when I had to do a post in English, or shall I say... Irish-English. It is obviously not my mother tongue, hence I would kindly ask for your forbearance in case I make any silly mistakes or phrases, which might come from a direct and blunt polish translation.
Just as my previous bottles, this one is special. Not only because it says on the back that the vineyard from which the wine come from has supposedly been established by Silesian immigrants, but also because it was a gift. From Silesians to a Silesian. I think I might need to go deeper into the story...
So it all began not so long ago when my friend went to Poland for a few months. Her husband soon followed leaving me the keys to their apartment and asked if I could look after it in their absence. I happily agreed knowing that having keys to two apartments is always better than just one. The more, the merrier. What I didn't realize is that it also came with a benefit of three bottles of wines waiting for me in their apartment along with two bags of onions. The onions ended up in pasta few days later which was enjoyed at a party that I threw at my place. But with the wines... well... they were carefully placed in my wardrobe, which is trying hard to play a role of a 15th century cellar. The only problem is, it's been made of wood, keeps a warm 20 degrees temperature and is experiencing occasional tremors when I scour through it in search for clean clothes. Still... a wine cellar. I live on a ground floor, mind you!
So before I start the wine tasting bit, I'd like to officially thank my friends for putting this bottle forward. It comes from Barossa Valley in South Australia which is one of the regions in Australia that I particularly fancy. Mainly because the area of the region is quite compact (some over 13,000 hectares of vineyards) and thus doesn't allow huge parcels and encourage smaller, which are most of the times treated with care and love. Also the climate and soil is ideal for Shiraz, which is planted there in abundance as well as some cab-savs and, of course, Semillion.
Now, I'm not the most knowledgeable person about Australian wines, but from experience I have from the new World wines is that most of the times they're more customer-orientated rather than producer-orientated. In other words... more by the Globalists rather than Traditionalists, or more even "I do what's tasty" as opposed to "I do that, take it or leave it. And don't forget, who I am and where I'm from.". From this 2003 Semillion I'd expect a rather chunky, deep yellow in color and honey'ish fruity and perhaps oaky flavored wine. I gathered from the label that it was fermented both in oak and steel vats using Champagne yeast to allow fermentation in 12 degrees. When a wine is treated elegantly, it becomes elegant. Also I learned that some melolactic fermentation was used, so I'm dying to try it and feel that mellowy, velvety or creamy even structure on the palate. Can't wait to try it!
Worth mentioning is the name... l'Expatrie, an expat. Which ideally describes my current situation! Anyways... onto the color. Let's see if I was wrong with my assumptions.
Oh no! I just opened the bottle and noticed that the cork was nearly all wet up to the top! This could mean a dreadful thing... It could have been exposed to oxygen, which is a great enemy of wine... Perhaps it was stored too long on the shelves in an upright position which would dry the cork and therefore made it dry and allow too much air to circulate? Then the cork would shrink a little bit and after I put it sideways, some of the wine nearly got out of the bottle? At least I wasn't wrong about the color!
I poured the wine to three glasses as usual. I'd like to see, which one of these will expose my wine with its very best qualities:
- A white wine glass by Eisch made with Sensis Plus technology.
- A glass for a Chardonnay also by Eisch.
- and finally a Montrachet (Chardonnay) by Riedel from the Vinum XL series.
Now... onto the nose. Seeing the wet cork I could smell a stale, not exciting smell without much fruitiness which would have totally faded away after contact with air. Let's see... I'm taking the glasses from left to right, so the first one is a glass for whites by Eisch. I give it a little swirl before I throw my nose into it!
Alcohol... some rubbery, metallic/mineral aromas and even more rubber or petrol. Before I put a verdict for oxidation, I need to double check it in the chardonnay glass. Ok... I'm pretty convinced it is indeed oxidized, but just for the sake of giving it a chance, I'll try it on the palate.
After tasting it and giving it a second chance I'd like to think that it is just past it's best. It doesn't feel unpleasant on the palate actually. It still gives me those rubbery aromas as you would get in a mature Riesling, but I'm also getting some oak and a hint of honey and perhaps some prune.
Hmm.. I must say that after it warmed up a little it opened. Maybe it wasn't that much oxidized and just needed some time in the glass? Maybe it's one of those wines, that don't intend to seduce you from the first sight but rather invite you to a conversation? So I'm asking the glass for Chardonnay by Eisch for a dance... Now I'm getting more round and cleaner aromas. Still not exploding with fruit, mostly petrolly/rubbery chassis with a peachy wheels filled with honey. But still... on the palate a bit dull and nothing new to the previous experience with the first glass.
What can the wine tell me from the Riedel perspective then? Let's see. It doesn't bring any new words to my description other than smoother aromas. With a wider bowl that the Montrachet glass has it allows a subtle stir in the air which when reached by a nose gives you a rather pleasant feeling. But still... on the palate it's stale and leaves the mouth rather quickly, oblivious to the fact that it was even there in the first place.
I used a spittoon for the first time. Not only because this wine was a bit faulty, but also because I must look after my stomach more carefully these days! It's been screaming for a break after a joyful week of dinners, birthday and farewell parties.
All in all, our expat l'Expatrie after many years took a long journey to come to Ireland and then waited for an opportunity to be discovered, understood, revealed and enjoyed. He waited too long. And now being a dull and tired expat he ends in a spittoon. I'm convinced his mates had more luck and have a happier story to tell.