28 Jul 2006

Holding a Vigil

Vigil Valiente Meritage '96, Napa
[£14.99, Shepherd Foods, Blackheath]

DROVES OF barely potable wines skulk the shelves of far too many corner shops - with one exception, found in my local covered in dust and with a £14.99 price tag.

With a bouquet of unstirred gloss, mascarpone, brandy butter and a suggestion of musty tome, this bright wine delivered a clean squeege of tannins, brick dust and peppered confected cranberries on the palate with a medium-long aftertaste and a slight sherbert tang. I stepped back ten years with this one to a time when nuance and reasonable alcohol (13.5p/c) was more important than today's fortified levels, oak so excessive one's mouth is left full of splinters and flavours so obvious only Parisienne absinthe sorbet or Marc de Bourgogne will cleanse the palate.

Sitated at the foot of Mt. St. Helena, this small winery produces organic wines from old vines.

Meritage (Merit and Heritage) is a term of quality for a producer's top wine, with limited production, made from Bordeaux varieties (past or present, hence Carmenere crops up). Damn Good Wine provides a very accessible definition.
Napa is Native American for 'plenty' even though the region is only about 30miles x five and tagged onto potentially the largest wine consuming nation in the world.