Live Blogging of The Alphabetical

OK, so this is the second of these that I have done. The first time I did it was simply because I was in the same place as an open bottle of wine and my laptop. This time it was premeditated and I like it less.

The reason I did it was because in the original instance the wine I tasted was The Hedonist. Now I use the method to taste another wine by the same entrepreneurial wine/beer/food guys, Simon Wibberly and David Cope. I am not going to go into detail about them as they will form part of an article I am writing on backdoor winemakers (I made that term up, I hate the word garagiste, it reminds me of Derelicte) so for now I will just let you read the unedited ‘live’ blog.

I have arrived at &Union to taste the Alphabetical ‘Live”. It is only live because I am going to type as I taste, rather than taste now type later. I will keep my editing to a minimum and basically see if I got this wine wrong the last time I tasted it.

Also, I have ordered a bacon and cheese sandwich.

Here we go first sniff. Simon produced the bottle a few minutes ago and poured me a glass so it has been standing for a couple minutes.

No wait, hold on.

Shit, bacon and cheese arrived. Going to go there first.

Bacon sarnie is a cracker.  Back to the wine. [by the way, I was at &Union for this, and I suggest you go there try this wine for yourself and get a Bacon and Cheese Sandwich

On the nose Red fruit. But wait, this is a little tricky as the last time I tasted this I remembered thinking about volatility, so now this is at the forefront of my mind. Need to get past this. Red, cherry fruit starts then a bitter finish with an abrasive middle palate seems to get in the way.

Nose again. A little strawberry action and I’ll give some sour cherry, but this abrasive finish is still hard to get around.

Was really hoping for this to be different from what I remembered. I preferred The Hedonist.

It sucks when you know someone who makes a wine that you do not like. Honesty must prevail.

Ok so I was wrong about the VA thing. And Simon has assured me that it didn’t show up in any considerable amount on the analysis. So I was wrong there. But still. The  fruit obscured by harsh acidity and some heat. Not fresh. But you feel it could and samn well should be.  I have the feeling that there thre is more of a wine behind this prickly business. It is why I keep using the word obscured.

Nearly finished first glass. Some chocolate now. Dark, but with a good proportion of milk. Slightly toasty. Improving slightly, but the finish is literally leavingme with a bitter taste in my mouth.

Been chatting to simon for a bit and the wine has been drunk as we spoke.

It has opened up. More cab coming through. Cassis. The evolution has been from lighter to darker fruit which is interesting. From syrah to cab I guess. The tannin in the cab are now slightly coming through that prickly acidity business that I can’t really work out.

Definitely not volatile, just prickly.

Rudi cronje has joined us. He says, “ why aren’t we drinking this in two years.”

A fair question.

Ok, now on to food and wine.

Chalmar beef. Coppa ham.

Spice and spice don’t go so well, but I like it with the coppa ham. A balanced pairing.

As ghe wine has been in the glass there has been a move from syrah to Bordeaux. But the pricklynewss remains although not as much. The tannins are beginning to make themselves known. You can kind of get that cab structure coming through.

I haven’t been convinced. But I have definitely been cheered.

OK, now you can see why I don’t really like this. It is a vomit of half formed opinions, thoughts, without even the slightest hint of conclusion. Ah, life.

So now I come with the tissue of hindsight and try mop up the vomit. Briefly.

There are three important things that I got out of sharing a bottle of wine with Simon. The first one is obvious, sharing a bottle of wine with such an affable and sound chap is always a pleasure.

The second was a sort of freedom. It was kind of liberating to stand with someone who was intimately involved in making a wine (for David and Simon this wine represents much travail) and tell them that I didn’t really care for it.

That might sound cruel, but it isn’t. So much of the time when winemakers are around, or owners of wineries you hear “mmm, lovely”, “good fruit, good value” but hardly ever: “gosh, this is unbalanced.” or “This thing needs a label, it is nearly flammable.”

I didn’t have a go at Simon about his wine, I simply told what was bothering me about it. It was a level headed discussion about the wine that naturally evolved into one about wine in general, and then, well, we had a beer or two. This is how it should work.

And at the end of the day I don’t think they are too worried as sommeliers, the public (at least 4 or 5 came up and told Simon how they enjoyed the wine) and, it seems, nearly everyone but me who tastes it, loves it. Which is great. Not just great, fantastic.

It is fantastic because this is just the sought of wine more people should be drinking, because I think The Alphabet is an interesting wine. Whether I like it or not is not important, you might; and you would be drinking a far more interesting wine than you could get at the supermarket for the same price.

I think some more time in the bottle will improve this wine, and hopefully make me look rather silly. I will put away some bottles to put this to the test.

Have you tasted it? What did you think?

[PS. I promise not to do any more of these silly live blogging things. Or, at least until Simon and Dave bring out a new wine. Also, after the interview and the article is out I will write a proper post about this wine and the men behind it]


4 thoughts on “Live Blogging of The Alphabetical”

    1. I think it is less having balls – although I just had a shower and I can assure you I have those – and more feeling comfortable to have an open conversation about wine. That comfort, I think, comes from believing whole-heartedly in the possibility that you could be wrong, and not being bothered by that at all.

  1. Hi Harry
    I concur, well done for being honest and upfront about the wine, especially in the presence of the owner / winemaker. You have emphasised a great truth in wine, not all wines are for everyone, we revel in the diversity and half the fun is the journey, dicovering what pleases us and what doesn’t, and then enjoying the banter about the differences and never going “ad hominem”.

    1. Thanks Chris. Ya, I think it is always good to be honest, even when you are wrong because of a mistake in thought while tasting (I made a big one with The Alphabetical), or just saying, “you know what, this is not for me.” Thanks for reading.

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