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Fat Wines for Lean Times

There are general trends in wine, as in everything else. I seem to recall that, in a depression, hemlines and necklines have been found to do something or other; and then the opposite, when the economy improves. Since we all slouch about in plastic shoes and elasticated polyester these days, that particular gauge is no longer reliable.

In 2007 we sold a lot more Pinot Grigio than anything else.  In 2008, there wasn't really a single favourite, but I do think people are insulating themselves against the economic cold with white wines that have a little more meat on their bones, are built for comfort, not for speed, &c. Employees are having to temper their personal astringency in case it promotes them on the list for the chop, and if chops are on the menu, then the fat wine beats the acid drop every time.  I'm not aware of a similar evolution in preferences for reds.

Grapes perfectly camouflaged against the pebbles 'galets' of Châteauneuf-du-Pape

The supermarkets might be able to confirm or deny this by comparing relative sales of Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay - the crisp and lean one versus the round and buttery one.  But for us, as always, the picture is a little more detailed.

There's been, perhaps, a gentle shift away from the Sauvignon end of the spectrum - the fresh, zippy, astringent wines - and so we've been recommending Chablis (Chardonnay), Viognier and some of the white Grenache-y blends from the south of France. I've linked to a not-too-overwhelmingly rich suggestion in each case.

I tend to resist buying whites from the Rhône (white Châteauneuf-du-Pape, eg) when Bubble Brothers are offered them, because their concentration is often perceived as "headachy" - but perhaps the time for fullness will arrive in the fullness of time. Maybe we should do a tasting across the spectrum one of these days, and see what people think.

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