I do not review many wines because this is primarily a psychology/wine website not a ‘wines I drink’ site, of which there are many of greatly variable quality. I also think that reviewing (don’t even mention arbitrary and impoverished scoring) a wine, based on a mouthful at a tasting, is so far removed from the experience of enjoying a wine with company and a meal that it is irrelevant to most of us. Many wines are also too tedious to write about but some demand it when they deliver a wonderful sensory experience. These are wines made with love and care that work with contextual factors, such as food and mood, to produce an emergent level of enjoyment.
After a long and rewarding day at work I opened a bottle of J.L. Chave’s Selection St Joseph ‘Offerus’ and it really delivered. It is another Wine Society 2004 Rhone that spent its life in my cellar (a different 2004 St Joseph review is here for comparison). I have previously suggested that these are food friendly, well priced, often traditional in style yet sophisticated and enjoyable wines. 2004 is not the most highly rated year for Rhones (due to the proximity of ‘great years’) but was generally sound and good makers seem to have been able to express their skills and individuality. The Chave family have been making wines in the area since 1481 so do not lack commitment or experience. Jean-Louis (Chave the younger) uses the ‘selection’ label to make traditional but affordable wines in a Chai seperate from the main cellars. Chave have lots of parcels of Syrah and the ‘Offerus’ is a blend from St. Jean de Muzols (black fruit with cassis and spicy/herbal notes) and Mauves (red fruit and minerality). It works so well because it delivers both in a unified way. I decanted into the lovely (but hard to photograph as evidenced in pic below) Riedel Syrah decanter bought for me by some thoughtful and generous trainees last year. I love using this because it is aesthetically pleasing in terms of its design and feel. Like much of the range it is designed to optimise a specific wine and in this case is successful in adding value by enhancing the characteristics of the wine.
It had thrown some sediment, which can be a counter-intuitive mark of quality, and I stopped decanting at just the right point. The decanted wine was bright and crystalline, the remainder put in a glass to one side (and its cloudy intensity really enjoyable later!). The thing I loved about this wine was the overall balance; not too boozy at 13.5%, plenty of acid giving freshness, rounded and integrated tannins, and that combination of red and black fruits which really kept me engaged. The mineral complexity, herbiness and spicy notes, such as camphor and cedarwood, metaphorical icing on the proverbial cake.
Work was particularly rewarding because I am enjoying developing a new doctorate module, ‘Consultation and Intervention’. I was also contacted by Professor Richard Wiseman, psychologist and magician, who is Director of the 2011 Edinburgh International Science Festival. I am a great admirer of Richard’s work and was flattered to be asked to speak at the Festival. He has the enviable ability to communicate complex psychological knowledge in an entertaining fashion. He often runs large scale experiments on TV and we talked about plans related to tasting trials during the festival. Examples of his work can be seen on youtube (links below) and his excellent website is here. Make sure you look at his books, I can highly recommend them. ‘The Luck Factor’ changed my behaviour in that it made explicit a range of easily implemented strategies to influence positive life outcomes.
And finally… The levitating cork. Enjoy.