I avoid most supermarket tastings because they are often really grim affairs. They tend to show an incoherent bunch of wines that reflect a need to appeal to a broad customer base so tastings feel ‘scattergun’. That’s not to say some of the wines aren’t really enjoyable and good value (see below) but the experience of working through 50 or a 100 is best left to people getting paid to guide us through the overwhelming number of wines on the supermarket shelves. However, I have a soft spot for co-operatives per se and also for the ICA so figured the worst that could happen was that I would abandon the wines and have a look at some of the works on show.
The wines verged from mediocre to pretty good. I don’t review wines much now because I can’t take the ratings game seriously and there are lots of other people doing it. A few of them even do it well but most fail to take into account what we know about the limits of sensory discrimination, memory and human consistency. When I blog for Winepsych it is really just a whimsical supplement to the real point of the website which is the wine research papers, book reviews and sharing ideas about psychology relevant to wine. However, a couple of the wines being shown merited a description and seemed pretty good value;
The Cono Sur Organic Sauvignon Blanc 2011 was showing well and at £7.99 is a good alternative to a lot of the boring NZ ones dominating the market. Winemaker Adolfo Hurtado’s name on a bottle is as reliable an indicator as any rating that you will be getting something technically sound, good value and potentially interesting. This has lots of citrus fruit but it is balanced and not overly acidic. It has nice melon notes and a hint of green herbs. It is refreshing and would work perfectly as an aperitif but has enough about it to match food from goats cheese to light chicken dishes. A rounded and versatile wine with organic credentials and 13% ABV. The label (pictured above) has a bicycle on it because this is the transport used by the local workers to cut emissions and avoid pollution in the vineyards. The label is itself is made from recycled paper. This is a wine which reflects an admirable mindfulness and it also drinks well.
The other wine that stood out for me (and it should always be borne in mind that my taste changes with the weather, as does the taste of the wine) was Domaine Brisson Morgon les Charmes 2009. I have a taste aversion (learned) to Gamay, I used to love it but now rarely drink it, so to pick this out was a surprise. Morgon, at its best, can be really complex and age like Burgundy. 2009 was kind to the region and this is, in many ways, as good as it gets at this price level. Like the SB above it is £7.99 and when you are willing to stretch beyond the fiver threshold you can get so much more. It had a surprising depth of colour, smooth fruitiness and subtle notes of tar and eucalyptus (which I like). This will be great for summer BBQs once summer arrives and at 12.5% much less likely to lead to you setting fire to yourself than all those 14% and 15% horrors out there. Try it slightly chilled with a burger.
I am no longer a member of the ICA because it seemed to lose direction a few years ago but I didn’t dwell on the tasting and was able to spend some time looking at Remote Control; an exhibition about the influence of television. I got hooked by the Adrian Piper video ‘Cornered’ (1988) which explores notions of racial identity in quite a challenging way. You can watch it here but it is not quite the same experience as sitting in one of the chairs in front of the installation in the gallery.