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The key is to embrace the occasional misstep.
A lot of people decry that wine has become too much like investments (I suppose I’m one of them) but I cant think of two other endeavours where participants are so likely to loudly talk about their successes and be so fantastically quiet about the ones that didnt work out. For every blowhard bragging about buying Apple at $25, there'sa corresponding wine lover gushing over a bottle of 2006 Tignanello that he (it’s always a he) cellared and was now drinking wonderfully.”
This is not one of those stories. This is the story that's the wine equivalent of me saying to my wife 2 months before the pandemic started I think Peloton's stock is going to take off and then doing nothing because I was busy playing Candy Crush.
It starts with me returning to my hometown of Edmonton, Alberta to see my parents and carving out some time to visit my old stomping groundsThe Wine Cellar, Canada's first independent wine store and where I first learned about wine while working there during university. It's a wonderful storeall wood and still, 46 years after It's founding, a repository of one of the best curated selections of Burgundy in the country.
My folks wanted to order in from a half Japanese/half Korean spot, so I popped in hoping to get something that might have a bit of sweetnessRiesling or Gruner-Veltliner I was thinkingto go with the heat of gochujang. But as I perused the familiarly panelled aisles I saw a bottle that grabbed my attention. It was a 2009 Le Mont Vouray from Domaine Huet and it was $69a certified start the car deal for a wine who’s 2018 vintage goes for $67.
Because it was the Wine Cellar I had no concerns about storage, and it wasnt crazy for the price to be so low Vouvray aint exactly Kim Crawford in the name recognition department and the grape, Chenin Blanc, aint exactly Sauvignon Blanc either. There was one other red flag: the word Moelleux on the label, indicating that this was Huet's sweet version of the wine that I had had before in a dryer incarnation.
That was bit of concern, but sweetness always has a potential to be a red herring in that even a wine with a lot of residual sugar can be in beautiful balance with the corresponding proper acidity and Huet was one of the world's masters in this area. I quickly dialled up a few reviews on my phone (yes, of course I do this and if you buy me a beer I'll happily tell you which reviewers you can trust and which you cant) and they were better than solidincluding a rare 18/20 from the unassailable Jancis Robinson who said “Utterly delicious nose of sweetcorn, cooked lemon, butter, wax and honey. Still electric with acidity. Long, luscious, flowery finish. Pure and delicious and going incredibly strong at nearly ten years old. 18/20 points.” So I bought it.
And when I got to my folks’s home, I not only talked up the wine I actually snapped a pic of the bottle and sent it to my buddy Kurtis to celebrate my savvy purchasing and my other buddy Paul who also loves Huet. And then I opened it.
Sun Rype apple juice. From one of those old cans that you used to have to open with the point end of a bottle cap opener. And not just the colour (which, if anything, was a deeper hue than my childhood drink), but the nose and palate were such a match for apple juice that it was uncanny. I probably could have jammed a cork into the bottle, hit a local watering hole, and recouped my investment in 5 minutes by betting people what it was if they tasted it.
It wasnt bad in any sense of the wordthere was some of the acidity I expected, but not nearly enough to counter the very ample sugar. And to be honest, while I don't mind the taste of apples I was hoping for a bit more¦anything else.
But I don't feel bad about it, and you shouldnt either, when you find a special bottle that lands like lead balloon. And here's why:
1. Wine is a commodity of diminishing returns as you climb the price scale. A $100 bottle of wine is usually not twice as good as a nice $50 bottle of wine. A $500 wine is almost never four times better than a $125. To buy pricey wine is to accept this dictum right out of the gate or be forever disappointed.
2. To fail, is to try. There were a dozen pricey whites in the store that I knew everyone would lovebut where's the fun is doing the expected? I took a chance on a wine I had never had before and it didnt pan out, but that's life. I wouldnt do it buying wine for a wedding reception and I have a small fear I forever turned my sister-in-law off Vouvray, but I can live with that.
3. I got an education thrown in. When Huet says Moelleux, they mean it.
And by the way, The Wine Cellar has a few more bottle of Huet‘s companion Vouvray, Cote de Bourg, that are also Moelleux and from 2009 and I cant tell you how impressed Id be if one of you rolled in and gave it a try.
Are you over 18 years of age?