Firstly, I was in shock at not being sound asleep after yet another crazy dance weekend where I made myself both exhausted yet fulfilled by teaching dance psychology and running whisky tasting parties*. Secondly, it felt like both a beginning and an ending. It's the end of my year as an international party princess. I'd finished working in the corporate world a year before to focus on learning more about wine and enjoying life to the full. Both missions accomplished. But it also feels like an ending, because the good times cannot roll forever (at least according to my bank manager), and there was that first sense of a chill in the air that signals the end of summer, the start of autumn, and with it, a time to focus on getting down to business. Yet something in my heart is unable to let go of a diary filled with international friends at dance events across the globe, and other assorted travel adventures. August is traditionally a time when I think of absent friends, and so a gentle but pleasant melancholy started to settle as I gazed at the infinite. The shooting stars and satellites both created their own sense of wonder and emptiness. It was time for comfort food and comfort wine.
During my Wine and Spirit Education Trust studies last year, Aglianico del Vulture (Pipoli) was one of the few Italian wines we sampled which I could truly say that I loved. But it's pretty hard to get a hold of, especially the 2008. And I'd drunk my only bottle some time ago. If you're interested though, The Drink Shop will be selling the 2010 online from 20th September for under £10 a bottle, and a more premium version of the 2008 for around £17. Since my course, I've consistently been troubled by the general lack of availability of this unusual grape variety. Well done Marks and Spencer for bringing it to a wider public. The question is, have they brought us a good example?
Meanwhile, this low cost version of the grape holds the signature deep garnet colour, with firm tannins and a good acidity, helping it pair well with rich tomato and meat dishes. This one probably sits more as a medium rather than full-bodied example and is pretty drinkable, though Mr Purple Teeth was less than impressed.
It definitely lacks some of the complexity and potential that higher priced versions from the DOCG regions will carry, but it's a good introduction to a new grape variety without the higher price tag that often comes along with it. The tannin is still present, even after the wine has been open for 24 hours, giving some good structure without being too drying while the acidity means it doesn't have that "heavy" feeling that makes red wine less suitable for warmer evenings. In fact, for a red, it's pretty crisp. Flavours are predominantly of raspberry, blackberry and plum with some hints of morello cherry.
In the end, though, I was a little disappointed and perhaps unfairly so, given that this wine is considerably cheaper than most of the wines I've been drinking of late. Getting a drinkable bottle of red for under £6.50 is becoming ever more difficult with each tax increase and though I wouldn't choose to drink this on it's own, it will make a perfectly acceptable partner for your home made pasta dishes. That said, I'd probably pay the extra 50 pence or so to get the Nero D'Avola from Tesco. Especially as the last bottle I had was possibly drinking better than it's ever drunk before.
I still feel the familiar August pain of missing friends and family, some of whom I'll never see again, but looking back on the meteors I'm reminded of some important facts.
1) I'm grateful for the most amazing year of memories
2) We carry people in our hearts even when we cannot see them
3) It's up to me to make Purple Teeth into a successful business (but I would welcome your suggestions on what you want!)
4) In the end, every penny I've spent on wine and dancing has enriched my life
5) There will be meteors every August to remind me of absent friends
6) Someone somewhere reading this just might be inspired to start living the life they've always imagined too.
7) And even if someone somewhere just chooses a different wine for a change then that's fine too.
Thanks for reading. Cheers!
I'm undecided about what next week's wine of the week should be, but as it'll be my birthday next week, I'm tempted to declare Pinot Noir in general, since it'll give me plenty of excuses to drink this grape variety and I have some marvellous examples on the wine rack. Let me know what you think...