Sunday, November 04, 2007
The Thrill of Discovery
The other day I wrote about how I get tons of samples, and how I really need to kiss a lot of frogs to find a prince amongst them. And it's quite true, though many people still think I'm spoiled with all the free booze. Yeah, well, you try tasting through 20 young, thick black Corbières or Cahors wines, then come see me. If your teeth are still white and your tongue still functions, you ain't doing it right.
In that post, I mentioned how I seek something that is well-made and a good-value, a wine with good balance between all the components. Something that makes me sit up and take notice, something that tells me the winemaker wasn't just following a recipe but was actually watching over his baby like an obsessed parent. Something that gets me all excited and all revved up and reminds me why I love my job despite the constant hammering of badly-made bottles, occasionally over-priced producers and customers seeking better prices amidst a flailing Dollar.
It's something I like to call the "thrill of discovery".
It happens far too rarely, as the world is awash in an ocean of bad wine. But when it does happen, it makes everything else seem worthwhile. And I can happily say that it happened to me the other day, when I tasted a bunch of samples from a winery, Chateau La Bouscade, in the Minervois, an area located halfway between the Mediterranean coast and the ancient fortified city of Carcassonne.
There, winemaker David Cowderoy is crafting some beautiful, well-balanced, medium-to-big bodied reds from Syrah, Mourvèdre, Grenache and old-vine Carignan. The wines, it's true, have seen some oak, but not in an obnoxious way. If anything, the wood ageing adds complexity and body to the wine without masking the fruit, something that can happen when the winemaker isn't careful. And from what I've seen so far, Mr. Cowderoy is very careful.
I tasted with a few friends in the wine business, and as we tasted the wines over the course of a few hours, I couldn't help but sit up straight, slowly and surely, a small smile creasing my lips. The wines kept on developping, becoming deeper and more complex as they breathed. While they're not huge wines, especially by New World standards, they are elegant and balanced, wines someone could enjoy alone or with food and not get burned by the alcohol.
I had similar reactions to all their bottlings, and thus to me it was a no-brainer to represent them. Better yet, they represent both a great value and an understanding of international commerce, a rare combination. This is a perfect example of the thrill of discovery. Of course, the best thing is when potential clients taste the wines and say things like "This over-delivers!"
And when it happens, it makes everything good.