Lucy Vickery

Competition | 18 June 2011

Lucy Vickery presents this week's Competition

Lucy Vickery presents this week’s Competition

In Competition No. 2700 you were invited to submit an example of pretentious wine-writing.

Peter Mayle’s account in the Observer of his first formal wine tasting, in London’s St James’s, gives a flavour of what I was looking for: ‘The first wine, so he [the wine merchant] informed us, was vigorous and well-constructed, even a little bosomy. The second was an iron fist in a velvet glove. The third was earthy, but generous. The fourth was a little young to be up so late.’ As the evening wears on, the comparisons become increasingly ludicrous: ‘oak, truffles, hyacinths, hay, wet leather, wet dogs, weasels, a hare’s belly, faded tulips, old carpet, vintage socks…’ The winners, below, were well up to the tâche and get £25 each, with Gerard Benson pocketing the bonus fiver.

Dining with my friend, the fabled vintner Gaston Marichaux, I was made acquainted with an intriguing vintage, light but serious, fruity but austere — a deceptive rouge. ‘A true test for a discerning palate. I’d be interested in your reaction,’ Gaston said with a half-smile. We touched glasses. The ‘nose’ was puzzling, unique, seductively pleasant yet secretive. The first sip was a revelation, like opening a book of rare prints, or digging a simple garden plot and finding a golden goblet inches below the surface. ‘Miraculeux, mon ami,’ I cried. ‘Notes of the Midi with undertones, correct me if I’m mistaken, that are surely Tuscan.’ ‘Bravo, my friend,’ he replied. ‘It is quite new, a hybrid grape derived from two nations, a true example of European co-operation. This elixir is from the premiere pressing. None but you has identified its twin sources.’ We addressed the carafe in convivial companionship.
Gerard Benson

The current crop of whites from the Carpathian vineyards around Bogrol bids fair to demolish the reputation of East European wines for possessing the oenological appeal of industrial paint-stripper.

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