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カベルネ

<Cultural Differences Riff with Wine by Ned Goodwin MW>

( the original text is following this translation )

バンコクで朝食を食べながら、メリーゴーランドのように途切れることなく行われるワインのマスタークラスで、自分の番がくるのを待っていた。アジア中を興行して回る国際食品フェアの会期中に、不似合いなのを承知で催されることになったからだ。新入りの富裕層たちは ”正しい方法” を渇望しているのだ。

何気なく、強い匂いのシガーを吹かす20代の中国人女性が目に留まった。まだ朝の7時半。手首のタトゥーにお似合いのアンニュイ感を漂わせながら、彼女は屋外のダイニング・スペースを見事に煙で包み込んだのだ。不快感極まって、テーブルごとすぐそばの鯉が泳ぐ池に蹴り落としてやろうかと思ったが、文化の違いを冷静に判断するチェックボックスに印をするよう自分に強いて、なんとか踏みとどまった。

いつでも必ず物事をワインに結びつけてしまう。結局、私にとってまぎれもなく許しがたい行為も、他人にとっては問題なく、私が行動規範として大切にしている信条も気にはされることはない。このような感覚を並べてみると、マスタークラスの妥当性に疑問が湧いてくる。特に「ワインの味わい方」や「食べ物とワインの適切なマッチング」といった類いーそのリストはいくらでもあるーの技術の正確性についても。

・・・いずれにしても、ほとんどの日本、中国、そして他のアジアの国のワイン愛好家の大半が、ワインが料理の組み合わせ、特に郷土料理との相性について、あまり気にしていないように感じている・・・

例えばタイでは、中国をはじめとするこの興味をそそる大陸と同じように、ワイン愛好家は白よりも赤を飲み(この動きは変わりつつある、とも聞く)、カベルネ・ソーヴィニヨンが特に人気だ。西側の目からみれば、カベルネにあうタイ料理はほとんどない。他の東南アジア料理、和食、中華の系譜をひく多くの料理とも、生理学的な相乗効果をもたらさない。しかし、この女性とそのシガーを眺めていると、偽善的だとは思うが、自分に問いかけたくなる。「それで、何?」つまり、東京のお固いソムリエ陣は別にして、ある特定のワインが料理との相乗効果をもたらすかそうでないか、ということを知るアジアのワイン愛好家はほとんどいないのだ。あるいは気にしていない、ともいえる。たとえ肌に染み付いているような郷土料理についても。

さっきの偽善的というのは、多くの仲間のように、私もまさにマスタークラスのような、テイスティング、教育的な訓話を多くの人から頼まれるからだ。疑問を抱きながら、表面上は真実の核心を信じようとしている。誤解しないでほしいが、仕事にはとても感謝している。仕事を本当に楽しんでいるし、少し風変わりなワインと料理や文化とのダンス、少なくとも伝統的にはワインと無関係だった領域まで、広く楽しめるようになるガイドラインがあるのだろうとも信じている。

そう。この原稿を書きながら、私はしかめ面をするより、むしろ微笑まねばならない。ワインは何をおいても楽しみを運んでくれる媒体であり、料理、会話、仲間に共鳴するこだまだということを、私自身が思い出したのだから。ワインは、正しいとか間違っている、という正誤のドグマに浸された道具ではない。知識と力の象徴のしゃくとして振り回される時にはじめて、最大限に分析されるのだ。結局、もしこの女性が一日の始まりにシガーを吸いたければ、どうぞお好きに、ということになる。私はいつでも屋内のテーブルに移って、フレンチトーストのお供にカベルネを開けられるのだから。

カベルネといえば、最近カベルネのテイスティングに参加した。ボルドー・ブレンド、他に単一品種のワインもあった。ヴィンテージはすべて2007。少なくともボルドーでは、それほど素晴らしいといえる年ではない。ティスティングコメントの後に、それぞれスコアをつけた(ワインほど感情に訴えかけてくるものに点数をつけることに、賛同してはいないけれど)。カッコの中が、私が予想したワインだ。ご覧の通り、いくつかは間違っていた。

Wine 1: Opaque core, with deep ruby rim. Aromas of cedar, currant and scrub, principally eucalyptus. Very bright, yet ambitious oak and fruit somewhat unresolved at present. Long and suave.     91 (Coonawarra): Vasse Felix Heytesbury Cabernet Sauvignon, Margaret River.

Wine 2: Smudgy and warm nose with strong vanillin oak aromas; more ambitious and extroverted than most Old World styles. Sweet, sweet fruit in mouth, yet relatively linear taut tannins, largely oak-driven, suggesting some Old World inspiration/ambition. More developed colour than 1.      88 (Margaret River): Petaluma Coonawarra.

Wine 3: A rubbery reductive aroma, opening to exhibit more red fruited currant in mouth. Medium weighted drinkable style, with firm linear tannins of Old World Cabernet and given the low extract level, a lesser year in the context of origin. A pleasant drink, but certainly nothing special.       89 (Pauillac, Bordeaux) Pichon Longueville Comtesse de la Lalande.

Wine 4: Explosive sweet / sour Ribena-like aromas suggest strong diurnal shifts and the jubey fruit of Chile. Rather green astringent tannins and jarring (added?) acidity, yet despite all of this effort, there is little to balance the overt sweetness. Short and stunted.      85 (somewhere in Chile): Senã.

Wine 5: The most intense hue of all. A meld of dark fruits, tobacco, cedar and wood spice. Quite extracted yet lifted and not at all cumbersome. Sweet fruit alludes to New World origins on the nose. The sweetness reverberates on the palate and is toned by judiciously handled oak and finely grained grape tannins that seem too structured and drying for most New World regimes. Long, juicy and very fine. Will age wonderfully.      93 (Maremma, Tuscany): Ornellaia.

Wine 6: A developed nose of earth and cigar box. Opaque. Nascent flavours in the mouth, suggesting long maturation in French oak. Nothing excessive. Needs time to unwind yet nevertheless, boasts a mellifluous flow from beginning to end and a long, persistent finish. Delicious to drink now based on texture alone. Wonderfully fine tannins here, despite strong extract and weight. Biodynamic? Structural focus and energy is this wine’s raison d’être. Seamless. Another glass, please!        95 (Margaret River) Cullen Diana Madeline Cabernet Sauvignon.

 Wine 7: A hint of eucalyptus amidst very vibrant sweet cassis-driven nose and palate. Spindly tannins, yet not as well formed as I would like. Nevertheless, the wine is undeniably long and balanced if not a little lacking in concentration; driven by freshness rather than force. For this it should be rewarded.      89 (Margaret River) Cape Mentelle Cabernet Sauvignon.

Wine 8: Plenty of straightforward primary fruit on the nose, with vanillin oak adding some complexity. Overall quite simple, yet plenty of extract adding weight and force of flavor, rather than much complexity at this stage. Needs time to shed its baby fat and fruit, and to bring on some wisdom and chutzpah.      88 (Napa): Mosswood Cabernet Sauvignon.

Wine 9: Forceful and intense aromas of currant and cedar. Primary fruit focus suggests New World, yet the oak and grape tannins, layered complexity, together with the wine’s juicy acidity serve as a confluence of real class. Concentrated, intense and long, with nothing out of place here.      92 (Margaret River): Opus One.

Wine 10: Clearly a wine relying on secondary and tertiary notes more than primary fruit. Mulch and spice here, with cigar and cedar to the fore. Mid-weighted, with well handled tannins and moderate acidity carrying the flavours to a long moreish finish. Sappy. Very well put together despite ambitious extraction levels in the context of the vintage.      93 (Pauillac, Bordeaux): Leoville-Las Cases.

THE ORIGINAL TEXT

<Cultural Differences Riff with Wine / by Ned Goodwin MW>

I sit over breakfast in Bangkok, awaiting my turn on the merry-go-round of wine master classes, attached like rogue limbs to the cycle of international food festivals that grind on throughout Asia. The newly minted are eager to know how to ‘do it right.’

I am observing a Chinese woman in her twenties, pulling on a pungent cigar. It is 7.30 am. With the glint of ennui aptly matched by the tattoos on her wrists, she has successfully enveloped the outdoor dining space in smoke. Annoyed, and verging on kicking her and her table into the pool of carp nearby, I force myself to check the politically correct box of cultural differences and refrain.

I make, what is for me at least, the inevitable connection with wine. After all what I perceive as glaringly inappropriate behavior is acceptable for others, unaware perhaps of the behavioural tenets that I cherish as the norm. With this juxtaposition of perceptions, I query the validity of master classes and indeed, the veracity of teachings such as ‘how to taste wine’, ‘appropriate food and wine matches’ etc. The list groans on.

…in any event, most Japanese, Chinese and other Asian wine drinkers don’t care whether a wine goes with food-especially their local cuisine-anyway…’

After all, in Thailand, as in China and elsewhere on this intriguing continent, wine drinkers drink more red than white (although this dynamic is changing, I am told), and Cabernet Sauvignon in particular. From these western eyes, Cabernet marries with very little Thai food, if any. Nor does it find physiological synergies with any south-east Asian cuisines, Japanese cuisine, or most dishes among the fabric of regional Chinese cooking. However glancing at this woman and her cigar, hypocritically I suppose, I am tempted to ask myself ‘so what?’ After all, aside from the stiff sommelier cadres in Tokyo, very few Asian wine drinkers know, nor care, whether a particular wine finds synergy with food or not, even if one speaks of local dishes of their own physiological leanings.

Hypocritically, because like many of my kin, I am asked by many to conduct the very masterclasses, tastings, and educational sermons that I query, while ostensibly believing in their kernel of truth. Don’t get me wrong, I am thankful for the work. As importantly, I enjoy it and yes, I do believe that there are guidelines that can help enhance our appreciation of wine and its idiosyncratic dance with foods and cultures that traditionally at least, were once wine-free-zones.

And yet as I write this piece I have to grin rather than grimace. I am able to remind myself that wine is first and foremost a vehicle of enjoyment and reflection to echo the food, conversation and company; rather than a tool steeped in the dogma of right and wrong; wielded as a scepter of knowledge and power and with this, something that is analyzed to an nth degree. After all, if this woman wants to smoke a cigar at daybreak, good luck to her. I can always move to a table inside and pop a bottle of Cabernet with my French toast.

Which brings me to a recent tasting of Cabernets, some Bordeaux-inspired blends and others, straight varietal expressions. All were 2007. In Bordeaux at least, this was a less than stellar year. After each tasting note I have given a score (despite my disapproval of ascribing scores to something as emotive as wine). Thereafter, in brackets, I have noted what I thought each wine to be. As you can see, sometimes I was wrong.

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