Note: This is the red wine I enlisted as part of my experiment on tasting the colours of wine while blind.
I see I missed WBW #31 while away this week, halting my participation at 11 consecutive contributions. Check out all the action rounded up over at Box Wines. I actually bought the wine pictured above for WBW #29. The theme then was biodynamic wine. I ended up profiling a totally different wine at the last minute because it made for a more feasible entry.
THE MORE YOU KNOW, THE MORE YOU PAY
I held onto this one since it was a bit more expensive than the bottles I usually buy, especially those I buy on a whim (or a WBW). Winos that visit these pages can relate to this. There's a proportional relationship between wine and its sticker price. If you know little about a particular bottle you will only spring for it at a little price. I bit the bullet somewhat on this wine. It was a gamble urged on by WBW and once the transaction was made I immediately sensed the need to follow up with research and some careful discernment in selecting the appropriate moment to open it. It's a retentive approach (fair enough, some might even go so far as to say anal-retentive).
So I knew virtually nothing about this Domaine Les Béates Coteaux D'aix-en-Provence 2001, except that it was biodynamic and therefore suited to the entry requirements. (As of moments ago I learned more: opening the Oxford Companion to Wine it's heartening to see that the entry for D'aix-en-Provence includes a strong mention of this domaine which, incidentally, I've seen go by various versions of its name from Domaine de Béates in the OCW to Domaine des Béates on its own website to Domaine Les Béates on the actual bottle. A few words from the domaine name-drop was an explanation that arid Provence is big on organic techniques, which biodynamism must comprise by definition.) But apart from these tidbits, I also had the grain of an idea that the Coteaux D'aix-en-Provence AOC was one that I wanted to investigate further and that the 2001 vintage would be a fairly proper introduction. That's really the deciding factor in my purchase, not WBW. So with all that considered I decided to pack it up for later and submit to WBW a more straight-forward everyday white quaffer from a producer and region I was more familiar approaching.
And I have to say, after that exciting white from WBW #29, this red was a mild disappointment.
Perhaps that's because this cuvée was not entirely a dynamo in the glass. Perhaps I was simply expecting more of a punch. At the very least I was expecting to be as good as similarly-priced reds cultivated in the Midi in 2001. I don't think it was. So at the end of the day, it's hard for me to take away any generalization about how biodynamic wines perform in the everyday setting, i.e. my dinner table. That's not to say I am not encouraged at a basic level by the promise of organic farming. And perhaps biodynamism offers great benefits to the vigneron in the long-term. But in terms of the here and now of the bottles I'm sampling, it strikes me as hit or miss. Biodynamics has little directly to do with wine craftsmanship and the creation of an exceptional product, or so I understand it to be. Even if it did, that does not guarantee biodynamic wine exclusive rights to greatness. As a result, I cannot be reassured by the presence of the words biodynamic or biodynamique when opening up my wallet.
THE TASTING NOTES START HERE
Colour was a cranberry-brown shade, indicating its age. On the nose there was a slightly sour aroma. On the palate tannins were marked but flavours of licorice and garrigues also made a strong impression. It was a very spicy blend possessing medium to light body. Pervasive and tannic tartness made the finish medium-long.
It carries off its strengths better with food than without, but the final verdict hinges on the quality-to-price ratio and I fail to see how this cuvée earns its $20-plus price tag.
Lambesc, France. 14.5%.