Vendredis du Vin #79: Vinotherapy

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If you’re not familiar with the French wine blogging scene, you probably have never heard of the “Vendredis du Vin.”

It’s a online community of francophone wine buffs who, like well-trained puppets, on the last Friday of the month, write a blog post in response to a deliberately provocative prompt.

Every month a new theme is announced, I make a note of it, but every month, without fail, the deadline whizzes by. However, with an image like the one above from Miss Lilou, I was not going to be forgetting this month’s prompt any time soon.

–> Personally, if I could make just a couple of changes to that image, it would be me in that barrel of wine, and I’d swap in a proper wine glass. <– 

Sébastien Nickel, our VDV President this month, set us the theme “Vinotherapy” or, in other words, to talk about a wine which makes us feel better.

If I had thought that remembering the date was the hardest part, I hadn’t realised that I’d actually need to find the time to sit down and write the blog post. I’m yoyo-ing between the UK and France right now and as soon as I get home in the evenings, I fall fast asleep.

So, here I am, a day late, enjoying the best of both cultures for breakfast – a delicious pomegranate tart from Du Pain and a pot of Lady Grey tea – and trying to get my sluggish brain to concentrate on wine.

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I was racking my brain for the wine that I had drunk recently which made me feel at ease. Was it a Loire Valley Sauvignon Blanc? I’ve drunk so many of them over the last few months and yet I still manage to keep appreciating their minerality. Would it be an elegant Barolo? Last week, I was delighted that a friend decided to open two bottles of 2009 Barolo from Giuseppe Mascarello and that I just happened to be on hand to, err, help.

Bubbles were up there because of their rather flirtatious and frivolous nature. Beer also crossed my mind because in order to relax, I tend to go to grains rather than grapes. Finally, I realised that the style of wine that gives me instant pleasure without any of the anxiety that goes hand-in-hand with prestigious crus, were sweet wines.

I opened a bottle of Massandra South Coast White Muscat last weekend for my birthday.

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It is made with Muscat Blanc à petits grains grapes, grown on the south-facing coast overlooking the Black Sea. This is the same variety that is typically used for Moscato d’Asti in northern Italy as well as the many vins doux naturels from the south of France – in particular, the Muscat Beaumes de Venise where it often goes by the pen-name Muscat de Frontignan.

Crimea is specialised in the production of fortified Muscat wines. I visited the Massandra winery, near Yalta, in 2012 (which you can read about here)… although I didn’t get the same treatment as Putin and Berlusconi!

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Now that Crimea is part of Russia, we can’t find these wines in Europe anymore – blame the trade embargoes. As a result, these last bottles in my cellar feel even more special.

Therefore, my vinotherapy comes in the form of the Massandra Winery’s fortified South Coast White Muscat NV, bottled on 13 April 2012.

At first, it has a beautiful toffee colour with a syrupy, viscous texture. I lose myself amongst the comforting aromas of stewed apricots, dates and wild-flower honey. Taking a tentative sip reveals a luscious balance of sugar and alcohol. The wine is aged for a minimum of two years in oak before bottling and accordingly, the diverse elements are harmoniously intertwined. It was a perfect pairing for a sticky toffee pudding.

Cheers!! Bon weekend à tous et à toutes!

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