Captain Planet Month: Wind 05/10/12
In the interest of full disclosure, I’m going to get right to the point: it wasn’t easy finding a Wind wine for Captain Planet Month. This feat in fact proved so difficult that I began writing my review well in advance of my having actually located a thematically appropriate bottle. Why? Well, it didn’t have anything to do with the Wind Planeteer, Linka, whose origins in the Soviet Union have naturally shrouded her life in secrecy; nor was it a function of money, of which I have less than many wines require. No, this was a matter of ethereality – or more to the point, a lack of any clear definition of how exactly ethereality manifests in wine.
I’d always planned to write about an ethereal wine for my Wind post, but much like minerality, ethereality is a trait often attributed to wines but seldom expanded upon in any detail. And even when it is, people’s notions of what constitutes an ethereal wine seem to vary wildly: from light yet substantial, to sublimely floral, to one that quite literally smells like ether.
It’s almost as though some sort of shadowy, omnipresent Big Brother figure has intentionally obfuscated the word’s definition throughout the years, afraid of what might happen if the people were to unite in consensus and understanding…and wine. Which I suppose brings us back to Linka’s Soviet roots after all – it seems the KGB is to blame here.
But folks, I’m an English major. And we English majors are all about definitions. Okay, occasionally we enjoy lording the noble pretensions of our erudition over the rest of you porcine ignoramuses, but mostly we’re about definitions. So how about an official definition of ethereality? Dictionary.com has a few listed, which more or less accord with my own recollection: that which is ethereal is light, airy, elegant, refined, heavenly, celestial, or some combination of the above. Or if you’re incredibly unpoetic, sure, it can just plain remind you of ether.
And when it comes to wine? Given the light ‘n airy aspects of ethereality, it certainly seemed appropriate to pick up something ethereal for the Wind installment of Captain Planet Month. But how can a wine be airy when it’s actually liquid? The same way it can be earthen, or fiery: through the magic of experiential subjectivity! I wound up selecting a relatively inexpensive (for Burgundy) Burgundy, the 2010 Louis Latour Pouilly-Fuisse, reduced from $25 to $20 at my friendly neighborhood PLCB store.
Wind. Often tangible yet seldom tamable, the wind is all around us. It can be a pleasant, zephyrean friend, imparting refreshing levity to an otherwise oppressive day; or a baleful, blustery bastard, obliterating all in its path. Wind is closely related to air, but there is a subtle distinction: the former is in motion, wafting its way to and fro in pursuit of some inscrutable, transcendental end, discontented with the peaceful inertia favored by its kin. And so is it in wine, manifest as a soft, ephemeral buoyancy which amounts to a fleeting, albeit memorable experience for the senses.
The Louis Latour Poully-Fuisse, made entirely from Chardonnay (as tends to be the case with White Burgundy), swept across my palate with all the force of a light breeze. Clean notes of lemon and green apple characterized the nose, along with something vaguely buttery, but not in the way I’ve come to expect from the over-oaked, over-secondarily malolactically fermented Chardonnay all too common in the states. It was more redolent of a pastry, but one I couldn’t quite place.
The palate is where the ethereality really came into play: similar flavors returned, but this wasn’t as noteworthy as the evanescent course the wine plied through my palate, as though afraid to linger too long on the tongue, lest I sully its enological purity. If you’re ever lucky enough to capture and liquify an angel, he’ll leave a similar tactile impression…I imagine.
Balanced and subtle, but ultimately rather simple, the Latour earns thumbs up.