Monday, March 5, 2007

The wine situation in Niger, with tasting notes

Niger is not 'cellar temperature,' and trucks with cooled cargo space are non-existant; thus temperature-sensitive goods don't fare well. The shops where you can buy wine also know nothing about wine, and their general policy anyway is to buy the cheapest European foods (which thus are usually knock-offs from China or the Middle East), and mark them up to luxury prices. Wine is no exception. I have tried dozens of reds, none of which were even palatable, with the exception of Mouton-Cadet 2002 Bordeaux, which was merely palatable and cost $22.

Tonight at dinner, Jennifer and I opened a bottle so bad that we were inspired to pull last week's abominable bottle that we couldn't drink (and which had been sitting uncorked in the fridge for a week while we've been out of town), and hold a blind taste test. Here are the results:

Last week's bottle, a Gallejon Vino de Mesa red, had initially given an overwhelming nose strongly reminiscent of the vinyl Halloween costumes I used to wear when I was a kid, complete with tantalizing hints of flame retardant. When I held the glass up to my nose, I could almost feel the Batman mask digging into my forehead, the elastic behind my ears. After breathing in the refrigerator for a week, those high notes had disappeared, replaced with the aroma of balsamic vinegar, nitre, and a whiff of kitty litter. Upon tasting, Jennifer detected sweatsock, possibly including Athlete's Foot, and the dull funk of a yeast infection.

The newer bottle, a Cave de L'Escadron 2000 Corbieres, gave an initial front-of-the-mouth draught of Kool-Aid, followed by nuances of fresh, unused Band-Aids in the back of the mouth. I also tasted stale dried apricots. The nose was simple, primarily one of mildew. The heavy tannins were reminiscent of leather naturally cured in urine.

1 comment:

Sue said...

I was excited to try exotic new wines when I saw the fields and fields of grapes in India, and we drove past myriads of wine stores. But uga - I think they have the same wines as they do in Niger. My brother and I ordered glasses of a local red in a fancy hotel. It was completely unpalatable, and so abhorrent that I refused to take another sip. That's saying a LOT because I'll drink anything, and we had been on the alcohol-free ashram for a week. Paul stubbornly insisted on finishing his glass, despite my worries that it would kill him.