I confess, this lunchtime, I had a glass of Pinot Grigio. I know, I know, I'm supposed to talk about wine here rather than Pinot Grigio. A press release came through a couple of months ago from a company suggesting that the southern Italian grape Fiano might be 'the next Pinot Grigio'. Sent them a note saying something like, 'What, you mean bland, with a pretty label, but girlies love it?'
However, here was a Pinot Grigio that actually had a little personality. The wine was the Swan Bay 2007 from Scotchmans Hill in Victoria, Australia (set to be £7.50-£8 from the Wine Society). It had that waxy walnut and apple edge of good examples, and was more buxom than most.
But... Now I realise that wineries need cash flow, but I'm getting tired of tasting wines that have been released while they're still in nappies. And I'm not talking here about nobby clarets that need a decade or so in order to work out what the fuss is all about. I'm talking about normal, everyday wines that need a few months in bottle to calm down. the Swan Bay has all the makings of decent wine, but it's for drinking at Christmas and beyond, not while it's still sucking its thumb.
Don't blame the winemakers. I've had conversations with several in places as far apart as Austria and South Africa who despair of the 'youngest is best' mentality which has people demanding the latest vintage almost as soon as its finished fermenting. No, it's typically their bosses who cajole them into getting the stuff out of the cellars ASAP - and sometimes encourage them to tweak the winemaking to make the wine more forward.
Try this experiment. See if you can find both the 2007 and 2006 vintages of a cheapish southern hemisphere white. Try them side by side - bet you prefer the older one.