July 24, 2013

Wine: Character gets to the heart of wine – and oneself


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"Tony has always loved high-acid white wines," Blake Murdock told me. Murdock helps import both Huet and Kiralyudvar, as national wholesale director at the impeccable, inimitable, infinitely impressive Rare Wine Co., based in California.

There are a lot of "high-acid white wines" in the world. But as Murdock added, even if "the flavors of the two wines are different, the profiles are similar: that high acidity along with a viscous texture."

This is what sets these two wines apart. The ample pleasures the wines provide emanate from the twin attacks of lasting, pinpoint acidity and voluptuous, luxuriant body. Razor-sharp lines, then prayer-like softness and graciousness. And always: transparency, limpidity, clarity. It's a doubling of impact, and compels a double-take.

The Kiralyudvar is what I call "dry, but ..." There is an enormous mineral bent to it, beeswaxy texture and an old-attic muskiness, along with robust orange fruits: apricot, grilled peach, orange peel. The "but" is a background sense of sweetness, rather than sweetness per se, if you get me. After a day or even two, the wine continues to live, via baked-in savory vanilla notes. It is thick, masculine, fibrous wine, rich and long-living. Those who describe themselves as "red-wine drinkers" would, if honest with themselves, adore it.

The same could be said of Vouvray, where the Chenin Blanc grape yields white wine with the heart and strength of a red. The Huet Sec might be the somewhat more excitable of the two sibling-like wines. It's more piquant than the Kiralyudvar, maybe 10 or 15 pounds leaner, with more prominent expressions of salt, lemon and -- as it unwinds over the course of the night -- baked apple, clove, mushroom.

Drinking both wines in short succession is fascinating. They talk to each other. Maybe in the end the Kiralyudvar is somewhat more relaxed and stretched out, content to hang on the couch, while brother Huet puts himself together for a night on the town. But always, in the end, family.

So taste the Huet, taste the Kiralyudvar, and you'll think of most wines you've drunk as mere Daguerrotypes when compared to the moving-picture-like action and primacy of these.

You can use this in your life, which most of the time if you're like me plays out fuzzy-like, flickering shadows on the walls of Plato's cave, the inevitable result of distraction, ambiguity and prevarication. Where is the character? Hiding.

Most wines are like that, too: funny stuff, a big show, Oz before Toto tugged at the curtain. But it doesn't have to be like that.


Joe Appel works at Rosemont Market, but not all the wines mentioned in this column are necessarily sold there. His blog is soulofwine.com, and he can be reached at soulofwine.appel@gmail.com.


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