Girls reading this might be familiar with “yet-another-evening-dress” syndrome – when you love a dress so much that you buy it despite it being very demanding about a setting, a matching pair of shoes, a suitable means of transport and a companion. You buy it despite the fact that there’s a dozen other outfits waiting for these special occasions that usually don’t hurry to come. Quite often wines, too, spend years waiting for a special occasion to be opened.
This is one of them. I kept the bottle for quite a while and decided to take it with me when I went to Deal to visit a friend, a writer whom I haven’t seen for many months. The trip was arranged, cancelled and rearranged – to be postponed again. But suddenly it just happened – and with not much planning I set off to the seaside.
I knew we were going to have seafood of some sort so we traditionally thought of dry white. My friend doesn’t drink a lot of wine nowadays because of being sensitive to acidity. “I’ll stay faithful to whisky. Bring a nice bottle of wine – you’ll be drinking it yourself,” he said. I didn’t mind. My first choice was some nice Chablis, then in a wine rack I saw a bottle of Rully I’d wanted to try for a couple of months. Then I thought I’ll check the cellar before I go – and, bingo, there was this bottle in the fridge!
One of the best white wine from Rhone, Condrieu is not the most obvious match for seafood but I wanted to experiment. Always having dry acidic stuff with your fish or oysters is boring. I was curious about the effect of combining seafood with less acidic but more aromatic wine – and Condrieu was a perfect chance to try it.
So after enjoying the glory of English summer – pouring rain, 10 minutes of sunshine, then more drizzle – we got fresh crabs from a local fish shop, cooked some lunch and I opened the wine.
It’s an intense golden colour that you can enjoy just watching in your glass. The nose starts with more fruity aromas of peaches and nectarine, then opens up towards more mineral notes, white flowers and acacia honey. Aged Viognier has depth and controlled power of flavour. It is not racing; it is calm and self-content, this wine. It is not light, it is not shy of its weight, and it has lovely texture and a long finish.
This strong and rounded Condrieu made an interesting match with our crabs, giving the flavour of the food some of the wine’s creaminess. Another combination I liked was a blue creamy cheese. So it really works with food that has a stronger flavour, preferably more saulty, and can benefit from Condrieu’s luscious body. It is a lovely wine and I wish I had a few more bottles to enjoy. Sadly, this evening dress could only be worn once. But this is why, as every woman knows, you need more – purely to manage the risks, that’s all.