I’ve often measured how far my palate has evolved by my progression from thinking Dairylea cheese triangles were exotic to my current love for the stinkiest of stinky French cheeses, you know the sort of thing that can be left on the side in the kitchen until it develops a personality and can pass a GCSE. This progression in my palate has seen me move from drinking cheap German white wine (aged13) to wanting to drink white Burgundy that smells a little like old socks. Having said this even I occasionally come up against something that I just can’t get my head around and today was the day.
Vin Jaune is rarely seen but is up there as one of the truly classic French wines. First things first, it is different, very different. It is produced in a method not dissimilar to sherry, the wine is kept in casks but unlike normal wine these are not kept topped up and so a little oxidation is allowed which provides a very distinctive flavour. The wine is bottled after 6 years of ageing and generally in that time there is only about 62% of the original wine left. This wine is bottled in a 62cl bottle and that’s where I came in. This a glass of Vin Jaune is a glass of contradictions, the nose is earthy, some might say dirty, with hints of oxidation (a fault in most wines). Those smells do not prepare you for the slightly unripe green apple acidity that greets you on the palate, but just as you are getting used to that it changes again in to those soft, complex earthy notes again and that just lasts for ages (some might say lingers). This is one of those wines that bears the tag ‘needs food’, so I tried it with some nice rich blue cheese and it softened a few of the rougher edges but it was still an animal. So Vin Jaune might be held up as true wine royalty but my taste buds just haven’t progressed to that level yet and Ben thought I’d played a trick on him by getting him to try it. So even at £60 for not quite a bottle it is one of the few wines that is typical of its type that I have failed to get on with, in fact as first dates go I left before the dessert.