A Bit of Grapes & Hops for August

a bit of grapes & hops

Selected Wine: Louis Monfaisson AOC Bordeaux 2015 (Red)
Gluggers and quaffers in Dongguan may have noticed a quiet renewal of the red wine vogue, which fell on China a decade ago. The iconic image of first-wave wine-fever was the Chinese enthusiast despoiling an underage Bordeaux with Sprite or Coke because, well, they didn’t really enjoy the austere tannins and sour brutality of an immature old-world wine. New labels coming into China are engineered by merchants, cooperating with winemakers to straddle the growing gap between authenticity (what the market says it wants) and easy-drinking, off-dry sluggers.

Case in point is Louis Monfaisson’s Bordeaux 2015. The color is a little fresh, even for a Bordeaux that’s not yet three years old. The nose is almost too perfectly poised—particularly after a half-hour in the glass. A decent weight of berry fruit strikes an all-to-easy balance with the alcohol (12.5% is at the low end for red Bordeaux), topped off by a suspicion of peppery spice. A trace of wood? Barely. Stalk? Natch.

And we’ll be seeing a lot more of this kind of wine in China, as suppliers try to meet the converging requirements of a local market, which still, secretly, wants to mix it with Coca-Cola.


Selected Beer: Sassy Lassy IPA
Beer, oh beer. You seem to have changed over the last few years, perhaps irreversibly. You have grown up, become complex, brash, opinionated and, somehow, less easy-going. I know your latest incarnation—Sassy Lassy—intimately. The core hop is Mosaic, a post-millennial entity, which until very recent years was known only as HBC 369. It was dubbed Mosaic because it’s a panoply of different fruit flavors, an exuberant expression of berries and drupes that burst onto the nose like olfactory LSD, before assaulting the entire trigeminal nerve.

Clarity? Pffft. Heavily dry-hopped, it ranges from slightly cloudy to cloudy. Its deep amber color suggests a light malt added to the Pilsner base. For all that, it is an impressive 21st century IPA. You might wake up to find you’ve joined the revolution.