Good drink or good wine? A drinkability discussion feat. a smart new Nero d’Avola
‘Nero (is) pretty much always a great drink first, a great wine rarely’
That’s the typically cutting opinion of fellow scribe Gary Walsh, talking about Nero d’Avola on twitter yesterday.
Gary is right too (don’t tell him I said that), as Nero based reds are typically about fruit, not structure – wines to be consumed, rather than to be consuming.
What’s more, it’s not just Nero d’Avola that falls into that camp – you could probably say the same thing about Moscato, or Dolcetto, or Soave or even AC Chablis. Simple wines, all of ’em, made in an uncomplicated fashion and loved for their drinkability.
Of course there are exceptions to that rule, with wines like Pra’s Monte Grande or the Cos Syre perfect examples of how far such styles and varieties can be taken.
Still, when we exclude the outliers, the standard Soave or Nero is about simplicity, not complication.
On that note, I can’t help but ask – is there anything actually wrong with straightforward, fruity wines? How do you score great wines that aren’t actually all that complex (but delicious)? Do we need to go looking for complexity, when satisfying drinks will do just fine?
You can probably ask a similar question about beer actually, with plenty of wine people poo-pooing complex beers in favour of simple, ‘sessionable’, flavourless lagers (not me). Chocolate falls into a similar category; with some of the wildest single plantation dark chocolates much harder to enjoy than basic milk chocolate.
It’s a muddy topic though, for there is genuinely a place for both simplicity and complexity.
All of which brings us back to Nero – to this Lethbridge Nero actually, which is the wine that Gary mentioned in the tweet above (and a red that doesn’t quite fit the ‘simple wine’ paradigm).
Lethbridge Nero d’Avola 2012 (Heathcote, Vic)
13%, Screwcap, $42
It’s all about the detail. From the careful textures on the label to the ‘further recommendations’ list of likely suspects. It all points to an awareness of just what can be done – a knowing nod of what is required to make decent wine.
There’s finesse in the winemaking too, with a cold soak, wild fermentation in older oak and old school pigeage all making for the perfect context for seriousness.
Ultimately this is still a bridging wine – too juicy to be a keeper, too tannic to be a quaff. But that’s not doing this Lethbridge red justice, as it is genuinely delicious (and that’s all that counts). 17.7/20, 92/100