22 October 2019
There’s much to love about wine, intellectually and from a taste perspective. If you’re a connoisseur, you’ll read this with a wry smile. You know exactly. It’s what keeps you from opening certain bottles outside of special occasions, and engaged when searching out bottles for your collection.
Perhaps you like a good wine, but you’re not an expert— you’ve yet to release your inner sommelier. You’re aware when a red is rich and silky. You’re also outraged when it’s like watery Ribena, come paint thinner. This you avoid.
What is it about wine that fires the souls of many?
Wine is Not Like Other Drinks
Take Scotch whisky for example. The smokiness, sweetness and everything-ness is diverse and varies between the lowlands, highlands, and between distilleries. However, you should be able to visit your favourite distillery and leave with a bottle of your favourite whisky—knowing it will taste the same. Year after year.
Why is this? Whisky, like beer, is made with consistent ingredients—namely grain. This can be relied upon to produce the same effects and taste. It’s all down to the human input and master blending.
Wine, grapes, on the other hand are fickle. Wine makers grow their own grapes and grapes are at the mercy of nature.
Grapes VS the Elements
Vitis (grape vines) are profoundly influenced by environmental stressors. These include temperature, light, wind, soil PH and nutrients, water (rain), and physical care. They can suffer a bad season—as is the way with fruit.
Also, the same variety of grapes can be planted in different locations and taste incomparable. Perhaps one location has less rain and produces a more flavoursome, concentrated grape. The other might have mineral rich soil which imparts an unreplicable quality to the grapes.
Even certain parts of certain vineyards become sacred for having a special je ne sais quoi. The way the sun falls, the rain pools, and wind buffets the vines. It’s remarkably variable and complex. This is what makes it fascinating.
The Midas Touch
The elements have the first say in the quality and flavour of a grape, but the final say is with the winegrowers and makers. Starting with how the grapes are nurtured and harvested. Are they pruned and thinned out? This reduces yield, whilst increasing flavour. Are they left to sit on the vine before harvesting? The longer grapes are left the higher their sugar content—the more sugar, the more alcohol. Too much or little and a wine is unpalatable.
Once it’s been decided to harvest the grapes, quality control plays a huge part in the eventual taste of the wine. Which grapes make the crush is down to human intuition. The yeast and additives used also play an integral part—excellent grape juice can be ruined at the penultimate moment. Finally, how wine is barrelled and bottled is the cherry on top for flavour and properties.
What secures wine as an artform and something not only to be tasted but appreciated, is its briefness. It’s exciting to know that what you’re pouring into your glass is unique and the time you must enjoy it is now—because you may never taste it again.
At The Tower we’re wine fanatics and proud of it.
Best Selling Wines at The Tower
We have one of the most comprehensive wine lists in Scotland, curated by our experienced head sommelier John Power.
We’re the perfect place to relax with a glass of one you know and love or to try something entirely distinct—from the greatest wine making countries in the world.
Our best sellers are—
Sauvignon Blanc Envoy, Johnson Vineyard, Spy Valley 2015
Bottle 40.00, glass 10.00
Marlborough, New Zealand
Classic Marlborough Sauvignon nose with a crisp, Pouilly-Fumé-esque palate.
Spy Valley Wines was started by husband and wife team, Bryan and Jan Johnson in the 1990s. Their bold decision to buy up and grow grapes on land deep in the Waihopai Valley in New Zealand has been wonderful. This was land considered barren, but with hard work and commitment the Johnson’s proved the world wrong—creating multiple award-winning wines.
Apparently, there’s a mysterious spy base in the same valley, hence their name…
Malbec Cabernet, Amancaya, Rothschild Catena 2017
Bottle 36.00, glass 9.00
Beautifully proportioned and poised Malbec, with a touch of Cabernet Sauvignon.
This is a very special wine and the meeting of two wine dynasties from France and Argentina, Domaines Barons de Rothschild and the Catena family. The idea was to use the signature grapes from each and make a hybrid wine—Malbec Cabernet. Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon. The results are superb.
The Rothschild family have owned Château Lafite, a wine making estate in the South West of France since the 19th Century. One of four wine producing châteaux of Bordeaux, awarded First Growth status in 1855. Wines from here are considered amongst the finest in world.
In Argentina, Nicolás Catena Zapata was responsible for putting Argentinian wines on the map and pushing his national industry to achieve high standards of quality. His family wines are the best of Argentina and Nicolás is a greatly respected figure—having won many prestigious awards.
Manager’s Top Picks
Vire-Clessé, Domaine Rene Michel et Fils 2016
Without exaggeration, this tastes like pocket-money Corton-Charlemagne!
“This delicious wine punches well above its weight, price-wise”
Michel is an established and highly regarded wine family, producers of Maconnais wine for six generations. This is one of the rare examples of a modestly priced fine wine. The Michel family are horticulturists as much as wine makers, placing the utmost importance in tending their vineyards with care and precision.
It certainly shows—a brilliant wine.
Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Château de Beaucastel 2010
An excellent wine from one of the benchmark estates in Châteauneuf.
“stunning classic Southern Rhône, pricey, with many layers of thrilling complexity”.
Château de Beaucastel owned by the Perrin family, at 200 hectares, is one of the largest wine estates in France and revered as one of the finest too. They are pioneering in organic growing methods and known for their controversial vinification. This involves heating incoming grapes to extract maximum flavours and aromas.
For many generations the Perrin family have been creating world classic wines and retain their position as an industry leader.
Share a Bottle, Overlooking Edinburgh’s Old Town
Wine is romantic anyway, but with magical views over the medieval streets of Edinburgh’s Old Town—it’s a perfect, moody autumnal evening with the one you love.