by Al Henderson
Lockdown 2020 has, despite the seeming barbarity of its restrictiveness, not been without its compensations for oenophiles like me. It has presented an opportunity to ease away from conventional wine consumption patterns and re-focus. For me, and for others too, it has been a chance to re-engage with fine wines at home and to appreciate them at a leisurely pace. A Case of Wine with a policy of fine wine at fair prices, encourages responsible drinking of wines you might not always get to try.
In the old normal, I remember those days of getting home from work and hastily opening the bottle of wine to hand. Little or no thought was involved, just a quick grab, red or white. I now have more time to ponder the contents of the shelves and I am making much more considered selections.
Idling through lockdown, I have taken to observing puffy clouds as they pass across the tops of the treescape I see from my elevated picture window. I bother to photograph and draw the more amusing or intriguing shapes: all sorts of human facial expressions; ships; aircraft – they are all up there. It has emerged as a new fascination and lockdown hobby for me. My other new fascination is more meaningful and a real rediscovery: Chardonnay. This gallant grape has emerged as my very own lockdown hero.
The partial loss of liberty and choice that accompanies the obeyance of governmental instructions has restricted choices in many ways. But Chardonnay has stepped forward and emerged as my liberator – the lockdown liquid equivalent of the Yanks, Brits or Russians – depending on one’s perspective. It has crushed the forces of restriction. There appears to be a Chardonnay for every moment. Ice cold, crisp and mineral examples from Chablis have worked well with the warm weather for afternoon refreshment. Slightly fuller bodied but unoaked or lightly oaked paragons from the Russian River Valley or Sonoma Coast have ably satisfied for quality quaffing to ally with early evening TV quiz shows. Big, honeyed and mouth-filling Aussies have dedicatedly served well with all sorts of home canteen efforts – often compensating for the failures in experimental home cooking. And then there has been the stalwart rear guard – in full oak uniform, no camouflage, high alcohol bruisers that hit the target when a digestif to the day’s cloud contemplations needs enlisting.
Perhaps when normality is restored, we will all do things differently? In my new normal, I shall certainly remember to enjoy looking up at the sky, I shall salute Chardonnay’s amazing diversity and remember not to over deploy the military references in my writing.