Flowery wine-write or what?

"One of his goals when touring New Zealand was to find the perfect rosé," says Sunny. "He can't be serious," says John. "It's got to be a joke," says Liz. "Hard to tell, the writing is so... patchy," says Rachel who hasn't even read the book. After skimming a few pages she had decided (cruelly, unfairly) that life was too short.

Situation: Duncan Fallowell writes "the ultimate travel book", Going as far as I can. (Profile Books.) That means travelling around New Zealand, apparently.
He considers the colour of a Gibbston Valley blanc de Pinot Noir. He considers it the best pink he has come across, i.e. not pale red or brown. Its bouquet is bliss, like being invited to a picnic by Watteau or Fragonard. Having trouble with mixed mental images yet? Here's the excerpt that Sunny read aloud to us, a model of what-not-to-write:

... and yes, in this case the bouquet suggests the overture to a ballet with pastel Japonaiserie parasols and perhaps a kind of pre-pubescent flirtatiousness, not that I'm suggesting it's a twirly girlie rose-cheeked flutter-eyed molestation-type experience, because the molestation hasn't happened yet, we've only sniffed, and let's sniff again. Ah! Nostrils quiver above the tantalising surface and young geishas disrobe among blossom, a brook babbles through an apple orchard, and distant laughter — blond and pinktipped — passes over a daisy field... Time to sip. A tiny shout — even a rasp — but a winsome rasp —a waltz which carousels out of a pavilion among blue and lemon vistas as, turning in mid-air, the flavour unrolls along a meandering avenue to springtime, definite but delicate and its definition fading in curling reverberations of operetta under a slaking sky scattered with forget-me-nots and mignonette and lobelia. In other words, the best rosé yet. A real wine experience.

Tragically, I have lost all desire to sample the Gibbston Valley blanc de Pinot Noir. In my overloaded imagination, its taste is strangely contaminated. One man's idea of heaven is a bit rich for me.

Image: The Progression of Love by Fragonard, in the Fragonard Museum in Grasse.

Rachel McAlpine
Rachel McAlpine


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