Monday, March 3, 2008

Sometimes You Wish You Could Hear the Demo Tapes

I was listening to Corinne Bailey Rae’s self-titled album today while driving around in typically damp, frigid Champenois winter weather. She has a terrific voice, and there are some excellent songs. The album as a whole, however, suffers from being slightly over-produced, and in some places the production feels so slick that it detracts from the substance of the music.

I began thinking that perhaps I experience a similar reaction to many wines. Sometimes with big-blend champagne, the predominant feeling is the slickness of its production. The result is perfectly drinkable, but ends up feeling like a pretty girl who’s wearing too much makeup. Granted, perhaps the base wine is so neutral or lackluster that there actually is something to hide, but often I feel that I’d like to see what’s underneath.

The same argument can be made around the world, of course, with other sorts of “makeup” like excessive new wood, deliberately overripe fruit, insidious levels of residual sugar in wines that ought to be dry, et cetera. It’s discouraging, but ultimately it only serves to underscore the value of authentic wine.

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