TheWineRambler "A German wine label is one of the things life's too short for" - Kingsley Amis



Domaine d'Arjolle, Equinoxe, 2009

Posted by Julian 29 Nov 2010

One of the effects of belonging to the German branch of the international brotherhood of wine snobs is that hot-climate whites have a hard time winning your approval. We have largely kept our hands off whites from the south of france, for example. We don't mean to say, of course, that there can be no great whites from down there. But I can say with a good measure of confidence that the wine under review today is not one of them. Its appeal for me lies in a completely different place. So this is less a wine review than a brief comment on liking certain wines in spite of oneself, which leads naturally to a melancholy micro-meditation on memory and irrationality.

Let's try the more objective reporting first: The nicely named Equinox (which stands for the time, twice a year, when night and day have the exact same length. But you knew that, of course) is a blend of Muscat, Sauvignon Blanc, and Viognier. A rich straw colour, bordering on gold, it hits you with a smell of oak, coconut, all kinds of exotic fruit, cat urine and damp laundry. On the palate, pineapple swaggeringly rules the land, in combination with new oak that even the most professional wine marketer could not call subtle without blushing with shame.

All this could be described as complexity, except that there is no sense of the different parts coming together to form a coherent taste: The acidity is quite prominent, but seems bitingly unripe, and the finish is short and hollow. The structural frame of this wine seems too weak to support the heavy dose of oak or the exuberant fruit that the winemaker is obviously pushing for. You won't read this often on the pages of this publication, but this wine is crying out for a bit more body, substance and ripeness.

In short, everything about this wine is wrong. Still, I have bought two or three bottles of every vintage for a few years now, and will continue drinking it with enjoyment, even delight. First of all, you can't deny its originality, both in variety makeup and in aromatics. I, at least, know of no other white wine that resembles it even remotely. Secondly, it is so outrageously over the top and overdone and un-serious that you just have to like it, although you definitely need some time before you can face the next bottle. Some people are like that, too, are they not? The third reason is the most important one, though, and trumps all the rest: I like the Equinoxe because it is a nostalgic pleasure that will always take me back to the confused, but exciting time when I first discovered the joys of wine. It blew me away when I first stumbled on it, as it would an absolute beginner who has had nothing but bland and watery supermarket whites before. I can now see its flaws and describe them in a way I could never have five years ago, but it also conserves precious memories of a time when I was more easily impressed by wine. So there is a sentimental place in my heart for this overoaked fruit monster that the clear-thinking wine snob me wouldn't even touch with rubber gloves.

Sentimental place in your heart

Love, I think, is always about memory too, so keep that sentimental place in your heart for the Equinoxe. It also has to be said it has a great name and a fantastic label (or is that just Sabine's photo magic that makes it appear this way?). In a certain way I feel I am more lucky than you are: my sentimental attachment going back to my first truly memorable wine experience was with a Mosel Riesling, and those are certainly as acceptable for a wine snob as any wine. Great wine story!