Later, I’m going to tell you about a pretty nice red wine.
But first, let’s talk about Bulgaria.
Bulgaria, see, occupies a distinct position in my personal geography. At the tender (bruisably tender) age of 20, I spent three weeks there. Ostensibly, I was looking after orphans. In reality, I was having trouble enough looking after myself. Oh boy, was I hungry for my own attention.
Plus ça change, dear reader, plus ça change.
My memories of Bulgaria are multifoliate — and extraordinarily intense. Children running through sand littered with cigarette butts and glass shards towards a dirty sea. Children pointing at skyscrapers and Coca Cola adverts, repeating one word — phonetically, something like ‘Hubava! Hubava!’ — that turned out to mean, ‘Beautiful! Beautiful!’ Cafes selling blessed tumblers of 1-part gin, 1-part tonic — and the fucking nicest hot chocolate I’ve ever tasted. And me writing a fuckload of shit, self-indulgent poetry.
And when I took a sniff of Arabella (yeah, add your own witty double-entendre here, please) — I was right back there. In Bulgaria. Sitting on a stained plastic chair outside one of those cafes, surrounded by the smell of woodsmoke and midsummer.
Which is, of course, absolutely no use to you at all. Because you (I’m almost sure) weren’t there. So you don’t know what it smelt like.
Christ, how that must suck.
But there we are; it’s official: this wine smells like Bulgarian woodsmoke in August. It smells like respite from the guilt of being A Bit Shit With Bulgarian Orphans. It smells like charmingly self-indulgent adolescent ennui.
SO PUT THAT IN YOUR SODDING BOOK OF TASTING NOTES, ALRIGHT?
What else do you want to know, then? Apart from whether it actually tastes nice or not. Which it does, thanks.
Okay. Well, there’s spice and berry and wood. And chocolate. And coffee. And you can fucking bury me before I’ll roll those last two into one and say ‘mocha’.
But it’s pretty soft, and pretty accessible — not bolshy and severe. Yeah, sure, there’s a bit of bite (it’s not a pushover), but it’s not one of those cryptic crossword wines that’ll furrow that lovely brow of yours.
All in all, Parn approves. Parn also approves of the price.
And Arabella is certainly a good deal more hubava than those fucking tower blocks and Coke billboards.
Region Western Cape
Grapes Shiraz, Viognier
Price £9.99 from Naked Wines (£6.66 to members, which is a frigging steal). I was drinking the 2009, but the link is to the 2010, as the older one’s all gone