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The Complexity Question – Keeping it Simple

I have often asked myself how important complexity is in a wine.  I have also asked people around me this same question and the answers and opinions are mixed. Yes, I like complexity in a wine as much as the next person, and often speak of it when describing a wine in my tasting notes. However, when I think about some of my favorite wines, the wines I drink and enjoy most often, they are simply put – simple.  Does this make them inferior to their peers? Does this make them any less a quality wine?? (Much like my writing style – not very complex, extremely simple, and hopefully getting the point across quickly and easily)

In terms of quality, I don’t necessarily feel that complexity is a trait that a quality wine must possess.  A wine made from healthy grapes, spontaneously fermented, unfiltered and unfined,  then bottled provide me some of the greatest drinking pleasures I can remember. To pick up that glass, smell it’s (sometimes volatile) aromas, take that first sip and to find everything in so much harmony that the bottle of wine can disappear in 10 minutes – now that’s quality. Complexity didn’t even enter into the picture as that bottle of wine vanished within minutes.  I won’t sit here and list my favorite (simple) wines because it may offend those who don’t agree that the wines are simple, although I feel it’s a complement.

The same wine - glass on left is the final pour from the bottle

As I said at the start of this post, I also enjoy tremendously the complexities I find in wines that I can meditate over. A glass that can take me 30 minutes to consume as I discuss endlessly all the aromas and layers I am finding. Do I enjoy this more than than bottle of simple (but well made) wine that I can drink in 10 minutes flat? This depends on the moment I suppose, who I am with and why I am drinking the wine.

Now that I have stated my opinion on the complexity in wine, I will go on to state another opinion – simple wines often go best with food.  Especially natural wines (which often can be simple and very drinkable). I find that even simple (natural) red wines go with fish, simple “white” wines go with meat, simple “dry” wines go with dessert…

Sometimes I feel we read too much, analyze too much and think too much about wine. Sometimes it’s ok to read less, analyze less and think less and let the wine that’s in the glass speak to us.  This is my favorite way to understand and learn about wine.

Food for thought…..that’s all this post is!  What do you think?

Category: 1 WINE, 9 WINE THOUGHTS, natural wine (100% living wine), The Complexity Question - Keeping it Simple

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4 Responses

  1. I must say I agree you totally. Complexity is what I seek in wines as well and taking that 30 minutes to sip trough one glass is an enjoyment to me. Analyzing it etc.. Tough sometimes you just want that simple ‘always good’ glass of wine. These wines are usually the ones you buy from the wine shop 2-3 at the time.

    That’s why it’s great that there are producers who puts there heart out for there wine and the end result is mind blowing. Then there are producers who offer the simple, not mind blowing but drinkable everyday wine. That’s why I love the wine world.

    Mvh,
    Aleksi

    P.S. Have you been to Berlevåg?

  2. vinosseur says:

    Hello Aleksi!

    Thank you for your comment! I agree with your comment to my post, but I was also curious if my readers thought that complexity was necessary in a wine for it to be considered a quality wine? Many tasting notes written say that a wine “lacks complexity”, therefore, not a quality wine.
    I wanted to make the point that I feel that a wine can be of stunning quality, but complexity doesn’t even enter into the picture. Like you said, there are so many quality, simple wines that we can drink an entire bottle of and just feel satisfied. For me, these wines are satisfying, well-structured with delicious, with ripe acidity!

    No, I have never been to Berlevåg. I have always wanted to visit the very North! Perhaps one day!

  3. I was about to answer this question earlier, but never got around to do it (studying for wset test).

    I agree with you on the fact that complexity is not an necessity in quality wine. Complexity is just an part of some wines out there, winemaker seeks that complexity when he makes it and some winemakers do not. As you said, wine can have outstanding quality even without the multiple layers of flavor and aroma which evolve in the glass for hours.

    This is an interesting subject that could be explored further. I’ll try to spread this question around and see what reactions I get.

  4. vinosseur says:

    Aleksi,

    I look forward to your findings!

    -cheers

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Vinosseur is the company name of sommelier Joseph R. Di Blasi. Vinosseur.com is his web page where he writes about wine, food, restaurants and other gastronomic experiences.

Joseph has a special place in his heart for quality wines from the old world, especially France & Italy, with a strong focus on Organic, Biodynamic and Natural wines.

Joseph grew up in Italy and California, but left The States in 2002 and now resides in Poland.

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Joseph would love to hear from you! You can contact him by email at vinosseur@gmail.com