As I was musing on what to write today, I realized the two wines we selected this week happened to be both priced at $33! Why on earth is this special, you may ask? Well, being the son of a physicist-mathematician, I did not have much choice in learning some of the wondrous meanings that are hidden in certain numbers. Here are a few fun facts about the number 33:
For maths fans: 33 is the largest positive integer that cannot be expressed as a sum of different triangular numbers. (I spent many fun hours making triangles out of tiddlywinks.)
For mystical fans: 33 is called 'The Master Number'. Its importance illustrated by the Masons who have a potential 33 levels to attain in the order until they tell you where the Holy Grail is.
For physics fans: 33 is the boiling point of water on the Newtonian Scale – important if you want to cook a perfect boiled egg.
For history fans: 33 is the atomic number of Arsenic – only important if you are related to the Lucrezia Borgia.
For medical fans: 33 is the number of vertebrae we humans have in our bodies unless your name is Simon, in which case you have 32 (it’s a long story, but could explain a lot).
Domaine Bailly Chêne Marchand Sancerre 2020 ($33) This is a wonderfully fruity wine full of gooseberries and kiwis brought out by the warmer vintage and yet bolstered up by a complex bucket of chalky limestone, marl, clay and sandstone. These all combine to create an elegant wine that just never stops in your mouth. It has stupendous length, which makes you savour every sip. It is refreshing on its own, but also a must for a selection of goat cheeses to nibble, or a roast chicken with lots of crispy skin. I asked Jaques Bailly whether there was any chance there were 33 grapes on each bunch they selected who responded with a Gallic shrug and smile and a ‘Beh Oui’…of course!
Our red this week is in my mind an illustration of why the lines between cru vineyards and villages should always be challenged.
Vajra Langhe Nebbiolo 2020 ($33) is a Barolo that is not allowed to be called a Barolo as it is 200m over the line of demarcation. This is a spectacular red wine, with beautiful balance that has the depth of character from the marlstone it is planted in, but an openness like a best friend’s hugs that makes it so approachable (hard for Barolo when young). Dried roses, cherries, orange zest, and a hint of tar which gives it this great edge to pair with rich ragus and osso buco. I cannot say enough good things.
Both these wines are worthy wines for weekends or taking around to friend’s dinner parties to impress. Whether you buy one bottle or two, it would seem that after having consumed the bottle, you will be wise, happy, and full of abundance, or get the chalk out and create a new equation to define time.