Sprung from the legendary blood of forbidden lovers suffering the wrath of a father king, slender jungle orchids climb skyward, their fruit bearing heavenly scents. The Aztecs demanded tlilxochitl, this black gold, in tribute after conquering the tribes who first unlocked vanilla's secrets. As intense as it is ethereal, vanilla possesses a singular, breathtaking purity of aroma. Barrels imbue wine with much of the vanilla we taste. Their singed oak can offer up an echo of flowers in ancient forests, or deeper notes of caramel and butterscotch. Sometimes floating above the wine's fruit, sometimes wrapped around it, and sometimes welded awkwardly to a woody frame, vanilla's elemental allure is hard to ignore and easy to love.
Shafer Hillside Select Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa, California
Henschke "Louis" Semillon, Eden Valley, Australia
Château de la Maltroye Chassagne-Montrachet, Côte de Beaune, Burgundy, France
Jean Macle Vin Jaune Château-Chalon, Jura, France
Cantina Giardino "Sophia" Blanco, Campania, Italy
Bodegas Hidalgo La Gitana Oloroso Viejo Sherry, Andalusia, Spain
This is part of an ongoing series of original images and prose called The Essence of Wine
A wine book like no other. Photographs, essays, and wine recommendations. Learn more.
The Superb Grace of Old Vines: Drinking Janasse The Zinfandel Experience: January 31, San Francisco Vinography Unboxed: Week of January 4, 2015 Vinography Images: The Colors of a New Season Vinography Unboxed: Week of December 27th, 2014 Vinography Images: Rich Skies Losing a Legend in Serge Hochar Flirting with the Ecstatic: The Wines of Nikolaihof, Austria Vinography Unboxed: Week of December 20, 2014 A Grape By Any Other Name
Wine Will Never Smell the Same Again: Luca Turin and the Science of Scent Forlorn Hope: The Remarkable Wines of Matthew Rorick Debating Robert Parker At His Invitation Passopisciaro Winery, Etna, Sicily: Current Releases Should We Care What Winemakers Say? The Sweet Taste of Freedom: Austria's Ruster Ausbruch Wines 2009 Burgundy Vintage According to Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Charles Banks: The New Man Behind Mayacamas Wine from the Caldera: The Incredible Viticulture of Santorini Why Community Tasting Notes Sites Will Fail Chateau Rayas and the 2012 Vintage of Chateauneuf-du-Pape A Life Indomitable: The Wines of Casal Santa Maria, Portugal Bay Area Bordeaux: Tasting Santa Cruz Mountain Cabernets Forgotten Jewels: Reviving Chile's Old Vine Carignane The First-Timer's Guide to Les Trois Glorieuses of Hospices de Beaune