Sunday, February 25, 2018

Wine for the Rest of Your Life

“As wine ages, sometimes it goes into this period, let’s call it a hiccup, in which it is not this robust, vibrant, hunk of a wine.” - I wrote in my notes, years ago, about a California wine, (It was a 1976 Jordan Cabernet). The ’76 was Jordan’s debut wine, and at the time, it caused a stir in the marketplace, for it was juicy and bold and sexy and drinkable. In those days, a premium Cabernet from California was rough and tannic, a built-for-the-road kind of wine. Not necessarily an early-drinker, which is now all the rage (and a PR’s person’s catnip). Jordan went on to make many vintages (still does) and their style evolved, morphed, changed with the times. But that ’76, when I had tasted it and written it up in my log, was in a valley, trapped in the fog of its winter.

The wine came out of that fog and further evolved. In fact, the last bottle I had, must have been 20 years ago, was mature, velvety, and still delicious. The crocus bloomed.

At the time, the Jordan style was a stroke of genius. It was the Golden Age of Reagan, and conspicuous consumption was on the rise. A few years earlier, winemakers from California stunned the oenosphere in Paris, providing evidence that they were making wine to compete with the great wines from the Old World. Wealthy people in America were getting wealthier (aren’t they always?) and new fortunes were cropping up like oil wells in the Permian Basin (often intertwined, at least in the Lone Star state). They had a thirst for the finer America things in life. Wines like Jordan, Silver Oak, Caymus, Duckhorn, Stags Leap, Chateau Montelena, Clos du Val and Robert Mondavi (and many others) were part of that surge. A middle-class person on the rise, a yuppie, could, for a pittance, get a ringside seat. And the race was on. There were a lot of crashes along the way, but it has been a good ride for wine.

One can only hope to age as well as some of the wines we collect, drink and cherish. I know I probably have way too many wines in my petite armoire, and recently came to the realization that at this point in my life (at least in my home) I will probably be drinking wines that are aged (as I appear to be). I know there will be wines in a funky stage, from time to time, as I can be (at least physically). I hope I have chosen wines that share with me their affinity for resilience (thanks to my dear mom sharing her Blue Zone traits with her offspring).

I’m sitting here with my broken foot propped up, a cat trying to convince me to replace this laptop with her warm, furry-ness, purring like a freight train, and just wanting the healing to take its course. My little bellwether feline, there will be plenty of time for that today. But the story must be told, first.

For starters, I will never have enough white (or rosé) wine at any time. I constantly seem to scrape around for those wines. I must find a way to overcome that deficit. One possible solution in the future, will be to make myself 100 bottles a year of something like a Chenin Blanc or Trebbiano from the High Plains of Texas. Before you laugh, well, OK laugh all you want. But that, indeed, is a contingency plan. I love Chenin Blanc and Trebbiano and there are some nice, mature and low-yield vineyards up there.

I’m not talking about wines for storing long periods. While not predisposed to the lighter Provence style of rosé, I like my rosé wines with a little more tan on them. Seeing as those darker wines sell slower, and often pile up in the warehouses of distributors, I reckon I can have a supply of good value rosé wines for a while. And that will satisfy my immediate needs for wines served chilled. Living in Texas, that is a factor.

Red wines- While I am sure I have more than enough long-time agers in the closet, I probably would bring more in, if only for the heirs to figure out what to do with them. I am excited about the wines from this decade ( 2011-16) and have more than exhausted how I feel about it in previous posts. The established Italian wine critics that I track - Speller, Galloni, Suckling, Larner, Sanderson and O’Keefe – open and taste much more wine than most of us. I consider their views, often weigh them, and then make decisions from that weighed analysis. I know if Walter Speller gives a wine a 18/20 and Antonio Galloni gives the same wine a 93/100, Monica Larner gives it a 94/100, Bruce Sanderson gives it a 95/100, Kerin O’Keefe rates it 96/100 and James Suckling gives it a 97/100, chances are the wine is worth looking at. There’s some “there” there. Or I could just go to Dan Petroski’s Instagram feed and save myself a whole lot of time!

I have more than exhausted my views on these points through various blog posts. One of my other projects, in the not-so-distant-future, might be to compile these essays in book form and save you all the time looking (for free) in my archives. Something to look forward to?

One thing I know I will keep doing, and that will be to keep my curiosity about wine, from anywhere. The other night I was thinking about a wine for a meal. Italian is the default in my home, but in this instance, Tegan Passalacqua’s 2014 Sandlands Carignane called to me. It was a perfect example of something with a few years on it, ready to go, and immensely enjoyable. Wines like this will keep me in the hunt, much like looking for the next “decisive moment” that photographers are constantly on the prowl for.

I started this essay out with the example of an aged wine in a temporary but funky state, a wine that was envisioned to be enjoyable in its youth. Now I am in that stage of life where many of the wines in my petite armoire are ready to drink, but they are not your everyday wines. The point – while I like special wines, everyday isn’t an occasion for them – we still need to bring home ones that aren’t meant for the long haul, or for special occasions. Not every day is a Sunday, or an Easter, or a birthday. Life cannot be sustained by a constant dose of peak experiences. Whether we amass wines for a lifetime or for the weekend, this is something anyone, at any stage of their life, can adopt. Wines for the rest of your life can be for a week or for 50 years. Hopefully, for most of us, it will be the latter. In any case, I am fully prepared for the next 50 years, though I do have some work ahead of me getting ready for next week. Now where did I hide that last bottle of Soave?

wine blog +  Italian wine blog + Italy W

1 comment:

Marco Spezzano Albanese said...

Trebbiano di Alfonso, Chenin Blanc di Cevola, DOC High Plains TX
I think you might be on to something.
Is the second photo the interior of a folding camera or a chimney stack?

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