Thursday, September 30, 2021

By the Bottle: Brian Cronin

Wine lovers on wine and the vinous life.

Antarctica 2021

I think it was at a Society of Wine Educators conference where I first encountered Brian Cronin. Since then, I’ve followed his path. He’s deep into wine education, but not limited to wine alone. An accomplished sommelier, chef, photographer (all the photos here are his), a long-distance runner (@runningwineguy) and a world traveler. Brian’s segment here is probably the one most similar to the By the Book segments that I read every Sunday in the NY Times: Concise and to the point – no bullshit. Please welcome Brian into the wine cave.

What wines do you have standing up right now?

Right now, some Northern Rhône’s from about 10 years ago.

What’s the last great wine you drank?

Brovia Unis. It’s a one-off if all their single vineyards from 2014. Scrumptious!!

Are there any classic wines that you only recently had for the first time?

Not really, but circling back on Bordeaux, which I love but haven’t drunk in a while.

Describe your ideal drinking experience (when, where, what, how).

Home, or home-cooked meal. Friends. Conversations. Relaxing.

What’s your favorite wine no one else has heard of?

Always been a massive fan of Greek wines. I’m sure people have heard of Malagousia, but I know it’s not consumed that much. I love that in the summer with all the great veg.

What wine should everybody drink before the age of 21?

They shouldn’t-it’s illegal🤣🤣 Kidding-if your parents have a cellar then ask them to open classics. It builds appreciation for the rest I feel-it was so helpful to me, though mine was tasted at work and not at home.

What wine should nobody drink until the age of 40?

The classics you drank before 21 and you drink the same vintages 20 years later. Learn to appreciate a well-cellared wine you aged yourself.

Who in wine — winemakers, winery owners, writers, retailers, collectors — active today do you admire most?

For writers I have really loved Ian D’Agata. Such joy and nerdiness combined-totally my style. 

Do you count any wine as guilty pleasures?

Going out. I’m keeping a tight budget right now, so hitting a great wine bar is definitely a guilty pleasure.

Has Covid19 changed the way your approach wine?

Absolutely! Mostly from a cost perspective. I am driving wines I know I already love-being a little less open to new things. I’m also drinking wines from great people I know really need the business and make great wine.

Has a wine ever brought you closer to another person, or come between you?

Definitely brought me closer. Old Barolo was a wine I would drink with a really wonderful person. Hard to have it without thinking of them.

What’s the most interesting thing you learned from a wine recently?

How an old Russian River Pinot-45 years old-could be so mind blowing still.

What moves you most in a wine?

Aromatics and texture. They make a wine sensual

What do you really wish you understood about wine?

Why so much great fruit is used to make such mediocre wines.

Which styles do you especially enjoy drinking?  And which do you avoid?

I love really fresh styles of Nebbiolo, Grenache, and Mourvèdre. Overall, I tend to avoid really ripe wines if they don’t have acid.

How do you organize your wines?

Producer, for the most part. My brain doesn’t forget where I put wines-just my keys.

What wine might people be surprised to find in your racks?

Sweet wines-I love great Sauternes.

What’s the best wine you’ve ever received as a gift?

47 Huet Haut-Lieu Moelleux.

How have your drinking tastes changed over time?

I think my overall tastes have gotten simpler, yet just as flavorful. This is also with food.

Disappointing, overrated, just not good: What wine did you feel as if you were supposed to like, and didn’t? Do you remember the last wine you set aside without finishing?

I would put a few in that camp, but to me the worst is great Pinot (regardless of origin) which is over cold soaked, or Nebbiolo aged in new barrique. I had a Barolo just the other day with new wood, and didn’t finish it.

What wine do you think everyone should try?

Greek reds-even when ripe they have amazing acidity and are brilliant with food.

You’re organizing a dinner party. Which three people from the wine world, dead or alive, do you invite?

Gerard Jaboulet, Gerard Basset, Alexandre de Segur (I’m assuming that doesn’t include the regular friends I’d invite who are all in wine basically)

What wines are you embarrassed not to have drunk yet?

Wines from British Columbia. Overheard there are great examples-I just haven’t tried them.

What do you plan to drink next?

A lot of Beaujolais I have hanging around in a locker on the west coast.


Antarctica 2021

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