It’s the memories, not simply what was the best
Early January found me rummaging through my wine cellar (which is cleverly disguised as the basement laundry room) and remembering the wines I had the pleasure of enjoying in 2013.
I can remember for two reasons: One, I keep decent (though not great) notes. The best note-taker I’ve ever witnessed in person is the multi-talented author and Master Sommelier Andrea Robinson, whom I once followed around (no, honest, I wasn’t stalking her) in the Grand Tasting Tent at the Food & Wine Magazine Classic in Aspen.
Never before had I witnessed anyone who could move at a fast pace tasting 100 different wines, write incisive and accurate notes and still make it back to the St. Regis Hotel in time for her presentation to a packed house.
Second, I save lots of empty bottles, which means the recycle guy will have his hands full sometime later this winter but they serve as physical reminders of what those bottles once held.
Did I have a favorite? Maybe it was one of the brilliant Italian wines – the 2005 Castel Giocondo Brunello di Montalcino, or the 2005 Arnaldo – Caprai 2005 Sagrantino di Montefalco, or the 2007 Rocche Costamagna Rocche dell”Annunziatia Barolo.
Or was it French, maybe something simple yet elegant, such as the 2009 Domaine Lucien Jacob Les Toussaints?
Was it one of the mind-blowing German Reislings shared by Rielsing-meister Paul Grieco at last summer’s Food & Wine Classic?
Or, perhaps, it was closer to home, such as the memorable 2011 Tempranillo from Eames Petersen in Paonia, a thoughtful, expressive wine, much like the winemaker himself, enjoyed with dear company and a room full of joy.
Asking an ecumenical and wide-ranging wine drinker “Which was your favorite wine?” is like asking Father Flanagan, “Which is your favorite child?”
It’s neither an unfair nor unanswerable question but the world of wine is immense, not only in breadth but depth, a virtual (in every sense of the word) ocean of grape juice.
It’s as my friend and Jedi Master of blogging Alfonso Cevola wrote about his first (vinous) love, the wines of Italy: There is no easy way to understand wines without plunging forward.
“As for the mystery of Italian wine, lately some of the fog has lifted,” wrote Cevola in his much-read blog, “On the Wine Trail in Italy.” “But every time I think I get a handle on it, another perplexing clue surfaces.
“I’m okay with that, but in my day job, the task of trying to make something that can be very complicated into something easily explainable and understandable is still a big order.”
It’s a task all serious wine drinkers understand.
So I stand surrounded by wine bottles, some empty, some still full of the promises made many harvests ago in countries around the world.
And I smile at the challenge of new discoveries.