To Like, Perchance to Love
When you think about all of the wines and spirits you have enjoyed over the span of your life, there actually have been darn few that stick out in the memory bank.
Something may still live on because of the circumstances when and where you enjoyed it, or who with. Others may be memorable because the taste or bouquet was something quite special in and of itself. Then there are other times when the liquid was a “Three Bears” episode and everything was just right.
I have been one of the most fortunate souls to roam the planet because I have enjoyed amazing experiences with adult beverages, each one memorable for their own reasons.
A word of caution before proceeding. I have not gone down Reverie Lane here just to put others down or lord something grand over lesser players. I am firmly of the belief that my experiences are of no greater importance than yours. I am merely playing out here with this insignificant exercise. This is a demonstration about how fortunate we all are to savor meaningful moments in gratitude for what took place and in hopes of other moments yet to come.
I view the result of a winemaker’s efforts or a distiller’s skills to be works of art, every bit as meaningful and moving as a fine painting or a breath-taking sculpture. For me, as impressive and memorable as the Sistine Chapel ceiling is, there are other outcomes from the hands of talented people that measure up in different ways.
A few of my truly Golden Tasting Moments:
1989 Chateau Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande – Brenda and I were traveling through the Medoc area of Bordeaux, France. We were highly recommended to lunch at Lion D’Or in Margaux. Prior to that we had stopped by the welcome center for the Pauillac region. There I purchased the wine. I brazenly took it into the restaurant but did not know how to ask the proprietor if we could enjoy the bottle with our lunch. But he spied the bottle in the bag next to my chair. At that point he insisted that we open the wine, decant it, and savor it. He, of course, laid claim to a glass, or two. It all could not have been a finer moment in the heart of Bordeaux.
Volpaia – This often hard to find wine comes from a single village in the heart of Chianti in Tuscany. They’ve been making wine since the late 1100’s so they should be pretty good at it by now. They are.
Any Champagne while in the cellar of any house along the Avenue du Champagne in Epernay, France. – Take your pick. Moet et Chandon, Lafond, Perrier, Pol Roger, de Venoges, Mercier, De Castellane.
Enjoying a generous glass of Graham’s 1963 Single Harvest Tawny Port, generally regarded as the greatest Port ever produced, while overlooking the harbor at Oporto, Portugal, where the Douro River meets the North Atlant5ic, then going into a Port House for a broader tasting experience.
Arriving in the Carneros Region of Sonoma and Napa Counties, and heading straight to the impressive winemaking and guest welcoming center Domaine Carneros Chateau. Take a seat at a table by the fire (always chilly in northern California) and ordering a flight of five sparkling wines along with a selection of amazing cheeses and caviar. The views over to Napa are memorable as are these moments of peace and reflection about how lucky we all are.
Had dinner one night in Paris with a very dear friend, Alexandre Gabriel, managing director of Maison (Pierre) Ferrand Cognacs. Alexandre indicated at the beginning of meal that he had something he wished to share with us later. The meal was superb and so completely civilized, four persons enjoying each other’s company, fine wines, great cuisine and a charming night in Paris.
At the end of the meal, Alexandre set on the table a bottle of Cognac. By its color, obviously very old. Etched on the bottle was the year of its birth, 1806. I was completely speechless. And remained that way for the next 30-minutes as I savored every drop. Here I was enjoying a wine that was as old as the Louisiana Purchase, had lived in that bottle for more than two centuries of human achievements, numerous wars and countless revolutions, and had rested while amazing inventions were established with many also going away.
The wine? Oh, to be sure, the wine was superb, in amazing order. But the idea of drinking a wine that was in a sipping glass for the first time since 1806 just blew my mind.
Read Happy Hour here on myneworleans.com on Wednesdays, and listen to The Dine, Wine and Spirits Show, hosted by Tim, every weekday, 4:00 – 5:00 p.m. on WGSO 990AM and streamed, as well as stored (podcast), at www.wgso.com. Also, check out Last Call, Tim’s photo-feature about cocktails every month in New Orleans Magazine.