A more in depth response to the Wine Press Northwest blog questions regarding “dream wines”. I commented, but it was brief. Thought it might make for a good set of questions to throw out here. Hey, I actually went and registered to comment on the site, entertain me and comment here, go to the WPNW site through the link on the side, or post in your blog for me to read.
1. “What was the first wine that really hit your pleasure button, that sent you down the road of wine love?”
2. “What is the greatest wine you ever tasted?”
3. “What wine would you like to drink if price was no object?”
1. I always liked wine. My first real exposure to it as an adult was from a guy I dated my freshman and sophomore year in college. He fancied himself a wine snob and food snob. I have to admit, I learned a lot about cooking from him, but wine? Knowing what I know now, he knew little. His favorite pairing was “a fruity Beaujolais” with just about anything. He chastised me for wanting my red wine chilled because I was “supposed” to drink it at room temperature. This is an issue I will never give up, if you like it chilled, then by all means, drink it chilled. Don’t be surprised if your guests warm their glasses up with their hands, but if you like it that way, cheers.
I can’t think of any wines he introduced me to that were memorable in any way, except I will never forget Beaujolais Day exists. I worked for a physician while in college who liked wine. He recommended to me one year that I join a wine of the month club and I spent far more money taking his advice and doing this then I should have. But I tasted different varietals and learned that reds weren’t just reds.
What really tipped the scales for me regarding wine was when AB and I joined some of our friends in Napa Valley for a wine trip/demolition of a house trip. Our friend (AB’s childhood friend) was working for an architect who bought a house there and gave him free reign to use the house, destroy it and, oh, visit some wineries while you are there. He recommended Pine Ridge winery. Since there were about 10 or more of us, he called ahead and scheduled a tour.
This was the single best tour and first introduction to wine I could have asked for. We arrived, by bicycle, (huffing and puffing – well AB and I were, the others resided in San Fran and biked all over the city). We toured the grounds, asked very stupid questions of a guy who was about our age and was obviously having as much fun as we were, then went in to see the cellar and do barrel tasting. All in all that morning we spent a few hours, drank about 10 bottles of wine total (at our $5 tasting fee per person) and left wow’d. Few of us could actually justify buying a bottle of their wine, though we all wanted to. My wine moment was barrel tasting their 1996 Cabernet Sauvignon. I was sold. No one need ever bring me a glass of Fetzer again. Beer – no thanks. Good wine was on my radar and Pine Ridge was forever in my heart.
2. The greatest wine I ever tasted. This is hard. Partly because right now, with my current state of mind and physical being (aka full term pregnant) I find myself craving “red, anything red”. That Fetzer mentioned above would probably even hit the spot. Frankly, the K Syrah we had the other night, my two sips… fantastic, and would probably qualify in this category. However, I don’t trust my tastebuds right now and think I will have to try that one again. ;-)
I have tasted some good wines over the last decade or so. It is about right now that I am chastising myself for letting my wine journal go relatively untouched. The Prager Royal Escort Port rings out and I can’t wait to try it again when we finally break open that bottle. (Maybe AB’s graduation party…)
AB and I were big Franciscan Magnificat fans and I used to relish each drop of that Meritage. Still it isn’t the “best” wine. (AB argues citing the ’96 and ’97 vintages.) We had some great Ravenswood vineyard specific zins that we finally finished off after aging for about a decade that wow’d us. In fact, I think I commented recently about the demise of our last bottle when I opened it on accident, mistaking it for a Vintner’s Blend. We enjoyed it with pizza. Then there is Amarone… mmmm…. And oh, that Dunham Syrah… the Thurston Wolfe Petite Syrah that V brought over…
My answer finally comes down to a 1997 Mt. Veeder Zinfandel that we picked up from the Franciscan winery on a trip in the late 90’s. We saved it until just two years ago and then popped the baby open for Easter with AB’s smoked prime rib. Wow.
3. The last question is hard for me. Yes, Opus One is up there. I want to see what all the hype is about. Similarly is Leonetti. When AB and I lived in Reno we used to frequent the local wine shop’s Wednesday night tastings. I remember the regulars who stood around in heels or their “California sheik” dropping names like Opus One, Cakebread, Harlan, and Screaming Eagle. And they shamelessly (and vocally) compared every single wine they tasted to “the most recent bottle of X I had”. (Where X are the four previous named.) I heard Cakebread mentioned so frequently that one day I decided with my monetary award from a teaching recognition, I was going to buy a bottle of Cakebread cab. I got the wine store and I couldn’t do it. I could not drop $80 on a bottle, open it and drink it. It frightened me. I am quite positive I bought shoes instead.
My final answer to this question is a French Bordeaux. I know little about anything French other than what varietals comprise a Bordeaux. I would love to compare them to some of our favorite Meritages here.