Wherein the wine writer relaxes
By Tim Protzman email@example.com
I used to take scrupulous wine notes at every tasting.
I have more than 62 pages archived. That was in my “taste every wine possible, never drink the same wine twice” phase. Today, I’m more relaxed about wine. I’ve had the triumphs and tragedies. Tasted the ambrosia and swill. Now wine seems to fit neatly into my life, rather than being a lifestyle. It’s easier this way and just as pleasing.
Now don’t stop your own personal wine quest just because I’m content to coast. Wine is a wonderful journey. I’m just taking a Staycation.
A staycation is a vacation where you stay home. Or around home. For New Yorkers it would be like taking the Staten Island Ferry for the first time. And all you need to do for planning is to finish this sentence: “I’ve lived in Epping (or Manchester or Nashua) for 20 years and I’ve never……” And just do it. Go to the Currier. Visit the Christa McAuliffe Planetarium. Go to a local vineyard and see first-hand the winemaking process.
The best thing about my new wine liberalism is the freedom. Instead of fussing over the perfect little Pouilly-Fume for a picnic like Guy Saget $15.99, I just get something I’ve tried before or maybe never tried. Like Murphy-Goode Alexander Valley Fume Blanc $10.99 (tried) or Duck Pond Oregon Pinot Gris $10.99 (never tried).
Today instead of archiving every note on wine I just save the bottle. I realize that this breaks one of my cardinal rules — if you’re going to talk about wine, know the name of the producer so the person you’re talking with can get a bottle too. But I save the bottles in a 12-pack case cardboard box. Then when writing time comes I just pull it out and reminisce. What fruit was in it? Did it have spice notes? Big and jammy or tight and thin?
And once I was too zealous with my recycling and I forgot to look at the saved bottles in my haste to fill my little green bin. That week I had to reassemble from memory.
And at this point in my wine journey, a relaxed and easy point where my knowledge and enjoyment of wine combine to offer me pleasant memories and new tastes, I’m really feeling the comfort of tried and true wines. Wines I’ve had before. The anticipation. The promise of each new vintage. The familiarity of past pleasures. The subtly nuanced differences between this time and the last time.
Lately I’ve been loving Champagne. And tasting bubblies I had in the past. Not all of them are stellar, but most are memorable and bring back pleasant thoughts of good times.
And that’s the “Why?” of wine. The tastes that invoke memories.
Here are this week’s wines:
• Bollinger Brut Special Cuvee ($49.99). Usually the cuvees are better than the straight bruts. This one was a little closed. It took a good hour to open and then it had that yeasty, toasty characteristic of fine champagne with little fruit and a touch of beerishness. I wouldn’t spend money on this one again. Too pricey. But it did bring to mind an out-of-control conga line that formed one New Year’s Eve at an Irish restaurant.
• Veuve Clicquot Brut Yellow Label ($39.99). I had remembered this one as pedestrian. My memory was off. This was wonderful juice. Full of bubbles and rich chardonnay flavors. Cream, lemon and pie crust taste notes. Bracing nose and finish. Loved the price. Remembrance of things past: Ordering a bottle of Veuve at the now-defunct La Francaise in Chicago, then ordering a chardonnay, sending the chardonnay back and getting a second bottle of Veuve, then a third, then getting the bill, finding the bill unreadable except for the $375 total, asking for it to be “clarified,” then getting a second unreadable bill with $389 for the total, paying that bill without questions and slipping into the kitchen to visit the chef and getting a frozen tilapia thrown at me. Good times.
• Domaine St. Michelle Blanc de Noirs ($13.99) Never tried this one until now, but my Atlanta cum Charlotte, N.C., wine collectors serve this as their house champy. The flavor is an adult soda pop. Tart and refreshing with ginger, spices and a touch of chardonnay, which overpowers the pinot noir that gives it its Blanc de Noirs name. Would definitely buy this again and serve it to even the most discerning palates.
• Erath Oregon Pinot Noir ($14.99). One of the first Oregonian wines I ever tried. But that was years ago. What’s new? A nifty screw top, one of the first I’ve ever seen on a medium premium American wine. Handy! The taste was a little thinner than my memory serves, but when I got a little chill on it the wine assumed Burgundian characteristics.