October 9, 2008


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All my personalities love wine
Both sides of the wine critic can agree
By Tim Protzman letters@hippopress.com

Are you an explorer? Or a creature of habit? Does every day have to bring you new, more exciting challenges? Get up, make 12 dozen cupcakes for the kids’ bake sale, climb Mount Monadnock, serve lunch to the bridge club, roll all your 401(k) into Finnish dog food futures, pick up the kids, feed them Veal Prince Orloff, play contrabassoon in the New Hampshire Philharmonic and fill in for the bartender at the Wild Rover until last call?

Or do you like to stick to a routine? Wake up and have a cup of Folgers followed by a 6 1/2-minute shower. Brush teeth (Crest) up and down. Catch the 5 bus downtown. Walk 458 steps to the office. Turn on computer and read newspaper. 10:22 a.m. Get bagel and coffee at Elm Street Dunkin’ Donuts. Reconcile ledger with overnight activity. Return morning phone calls. Afternoon: departmental meeting. Use the words “synergy” and “think outside the box” at least once. Make grocery list for dinner. Leave work. Go shopping. Seriously consider buying Spring Meadow Mixed Greens, which are arugula, romaine, mesclun, dandelion, cedar bark and timothy. Grab head of iceberg instead. Go home, eat and watch TV. Monday — Gossip Girl. Tuesday — Dancing with the Stars. Wednesday — Choir practice. Thursday — The Office. Friday — poker at Ricky’s. Saturday — ? This causes some anxiety because Saturday is free-form — could go away, go out or just go to bed. Sunday — blueberry muffin.

I tend to be both of these, but not at the same time.There are days I’m motivated, energy-filled and accomplishment-driven. And there are days I just want to be invisible. Drifting, no direction, no contact, alone. These are that days you could drop me off on an island off the coast of Maine and I’d be happy. Sleep, wake up, coffee, write, walk, cocktails, TV, bed. No telemarketers, no family, no real deadlines and a deep serenity that comes from simple routine.

As exciting and as comforting as these two diametrically opposed states are, they share one thing: wine. As Mr. Take On the World, I find wine is a social lubricant, a reward, an acquisition. As Mr. Terry Cloth Robe, I find wine is a nerve tonic, an edge smoother, a relax-ative. And I think wine still has charms for me even after almost 20 years because I am constantly learning new things about it. There is no rut, there is no boundary. I shall never stop learning about wine because there’s so much to learn and so many new exciting things about wine happening every day.

Today, I learned about Stephan 2003 L’Aventure Optimus Paso Robles. And I learned about it because I read the Special Wine Savings section of the New Hampshire Liquor Commission Web site. I also learned about Berthollier Chignin from the same place. Now maybe Terry Robe Timmy would be less interested in the background and cepage of every wine he tasted. Maybe on a low, low-energy day, when a sloth riding on a snail passes me in the pasta, I’ll say, “Who cares about what grape’s in there? It tastes good and I have no interest knowing more.” But that’s never happened. It’s why wine is so beautiful to me.

So we’re back to that. Wine as area of study. Lately, I’ve been into regions. Savoie (the region of France that runs from the Swiss border down to and including parts of Italy) — Berthollier Chignin, $6.99, is from Savoie. It’s a Rousanne, a sweet to crisp white. McIntosh and Granny Smith apples. Stephan 2003 L’Aventure Optimus Paso Robles $34.99 a Cabernet, Syrah and a touch of Petite Verdot blend, from the dry area north of Santa Barbara. As I research these, with a simple online visit to their wineries, I feel less like a wine consumer and a little more like a student. Then once briefed, I’ll taste. The video gamer becomes the video game critic, and perhaps one day, the video programmer. And that’s another lure — that one day I’ll create my own blend, or at least pick the grapes. Something different, something out of the ordinary.

Here are the wines I tasted this week:

• 2005 Mas Donis Barrica ($13.99). From Montsant in Spain. 85% Grenache, the rest Syrah. Some structure but not layered. Deep and rich. One of the better reds I’ve tasted this month.

• Domaine Chandon Riche ($16.99). A bit sweet on the first sip, but a crisp finish. Probably one of the few Domaine Chandon’s I wouldn’t purchase again.

• 2004 Graffigna ($15.99). From the Pedernal Valley. Dry with hearty beef stew undertones. Sunny with cassis, plum and spicy cinnamon flavor notes.

• 2006 Edna Valley Pinot Noir ($17.99) Very Burgundian with a slight hint of cherry and a somewhat homogenized taste. Not genuine enough.

• 2005 Casa Lapostolle Merlot Cuvee Alexander ($13.99). Not as merlot-y as I wanted. Elegant but very tannic. Will be great in 2011.


10/2/2008 Harvest magic
9/25/2008 Where fantasy meets reality9/18/2008 The mojito cure
9/11/2008 Spend Fall in Spain
9/04/2008 Making a break for it
8/28/2008 Achieving the impossible
8/21/2008 AVA in search of a movie
8/14/2008 Return to seller?
8/7/2008 Wine at the game
7/24/2008 Reviving a star
7/17/2008 Champagne staycation
7/10/2008 Pair vintage with vintage
6/26/2008 Leftover wine
6/19/2008 Fortune favors Opus One
6/12/2008 In the year 2048
6/5/2008 Tea, the original infusion
5/29/2008 Hello old friends
5/22/2008 Ancient in the new world
5/15/2008 You are the expert
5/8/2008 The must-drink list
5/1/2008 Gaming wine futures
4/24/2008 Chronos and me
4/17/2008 Getting lucky
4/3/2008 The daquiri's of spring
3/27/2008 Germans play well with others
3/13/2008 Complain yourself happy
3/6/2008 Operatic wine tasting
2/28/2008 Everything must go!
2/21/2008 His & hers bottles
2/7/2008 Friends in spam
1/31/2008 Warm up the wine
1/24/2008 A drink to them
1/17/2008 Stalking the barking dingo
1/10/2008 Wishes and predictions
1/3/2008 Bit of bubbly
12/27/2007 Drinking blind
12/20/2007 Not fighting for the right
12/13/2007 The liquor store suite
11/29/2007 World of drinkin'
11/22/2007 Thanks for the Napa cabs
11/15/2007 Drinks with Diwali
11/8/2007 Candy Corn hangover
11/1/2007 Drinks with History Channel
10/25/2007 Schooled in Shiraz
10/18/2007 Spooky wines
10/11/2007 Location, location, location
10/04/2007 Shiraz history
9/27/2007 Ingenious appellation
9/20/2007 Small world of wines
9/13/2007 How not to get screwed
9/6/2007 Wine lover's shopping trip
8/30/2007 Bottle surfing
8/23/2007 Lobster goes red
8/16/2007 Emotional tasting notes
8/9/2007 Stop, wine thief
8/2/2007 Be your own sommelier
7/26/2007 You do know your wine
7/19/2007 Booze free association
7/12/2007 Raiders of the sidewalk
7/5/2007 A sustainable buzz
6/28/2007 We are the merlot
6/21/2007 Forgot Dad? Bring booze.
6/14/2007 Jack & Jill and a pail of wine
6/7/2007 Our lady of the Rioja
5/24/2007 Breaking the fast
5/17/2007 What the best bears drink
5/10/2007It's OK to be pink
5/3/2007 In praise of tastings
4/26/2007 Invention-tini
4/19/2007 More 'Mas'
4/12/2007 Futures in a bottle
3/29/2007 Uneasy glass of spring
3/22/2007 Chateau de blech
3/8/2007 Finding new beauties
3/1/2007 Infatuation or addiction
2/15/2007 The extraordinary ordinary
2/8/2007 A glass of sweetness
2/1/2007 A glass of sweetness
1/25/2007 Ham it up
1/18/2007 Cheating on wine
1/11/2007 Burning down the tree
1/4/2007 New Year's hangover
12/28/2006 Sins of the vine
12/21/2006 Kissing frogs
12/14/2006 Wine for horrible friends
12/07/2006 Like dregs in the wine glass
11/30/2006 Gift of calmer shopping
11/23/2006 YouTube for YouWine
11/16/2006 Welcome to wine
11/9/2006 Fine art, supermarket wine
11/2/2006 The geography of grapes
10/26/2006 Please continue to hold
10/19/2006 The trouble with reds
10/12/2006 Making new friends
10/05/2006 TiVo-ing the wine
09/28/2006 From an unknown battle
09/21/2006 Toast to turkey
09/14/2006 Wine for life
09/07/2006 What are Malpeques, Alex?
08/31/2006 Hanging out wines
08/24/2006 Falling into new wine season
08/17/2006 Where has that wine been?
08/10/2006 Bringing out the dead
08/03/2006 The birth of a wine fop
07/27/2006 Slow process of maturation
07/20/2006 The pain of adolescent wines
07/13/2006 Nice day for a white wedding
07/06/2006 Scoring goals with booze
06/29/2006 Beer, it's what's for dinner
06/22/2006 A drink fit for a czar
06/15/2006 A summer of beer and fried clams
06/08/2006 Keep your cool, fool
06/01/2006 The social lubricant
05/25/2006 Water, water everywhere
05/18/2006 Big fat greek wine tasting
05/11/2006 Drinking to the end
05/04/2006 Schooled in the art of wine
04/27/2006 Make a wish
04/20/2006 Immigrant wines
04/13/2006 A pain in the glass
04/06/2006 Got milk?
03/30/2006 Throw a dart and there's wine
03/23/2006 A life of good wine
03/16/2006 Honoring the dead soldiers
03/09/2006 What once was old i new again
03/02/2006 The taste of sibling rivalry
02/23/2006 Wine travels, doesn’t sing
From grape, to barrel to red-tape jungle

02/16/2006 Love and vine
02/09/2006 A dog-drink-dog world
02/02/2006 The winos' mecca
01/26/2006 Date-nite drinks
01/19/2006 Touring eastern wine country
01/12/2006 Wine, Cheese and Granny Smith
01/05/2006 Resolve to try new wines
10 Wines To Get Lucky With

Adventures in and past the Euro-Cave
A Do-It-Yourself Wine Tasting
A Red For Everything
A Red Wth Your Leftovers?
A Tasty Way To Put Wine To The Test
A Year Of Wine
An Around-The-World Holiday
A wine for every holiday

Basking In The Mondavi Light
Behind One Door Is Great Wine
Beware The Hot Bottle
Brandy and the nude beach
Champagne, The Other White Wine
Cheers And Whines Of The Vine
Days of wine and jelly beans
Deep in the heart of Texas
Drinking for your health
Drinking like a newspaperman

Drinking Whites After Labor Day
Finding A Great Medium-Weight Drink (I)
Finding A Great Medium Weight Drink (II)
Gifts for blood, love or money
Grill and sip, sip and sip. Finding the perfect wine for barbecue
Hey baby, stay cool
How The Corleones Saved Wine

In Praise Of An American Wine
In search of the girl next door
Keeping it in the family
Keeping up appearances
Looking back at the heyday of cheap wine
My Big Fat Greek Wine Tasting
The Best Drinks On A Budget
The Highly Drinkable (Mostly) Merlot
The Long, Strange Journey Of Wine
Old French grape in the New World
Olé! to a week in wine
Opening the Parker book

Our French friends — really
Our Northern Neighbor
Poker faces and wine

Presenting A New England Vodka
Presenting The Wines Of Spring
Rewarding Your Support Staff
Schooled In The Art Of Wine
Shopping for Wine Bargains

Sitting By The Fire And Dreaming Of Wine
Slipping A Little Sideways
Spending the holidays in NYC
Spirit World Tales
Springtime calls for wine and ice cream
Sudden ugly mood swings
The new face of fine wines
The wines of fall
Thinking ahead to the holidays
Time To Stay Frosty
Tipples for turkey day
TV worth drinking
What it means to miss N.O.
What To Drink When You Eat Wild
What's Your Wine Sign
White’s OK after Labor Day
Wine Between The Season
Wine for the NASCAR set
Wine is in at the Inn
Wine’ll make you crazy
Wine Works With Red Sauce