All my personalities love wine
Both sides of the wine critic can agree
By Tim Protzman firstname.lastname@example.org
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.