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November 21, 2013

Epic Wine Tasting

I don’t know if I’ve been clear enough about all the changes in my life since coming to graduate school. I have this image of myself as an engineer, consultant, and technical expert, but none of that matters in this place. In fact, it tends to work against me in social situations. People in college are attracted to potential and afraid of experience. I hear all the time how people want to do such and such a thing and inevitably it’s a thing I’ve already done. I suck at “Never have I ever” in this town.

Somebody says, “OMG, I want to go to France!” Do I mention the many times I’ve been to France? Or do I say, Me Too!? Both responses are true, but perhaps, “I’d like to go again,” is the most true. Experience just doesn’t work in my favor. People don’t want to hear about someone’s experience doing what they dream about, they want someone to add excitement to the dream.

All too often, I come off as having been everywhere and done everything. I take flak for being rich, smart, and educated. I may be none of these, but as I run my mouth too much, I catch flak for having lived. I hate to apologize for doing interesting things because I’m proud of all that I have done, but most of the time I just keep my mouth shut. This is not one of those times.

I’ve been bartending at a wine bar since May and it’s a great time! I’ve gotten the opportunity to taste vastly more wines than my usual life would have allowed. Earlier this month I was privy to a tasting of epic proportions…

A wine collector and colorful character brought 19 bottles from his personal collection to our small wine shop in order to cultivate a community of wine snobs and I didn’t want to forget what we tasted that night.

The Whites:
Paul Garaudet Le Limozin Mersault 2007
Domaine Jean-Jacques Girard Savigny Les Beaune 2010
Domaine Vrignaud Fourshaume Chablis 1er Cru 2009
William Fevre Champs Royaux Chablis 2008
Bader-Mimeur Chateau de Chassagne-Montrachet 2009
Louis Latour Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru 2008
Louis Latour Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru 2006

The Reds:
Domaine Marquis d’Angerville Volnay Premiere Cru 2005
Domaine Bouchard Pere & Fils Volnay Caillerets Premiere Cru
Corton Clos des Cortons Faiavely Grand Cru
Louis Jadot Gevry-Chamertin Premiere Cru
Domaine Denis Mortet Gevrey-Chamberlin 2005
Domaine Daniel Rion and Fils Cols Vougeot Grand Cru 2010
Domaine Francois Gaunoux Pommard 1er Cru 2009
Chateau Mont-Redon Chateauneuf du Pape 2007
Tiare Imperiale Chateauneuf du Pape 2010
Domaine du Chateau de Chorey Cuvee Tante Berthe
Rocche Dei Manzoni Barolo (Italy) 2000
Penfolds Grange Shiraz (Australia) 2002

If you don’t know anything about wine, this list just looks like bunch of random letters strung together. No, I didn’t let wild Indian monkeys loose on my keyboard; these are real wines. Most of these wines are French from Burgundy (all but the last two are French). Grand Cru is the highest classification of vineyard, then Premiere Cru, which is often written 1er Cru. You should look for these things on your local wine bar menu; they are good.

Perhaps I’ve gotten ahead of myself because any wine primer should begin with region versus grape. In the new world, we do things a certain way. Wine in the United States is sold with the name of the winery, the name of the wine itself, and the grape(s) used in production of the wine prominently displayed on the label of the bottle. However, in the old world, the region of origin (appellation) of the wine is displayed instead of the grape(s). This is so confusing to the American consumer that importers often create different labels for export to America. On the one hand, why should Americans become familiar with wine regions halfway across the world? But I also have a problem with enabling American ignorance.

None of these bottles were crafted for or marketed to Americans. These are the real deal and while I may never have them again, I do have tasting notes on them just in case I win the lottery or my graduate degrees pay off to the extent where I’m required to drink fine wines for my job. I really can’t imagine myself ever spending this kind of money on wine; I’d feel too guilty about the state of the world and my own conspicuous consumption, but maybe I’ll become an Ambassador or something. Ambassadors must have (should have?) good wines (and the accompanying wine knowledge) in order to entertain foreign dignitaries. I could do that.

The only other conceivable way I could drink wines like these is if I eventually end up starting my own music venue/bar. Most of these wines you could purchase by the case and store if you had the proper storage circumstances. Living on the road, as I so often do, is not an appropriate storage circumstance. Using the buy and store technique, you age the wines and the good vintages will appreciate in value. Then you can drink like a millionaire without spending a million dollars (but you still spend like a half million).

While it’s unlikely that I’ll ever drink like this again, I’m not bummed. In fact I’m stoked and thankful that I’ve gotten to experience wines that the vast majority of people will never taste, or even imagine. It’s one more dream that I have been capable of realizing, but in the future, when people say to me, “OMG, I wish I could drink really great wines!” I’ll just say, “Me too.”

Song of the Season (or longer)

Gearing up for New Year’s, I’ve been learning some songs that loosely apply to the holiday. The song I’ve latched on to recently is a rather deep cut in the Townes Van Zandt book. "Snowin On Raton" is a song about aging, traveling, family, and love; I’ve slightly changed a few lyrics to fit my life.

     When the wind don’t blow in Amarillo
     And the moon along the Gunnison don’t rise
     Shall I cast my dreams upon your love, babe
     And lie beneath the laughter in your eyes
     Well it’s snowin on Raton
     And come mornin, I’ll be through them hills and gone
     My Cousin thinks the road is long and lonely
     But my Uncle says the road is straight and fine
     Sweet Dixie thinks the road is warm and lovely
     I’m just glad the road’s been a friend of mine
     Well it’s snowin on Raton
     And come mornin, I’ll be through them hills and gone
     Bid the years goodbye, you cannot steal them
     And you cannot slow the circling round the sun
     You cannot count the miles until you feel them
     And you cannot hold a lover once their gone
     Well it’s snowin on Raton
     And come mornin, I’ll be through them hills and gone
     Tomorrow the mountains will be sleeping
     Silent beneath a blanket of green and blue
     But I shall hear the secrets they are keeping
     And I’ll bring all their promises to you
     Well it’s snowin on Raton
     And come mornin, I’ll be through them hills and gone