Thursday, August 6, 2009
Excuse the length of this post...sam doesn't really ever know when enough is enough...I suppose that's why he ends up spending the night on our couch so often...
What would make a wine perfect? Is it big? Is it really expensive, and hard to find? Is it allocated, and only meant for restaurants? Is it red, or is it sweet? How is perfection in a wine quantified? Perhaps it's a 100 point score from Robert Parker or James Laube, or 3 glasses in the Gambero Rosso, or 5 stars from Decanter. Or maybe its none of these things. Maybe perfection in wine is such a personal thing, that there is no way to quantify it. Maybe it can't even be explained. Well I'm going to try.
I've had a lot of different wine, more than some at least, but certainly not as much as others. I've come across some wine that really made me stop for a second and focus in on it. I've tasted $300 bottles, and I've bought a handful of $200 bottles, hoping for something close to perfection, and we'll have to wait for a while on some of those. I even had, what I like to call an "emotional experience" with a glass of wine. An emotional wine experience is really cool. It happens when you dive into a glass of wine, and it stops your heart for a moment. The people in the room were loud a second ago, but now you can't even hear them, not that you care. You close your eyes, as if that will allow you to take in the nose even deeper. You hold the wine in your mouth and don't want to ever swallow it because that would be a half of an ounce that you will never be able to taste again. You want to cry because its so beautiful. Or at least that's how mine went. It was a bottle of Bruno Giacosa 1998 Asili Barbaresco Red Label. I also happened to be at Bruno's house, in the dining room, with Bruno at the head of the table, quietly watching me freak out over his artwork. Wow. But was it perfect?
While the Giacosa was amazing, I don't think it was perfect. What all the wine critics are missing is that at the end of the day, wine is a beverage. It's a consumable product. It is designed to go away, and if you're in my house, it goes away pretty quickly. I think that a perfect wine will show versatility in it's drinkability, value and availability, and yet it will retain extreme significance every time that first glass is poured. I think the perfect wine will be able to answer two questions. One, and as a person in the wine industry, I get asked this a lot, "what is your favorite wine?", but a more important question is, "if you could only drink one wine for the rest of your life, what would it be?" Think about that one. The perfect wine must be multifaceted.
Well, the good news is that I found it. I've never had an answer to either question, but now I do. For those that know me, or even for those that have been near me while a bottle of this magic was opened, you know exactly what I'm talking about: 2008 Les Domaniers Rose de Provence from Domaine Ott. Cinsault and Grenache wound together and laced with Syrah in the most seamless glass of wine I have ever had. Actually, it's the most seamless case of wine I have ever had. Okay, three cases...so far.
So here is where I gush about the wine. When I say seamless, what I mean becomes apparent once it hits the palate. There is plenty of vibrant acidity, but you can't tell its there. The alcohol is 13% but you'd swear it was 11%. The fruit is opulent, but not obvious. The nose is actually capable of taking you away to the wine's birthplace, with its pungent salt air breeze and orange blossoms and melon. I describe the wine's role during a meal by comparing the meal to the painter's canvas. Rather than competing with the food, the Ott is the white paint that covers the entire canvas to set the stage for the painting. The Les Domaniers creates the environment for a great meal to happen. The Les Domaniers is perfect.
So when the Wine Spectator rates this wine a year late next summer, and they give it the 88 or maybe 89 that they pretty much do every year, I want you to remember that you had the opportunity to drink perfect wine. I for one, am taking full advantage of that fact. Please join me.