“Everyone always asks how I got into wine…”
It’s a popular way to start the “About Me” section of wine blogs, wine books, winery sites, and as I am reading this one in particular, it occurs to me that most of the time I could guess the answer to the question without reading further. The only thing left to be determined is the year.
What I mean, of course, is that everyone seems to remember the bottle that got them into the wine industry. Not the winemaker or wine writer per se, but the bottle of wine, the taste on their lips that produced an “aha moment” of complete certainty and conviction.
I wonder if ten, twenty years from now I’ll be remembering the bottle of 2001 Nuits-Saint-Georges Les Vaucrains Premier Cru that Nico and I shared for my birthday.
Having decided on the main courses at our favorite Sabot de Vénus, we scrutinized the wine list, applying our basic knowledge in a game of chance. “No Gevrey-Chambertin,” I said, pointing to the top of the list. “Probably too fruity to go with our sauces.”
(I had ordered a chicken dish with a strong Epoisses cheese sauce and he a filet mignon de porc à la réglisse.)
“You’re right,” he said. “I was thinking Nuits-Saint-Georges.” I followed his finger down the list.
“2001,” I said, raising my eyebrows.
It was my birthday. We ordered it.
Delicious at first taste, its spiciness eased with a little air as we enjoyed our first sips with the appetizer. My face warmed as it traveled across my palate. I searched for the word to express its earthiness.
Then came the main courses. A little more air, a little more time, and the wine had transformed again. Faced with the Epoisses, it rose to the occasion with an explosion of macerated plum and floral accents.
“Taste this,” Nicolas said, offering me a bite of his filet mignon, eyes wide.
And that, my friends, is when this wine went from delicious to exceptional. Off the charts. Dare I say life changing? The licorice of Nico’s sauce still on my palate, I took a sip of the wine and, boom! Another taste altogether. The plum and rose from a moment before gave way to a sweet, rooty complement to the licorice, as if mirroring, or trying to one-up the réglisse in Nicolas’ meal. Imagine a wine that starts of spicy and a bit tannic and twenty minutes later could be considered candy! My eyes closed; I relished the long finish. Nicolas chuckled.
With a sip of water and another bite of chicken, my glass of wine complied. Once again full bodied and vigorous, there could not have been a better companion to my plate.
Or to Nicolas’.
This wine was magic.
Seduced by its power, we later did a Google search with hopes of buying several more bottles. Not possible, at least for the 2001 vintage. “It’s the quality of the domaine that counts. I’m sure the 2004 would be similar,” encouraged Nicolas, having found some bottles for sale.
Half disappointed, half intrigued, I willed the taste of the wine to come back to me by way of memory. A hint of it did. And from now on, that hint is all that I will ever have of that magical bottle.
But there are so many other wines to discover.
How did I get into wine? I owe it to a 2001 Nuits-Saint-Georges Premier Cru from Domaine Dupasquier & Fils.
For Mélie’s translation: Continue reading