Books and wine are two of my favorite things. Livre et vin can both take you on a journey of mystery and senses.
We followed an older fellow, quite well into wine that day, his overalls worn, across the vineyard as he switched his glass to his other hand and spanned the other over the invisible land boundaries. Five acres, water rights, the winery and land for sale. Oh, for far more than we could ever afford (even still) but it was a lovely dream that we carried with us for many years. He made the best Sauvignon Blanc I have ever had and I find myself comparing each one to that delicious New Mexican variety each time. Never quite as good, it seems, as that memory from so long ago.
I belong to two wine clubs and find them both delicious. Both are out of California; The California Wine Club and Frey Vineyards.
The California Wine Club (http://cawineclub.com) sends me three of their four favorite wines of the season quarterly, all from small, boutique wineries, that I would never be able to taste unless I was gallivanting around the vine laden hills near the ocean. (Do mention my name if you sign up- there is a referral program!) I like to armchair travel through their website and read blog posts about the wineries I am supporting.
Frey Vineyards (http://freywine.com) is a family owned organic and biodynamic vineyard. Three times a year they send me six bottles of their ready wines. The terroir, the richness, the consistency of excellence keeps me ordering. Their Sangiovese and oaked Chardonnay are a few of my favorites.
One of my favorite memories of California wine is one particular day when we had gone to see our now deceased friends (whom I hold in my heart forever) for a week and they drove us to Napa and Sonoma. There in a gorgeous winery, in les caves, a vial of dark, plummy wine was pulled from a still fermenting French barrel and shared with us. It was about the most delicious taste on earth. A darling wine lunch was set out for us in the cave beyond, and of the food I do not recall, but that taste of wine from the barrel and the day with dear friends will stay in my soul.
My love of wine stems from the fact that it is so ever faceted. With a whiff of the lower contents of a tipped glass, one can smell the country in which the grapes were grown, the region, the weather, if there was a fire, if there were farms nearby, and flavor profiles to help decipher the varietal. The upper scent of the glass tells of stainless steel, clay, or wood and from what region the wood is from. And then of course the flavors of wine dance on the palette. Anything that increases pleasant sensory makes life more beautiful- la belle vie!
My next article will be on how to unravel the mysteries and how to taste wine but in the meantime, let me leave you with a fabulous book to read while you pour yourself a few ounces of wine to enjoy this fine day.
The Lost Vintage by Ann Mah kept me quite entertained and avidly turning pages throughout. A sommelier (and may I correct your pronunciation, dear ones, it is pronounced sum- ul- yay) travels to her family vineyards in France that she has been away from for a long time to help her grasp the art of Burgundies for a prestigious wine test. While there, she helps her cousins clear out the cellar and the discoveries they make from the era of World War II are fascinating and mysterious. The chapters switch from journal entries during the war to present time, and to the end you will be hooked. Perhaps read with a glass of Burgundy!