Getting to the Bottom…

February 3, 2013

You’d think that when you nuture a wine from the grape to the bottle, tasting it from its youth, tracking each change, the effect of the new barrel on fruit, the growth of tannin, and the blossoming of balance and complexity..that each one would be as singular and unforgettable as one of your children.

Things don’t always work that way. Especially when you are tasting that wine blind with a bunch of really big wines.

I was pouring the 09 Lineage over the course of a few days last week  in Southern California, and I had the rare opportunity to have the wine newly opened three days in a row…and to taste the wine as it opened up over a multi-hour tasting. Then at the end of the week, I tasted the wine again, along with The Premier Cabernet 2009 in a flight of 8 very high-end wines from Napa.

The wine I thought was Lineage, was in fact The Premier; and the Premier ended up being a different wine, altogether.

The point is, I guess, that each time I taste wine…my own wine most assuredly, it is a new experience. No matter how well I think I know the wine, it has something special in reserve to show me, some new layer that I haven’t yet fathomed. This is one of the greatest things about wine: the truly great ones are bottomless…there is no getting everything, no understanding all that it has to offer; each tiime you taste it, there is a new level of complexity and a new level of potential beauty there.

Here’s hoping that the mystery never ends.

The Words of Wine

May 13, 2012

Let’s start with this truth: WINE – as a beverage, as a product, as a pinner of memory, a celebrator of special days, a living thing… – is so expansive that it is bottomless.

Ron Rosenbaum, in his book, The Shakespeare Wars, refers to the Bard in the same way. One of the marks of Shakespeare’s great

ness is that every time one re-reads one of his plays, one finds greater depth, more truth, more art. Great Wine has the same genius.

By its nature, the truth about a wine can never be fully known. It is a constantly evolving thing that exists in a subjective realm open to as many interpretations as there are people to interpret. The best that anyone can do, I think, is to illuminate a moment. To do that that well is exceedingly difficult. There are a number of them out there who do a better job than most…Mike Steinberger, Benjamin Lewin, Steve Heimoff, Charlie Olken, and Keith Levenberg, to name five.

Notwithstanding the immensity of Wine as a subject, it is also a playful thing; the thing that allows the officious cares of the day to be called out and sent skulking away.

In my role as the amanuensis and ambassador of the wines of the Steven Kent Portfolio, I often get to try to shed a little bit of light on what makes these wines special, what makes our growing area special, what makes our relationships with growers special, and how humbled and gratified I am by the interactions I have with my club members and guests at the Winery. And sometimes…I get to be a little silly doing it.

At a recent wine dinner at the Winery, my team gave me the challenge of using a list of words during the between-course gab sessions. I am “proud” to say, I did – in fact – use them all. For those who attended and were a bit mystified as to why anyone would use the word muffin in a description related to Chardonnay, you have your answer. Thanks for indulging me.