Trust Your Taste

Bottle of Insignia, and the beautiful Joseph Phelps Vineyards.

Enjoying wine is a personal thing. Know your likes, dislikes and trust your instincts. On today’s show we discuss experiences, and getting out of the group think mentality so you can speak your mind. The great thing about wine is that everyone has different taste and that’s what makes it so much fun.

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Show #14
(25:50 min 12 MB)

18 Responses to “Trust Your Taste”

  1. 1 Ben Mar 21st, 2005 at 8:00 pm

    My favorite wine story happened in Paris of all places. I was still in college and had taken a summer trip with some friends to both London and Paris and I, wanting to “develop some culture” , thought it’d be great to have my first glass of wine in such a fantastic place like Paris.

    Well being the poor college student that I was and not knowing anything about wine at the time, I chose a lovely mini bottle of wine from of all places, a streetside deli. In retrospect the screw off lid, Snapple shapped bottle (made for chugging), and several disheveled individuals out front should have been my first clues. But I was not to be stopped. I sat down, twisted off the top and took my first sip of the stuff. I don’t remember what wine it was, only that it was white and could have powered the jet back to the States. It was I assume now, wine that was made with alcohol content a priority, taste an afterthought. I couldn’t even finish it and it made my friend sick just smelling it across the table.

    Well, lucky for me I’m an adventurous soul and when I got back home I decided there had to be SOMETHING to this wine thing and I gave wine a second try. I’m glad I did. Even though that experience was terrible, it gave me an interest to continue to explore “this wine thing” and it is an interest that I have continued to pursue to this day.

  2. 2 Prince of Pinot Mar 22nd, 2005 at 6:54 am

    I am not sure where to post my wine story but here goes. Actually I got this story second-hand from a wine writer on East Coast, Craig Goldwyn. The story dates to the 1980’s. He was in Burgundy and as it was well past noon, he became hungry. He had just visited the village of Vougeot. After visiting the tasting room of one of the larger small owners of Clos Vougeot, he was enjoying the wine from fruit just grown outside the door. He hit the road to look for food. Up the road he saw a grizzled, unshaven old man in a flannel shirt sitting in a chair next to a barrel that was standing on end. On the head of the barrel was an open bottle, a single wine glass, and a sign: “Degustation” Tasting. The wine turned out to be marvelous, better than the more famous vigneron from which he had just come, and he bought a bottle for $20. He continued on and came upon a trailer parked beside the road. As I drive by I could smell the pommes frites. I turned around and drove back. The trailer had a window with an awning, and a shelf for passing through the hot food. Fast food, French style. Through an open window in the trailer a short grizzled, unshaven man in a flannel shirt was mounting freshly shaven potato onto a grid of metal blades. He pulled down a handle and pushed the potato through the blades extruding it into a shotgun blast of a quarter inch shoestrings and propelled them directly into a cauldron of hot oil. He then produced a long skinny baguette of crusty bread, cut of a 10 inch section, and impaled it lengthwise on a hot stainless steel poker. It went right up the center of the soft bread and toasted it golden. He then turned around and with his bare fingers plucked a cream colored sausage from a griddle. Holding it between thumb and forefinger, he dipped it in a widemouth jar of mustard made just up the road in Dijon. He wiggled the dog lubed with mustard into the holey bread, scooped out the frites, wrapped them all in brown butcher paper, and handed it to me. Moments later I found myself sitting on a stone wall overlooking the great Chateau in Clos Vougeot, eating the world’s best hot dog and fries made just over there, and drinking Burgundy from the neck of the bottle, made from the vines at my feet. The best damn hot dog I ever had.


    Prince of Pinot

  3. 3 fortna Mar 22nd, 2005 at 7:36 am

    I think the deal between women and mens’ ability to smell is that women through time have been the providers of much of the food and have developed a better ability to diferentiate than me–after all the guys just went out and killed stuff to eat and the women went around and dug, picked–tasted and sniffed the stuff the whole family ate.

    They say it’s genetic, too?

  4. 4 Bob Davis Mar 22nd, 2005 at 10:05 am

    In 1999 my wife and I made our first visit to Paso Robles wine country. We traveled all over the area for a couple days. On the last day we were making our way down Vineyard Drive and I knew we wanted to stop at Pesenti. We had heard some interesting things about it as to how eccentric the whole experience was.

    So we walk into the building, a large industrial type, and walked to a back corner where the tasting bar was. On older gentleman of grizzled, senior citizen type was working. I noticed a bunch of bottles on the walls of all types and sizes with their label, something that takes you back to a 1930’s cellar, like in one’s grandparents house.

    He brings out the tasting glasses, those heavy, large shot glasses you’d see at an Italian table for dinner. We start with the Cabernet which is rustic, harsh and not that great. I try a Zin and my wife tries the Late Harvest Zin. I go onto something else and she says no thanks, since she’s driving. I look at her rather stangely as she never says that. We thank the gentleman and walk out of the building. We pass an older couple who seemed to be very excited that they were there tasting.

    We get out of ear-shot and said to Carol, “what’s up” and she replies, “God, that was awful!” The pent up revulsion and sense of relief of getting out of there made me almost bust a gut laughing.


  5. 5 Douglas Mar 22nd, 2005 at 10:32 am

    When I was working my way through school I worked at a Country Club in NJ waiting tables. We had some wine classes mostly so we could relate a little to what we were serving if someone asked for as bottle of wine. I was a micro beer guy at the time and really could care less about wine until one night a couple came in and ordered a bottle of wine. I went to the computer to put in the order and I nearly fell over when I saw the price, “$600 bucks!” The manager came over and told me that he would handle the opening and presenting. I agreed. None of us liked him so we were hoping that he would break the cork while opening so we could all laugh at him, but he didn’t. This couple stayed till closing and being one of the newer people I had to stay and do all the side work while waiting for them to leave. I am a person who respected good food and the finer things in life but I keep asking myself “Why would anyone pay that much for grape juice?” I thought paying 16 bucks for a Chimay was expensive. One of my counterparts made fun of me that I had to stay late and asked if I would save the bottle for her. “Fine, Fine” I said annoyed. I went over to the table and asked if there was anything else I could get for them and while saying that I noticed that they had a 1/2 bottle of the wine left. I asked if they were taking the wine and if so I’ll get a bag so they can carry it out of the building. Yes, this was illegal but I figured that they paid so much for this it was the least I could do. His reply was one that I will never forget “Why don’t you have it, it might change your life”. I said “No thanks, I’m not into wine so much” He told me that I was missing much out of life. I remember thinking that this guy was an a-hole. Anyway, they left and left the ½ filled bottle behind. I cleared the table and took the dishes and wine back in to the kitchen. I looked at the bottle and asked my self what could be so special about this. I grabbed a monkey dish and poured a little into it. I put it in my mouth and swished it around like I was taught. At that point my idea of wine changed. I poured more and more into that monkey dish until it was gone. I felt almost scared that something this amazing could cross my lips, Unbelievable. I don’t remember the flavors, the oak but I remember the texture and will never forget it. Needless to say my waiter friend never got the bottle that’s sitting in my office to remind me of that unpredictable night about 10 years ago. It was a 1986 Lafite and as amazing as it was even if I could afford it I don’t think I will ever have an experience like that again. Oh yea, I’ve been drinking wine ever since.

  6. 6 Jamie Kutch Mar 22nd, 2005 at 12:21 pm

    I am moving next month to California from NYC to make Pinot Noir

    That’s the power of the internet. I would have never thought it was possible 2 years ago. I was out of work, surfing the Robert Parker’s and West Coast Wine’s Chat Boards when I stumbled upon Andrew Vingiello who worked on Wall Street like me but on the West Coast. I shot him an email and he quickly replied and mentioned how he worked on Wall Street by day and was mentoring under Brian Loring,making his first batch of Pinot Noir by night labeled A.P. Vin. We hit it off immediately. I followed his progress on the chat board’s and once his wine was ready to sample, Andrew sent me a barrel sample to NYC along with one of Brian Loring’s wines. WOW – my eyes lit up… I thought, these guys are so cool to be sending me samples of their wine. About a week later my local New York tasting group planned on having a California Pinot Noir tasting. I thought what a better time to bring the bottle of Andrew’s wine and the bottle of Brian’ s wine. Well, both wines ROCKED and we all agreed that they were delicious California Pinot’s. Andrew was thrilled by the news. All this time while following Andrew’s progress I kept thinking to myself, if Andrew is doing this, why can’t I? He is living my dream!!! I continued to send Private Messages to Andrew and Brian Loring over the coming year and they both kept saying, “Jamie – you should come out at harvest, get your hands dirty, you would love it.” Brian offered to help me any way he could as he had a rolodex of relationships. The desire was strong but how could I leave my family, friends and what would my girlfriend of 8 years say? I never really thought it was even remotly possible and never even talked to my girlfriend about it. That was until I met Michael Browne of Kosta Browne.

    Some months after the barrel sample, I landed a job with a large investment Bank. It was such a drag. The business is so cut throat. Everyone is out for numero uno. The wine chat board’s were my only outlet, my escape to my dream. I would post on the board by day and attend “offline tastings” by night and it became addictive. My love and passion for wine was growing inside me. One afternoon I was emailing with fellow board member Steve Elzer. We were working on trading some wine. He offered up a few bottles of Kosta Browne Kanzler Vineyard to me. He mentioned that the wine was KILLER!! I quickly did a search on the chat board’s, CellarTracker, and Wine-Searcher looking for more information. What I found were some MONSTER notes from palates I respected including Paul Galli (who said it was one of his favorite wines of the year), Zen Zinns, Steve Rigisich (who picked it as his #2 favorite Pinot in 2004), Gregg Greenbaum, Steffen Pelz, Paul Homchick, & Ray DeAngelo all who had great things to say. I immediately ordered a few bottles along with my local Pinot drinking friend Kris Green. A few days later when I opened the bottles I was BLOWN AWAY!!!

    I couldn’t wait to post my tasting note on the chat boards for all to see. I awarded the wine with 95 points and called it the best California Pinot I had ever tasted. Later that day, I went so far as to calling Dan Kosta on his cell phone, (which was listed on their web site) to praise him and thank him for making such a KILLER wine. He was SUPER flattered and appreciative.

    About one week later, I saw on the board that Kosta Browne was releasing one of their blended wines called 4 barrels. It was very small in allocation and for a List of Designates only. I knew I needed some of that wine. I wrote a long email to Michael Browne asking if he could spare just 1 single bottle for me. That same day he wrote me back saying he could accommodate me and that it would come from his own private stash as it was so small and all allocated already!!! I was thrilled. These Pinot guys are the greatest I thought once again. I wrote him thanking him and mentioned how envious I was that he was living my dream. He wrote back almost a two page email and this is what part of it said:

    “My advice is GO FOR YOUR DREAMS if it is at all possible, otherwise you might regret it for the rest of your life. A man once told me “the biggest regrets in life are not things that you did but things that you did not do”. I think he was a wise man.” As for living the dream, it is pretty cool to work with something that you are passionate about. Lots of hard work involved but it is well worth it. My advice if you think this is your calling: drop everything you are doing and sacrifice a few years to get where you want to be. That is what I did and it is going in a very good direction. Another good example is Andrew at A.P. Vin. He went for it and now it is taking him for a ride”.

    At the end of the email, Michael said he would help me make my dream a reality if I wanted it. He said he would mentor me in my goal of making 150 cases of wine under my very own label. My dream was about to become reality…

    That was about 3 weeks ago. The first step was making sure my girlfriend would join me on this journey. When she agreed, I quit my job in NYC and I am now looking to move out to San Francisco in the coming month. It’s a dream come true and Michael Browne, Brian Loring, and Andrew Vingiello are the ones who are making it all possible. Thank’s guys and thanks to the Robert Parker and West Coast Wine Chat boards for driving my passion and making my dream come true. Without the boards, I would have never been given this chance.

    Keep an eye out for 05 Kutch Pinot Noir in 2 years. 🙂

    Yeoww baby… – Jamie Kutch

  7. 7 Steve Mar 22nd, 2005 at 11:27 pm

    The very first “Wine Spectator Top 100” issue that I read featured the #1 wine of the year on the cover…The 1996 Chateau St Jean Cinq Cepages.

    Trying to find that wine was the ultimate challenge. As I recall, it had a lower score than the runner up, Opus One, but came in at $39 per bottle. It was mostly sold in grocery stores, as a last minute “I need to bring a decent bottle of wine to a dinner party and just remembered while en route” type of wine. The editor mentioned that wines like the Cinq Cepages helped to bring new consumers into the world of wine. So it received top honors for nearly outclassing a zillion dollar wine.

    Well heck I was in. It was fun going on a scavenger hunt. I memorized the distinctive crown look of the top of the foil. Every time I went to a grocery store or market I would look for the Cinq Cepages.

    A friend from college was on the same quest in another part of Southern California. He finally tracked down a few bottles at The Chronicle in Pasadena. The catch was that there was a limit of one bottle per customer. The second catch was that it was a Tuesday and he could not leave the office.

    I left for the store at around 3:00 p.m. at the beginning of rush hour. Two hours later I am inside trying to convince the owner that while I am buying two bottles, I am really still following the rule of just one per customer. He asked me if he sold me only one bottle, who would get the bottle. I told him the truth. It would go to my friend. He was so impressed that I drove all the way to Pasadena for a friend, that he sold me two bottles, at $39 each no less.

    I checked my bottle into a private wine locker in a restaurant. It was accidentally put into someone else’s locker, never to be seen again. I told my friend the story, knowing he was probably the only one who could feel my pain.

    A few years later my wife threw a party to celebrate my completion of graduate school. As my friend enters the house, I notice the distinctive Cinq Cepages foil heading right at me. That was the most thoughtful AND generous gifts I had received. The data compression of that moment was so significant that neither of us had to say a word. Sure I had lost my bottle, but he gave his back to me essentially.

    I told him we would drink it together over dinner sometime. I excused myself to the put the wine away. On the way, another friend was calling me to bring more wine to the bar in the backyard. I set the Cinq Cepages down on the kitchen counter and went outside. I returned to the kitchen no more than five minutes later to find that the bottle was missing!

    My face went flush from the shock. It just lost the other bottle of Cinq Cepages…the world’s greatest gift. Frantically, I searched around the house for the wine. I remembered there were some people hanging out in the garage. As I opened the door I saw our Cinq Cepage bottle 90% empty, sitting next to an ash tray and two “ladies” with about a half bottle each in completely full Bordeaux sized Riedels. Man I felt sick.

    I didn’t even say a word. I just took the remaining 10% of the Cinq Cepages, two Reidels and my buddy out to the back yard and headed for the nearest bench. It didn’t matter if the wine was ready, or if we were even ready, we tasted the wine.

  8. 8 Bill Wilson Mar 23rd, 2005 at 7:05 am

    Wine often is given as a gift, but sometimes the circumstances are a little different.

    My wife used to work at a golf course owned by a well-known Midwestern Catholic university (if you can’t figure it out, think ND). She was one of the pro shop managers, and this meant some late weekday evenings during the summer of 2001.

    One of the regulars at the course is a gregarious fellow who has been a French professor at the university for many years. He came into the pro shop one evening with a look of something less than panic on his face. The professor explained that he had lost his keys somewhere on the links. Of course, by then it was growing dark, and the odds of finding his keys were less than winning the lottery.

    The professor asked my wife if she might be able to drive him to his house where he could get his spare car keys, return him to the golf course and he would be responsible for himself from that point on. This professor would have called his wife, but she was in Ireland that week, and thus there was no one to bring his spare keys to the golf course. My wife was more than happy to help (lesson number one: always be kind to the folks behind the counter at the pro shop–if you’re a jerk, you’re not likely to receive a favor when you’re in need).

    After arriving at the professor’s house, he was dismayed to find that all of the windows and doors were locked. Apparently he thought he had left a window open and he planned to open it and crawl in. This plan no longer being an option, he asked my wife to “stand lookout” while he found a hefty rock or brick and proceeded to throw it through a window and gain access to his house. (I can’t recall if the house alarm system went off of not.) Fortunately, no local constables happened upon this burglary in progress.

    The professor was in the house for a little bit and emerged with his car keys and a bottle of wine, which he foisted upon my wife as a token of his appreciation for her assistance. My wife tried to decline the gift, but the professor insisted, persuading her that she and I would really enjoy it.

    My wife brought the bottle home and showed it to me. While my wife is not uneducated when it comes to wines, her depth of knowledge is not as great as some others. At the time, neither was mine–but this bottle was about to open up a new realm of knowledge as I researched it, learning that this was quite a gift.

    This is how we came to possess a bottle of Chateau La Mission-Haut-Brion 1990. It still rests in the wine cellar, awaiting just the right meal and friends.

  9. 9 Youndy Hung Mar 24th, 2005 at 11:07 pm

    I have a Eurocave 260 wine cabinet which I’ve affectionately named “Cold Duck”. Now, why would anyone in their right mind, pick such an atrocious swill as a name for a wine cabinet you ask. (btw: I read somewhere that Cold Duck made Robert Parker throw up as a youth)

    When I was four or five, my father’s favorite drink was Cold Duck champagne. When my mom wasn’t watching, he would give me little sips during dinner when we lived in the South. It was our little secret father/son bonding thing and bad as it was, I associated it with Dad. Dad and I even discovered that Baskin Robbins had a Cold Duck flavored ice cream which of course became our favorite until it sadly became discontinued a few years later (I wonder why??). Many a hot summer evening, Dad would ask me after dinner, “how about some Cold Duck?” and we would run out to the car and drive over to B & R as my mom would just roll her eyes. As the years went by, my dad got more serious about wine and gave up the “Duck”, and even held big wine tastings over at the house. This was back in the mid 70’s just around when Stag’s Leap Winery made the international spotlight by winning that big Paris blind tasting and put Napa on the map, before professional wine raters/tasters, and when wine was cheap(er). He would drag the family all up and down California to visit wineries in the summer. My dad even had the foresight back then to buy a 6L of ’78 Mondavi Reserve Cabernet (for a kingly sum of about $175 he told me) for my wedding reception 20 years later. For whatever reason, I grew up around wine but never developed the major bug until just a few years ago in my mid 30’s.

    Well, now my father is quite old and frail, and he has some medical issues that have kept him from drinking any wine for the last five years, which saddens me because we both wish we could share some nice wines now that I have that intense passion for wine that he once had. Memories of me and Dad, sharing our Cold Duck in glass (or cone) are some of the fondest recollections I have of being a little kid and will go with me to my grave. Therefore, when I finally broke down and bought a real wine cellar last year, there was no other name that fit better than – Cold Duck. And well, she IS COLD!

    Thanks for letting me share a wine story…


  10. 10 Paul Eccles Mar 25th, 2005 at 6:36 pm

    Here’s my wine story. In 2001, my wife and I attend the Wine Specator’s New York Wine Experience. The first luncheon we sit at a table and introduce ourselves. The others at the table are all in thhe wine business. the first thing they want to know after an introduction is if you are in the business. I reply yes, I am in the consuming part of the business. That usually gets a chuckle. There are 2 oopen seats at our table next me and my wife and who comes over and ask to sit at our table is none other than Robert Mondavi and his daughter. Mr Mondavi introduces himself and I ask, so Bob are you in the business? He gives a little smile and says that he makes a little bit of wine in Napa Valley. The whole table is laughing at that one.

    This luncheon is being sponsored by some Austrian Wine group/distributor. There are lots of wines I’ve never heard of being not too familiar with Austrian wines. Mr. Mondavi says he not to familiar with them either. Through out the lunch Mr. Mondavi is trying all the wines. He’s has his wine glasses lined up in front of him and he is taking detailed notes. He’s so involved in tasting the wines his daughter has to remind him to eat some of his lunch. I was amazed to see at his age (80+) discovery of new wines still provides so much interest for him.

  11. 11 Jeff Lander Mar 26th, 2005 at 10:28 am

    Hey Guys,

    You asked about wine experiences. My wife and I have had a lot of them. Everything from touring all over France and Germany to our first real epiphony wine at the French Laundry.
    But I am now sitting here on my back porch of our new house in Templeton right in the heart of California’s beautiful Central Coast. We overlook the impressive Dante Dusi vineyard with it’s old narled head-trained Zinfandel vines which have just started to bud break.

    As often happens the most memorable event was the most recent. Last weekend our friend Charles arranged for a private tasting at Justin Smith’s Saxum Vineyard. I wish I had recorded the event since it was so memorable. We both get his mailer and have had his wine out and at various wine events. But I had never been to his place. We drove up the steep hill to where he is remodeling his grandfather’s house into a beautiful craftsman home overlooking the Templeton Gap. As is often the case with small family winemakers I have met, the house isn’t built yet but the winemaking building is complete. We met him and his wife, Heather in the new building. There were barrels everywhere and in addition to the expected winemaking detritus, as fits Justin’s character, there was a bunch of skateboards lying about.

    He took us through his 2003 wines (Bone Rock, Rocket Block, and Broken Stones) and barrel samples of 2004 including the impressive new Heartstone wine. All of his wines show impressive power and character that really showcase the place where they come from. We talked local and wine politics, the hassles of new construction, and beauty of life there in the Central Coast. I came away thoroughly impressed with his wines and winemaking, but to me more importantly, glad to have met such an interesting couple and spend some time with them while they do what they love. None of us will ever forget it.

    Of course in an hour or so, I am off to a release party at Tablas Creek so I may have to write back and amend my story.

    But for now, that’s my story.

    -Jeff Lander

  12. 12 Jeff Clavier Mar 27th, 2005 at 2:53 am

    Wining and Dining in Paris, France

    Being at the same time a wine amateur and a French senior exec based in Paris, working for an International (London-based) company, I almost always ended up hosting dinners with colleagues and clients who were visiting our office. Obviously Paris is a fantastic city for wine enthusiasts, and people who love traditional cuisine or more exotic food.

    One of my favorite places was Le Bistrot du Sommelier, a restaurant owned by Philippe Faure-Brac, who was the World’s Best Sommelier in 1992. Le Bistrot is not the fanciest restaurant in Paris (for me it is Lucas Carton – though it is by a short stroke), does not have the most exquisite cuisine or the most impressive wine list (“only” 10 or 12,000 bottles if I recall). But it was one of the best places to enjoy great food, outstanding wines, fantastic pairing, and a real “wine friendly” ambiance inspired by Philippe and his team of sommeliers.

    I used to only go to the Bistrot to entertain people who I knew were “into wine”, who would appreciate the simple but true ceremonial surrounding choosing, serving, tasting and… guessing wine. The guessing bit was part of the “Wine tasting dinner”, which was a six course meal (2 light starters, one fish, one meat, one cheese, one dessert) paired with six wines. You were not told about wines being served, and at the end of each course, one of the sommeliers would come and ask around the table who wanted to volunteer a country, grape, appellation or producer. I would typically call in advance and give instructions as to style of food (depending on the nationality of my guests), types of wines (French only, European but no French, New World only,…) in order to give the “repeats” (the people who had already enjoyed one of my dinners in the past) a different experience.

    I had a couple of favorite acts for “special” guests. One was organizing pre-dinner drinks in the cellar of the restaurant (that you can see on the web site), tasting our first wine of the evening and munching on light starters. We would also have a sommelier showing us around, highlighting some of the treasures stored in the cellar (Romanee-Conti, Petrus, Yquem, Guigal,…). And when we were lucky, Philippe Faure-Brac would do it himself.
    The other act was the opening of an old Porto bottle, whose cork was stuck. They would use this special device that heats up the shoulder of the bottle to dilate it, and then break it clean by applying ice on it. All tables in the restaurant would typically stop their discussion to watch this quite spectacular bottle opening.

    One day (back in 1994 I guess) I organized a dinner with about 12 colleagues who were visiting from Europe, the US and Asia. We did have our drinks in the cellar, and obviously had chosen the wine tasting dinner, French wines only. Because of the size of the party, we managed to get outstanding wines, including for dessert, an Yquem 1987. Granted this was not the best vintage of that spectacular wine, but for many of my colleagues, it would be a once in a lifetime experience. The bottle of Yquem had been open and tasted by Philippe Faure-Brac himself, who subsequently poured it and brought it to us. As he was giving every guest their glass, I pointed out that this was a special occasion, a unique wine, one that they might only have a few times in their life. One joked “That’s not an Yquem, is it?”. To which I responded “As a matter of fact, it is”. Then we all shut up and for a good three minutes, you could only hear people sniffing, swirling, drinking and all thoroughly enjoying the moment. All, but one. Our American colleague (no personal attack intended here) told us that he found this wine too syrupy and sweet,… and asked for a beer. At least, I got to finish his glass (rude, but he, that was some Yquem).

    Since that episode, I have always been careful to match wines I choose or serve to the taste or preferences of my guests, as well as their degree of sophistication when it comes to complex or old wines. There is little point in serving a old gem to someone who prefers fruity, young wines.

  13. 13 Todd Mar 28th, 2005 at 5:49 pm

    In the spirit of Grape Radio and your mantra, “Where Enthusiasm for Wine Gets Personal”, I share my favorite wine story in hopes of the winning that fabulous bottle of Phelps Insignia.

    Around 1980, my boss invited my wife and I out to dinner with he and his wife. At that time I knew nothing about wine, but he did. We had a fabulous meal highlighted by a bottle of Chardonnay from a small winery in Napa, Cakebread Cellars. While he knew about wine, none of us had heard of Cakebread but the sommelier recommended we try it. This launched me on a life long pursuit of fine wine. We’ve been Cakebread fans before it was fashionable, have been to the *old* Cakebread winery/barn several times, and have shared our love for wine with friends and family for 25 years now.

    One such friend that I introduced the love of wine to was a co-worker about 8 or 9 years later. We were in Colorado Springs for a meeting and both arrived the night before. Since we were on the company’s dime, we decided to go out for a nice dinner. At the time he had not yet started his wine journey. The restaurant escapes me now, but the ‘82 bottle of Mondavi Reserve Cabernet does not. I had read somewhere that the Mondavi Reserve was comparable to the Opus made across the street but at a lower price, so I ordered it and we both thought it was simply fabulous.

    15 years later, we are still friends. Our work assignments separated us and eventually both left the company. Geography kept us apart but despite that we’ve kept in touch via phone and email. Even though we had not seen each other for nearly 10 years, our friendship was kept going by a variety of common threads, not the least which was his new found (and my existing) love of wine.

    Fast forward to last spring and we finally reunited at his home for a couple of evenings of great wine and fine dining. That bottle of Robert Mondavi that I had recommended to him15 years which was indirectly prompted by the bottle of Cakebread, recommended to me 9 years earlier had lead my friend to having built his own wine cellar with hundreds of bottles of vintage wine he has collected over the years and a true passion for wine that has surpassed both mine and my former boss who originally turned me on to wine.

    You made mention in this week’s show that for special occasions you open up several bottles of wine for guests to try. He did the same that weekend with 4 different bottles of wine each night to try. All cabs and all 97s: Darioush, Ristow, Justin, Quintessa, Chateau St. Jean, Swanson, Paradigm, and a Phelps Insignia. All great juice!

    The reason I share this story is that I believe having listened to Grape Radio now for a month or so is that this story is exactly the reason why you have created and invested in your podcast. Love the wine and share the experience.

    Should I win, I’d have you ship the Insignia to him (partly because I live in a state you can’t ship to) and I’ll make a return visit to his home to enjoy the bottle with he and his wife and celebrate what it’s all about!!

  14. 14 Carole Van Polen Mar 28th, 2005 at 6:28 pm

    I know you’re a great group of people, so I know you won’t laugh at these stories, at least not too loudly. At least two of them still make me smile some twenty five years later.

    Until the early 80’s, wine was virtually unavailable in Iowa. Until the 70’s, we had a State-run key clubs, and not until the 80’s could you buy wine in stores. The State was the only source, and any oenophiles were at the mercy of the State’s selections.
    In 1983, a privatization law went into effect, and a major distributor moved here with the goal of “owning” the wine business. One rep was hired for each of the 99 counties, and each rep was sent out with a list of beer licensees. We were expected to sell something to each of them. I can laugh at myself now, but I took my charge seriously, and promptly went about selling with the commitment that I wouldn’t leave a licensee without talking them into stocking something. I actually convinced a gas station in a town of about 50 residents to stock some Napa Valley products, and sold a Gambles store (a hardware store chain) in a town of 200 some wine coolers. Hey, they sold beer…
    I recall the first “good” wine I consumed when the State started stocking items other than Amana Colony, Spanada, Boones’ Farm, and Thunderbird. Until this point in my life, I had the opportunity to taste only one good (spectacular actually, a “60s something Petrus) wine.
    The first wine I tried from my employer was a Caneros Creek Cabernet, and I was hooked. Next, I discovered Opus.
    Committed to my accounts, I decided to have dinner at one of the accounts.
    I asked the waitress for the wine list. She replied that we have “red, white, and rose (pronounced like the flower).
    I asked what the red was, and it was “a Burgundy,” which of course was of the Gallo variety.
    I decided to order a glass, making a mental note that , even though I was a novice too, that I might stop back by and offer at least a bit more information than I had previously.

    I proceeded to order a glass of “Burgundy”.

    Her response?

    “Up or on the rocks?”

    I don’t mean to make fun, but in retrospect, the lack of wine information was widespread before 1983 compared to more sophisticated areas. We’re not exactly trendsetters out here.

    I once tried to convince a friend to try various wines, to no avail. Each time he responded that he didn’t drink wine, but beer. Finally, I produced a bottle of Dom Perigon. He took a sip, looked a bit surprised, took another sip, looked up at me and said, “This is better, I could drink this, it tastes a lot like Bud Light.”

    I am not making this up!

    We still don’t have the variety of choices that many places have, but between mailings from Bounty Hunter, other wine clubs, the Wine Spectator, and now, your site, I don’t feel quit so out of the loop, but I do have to depend upon those connections to stay informed.

    I was delighted to hear of your site. I plan to check in often. Keep up the good work, and Happy Tasting.

  15. 15 Travis Douville & Becky Buck Mar 29th, 2005 at 1:07 pm

    Columbus Ave. April 20th, 2003. It is a typical bustling North Beach Friday night. After a brisk walk in cool bay air, we step into the comfortable atmosphere of the Rose Pistola. We are quickly welcomed by the mello lighting, the scent of slowly simmered tomato sauce and freshly cut basil, and the smooth tones of the night’s guest jazz trio.

    We step towards the bar while waiting for our table, choosing two stools only feet from the swaying base and glimmering saxophone. Somewhat overwhelmed both by the smell of fresh pastas and an exhaustive wine list, we seek safe haven among the Chiantis, Montelpulcianos, and Brunellos in a fervent search for a dry Italian red, our security blanket to complement the mood of the meal to come.

    Pop comes the cork. We hear the “tink” of two glasses hit the marble bar just before sanguine streams dance four inches above. Here the magic begins; here we fall in love with the voyages to be found inside tinted green bottles. Time draws further and further away until at a crawling pace, the ruby warmth enchanting, enlivening, enriching, it too engaging in conversation as the night wears on.

    The red falls to the glass in time with tenor saxophone runs, up and down, inside and through, unpredictably connected and understandably complex. There are this night so many parallels with the music, our chosen Montelpuciano D’Abruzzo at times dancing to escape its confinement and gurgling to be heard; other moments in which it seeks a more relaxed conversation; yet more times when one wishes to have the company back for another try, to express what we thought we had seen, tasted, or felt in layers underneath layers of character; yet even other instances when the stranger at our table would prefer to passively accompany our other table guests–soft gnocchi in sage cream sauce or fettuccine carbonara cooked to remember.

    Eventually we find ourselves back where we began, seated at bar with a new bottle, this time a Brunello di Montalcino, just steps away from the music, its friend. Oddly enough, this bottle does not feel like a new beginning but a continuation. Although a different grape, from a different fertile soil, at the toils of a different hand, still one story.

    Today we still can say the same. Since the night of this story when we fell in love with red wine, it has been one journey, and it continues…

  16. 16 Elizabeth Mar 31st, 2005 at 4:56 pm

    Before I met my husband I was a Budweiser girl. The only wine I’d ever drink was my mother’s Sutter Home White Zinfandel, if there was no more Bud in her refrigerator. Then I met this guy (the guy I’d end up marrying) who used to be a chef and I started putting on a little weight. Not a lot of weight, maybe like 5 lbs. So I decided that it was time to go on a diet, so I switched to Miller Light. (Bud Light is truly disgusting.) He was really into wine and tried to get me into it too, but beer was my only true passion. I will admit though, that I really did start to enjoy Cabs, Pinot Noirs, and some Shiraz. So we get engaged, and he tells me that he wants to go to Napa Valley for our honeymoon. “We can go to an island anytime we want honey.” This is what he tells me, and I’m so consumed by the wedding planning, I said “Whatever, I don’t care. You’re not doing anything to help with the wedding so plan the honeymoon.” I felt it was the least he could do. So we get married (in November of 2003), and we’re in the rental car on our way to the hotel in Napa, and he’s driving, and I’m looking around thinking, “I can’t believe I’m in Napa on my honeymoon.” Not the place I wanted to be. We get to the hotel, check in, and I am truly depressed. I’m married, I’m in Napa, the hotel doesn’t have Miller Light, and you can’t smoke anywhere (another one of my diet tools).

    My husband books us a limo wine tour with Magnum Tours. I can’t remember the owner’s name, but she was our tour guide and she was really cool. (She smoked too, just like me.) My husband tells her that we don’t want to go to the “commercial wineries”, and she says that she’s got the perfect places to take us to. I tell her that if she just pulls up to a 7-11, I’ll get myself a 12 pack and drink it in the car.

    She did take us to some really neat wineries and, I must admit, I started to enjoy myself. The last stop on our tour was the home of Jim and Barbara Richards, at Paloma. Our guide tells us that their 2001 is truly the best Merlot you could ever have. This means nothing to me, if I had my choice of wine I’d pick something big and rich with that chewy tannic feel (namely a Cab). We walk into their kitchen, and Barbara pours both of us a glass from a brand new bottle. The room exploded with the smell of the winery. It was black, it almost looked like syrup. Well, I don’t even know what to say. It coated my mouth and it seemed to last forever. And I’m standing in Barbara’s kitchen, looking out at the most amazing view of the Valley that I could ever hope to see, her dog is in its’ doggy bed recovering from a rattlesnake bite, and this woman is sharing a moment of her life, her wine, with us. It just hit me. “This is what it’s all about.”

    Then, 3 weeks later, we read the article in Wine Spectator on Jim and Barbara and their 2001 Paloma Merlot winning Wine Spectator’s Wine of the Year. I was so humbled that she had welcomed us into her home. I’ll never forget that experience. I’ve been a huge wine lover ever since. (And I haven’t put on any weight).

  17. 17 David Andreozzi Apr 1st, 2005 at 5:59 am

    I am not going to make the deadline…but here are the cliff notes…

    The day my two lovely children and wonderful wife had to stop me as I considered kneeling down on the filthy floor of Logan Airport among hundred of onlookers to lick three bottles of Pride Reserve off the floor that was puddled like thick blood among thousands of tiny chards of broken glass. At that moment I had reached the bowels of wine geekdom and my world had collapsed. My loved ones grabbed my arms like pulling me away, like from the grave a long loved pet…crying…to bring me home to mourn.


  18. 18 Jakob Jul 28th, 2007 at 2:25 pm

    This is exactly what I expected to find out after reading the title Your Taste at Grape Radio. Thanks for informative article

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