As wine connoisseurship evolves, I look toward developing ways to express the aspects of wine I love the most. I recognize that wine is a product of nature and science; my goal is as natural as can be: to help make the connection between joy of taste and the bountiful pleasures of life.”

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

“Just tell 'em LARGE MARGE sentcha!“

2 unnamed baddies and the 2003 Chateau Saint Cosme Gigondas

A colleague and friend of 10+ years recently swung through town on his way to warmer breezes. We toured some of the local foodie hotspots and drinking establishments, caught up on overdue convo, reminisced steep runs swathed with fresh powder and a time long ago when sleeping in on Tuesday was an okay thing to do.

We began our evening properly with a social outing followed by drop n’ hop snacks and a couple Campari and sodas at a favorite neighborhood eatery.

Our session of overindulgence began and didn’t stop for nearly four hours. Allow me to clarify from the beginning that I rarely have the opportunity to dine alongside someone that truly shares a passion for both food and the quality of the environment that together embody the "dining experience." Someone who really gets it...someone that understands the gamut of quality and style, yet appreciates that on the right day, in the right place, with the right company, Manwich on a steamy-soft white bun and an icy Mr.Pibb can bring about some real pleasure.

The advantage of this dining counterpart is perspective. For me, something I crave in a dining experience. Good respectful feedback in broad strokes. On the restaurant, menu design, content, price points, et al. The things that make up, all in all, an excellent meal.

The first two bottles of wines (no need to mention names) were both delish but lacked any sense of finesse or elegance. We tasted them side by side. Each exuding commendable power, concentration and so on. Lack of ripeness was not definitely the issue. In fact, the overall unruly intensity took me a bit off guard (this happens to me nearly every time three or four days pass without a sip of American juice). In any case, considering maturity and style, both of these domestic bottlings - 40-55$ retail - are probably big movers in local wine merchants. Yeah, that means everyday folks you probably know are buying and drinking young $50 wines!

I looked across the table for a reaction and was pleased to see that it mirrored my own. Wow, I thought, what a coupl’a monsters both thinking "who drinks this stuff with food and, if someone does, with what food?" I handed both the nearly full decanters off to the server and suggested that he share them with his fellow servers post shift. He leaned down as if to hear my next comment and I whispered ”Just tell em Large Marge sentcha.” I'm sure he wasn’t old enough to remember Marge but a nice add on to his tip, eh?

While the wines were high scoring, from pedigree vineyard sites, and carried the accreditation of accomplished winemakers, neither wine was acceptable with any of 13 courses we enjoyed. Ouch! I asked for a wine list.

Strolling through the list, we happened upon the 2003 Chateau Saint Cosme Gigondas. Knowing that the 2003 vintage was a bit more flamboyant, ripe and over the top than is typical; I opted for this wine based on the diversity of the courses to come. While many Gigondas producers have flailed and produced increasingly insipid wines over the last 15 or so years, this producer is clearly committed to quality over abundance.

A winner nearly every vintage, this wine epitomizes the glory of the Rhone with its enticing sweet, focused, floral cherry aromas, and an undeniably versatile luscious palate chock-full of black bush fruits provencal herbs and pepper. Integrated in every way and not as alcoholic as I expected, with more acid that I'd anticipated. Sinful balance, ideally symmetric...oooh la la...the wine was absolutely brilliant! No shortage of power, no missing components in the flavor profile - all zipped up and all smiles! Bigger in this instance is certainly not better. Why so big I ask...why so much? Because Manwich is OK at the right moment, at the right time, but certainly not all the time.

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