If you are a regular reader or if you also venture over to our travel blog, Juntos En El Camino De La Vida (www.togetherontheroadoflife.blogspot.com), you know that The Wine Guy has moved to Ecuador and that has presented challenges to enjoying good wine. Over the past few weeks, however, I've experienced three very nice wines and each came about because of a friend with whom each wine was shared. These three incidents served to remind me that any good wine is enhanced when it shared in the good company of a friend. Just as wine is truly meant to be paired with food, it is also the beverage that is meant to be shared with friends.
Here's the stories associated with those recent and enjoyable wine experiences:
Wine #1: Herencia de Prado 2001 Mencia Reserva
Friend Chuck Watson and his bride Nancy were traveling across Spain when he stopped and emailed me, "What kind of wine can I bring you back from Espana.". I wrote back that I would delight in almost anything he brought back but mentioned my fondness for red Bierzo, a distinct little region near where he was headed. I was first introduced to Bierzo by a fellow sommelier in Phoenix in 2009 (see the archives for that full story) and had sampled a couple of others since but was sure I would never find one on the shelves here in Ecuador. We had to wait for bottle shock to settle after Chuck and Nancy's return. But about two weeks after their return, we enjoyed it with some fine appetizers followed by an excellent meal. This wine was well aged, aromatic, smooth on the palate with a deep lingering finish. It was a delightful evening and Chuck, knowing my propensity for tasting a new wine over many hours wisely retained an amount for me to sample the next day. It was the best Bierzo I've had to date and it was made even more memorable by my friend's thoughfulness in bringing this treasure all the way back from Spain in his luggage.
Wine #2: Chateau Lynch-Bages 2000 Grand Cru Classe Pauillac:
Bea and Bob Wetmore became our friends because we share a love of wine. After sharing a meal with wine at their house, we invited them to one of our favorite wine bars for appetizers and wine. We ended up having dinner with the Yazells enjoying a nice Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon and the Wetmores enjoying a very nice Argentinean Malbec. Our evening's conversation centered a lot around wine, something I had gotten away from after retiring from being fully active in the trade. Just a few days later came Bob's email explaining he had found a nice Bordeaux in his storage that was left from the wine cellar inventory he had shipped down when he moved here. He wondered if we might like to stop by for a tasting. If you are at all familiar with Bordeauxs, you can guess how fast I responded. This Chateau has a history of classic vintages trailing back to the late 18th century and the particular vintage Bob was proposing to pour was rated 95 at bottling and had been re-reviewed and rated 96 last year in Wine Spectator and 97 earlier this year by Robert Parker. We spent a enjoyable time savoring over this blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. It was a great tasting especially when paired with Bea's Bleu cheese pate and with friends who loved exploring the nuances of a good wine. It was a wonderful memorable evening, mostly made so by the company we kept.
Wine #3: Montes 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon/Carmenere Blend D.O. Valle de Colchagua:
Bob Barnett and his wife Toni are like us, fairly new arrivals, camping out in their new home with minimal fixtures and furnishings, adding some stuff but mostly waiting on the arrival of a container. We had tipped a couple of glasses of wine together at their apartment or at our house with some snacks mostly standing up because neither of us had enough spaces for 4 to sit! Anyhow, with empty houses in common, it was just a matter of time before our wives went shopping together to find stuff to put in some of that emptiness. I told Bob my new wine bar still had some empty slots so, of course, we decided to go wine shopping! While perusing the shelves my eyes came across the wine above. I had become quite familiar with Montes as I had handled the brand in my retail facility in Arizona. In fact I'm a fan of Montes Alpha Cabernet Sauvignon, a consistently good reserve cabernet. This blend, however, I had not seen nor tried. Among our purchases, Bob and I each got a bottle and headed back to his apartment determined not to waste time in examining its taste. Today only a few acres of Carmenere exist in France and less than a handful of estates utilize the grape in their Bordeaux although it remains one of the authorized varietals. This wine made you realize why Carmenere was once commonly utilized in France's flagship red blend and works so well today for this Chilean producer. It partnered wonderfully with the cabernet sauvignon. Our discovery of that fact led to a second excursion to buy out the remaining stock but we have since found it at two other locations so we hope to continue enjoying it for some time to come. Discovering a good new wine to enjoy was fun and made even more so by sharing the experience with my friend.
There you have it....three simple stories of three wonderful wine experiences. Good wine, good food, good friends, is a truly unbeatable combination that makes you grateful for the blessings of life. I hope you get the opportunity to feel that kind of gratitude soon!
About The Author:
"Roger, The Wine Guy" is Roger Yazell, CWS. He is a member of the International Wine Guild and has had a long time admiration of wine. After careers in broadcasting, advertising and marketing account management, he explored his love of wine in hospitality, wholesale and retail sales. The intent of Roger's Grapevine is to share stories, history and information that will add to the reader's love, enjoyment and appreciation of wine and sake'.
Questions, requests for topics and comments are always welcome via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Note: The Wine Guy is currently undergoing chemotherapy and this blog will be on hiatus for the duration and into a recovery period. The Wine Guy is planning to celebrate his recovery with a trip to the two wine producing regions in Argentina and that should provide for some interesting new blogs. Meanwhile please enjoy the archives and feel free to email in the interim.)