This is Why I Drink Wine

Everyone drinks wine,[1] but the reason behind consumption varies greatly from person to person. Some drink it to celebrate. Others drink it to drown sorrows[2]. Some because they love the science behind the grapes, how it gets from vine to the bottle. Others because they can buy a jumbo bottle and it lasts them all week[3]. Some drink wine because they realize that it tastes incredible and brings the enjoyment of food to a whole new level.

File May 25, 5 08 34 PMI’m pretty sure I started drinking wine because I thought it was classy in a time when I wanted to transition my Dubra-drinking-on-a-budget college self to my more sophisticated drinking-on-a-budget law student self. Thank God I made the switch. My palate has changed from my initial wine forays, going from Pinot Noir as my go-to to becoming a full-on fruit bomb, Cabernet lover.

Last night I was fortunate enough to experience a bottle of wine that exemplifies why I continue to delve into new bottles. It was one of my most profound “This is Why I Drink Wine” moments thus far[4]. And it was beautiful.


To:                  Alleged Blog Readers
From:              WineEsquire
Date:               May 27, 2016
Wine:              2010 Hundred Acre Fortunate Son Cabernet Sauvignon


This was deep; it was inky. There was dark fruit, there was leather and there was tobacco. On the finish there was just the slightest hint of a something sweet. Perhaps some chocolate. And it was elegantly smooth. Velvety juice with a fantastic mouth feel. My shoulders dropped and as Biggie played in the background, the head nod was in full swing[5]. What a sip of wine. Surrounded by friends, snacking on meat, cheese and olives, this bottle was a superbly special treat. Not a bad way to celebrate #NationalWineDay on a beautiful spring night.

Wine Dossier

This wine was an experience before the bottle was even open. Hungarian Sommelier Friend generously brought this over to share, and the dense, heavy bottle was covered by a thick, cardboard sheath. All that was visible was downward facing text along a perforated edge that read, “Feeling Fortunate?” Why yes, I believe I am! File May 26, 10 01 44 PMThe first step was to uncover the label and underneath I felt smooth, luscious suede. For real? Yea. For real. Light gray text wrapped itself around the bottle until my eyes were drawn to the white text near the bottom that reads “Fortunate Son.”File May 26, 10 02 32 PM

I stop for a minute to read the text, “Wine is a lagniappe,” it begins. What’s a lagniappe you ask[6]? A lagniappe is that little something extra; a bonus, a gift. Wine indeed is a lagniappe. It’s that little something extra that the Universe has given to us to make life that much better, just because it could.

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The suede text went on to recite a narrative of all the good things in life; foie gras, truffles and risotto, porterhouse steak. Where is the cheese and where is the butter??? All of life’s little lagniappes.

Fortunate-Son-Web-Header
(c) Fortunate Son Wine

At the tail end we’re given the names of the Fortunate Sons who gave us the wine: William Kimble, Jayson Woodbridge and Chris Radomski[7]. Though it’s not an easy feat to get information on this wine-making trio, it appears they are the heads of Hundred Acre Winery, a cult California winery, closed to the public because all of their wine is sold as soon as they offer it for sale[8]. The websites for Hundred Acre and Fortunate Sons are insignificant blips in the inter webs; nothing but a link to sign up for the mailing list; you can’t even buy wine unless you have a client ID[9].

You can snag a bottle of the 2010 Fortunate Son Cabernet Sauvignon for a cool $199.95 a bottle, but be quick, the store I found only has 2 left. While the other offerings from Hundred Acre start at $200 and go up from there, their “kissing cousin” label is Layer Cake, a project inspired by Woodbridge’s realization that not everyone can afford a $200+ bottle of wine. Layer Cake takes grapes from all over the world and crafts single varietal bottles typical to the region the grapes are from. It’s described on their website site as “luxury everyone can afford” and the bottles are typically priced around $15. You can be sure I’m going to be picking up a few of these lower priced options. And I’ll be sure to let you know how it goes.

Until the next glass, cheers!

Lawyer Footnotes
[1] Ok, maybe not everyone, but I don’t think I know anyone who doesn’t.
[2] #lawyerlife
[3] #MomandDad He does red, she does white. #matchmadeinheaven
[4] Drinking the 2015 Château d’Yquem, at the château, like it was water, during En Primeur week, was another.
[5] A nod to my college self. We had just transitioned from opera, which would have been equally as appropriate in the situation.
[6] I also asked this. I also asked the more important question, “How do you say that?” It’s pronounced “lanˈyap.”
[7] Who apparently is a law school graduate. #LawyersLoveWine
[8] A good problem to have, I’d say.
[9] Oh they fancy, huh?

File May 11, 6 50 29 PM

Pre-Trial Chatter Roundup

Trying to stay up to date with current events is hard. Reading my roundup of wine news is easy. Try doing it with a glass of wine[1] and it’ll be even better.

The truth about Rosé Wine


White Zin be damned, it turns out that Rosé is ok to drink. In fact it’s more than ok and can be really, really good. And not just because a bunch of hipsters in NYC say so. Contrary to popular belief, Rosé is not a blend of red and white wine, it is its own creation of red wine grapes. Its pink tinge comes from the brief contact it has with the grape skins. Give it a try. And talk about it. You’ll be totally on trend. And loving what’s in your glass.

Vatican City Drinks the Most Wine Per Capita

per capita forbes
(C) Forbes

And they have the rest of the world beat. By a lot. The US may claim that it’s the biggest and best at everything[2], but we lag far behind the rest of the world in terms of wine consumption[3]. Residents of Vatican City drink, on average, 44 liters more than the average American. Scientific proof that those beautiful Italians lead blessed and holy lives.

Remember eBay?
Now, in addition to an obscure part for your lawn mower or a vintage version of Monopoly[4], you can buy wine. The online marketplace has partnered with Drync to offer everything from hard to find collectibles to every day drinkers to its shoppers. Purchase is of course subject to the shipping laws of the buyer’s state…because this country has yet to figure out an efficient and streamlined way of shipping alcohol[5]. What was that about making America great again?

2015 Bordeaux Futures – Better Buy Early
File May 02, 7 33 23 PMPrices for the 2015 vintage[6] are beginning to emerge and prices are high, with a significant increase over the past few years. Like I learned about while I was in Bordeaux, growing conditions for this vintage were epic, and the wines have followed suit. If you’re in the market to put some money up, I’d recommend getting your hands on it while you can. Wine.com and Millesima have some options available. Just know you won’t be getting any bottles delivered until 2018[7].

Now you have some topics of discussion while you wait in the hallway with opposing counsel, or wait for somebody you know to show up to the cocktail party. Either way, you’re talking about wine, so you’ll be fine.

Until the next glass! Cheers!

Lawyer Footnotes
[1] Or cup of coffee, depending on your time zone. #winetime
[2] Somebody even has the idea that something happened to America and we need to make it great again … #politics
[3] Margin of Error: These pollsters failed to WineEsquire about her consumption levels, so the results may be somewhat skewed by +/- 20 liters per year.
[4] With or without all the pieces. #bargainshopper
[5] Shouldn’t a group of lobbyists get on this? #lawyerlife
[6] Which I had the amazing opportunity to taste. #FancyinFrancey
[7] Good things come to those who wait.File May 02, 7 29 19 PM

Sipping on Sauternes

 

[Note: If you’re just jumping in, click here to read about why I was in Bordeaux for En Primeurs week with Millesima and Bernard Magrez[1].]

So, you may recall that day three started out with a lot of wine, continued with a lot of wine, and just when we thought we were done[2], we went on another journey, to drink more wine. Having so much wine to drink in one day is an awesome problem to have[3], and though there was a bit of grumbling about sore gums, black teeth and palate fatigue, we all powered through and had a freaking blast at Château Sigalas-Rabaud[4], a beautifully quaint family-run operation in the heart of Sauternes, France[5].

Château Sigalas Rabaud is the smallest first classified growth in Bordeaux

We arrived and found the tasting set up in several rooms in the historic château. Each place was set with a tasting mat with room for six glasses at a time, a personal spittoon, a bottle of sparkling water, and a bowl of crusty bread to share with your neighbor. DSC_0392Though it was raining, I loved that they allowed the natural light to sweep in through the floor to ceiling windows; the ancient fireplace mantles in each room were adorned with family photos and (empty) bottles from historic vintages. This was a quiet tasting, meaning we weren’t just going from table to table, dodging people at the common spittoon and chatting about what we tasted; we were sitting and tasting silently. As we would finish each group of six, the servers would magically appear, ready to fill us up with the next round. At first, this quiet concept seemed as though it would be rather a tough challenge for our chatty group, but the peace and quiet was a nice change of pace.

We sat down and I was actually dumbfounded when I realized our tasting consisted of 26 Sauternes. 26 more wines to taste. This was going to be an adventure. I laughed (quietly) out loud, grabbed my handy pad and paper and started stream of conscious blogging.

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Good old fashioned pen and paper never lets you down

Here’s what I got:

1st 2:    Delicious; sweet and fruity
3:         More mineral and citrus (I can’t remember if I spit or not on this one)
4:         Lovely
5:         Lovely

Side note: Good thing I learned how to do that gurgling, swishing thing.

Break time: I can’t really fathom how much incredible wine is being thrown away right now, at all the tastings. I know that’s how it goes at wine tastings, but I feel like it’s such a crime. I mean, there’s thirsty people in the world somewhere! It’s also funny how we’ve been drinking wine since 10:30 a.m. and I don’t even have a buzz. All this spitting really does work. I’d like to note that it is much easier to taste the whites than the reds. There’s no harsh tannins to speak of. I actually can’t believe these Sauternes aren’t ready to drink. I’d drink them all day erry day. This morning’s tasting[6] was loud, busy and crowded. My mouth was overpowered after the first taste, but the whites (Sauternes included) are truly enjoyable. This peaceful, quiet[7] tasting is actually a very nice change of pace.

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Lots of concentration required © Millésima SA 2016

6:         🙂

There’s a similar color palate on all the Sauternes; varying shades of light golden straw to bright gold.

7:         May have tasted this one twice (can’t remember, but it tastes the same as the last one)
8:         Sweet, but in such a good way

I just came up with the bright idea to pour out the wine after I taste it in order to keep track. I think I’ve doubled up on a few already because they all look the same.

File May 15, 5 17 27 PM9:         Touch of minerality, hint of citrus. Not as thick or syrupy as some of the others
10:       Really nice

Writing Break: I don’t know how fast we’re supposed to be going. I’m next to two real journalists on laptops typing feverishly away. They seem to have a whole lot to say about all these wines. Neither of them have cracked their sparkling water bottles.[8] My personal spittoon is getting a bit heavy. I found that it’s much cleaner to lift it to my mouth to spit after each taste, otherwise I’d be dripping spittle all over the place[9]. I think I’m on track in terms of timing, though Jeremy is next to me and plowing through these babies like nobody’s business.

Side note: Where’s the overpowering mustard I’ve come to associate with Sauternes? It’s completely absent in these wines. Instead, scintillating notes of fresh honey are rampant. Sauternes is seriously my new favorite thing. Ok, back to tasting, I’ve still got a ways to go.

11:       Great
12:       Bright; not too heavy or thick
13:       A bit cloudier but still bright gold. Maybe a hint of grapefruit. A bit more complex. Really lovely.

Had to take another breather and eat some bread. My hands are a bit sticky and the journalist next to me may have just burped a little[10]. I’m not sure if there’s an art to spitting. I’m gonna need to look into this[11].

File May 15, 5 18 28 PM14:       Smells very nice. Tastes very nice. Almost a hint of classy cotton candy.
15:       Also very nice.

Eleven more to go?!

Oh, the beautiful hearty crusty bread. A girl could get used to this. I’m taking another break. A nap would be nice. Somebody’s son is helping to pour the wine and he can’t be more than 16 years old. He’s a bit nervous and he may have just poured Jeremy a second set of the same wines. But it’s France, and it’s wine, so who really cares?

16:       Tastes like Anguilla. Really fruity, almost like a rum. Delicious!
17:       A touch of alcohol on this one, though my mouth may be getting tired.
18:       Really lovely; sweet and rich
19:       Lighter but delicious
20:       Peach, sweet, medium body A+

People are serious about this gurgling thing. Yikes.

21:       Served a bit colder than the rest; I get herbs; ehhh

How long should you hold it in your mouth?[12]

22:       Really nice
23:       Lemon on the nose; almost bubble gum; light bodied
24:       Lovely
25:       Really nice. (Did this one 2x. Oops)
26:       Nice. But I can’t taste anymore.
26:       Tasted this again after another little break. Green grass, bubble gum, green apple. Really beautiful.

I made it to the end! I wasn’t the first or the last one done; the real journalists had come and gone, so we took some time to just sit, maybe close our eyes for a few seconds, and waited for Fred, our guide/photographer from Millesima. Fred was far behind the rest of the group because he would taste a wine, then get up and take some pictures, taste another wine, then take some more pictures. We soon noticed that the next round of tasters were ready to come in, so we waited for Fred in the entrance vestibule.

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We were a bit peaked

We got to chatting with Laure de Lambert Compeyrot, the current owner who had taken over management of the chateau from her father. She told us to head to the cellar where he was giving a small tour. We made a mad dash through the rain and landed in another beautiful cellar room[13] where we found Gerard chatting happily away in French.

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Gerard is the spitting image of his ancestor, Henri de Sigalas. I was trying to point that out to him like he didn’t already know. #languagebarrier © Millésima SA 2016

He motioned for us to come over, not really caring that we couldn’t understand him. He recruited Madelyn to translate…and I think we pretty much got the gist. His daughter Laure is the sixth generation to manage the chateau and it was so heartwarming to feel the happiness in his voice when he told us about his wines.

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© Millésima SA 2016

We took some photos, said our goodbyes, and then it was finally time to go and make our way to the next leg of the day, the welcome dinner at Château de Fieuzal.

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A 2009 Château Le Bon Pasteur

The dinner is held at the start of En Primeur each year; the purpose is to get the wine makers, chateau owners and journalists together in one room for an evening of food, merriment, and most importantly, wine. The wine makers are invited to each bring several bottles, and, not wanting to be outdone by their fellow wine makers, they bring the good stuff. We’re talking bottles from ’99, ‘02, ‘03, ‘05, ‘09, and they were flowing like water. We were seated at long tables, 15 people on each side, alternating wine maker, blogger, wine maker, blogger. We were each given four glasses so that we could taste all the wines throughout the evening.[14] File May 15, 5 14 46 PMOne at a time, the wine makers would get up and proudly pour a taste for each person at the table, it was such a beautiful thing.

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© Millésima SA 2016
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Some of the empties …

The evening was magical, the wine incredible, the people poetically beautiful. Much like everything else up to that point, we were welcomed with open arms and treated like royalty. By time we got back in the car, we were well sated, a bit tipsy and blissfully happy. It was a late night, and in just a few hours we’d be off on our next adventure.

Until the next glass! Cheers!

Lawyer Footnotes

[1] #FancyInFrancey
[2] Or at least could have a few hours break before dinner…
[3] I could totally deal with that being the stressful part of my job…#lawyerlife
[4] Website in English coming soon…
[5] Sauternes, like Champagne, is actually a region. Only wines produced in that area can bear the name Sauternes.
[6] At the Nouveau Stade de Bordeaux.
[7] Except for everyone’s gurgling, swishing and spitting.
[8] I later pocketed theirs since I clearly finished mine.

File May 15, 5 17 09 PM
Stolen red bottle cap can be seen poking through on the left. The gorgeous vineyards of Château Sigalas Rabaud are behind.

[9] #thestruggleisreal
[10] Mike wasn’t the only one with a case of the Windy Pops!
[11] Obviously, there is an art. I think the best thing you can do in practice, and just like with anything in life, it’s really all about confidence. Thanks to my fairytale trip to France, I’ve now spit enough where, even though it may not look pretty, and I may get the occasional left over spittle, I feel comfortable enough where I’m just gonna go for it. So maybe watch a few videos, read a few tips and pointers, but you gotta just get out there and spit!
[12] After doing some research, the whole tasting process should last only a few seconds. I was recently told to try to keep the length the same for each wine in order to give them the same baseline. Five to six seconds should do the trick.
[13] Beautiful barrel rooms were going to be a trend this week.File May 15, 5 17 52 PM
[14] Note that there was no spittoon bucket here, and Wine Esquire may have been a touch tipsy after all the booze excitement.

Wine For Thought

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Wine is so many things for so many people. Wine is something to enjoy, to savor, to experience. Some swear they only like red; others think they’re partial only to white, but wine is so much more than a color. It is yearlong snapshot of Mother Nature; touched by countless hands through the growing season, the harvest, the crush, fermentation, then finally captured in a bottle[1]. Wine literally is sunlight held together by water[2].

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But even after it’s in the bottle, the journey isn’t over. How far did your bottle travel to get to you? Did you pick it up at a winery down the road? Or did it travel from the chateau to a warehouse to rest? Did it set sail across the ocean in a container ship? Was it flown on a commercial airline across the country? How long has it been in the bottle? How many months did it rest in an oak barrel or a concrete egg before it even saw the bottling line?

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Each bottle is its own story, something to be appreciated and respected. In our busy lives, it’s too easy to come home[3], pour a glass and drink without tasting, without appreciating. So the next time you take the time to uncork, or unscrew, some of Mother Nature’s beautiful bounty, take a second to pay attention, to recognize what went in to making the miracle you’re sipping. Even if you get just a smidge more enjoyment out of that sip, it’ll be worth it.

#WineForThought

Lawyer Footnotes
[1] Or a can or a box, whatever the case may be.
[2] If this line is familiar, it’s because our good friend Galileo Galilei penned it all the way back in the 1600s; he was way ahead of his time.
[3] Or go to the bar.File Nov 22, 8 17 30 PM