Transitions have a way of focusing the attention on what’s important. Three weeks ago I gave notice at the University, and once again, will leave my home state of Minnesota for a job out East. My thoughtful coworkers gave me a gift certificate to one of my favorite vineyards, Surdyks, and because I thought it was a milestone, I wanted to buy a memorable wine (Note: singular, not plural. Sometimes, you just gotta).
The wine was a 2000 E. Guigal Chateau d’Ampuis Côte-Rôtie (cote ro TEE for those, like me, who don’t pronounce French). I’ve had one or two other Côte-Rôties in my day (and I was going for a third, but the Bacchus Wine Cellar in Georgetown apparently didn’t want to help this chick in yoga gear on a Friday night get one off of the shelf–they were too busy helping the women in heels with the done-up faces pick out $12.99 Pinot Grigios, but I digress.) Before that long aside, I was going to say that my experience has been limited with this wine due to lack of knowledge and price point. Today, however, I was going to jump in and get my feet wet, albeit in the shallow end of the pool.
One more aside: the wine is some of the most prized Syrah’s in the wine world. Translated into “roasted slope” the region is one of very steep, south facing slopes with an ideal exposure to sun.
Back to the wine. I decanted to the wine to bring some air into this, 13% abv and some 15 years worth of, bottled wine. A few swirls and air sucking sips later, I was in deep like of this wine and the region. Deep notes of dark cherry and blackberry fruit, the sweetness took a back seat to more savory and smoky notes of bacon and hickory wood lightly peppered with faint licorice and punctuated with wisps of vanilla. The tannins were a great support in the third row of this wine, as well; tt wasn’t overpowering but was significantly better with the smoked porked served with dinner. It was a heavyweight fighter masquerading as a gentleman in an elegant tux.
The wine was listed at $170, but I snagged for $111. The brilliance seemed to have been slightly muted, but it was only just on this side of a gentle downward trend. Hemingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls strikes a note for comparison: “There is nothing else than now. There is neither yesterday, certainly, nor is there any tomorrow.” Sometimes you just need a quiet day, light snow and relaxing night sheltered from the winter cold and be around family and friends to find love and live life–a day on the calendar does not love make (said as this was drunk on Valentine’s Day).
The same with wine: find what you like and celebrate it, even apart from the celebrity status of certain wines, vineyards and years. Thanks, dear friends, for the push and gift that enabled this great memory.