I have been drinking wine for a very long time now. For the last seven of those years, I have approached wine not merely as something to drink, but something to think about, something that could elicit sheer joy or wonderment, calm or even fear.* I come across as pedantic or stuffy sometimes, I guess, but for me it’s far more satisfying to really delve into what each and every wine has to offer.**
A few weeks ago I was invited to a dinner with Jillian and David at Chez Kate et Rahul. As I mentioned in my previous post, it’s been hard for me to quench my thirst for interesting wines lately. So, in addition to being pleased to be able to see my good friends Kate ‘n’ Rahul and Jillian ‘n’ David, I was pleased to have an excuse to bring a bottle of Chenin Blanc recommended to me by Phil over at MacArthur Beverages (at left):
The Saumur appellation is located in the Loire Valley of France. The Loire Valley–especially the region of Vouvray and to a lesser extent Montlouis-sur-Loire–is known for its Chenin Blanc. I think Chenin Blanc is one of the underrated great grapes of the world.*** The best examples of Chenin Blanc have great acidity and taste of honey, almonds, and flowers. Like Riesling and Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc can be aged to great effect. I’ve had Chenin Blanc from 1983 and 1989, and when aged these wines take on low, nutty, waxy notes that are just incredible. Best of all, just like old Rioja blanco, aged Chenin Blanc can be relatively affordable.
It’s strange being 25. I remember being a kid in grade school and looking up to the new young teachers, those who were obviously younger than people like Mrs. Donaldson or Mr. Kinter–people who had been at the game for years and years. They didn’t really know what they were doing yet, but they were bright and fun and energetic.
And now I might very well be older than they were at the time.
(My torts professor summed it up quite nicely when he quipped, “It’s a strange feeling when both the president-elect AND the chief justice are younger than you are.”)
Now that I’m a quarter century old, I feel as if I should be an adult. I certainly feel adult-like at certain moments–for instance, when I cook dinner, or when I go to the Ritz-Carlton for drinks (that one time!)–but sometimes feel as if I’m a child playing grownup. I think many of my peers feel the same way.
All that aside, it IS nice to get together and do grownup stuff–like hold wine tastings. My roommate and I decided to throw a wine tasting; I decided also to throw a wine tasting before that wine tasting to get the feel of things.
I’ll be leaving for DC very, very soon–I’m flying out there on the evening of August 2. Thus, I’m trying to spend some quality time with SoCal friends before I do.
Jonathan L., my erstwhile LegalZoom co-worker, poet, historian, and future Columbia grad student, was in the neighborhood. We’re both fond of wine, so we decided to have a bit to drink together before we again went our separate ways.
Where else than Lou?
Now keep in mind that we’re both going to be grad students in the near future; not only that, we’re both going to be living in rather expensive metropolitan areas. Personally, I had enough money that day for wine tasting or dinner but not both. Oh well. I’d cross that bridge when I came to it.
We met up at Lou at around 7 pm. The place was dead. There were, including us, seven patrons at that time. No matter. We had a job to do.
It’s funny how seemingly different things are related. For instance, it’s been well-documented on this blog that I love Intelligentsia Coffee. I was reading more about this specialty coffee roaster online when I came across this New York Times article on the interior design of Intelligentisa:
I really like the blue and white tile. (Thanks to the Times for the picture!)
At any rate, Intelligentsia’s space was designed by a woman named Barbara Bestor. I found that she had also designed the interior of a quirky wine bar / restaurant called Lou, which happens to be in a seedy strip mall–sandwiched between a Thai massage parlor and a 24-hour laundromat–off of Melrose and Vine in Hollywood.
I did some more reading on Lou and liked what I read: a fair-sized and eclectic wine selection? Check. Hip interior? Check. Good food? Check. All I needed was to actually go.
When I think of wine, I think of terroir: I think of the essence of the land, the air, the sun blended together and refined into a thing of utter and wondrous beauty. An especially well-constructed wine transports me in one sip to the dry fields of Ribera del Duero or the slate of the Mosel, though I certainly have never been to those places.
But who could have imagined that every sip was imparting more than just terroir?
Given everything else that is wrong with the world, it is perhaps unsurprising to learn about the presence of pesticides and other chemicals in wine. Recently, Pesticide Action Network Europe (PAN Europe) reported a study in which 35 out of 40 bottles of European wine were found to have pesticides–four different pesticides on average but as much as ten in one particularly unfortunate bottle. One of the six organic wines tested also contained trace pesticide residues.
I’m an aspiring writer of poems (“poet” seems a bit… pretentious… at least at this point). Maybe you could make it broader and say that I’m just an aspiring writer. As such, I’m always finding the symbolism in this life. After all, what else is our consciousness except for symbols?
Philosophy and semantics aside, I’ve thought a lot about the symbolism inherent in wine. There’s a lot: the land as woman, the farmer as man (I know, I know–some might object to this rather antiquated system, but it’s there, and I’m sticking to it); the grapes as the land; the vineyard as the soul of the land. Etc., etc., etc.
Quite a few posts back I wrote about how one of my earliest experiences with wine was with an older, beautiful junior transfer of Spanish extraction. Her skin was tanned and smooth; her eyes dark, her lips full and sensual. She held a bottle of syrah and offered me a glass. It was as if she was offering me the essence of life.