When the October air brings its chill, most of us turn our thoughts away from crisp, summer white wines, and turn our thoughts to the deep, spicy reds that will warm us through the winter months. That is, until that last twinge of summer graces us with a final show, warming the air for just a while, and letting us enjoy one delicious summer memory before it lets go. Tonight’s dry rose was meant for the Indian summer, with its shimmery salmon pink hue and delicate aromas of red berries – strawberry in particular – and the lightest hint of cream. The flavors matched the aromas perfectly, with subtle fruit on the tongue, and a long, soft finish that was creamy and slightly floral. This wine paired perfectly with the Cypress Grove Truffle Tremor cheese we served, together with a crusty baguette and kalamata olives, and worked just as well with the herb roasted chicken and root vegetables that followed. A wonderful way to bid adieu to summer, and welcome the crispness of fall.
Malbec just seems like the right thing to drink when the leaves start to turn and the winds turn chilly. We opened this wine for a casual evening at home – no frills – just to relax. The aromas of red and purple fruit were very noticeable, and very nice, and warmed up a bit with just the tiniest bit of earthy tobacco. The first sip was pleasant, with deep black cherry, a little spice and a touch of tobacco. The alcohol was contained, despite the moderately high content (14%). This wasn’t a highly complex wine, and the body and finish were both moderate, but all in all, not bad. A nice value for the money. It went very nicely with Istara Ossau-Iraty cheese and spiced green olives.
I just love the anticipation of a deep, dark red on a chilly evening. I do enjoy malbec, with its depth and intensity. I opened this wine to discover aromas of red fruit and plum, but a few unexpected notes as well. A definite spice was in the air – the cinnamon and eucalyptus unfolded within just a few moments of that first swirl. I took a sip to find that the alcohol overwhelmed my tongue at first – not entirely unexpected with its 14.5% . I found that after a few minutes, and several swirls, I was able to move beyond my first impression and found a rather lovely wine. The tannins were pronounced and firm, and flavors of dark currant and plum danced together with spice. The finish was fairly long, and let the ever-so-slight acidity leave my mouth watering. I enjoyed this wine with a seared burger and side salad dressed in an intense fig balsamic, and the match was perfect.
I had the amazing fortune of making a new friend just recently – one who shares many of the same interests with me, including a passion for wine. Just the other day we had a very lengthy discussion about what exactly makes wine so very …. intoxicating. No, not the alcohol kind, although that could certainly add a bit of extra color to our wine musings. I’m talking about the intoxication that gives us that little thrill when we hear the pull and pop of a cork, even when there is no “official” special occasion to commemorate. I’m thinking about the kind of intoxication that causes us to gently and unintentionally tilt our heads to one side when a taste is poured, and close our eyes as we take in the aromas that fill the glass, and then seductively waft up to wrap our minds and hearts in its very essence.
Ah, but I digress….
So the conversation with my friend turned to the memories that we each have of wine – our first sniff, our first sip, the memorable events that involved a wine experience, and the special people that we shared them with. She shared with me how much her father loved wine, and how he shared that great love with her when she was a child – giving her a sniff of a very special wine when she was a little girl, and how, at the end of his life, she and her father shared a special time, reminiscing about the beautiful wines they experienced together, and the peaceful, joyful emotions that those memories brought with them. I likewise shared with her the memories I have of my grandfather, handing me a little glass of chianti and telling me that just a little wine, and it was “just a little”, was good for you. I must have been all of 6 at the time. It wasn’t an expensive wine, but the experience of sharing that moment with my grandfather was priceless. I loved that time with him. I remember that we sat out on a picnic table, on a cool afternoon of a sunny autumn day. Colorful leaves were on the ground, with a few on the table, all made brighter by the sun. I remember the new smells of this grown-up drink, and that first little sip. It felt warm on my tongue, and with my head down toward my little glass I glanced over at my grandfather, who took a sip, closed his eyes and pursed his lips before swallowing. I remember he let out a happy “aaahhhh…..”, and then he looked at me, smiling. I smiled back, and he held out his glass for me to clink with mine. We both laughed, and smiled, and sipped our wine together until the breeze got cooler. When we went back in the house I knew that my grandfather was indeed my very best friend, and always would be. I loved him then, and I miss him with all my heart now. And I will always love that wine moment we shared. There were other special times along the way, but those are for another time, and other “wonderings”.
There are some great wines that mature gracefully with age. Some do not. I popped this bottle with hopes that time would have been kind to this syrah – after all, syrah frequently has the raw materials for great aging. I immediately noticed that the color wasn’t quite what I was expecting – what it probably once was. I did capture the aromas of a deep cherry, melded to oak. It wasn’t bad. I tasted and found very deep, jammy flavors of black fruit, and just a little bit of spice, but sadly, past its prime. This bottle contained a lesson far more important than the wine. Not every wine, or moment, should be saved for later. Some wines should be drunk in the moment.