Sunday, April 22, 2018

Nurse the Hate: Wines That Cannot Be Opened

I believe wine is a great beverage because only wine allows you to taste place and time.  Wine is a living thing.  It is constantly evolving.  The moment a bottle of wine is open it is unlike any other time when you could have opened it.  The land and particular climate of that growing season can be tasted in the glass.  With a great wine, you can get an essence of the place.  It is unique among things a human being can consume.  It is magical.  It is a time capsule and a postcard in one 750ml container. 

I have many bottles of wine.  Probably more than I will ever drink in my lifetime.  I'm not a crazy trophy collector.  I just buy what interests me.  I never buy a wine with the intention of not opening it.  There are all sorts of wines that are like baseball cards, collectibles being passed around between old men that will never be consumed.  That is a crime.  The beauty of wine is that it must be eventually consumed and that experience is what has been paid for when purchasing the bottle.  Like all experiences, some are amazing and some are disappointing.  A bottle never opened is a chance never taken.

That being said, there are just a few bottles which I wonder if I will ever open.  Sometimes bottles are held for “the perfect moment” which never comes.  The expectation is built so high that no moment is ever worthy.  I will admit that I would have difficulty opening a $12,000 bottle of La Tache.  That is just too much money to be opened lightly.  I can’t afford wines like that, so that’s not my issue.  Mine is strictly nostalgia and romanticism. 

I have a bottle of 2007 Coudoulet de Beaucastel Cotes du Rhone that is almost without financial value.  It should have been opened in 2010.  It must be well past its prime.  I see this bottle every single day.  It is on my dresser.  It holds up a hand puppet I bought in Klobenz Germany which bears an uncanny resemblance to Leo.  The bottle of wine was purchased while on a Whiskey Daredevils tour in Bremen, home of Becks beer.  I remember waiting around forever while the sound guys dicked around on a soundcheck.  I was tired.  Touring is more tiring than you would expect.  Every night is Saturday to the people that come see you play and they want to hang out.  Then you wake up and drive several hours to the next place. Sleep becomes elusive.

I remember finally finishing sound check and walking around Bremen.  It’s a college town, so the area was all vegan restaurants, head shops, and coffee shops.  I was stomping around alone in my full cowboy stage outfit, just wanting to not be annoyed by German sound guys.  I had decided I was done drinking beer for the day.  I wanted a decent red wine.  Miraculously I found a wine bar with bottles on the wall available for purchase.  I sat at the bar hoping for a glass and some consultation on the unfamiliar wines on the wall.  Now I would have been fine choosing something, but in 2010 this was deep water.  It was all Euro subregions and mostly artisan producers.         

I could not get any help from the staff.  They kept blowing off the cowboy in a way that suggested this was well beyond Euro casual restaurant service and more of an anti-cowboy outfit statement.  I was not in the mood for any bullshit.  There was a bit of a confrontation which I escalated to the point of everyone in the room being uncomfortable.  Looking back I don’t know how much of it was me being cranky and them being dicks.  Regardless, I left that place with that bottle of Cote du Rhone with the intention of drinking it when we got back to the band apartment.  It was the only producer I knew.  Instead of drinking it, I left it in the van and decided I would open it later when an occasion I deemed worthy arose.  I am still waiting.  I think about that cowboy musician in Bremen stomping around whenever I see that Leo puppet.  It remains unopened.

I have two wines I had decided to drink together, a 1990 Chateau Lynch Bages and a 1966 Chateau Lafleur.  These wines are linked in my mind and I can only open them together.  I have had both of them forever.  Bottles come and go around them, but they remain.  I used to have multiple Lynch Bages vintages including the 1982, 1989, 1995, 1996, 1998, and 2000 but drank them all.  For some reason the 1990 was spared.  It had always sat right next to the Lafleur.  It reached a point where they became a couple.  It seemed impossible to separate the two.  It always seemed like I needed to keep them for something on the horizon.  Now it seems far fetched to think of a turn of events that would warrant both of these being opened at the same time.  I suspect that I will give these wines away after I am deceased to someone that will likely never open them either.

The great thing about wine is that it can outlive us all.  I had a 1787 Madeira once that was terrific at Bern’s Steak House in Tampa.  Think of it.  This was grape juice made when there was no such thing as a powered ship.  Yet, that very day I had flown across North America on a jet plane to sip it in an air conditioned restaurant in Florida.  It had allegedly been owned by Napoleon.  Now it was being drunk by some asshole with an expense account.  Juice from a smashed grape that the ruler of France had owned was now in a glass in Florida and consumed by me.  It tasted like almonds, and dried fruit and marzipan.  I will always remember it.  Hopefully just like someone else will remember that 1990 Lynch Bages sometime years from now.              


At April 23, 2018 at 10:37:00 AM EDT , Blogger Ken in sunny Florida said...

I just so happened to be drinking Madeira across the street from Bern's 2 weeks ago at the Epicurean Hotel. It's delicious.

At April 23, 2018 at 1:55:00 PM EDT , Blogger Greg Miller said...

The 1787 Bual I had was of special interest.

At April 27, 2018 at 7:29:00 PM EDT , Blogger AZ said...

Beyond amazing. Makes me feel good to know that had Napoleon known at any time either then or now, that a guy of your merit was drinking his wine, he would have jumped off a cliff in Saint Helena like Steve McQueen in "Papillon" with zero hopes of making it another day as Waterloo would then be known as the "second" worst day of his existence.


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