Wednesday, December 30, 2015

BRAMBLES: Home Wine $ellar

Go to the small basement cellar(it is really just racks of stored bottles); find an appropriate bottle of wine(requires inspecting several labels); open found bottle of wine with anticipation, and share with prepared plate; and(hopefully) feel moments of contentment. Especially because wine is at our family table almost every day, it is an earned joy to pull from our home stored bottle inventory for just about every occasion. Included are a small selection of high acid whites and reds, brooding vin rouge of depth and tannic structure, and even a few bottles of viscous nectar's that pair with rich appetizers or desserts. Typically, when visiting a local retail bottle shop or virtual store I will collect several bottles of the same quality wine. Over time a small collection grows across a spectrum of types of wine that are allowed thru bottle aging to develop a more mature character, escaping the thinness and pitfalls of youth. Admittedly, as I have no fondness for most young red wines(Beaujolais & Dolchetto being an exception), and also find a real satisfaction in being able to provide wine for almost every meal without leaving the home.  Gradually, over the years I have afford-ably built a conservative, but diverse home wine $ellar.

What has developed down below is an ever changing global selection of quality to value(sub $20.) wines, perfect for everyday enjoyment that I admit are the joyful result of wishful procurement. Additionally, among the sleeping bottles are a few of advanced age, with many, if not most of the great wines that I have been privileged to enjoy over the years having been offered to me by good friends.  These have been special wines that have changed the way I look at wine as a living thing; the perceptive wine aromas and especially their taste present an ambrosia of the gods beyond what is outside commonly standardized vino perceptions. They have changed the personal lexicon of wine description due to an unfamiliar reminder in what a mature wine can become. These are wines of evolution, bacchanals of breeding and nurturing which many times are like nothing else that routinely graces our table.
Winter pruning in the Loire

Our use of a wine quality assessment, I believe, is based on collected quality experience. To appreciate any wine it is important to know what you are drinking. It is not just the perceived distinction in the profiles of, say, Sauvignon Blanc compared to Verdejo.  Both are influenced by zippy acids and a bright citrus personality, both a complement to light dishes of a little acidity. It is also important to have had the taste 'experience' that would enable an identification of a particular flavor, aroma or perceived secondary trait as a clue to unique character in the glass. It was not until 2007 that I had tasted fresh red currants, thereby offering a memory of the taste distinction from cranberries or tart cherries.  Many grape varieties, too, are chameleon in personality, a reflection of the environs where they were natured and nurtured. Within a comparative single varietal, New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc is different when tasted against a Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc in large part because they reflect differences in where they are grown.  Any cellar would benefit from both food friendly selections.

As we begin to collect bottles for our cellars, our goal needs to be wines that display harmony and balance in the glass, and I have found that aged wines can offer these qualities more seamlessly. Typically, the recognizable personality traits are there, as you may perceive a reflection of honeysuckle in that golden glass of mature Chardonnay or a hint of plum pudding in an opaque red Merlot, bonded to its structure. Well aged wines of quality will offer those notes in a stream of many other flavor impressions, all offering for your attention.  The characteristic bitterness or astringency of youthful wines will have faded, blending into a more harmonious chord of a mature and developed wine. Sublime and inspiring, a properly aged wine rewards the patient taster, and can challenge to reassess our general perceptions of what wine is, even our everyday wines like those waiting on our expanding racks.

Many of these regional and varietal portraits have been offered in earlier posts here, such as a viewing of Gamay(11/25/14) where you may find a use for the 'red currant' descriptor. A quaffable bottle at a time, acquiring a broad selection of wines in a personal cellar that is dark and cool offers the easy opportunity to have on hand an accessable stored bottle of Chardonnay when it can really dance with a meal like a pasta carbonara, or a planned pairing of the food-friendly Piemonte Barbera with an impromptu antipasti plate. Favorite bottles will wait patiently to be shared with good friends who stop by, whatever their personal flavor preferences for wine may be. Rather than leaving a good time with dear friends, a personal wine collection allows the collector to spend more time enjoying fellowship, and the pride of just walking downstairs to produce a wine that may be savored and talked about in the future.  As collected for future occasions, wine as a living, breathing liquid mystery capable of maturation, is best enjoyed with food, and becomes even greater because your home $ellar is always better when shared. And, that makes it a collection of values, too!

Cheers to a Happy New Year!

Tasting Values:
NISIA Verdejo, 2013 Rueda Old Vines, fresh summer fruits lift from the glass;  zippy, citrus and green melon with a kiss of mineral that dances and lingers.