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Life is What?

March 25, 2010

Ok, I’ll say it. Good. Or damned (or is it doon?) good when you spend a day tasting great wine and talking to friendly wine makers. Factor in a free book (Randall Grahm’s Been Doon So Long) and it becomes a sweetly memorable set of diurnal occurrences.

Started off at about noon at the Eric Solomon and Jon-David Headrick annual portfolio tasting. Tons of great wine there. Then at about 2 o’clock the “Friends of Ernie” tasting, where all of the winemakers were present for my querulous indulgences. Less wine here but they were more consistently interesting; plus the atmosphere was divine compared to the last tasting where spittoons replenished themselves at a demoralizing pace.

Last but certainly not least, after several hours respite, from 10 to midnight a tasting of Randall Grahm’s fabulous current releases. Albarino, Muscat, Cigare Blanc, Syrah, Cigare Volant and dessert wine. I wish I had taken notes but then I’m not sure how much Mr. Grahm would appreciate my dissection of his wines. I liked them all and I wouldn’t have scored them anyways so I still wish I’d taken some notes. One way to describe them would be to say that they were all true to their respective varietal compositions and they all showed characteristics of having been grown in a climate with no lack of clement weather. Another way: they were all delicious, distinct and well suited to their own set of food pairings.

Randall read from his book (awesome, hilarious, priceless) and then we were all asked if we’d like to put our business cards into a drawing for an autographed copy of his book. I forget how many books were given away, 3 or 5, but I got one. Hooray! It’s the most original wine book I own. Much of the book is taken up by his parodic fiction, which is brilliant and delightful but best taken in occasional doses. I could not however get enough of his expository works. His comments about the wine trade and press are astute and refreshing. The ideas about terroir he presents might be alienating to some but I found them (if not always credible and conclusive) compelling and endearing. Of particular interest to me was an idea about growing grapevines from seed. Virtually every grapevine worldwide comes from cuttings of another vine. One reason this is necessary is because of phylloxera but in a place free of phylloxera (such as Chile) it would be a fascinating project to develop new grape varieties that will have adapted themselves to their homes the way so many green things have done for aeons. His book is for all sorts of wine lovers and although it is not the first wine book you should own it wouldn’t be a bad second.

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