A Mixed Week Of A Wine Firsts

Roberto Viernes
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Wednesday - September 30, 2009
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“First is the worst, second is the best, third is the one with the hairy chest.” So goes the childhood phrase. Being the first at doing something certainly does-n’t mean you’re the best at it. But it does point out the pioneering spirit of an individual and a seminal moment in someone’s life. I had several firsts this past week that are neither the best nor the worst, they were just firsts.

I had the first confirmed bottle of wine being returned to the store because of what I wrote. Here’s the story. A retailer phoned me asking me what I wrote about in my column the week before. This happened to be the story on Australian and New Zealand winemakers putting copper sulphate into their screw-capped wines to prevent reduction. The retailer said that a customer came in to return the bottles of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc he had purchased the week before. I don’t know if the retailer accepted the return, but I do think that I have to reiterate the point of the column. I wanted to make wine consumers aware that this is happening and that the wineries that use this practice should state it on their bottles so that consumers can be better informed about what they are drinking. Some might look at this as paranoia, but information is the key to making informed decisions.

At the risk of being seen as an unfit parent, my son opened his first bottle of wine this past weekend. He loves to collect corks. So we were at a friend’s birthday party enjoying many great wines and my son asked if he could have the corks.

Well, he took it one step further and asked if he could open my bottle of wine. I said sure. We used a Screwpull, so all he had to do was twist. The first bottle of wine he opened was a Bouzy Rouge from Lanson, Grand Cru Pinot Noir from the Champagne region. OK for a first bottle. Pinot Noir is my favorite grape and Champagne is one of my favorite regions. The second bottle he opened was 2000 La Tache. Geez, I wonder what’s next. (Just so we’re clear ... he never drank any.)

I tried a Barolo with grilled Kalbi shortribs for the first time. It will be the last time I do it. Despite the fattiness of the ribs and the tannin found in Nebbiolo, the wine just didn’t have enough fruit to match the sweetness of the ribs. I had to go run for a bottle of something with more sweet fruit, and ended up with a Napa Valley Cabernet which was better. I think a bottle of Shiraz would have nailed it.

First time I’ve heard of a wine importer getting a record deal. Kermit Lynch, one of America’s top importers of French and Italian wine, is releasing his second album, Man’s Temptation, under the Dualtone label. This album is a compilation of soft rock, folk and blues, which Lynch penned himself. Lynch recorded in Nashville with some smoking good musicians and sings all the tunes. Look for it on Amazon.com. Congratulations, Kermit!

Recommendations: 2007 Marcel Lapierre Vin de Pays des Gaules ($14) This juicy Gamay is brimming with sweet-smelling strawberry and raspberry fruit. It’s almost grapey even. It is soft and creamy on the palate, almost juice-like and oh-so-drinkable! Terrific Value. 2008 Hogue Cellars Gewurztraminer ($11) Sometimes there is a wine that downright makes your lips smack with deliciousness. This is that wine. It has gobs of peach and pear fruit along with a zippy hint of sweetness that makes you smile. Another killer value.

Roberto Viernes is a master sommelier. E-mail .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
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