When it comes to wine, we all have a first time; this special defining moment that makes our life change in a sip. There’s always a before and an after, a sense of virginity being lost. And most of the time, it catches you by surprise.
I was a late bloomer. My first time occured shortly after my fourties. For a long time, wine was just a recreational presence in my life, a nice complement to a meal or an evening out in the town. It never occured to me that I could fall in love with it and devote most of my free time to its fascinating study and demanding devotion.
Memories, memories…. which will be unveiled very soon I promise! As the topic for today is not about how I popped my cherry, but much more about the rarity of a very special moment.
What brought back this reminiscence of my first time is a Chateau Leoville-Barton Saint-Julien 2006 that I am savoring as I write. Oh, this wine has it all: intelligence without bragging about it, structure and backbone, refined composition, a mystery unfolding with each sip… It has no pretension at all, yet brings the uttermost fulfillment. It is holding back shyly at first, then gets bolder as it gains in confidence. It has everything a great wine requires: fragrant aromas and complexity, a supple body yet firm and strong, which rolls under your tongue; its length is so persistent it keeps revealing more and more secrets. It is a wine which encapsulate your imagination, a wine demanding more attention yet very generous, a wine which might makes you go delirious and reconsider everything you have learned, tasted, evaluated so far. Just like chemistry can occur between two lovers, this is a wine which could ignite a consuming passion.
I am very well aware that some might be amused by reading this, finding my comments somehow puerile… I do not hold much experience in the wine field, and I have only progressed a few baby steps since I fell into it, yet I believe that it is not necessarily about the big names or about the price tag on the bottle, but much more about the wine per se and the sensory pleasure it creates. Although pretty new to the scene, it happens rarely that I get the “wow factor”, it probably occurs on a mere 1%, not even (3 wines so far over a bit longer than a year gave me sensations that are still very vivid to this day), but with each one of these few occurrences, the experience is close to mystic. It is as if I could feel the grapes taking their time, growing, breathing, living, basking in the sun, feeding of the surrounding elements and intertwining their energies all at once… I can feel the hard labor of the vendengeurs, the act of love through pain and sweat that picking up the grapes represent, the vinification, like a magical alchemical formula manifesting into reality, shaping the caracter of the wine…. As it passes through my lips after a twirl in the glass, the wine becomes me and i become the wine. These moment of pure grace are rare to attain as it requires not only an outstanding wine able to fulfil our senses, but also the availability not just if the senses but of the mind as well, a complete need to surrender.