Wine Talk

Snooth User: rckr1951

Do you have, or can you remember that one wine that changed the way you thought about wine?

Posted by rckr1951, May 18, 2016.

I remember mine completely, just  like it was yesterday, all except for the producer which I think was Tyrrell, but after 40+ yrs the name has faded.  What remains vivid is the experience.  The place was in Freemantle, just outside Perth, in 1976.  Hungry for a good meal, myself and 2 friends chanced upon this spot.  It was owned by a WW2 refugee from Yugoslavia whom had escaped the Nazis.

He was kind. friendly and a great cook...but they had no wine - it was a BYOB place and as "luck" would have it there was a "shop" right next door.  After being out to sea for weeks we ordered - what else - seafood.

He suggested Dhufish with an oyster sauce and chips and he said to go next door and pick up a 1973 Hunter Valley Semillon .  It was a perfect pairing, which I think he knew, and a light bulb went off - wine and food.  We ate there 3 out of 5 nights we were in port.  Tremendous. 


Reply by EMark, May 18, 2016.

Rckr, I look forward to others' reports, but, sadly, I can't say that I ever had such an epiphany.  I started out slow, when I was in college.  Acceleration was fairly slow, but consistent.  When I retired, about 5 years ago, the pace really picked up--mostly, because I had time to do independient study.

A couple WOW wines.  I'm not sure that they changed my thinking about wine, but they are embedded in my memory:

  • David Bruce Zinfandel 1973 (?) -- A super high alcohol wine, but, wow, it totally hit the spot one night at me in the mid 1980s with fruit and cheese.  (David Bruce?  The ophthamologist who went on a Pinot Noir quest?  Who'da thunk it?)
  • Ridge Lytton Springs 1994 -- a truly ethereal wine that we enjoyed with a Hollywood Bowl picnic in, I think, 2010, or so.
Reply by rckr1951, May 18, 2016.

EMARK - I'd been drinking wine for 5-6 years by then so it wasn't immediate.  Wines weren't what they are now.  Like you things accelerated rapidly, 2 years later I was at Stag's Leap Wine Cellars learning the effects of the Judgement of Paris from WW himself.  I bought my 1st  Cask 123 that year.

It will be interesting to read the other replies.  Paul

Reply by GregT, May 19, 2016.

Had been to France a few times and had lots of wine, had a friend who was one of the first wine collectors I ever met, in the 1970s. Alas, the wines he served were wasted on me. I wish I could go back and thank him.

Then I'd drink wine now and again randomly and sometimes remembered one that I liked but it wasn't a big deal. 

It was a Thanksgiving dinner where I was going to meet some people who later became my in-laws. I knew that they'd travelled and liked wine and damned if I was going to be a complete ignoramus so I started drinking a bottle a day and keeping notes on what I thought about them. Months later Thanksgiving came and went and we were OK with wine. Next day I was wondering what I wanted to drink with a turkey sandwich and I looked at the six or seven wines I had sitting around and went through them in my head, imagining how each would taste with my sandwich.

Suddenly I realized what I was doing and in that moment I "got" the point of the wine thing. The wine with the flavor I wanted with my sandwich was a Rioja reserva. I had a crappy Pinot Noir and a crappy Cab and something else there and imagining how they would taste with my sandwich, I realized I had developed not only taste preferences but also a taste memory.  Been working on developing that ever since.

Reply by rckr1951, May 19, 2016.


Reply by Richard Foxall, May 19, 2016.

Rckr, you'll notice that word "epiphany" in posts.  Searching that on the forum yields a lot of stories.  There's even a thread on the subject, and it contains my own epiphany wine. It's good to reignite that discussion, as we have newer contributors who have great stories along these lines, like yours.  Also, people have their way of thinking changed more than once.

I will say there are stages along the way--my first really good Syrah from the Rhone a dozen years ago, drinking the great Barolos with GdP in 2014.  My appreciation of wine has been an ever-changing thing, which I suspect plays a role in why wine drinkers stay engaged with the world and seem sharper in their seniority.  (Up to a point, I suppose.)  Nothing will take the top off my head, probably, like that '68 BV did, but I had already had many very good wines by that point (Yverdon CS sticks out in my mind, the estate now sold and resold for the vineyard), had some sense of different grapes and varieties, and I wouldn't have been offered the BV if my parents and our friends didn't know I enjoyed and appreciated it. 

Here's an epiphany of more recent note:  I went to Piedmont with Greg and some others in 2014 to learn more about the wines, esp. Barolo.  Greg (GdP) is one of the most knowledgeable people in the world on these wines and is adored and respected in the Langhe--I know, crazy Italians--so you get first class treatment by the world's greatest names.  Even Greg is caught off guard by it sometimes, telling us, "So and so is very reserved, don't expect a long visit, most of the talking will be done by his assistant," and two hours later, you are running late for your next appointment having tasted things you only dream of.  But the epiphany came at the first visit.  We went to Fenocchio, a classic maker of Barolo with great holdings in Bussia (the True), Villero, etc.  But Greg and Jamie Wolff, our hosts, had never been there.  Claudio was selling virtually all his wine in Europe, where it's highly regarded but not highly marketed--everyone just seemed to know.  2010s were being released, and we didn't know it, but Jancis, Kerin O'Keefe, and Galloni would go on to rave about it, too. But no one had really written much about it, and certainly no one had said anything more than, "one to watch," or "a good value."  No one said, "One of the best Barolos, bar none." So not shocking that GdP and Jamie hadn't gone there yet, and had put it on our first day, when everyone needed a nap after driving out from the airport.  We had our naps and were on our way. No one had any expectations, really.

I had decided based on my limited experience that I love Barolo (thanks, GdP, for sharing bottles, and thanks to a couple good shops and importers in my neck of the woods), but it's a challenging wine.  What if I encountered a bunch of "representative" or "traditional" bottles and they weren't to my liking, or wore me out, or just disappointed slightly?  I was with experienced Barolo drinkers, including one who is known widely and has actually started selling some of his bottles at auctions (with perfect provenance and receipts to show) because his collection is so prized.  What if I liked "bad" bottles, or, worse, didn't like good bottles?  What if I wasn't a real Barolo-phile, and I went all this way, imposed myself on these generous people, and ruined everyone's good time or was miserable myself?

Honestly, I don't even remember which of Claudio's wines we tried first, although my notes are still in order.  We drank through the Dolcetto (which was easy, I like it and I know what I like), and Barbera, but that wasn't what I was there for.  Then the Barolo, open since that morning came out.  These were young Barolos, so who knew if they would be enjoyable, maybe they'd be brilliantly made but shut down or hard?  GdP had warned that many wines were likely to be shut down for a while.

First hit of a Barolo didn't settle it, but not because there was something wrong with it.  I thought, "Wow, this is really good.  But if it's so good, how come Jamie ,who co-owns a wine store and makes this trip every year, hasn't been here?  And Greg?  I must be missing something." Claudio brought out wine after wine, I took notes and I can show you how I was becoming convinced that this was great, but still had nothing to compare to.  I kept trying to reel my enthusiasm in so when we hit the greats, I would not have used up my superlatives.  The we went and tasted from barrels until Claudio's wife reminded him that there were other obligations.  We filed out to the van, and I cornered Greg.  I said, "Look, I don't know that much about Barolo, I'm here to learn, but I thought those were great.  Am I missing something?"  I noticed that Jamie was not with us, but didn't think about it, since I didn't know him and wasn't going to share my self-doubt with him right away.  Greg answered me by saying, "Jamie and I just missed this for some reason.  It almost never makes it to the US, so we weren't very familiar with it.  But Jamie is inside making a deal with Claudio to import it right now."  Later, we would all learn that Jancis, Galloni, Kerin, would name these some of the top wines of what was to be a classic vintage, but for now I felt like we had just discovered a Rembrandt hiding behind someone's diploma in a frame.  Needless to say, Jamie was confident, and he wasn't curbing his enthusiasm.

On our last night, when it was just Jamie, Greg and me, we went out for dinner at this crazy place with a warren of wine cellars underneath, and capped off our trip with one last bottle of Fenocchio. 

Reply by rckr1951, May 19, 2016.

RICHARD - I sorta figured that there might be a "thread' somewhere, but if there was I also figured That one of the site pros, like you all would let me know.  There are 404 pages of forum topics and to be honest, in my experience - limited as it is - people tend to remember other things at different times.  So I thought what the heck, the worst that can happen is no one will respond and I'll have my answer. I didn't realize that search was for titles like that - now I do and I'll use it in the future.

On to your experience with GdP - I'd love to seen your face while doing that.  Greg's knowledge is highly evident, as it has been with all of new people that I've talked to here. I'm much indebted already.



Reply by Richard Foxall, May 19, 2016.

Don't worry, I don't mind at all that we started one of these threads.  Older threads have contributors who came and went, and the searching function is not great.  It's good to start the discussion anew.  In fact, I'm about to start a new thread on the relationship between red wine and leg cramps. (Inside joke for anyone who has been on here for... well, really, anone who has been on here.)

Reply by rckr1951, May 19, 2016.

Richard - I was reading with amusement (though the cramps can devastating at the time) the quips going back and forth.

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