Wine Talk

Snooth User: rolifingers

Wow Factor

Posted by rolifingers, Jul 7, 2011.
Edited Jul 7, 2011

Did you ever have a bottle of red or white wine that had the wow factor ?

You know, when you take that first sip and all pleasure senses are awakened, and all you can say is WOW!

Which wine did it for you ?

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Replies

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Reply by EMark, Jul 7, 2011.

One immediately comes to mind.

Last year my wife and I went to the Hollywood Bowl for a concert version of Carmen.  The Hollywood bowl is a wonderful facility, but the music, because of marginal acoustics, is not always the reason to go there. There is, of course the outdoor ambience, the very comfortable Southern California evening weather and the conviviality of fellow concert goers, but the primary reason for Mark and Peggy is to picnic beforehand.  We usually arrive at about 4:30-5:00 for an 8:00 concert start time.  For this particular picnic I packed a 1990 Ridge Lytton Springs Zinfandel.  Incredibly mellow (as you would hope for a 20 year old wine) and full of zinfandel fruit.  Many people argue that zinfandel does not age well.  That may be true.  So, maybe this particular example is the exception.  However, I am not discouraged.  I have other zins aging away peacefully in my cellar.

I still also remember being wowed a '68 or '69 David Bruce zin that I had in the late '70s, a '78 Maycamas cab that we had at a tasting dinner in the early '90s, and a '74 Robert Mondavi cab that we took to a restaurant about 7-8 years ago (the waiter appreciated our sharing a taste with him).  

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Reply by rolifingers, Jul 7, 2011.

Awesome EMark, those bottles of wine make a special time even better.

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Reply by Richard Foxall, Jul 7, 2011.

When I was 14, a family friend we were visiting opened a '68 BV Cab that just knocked me backwards.  I started drinking wine as a kid with Sunday dinner, but this was the first time I sat up and took notice.  That would be about 1977 or 1978.

Sometime around 1994 or 1995, I had a very cheap bottle of 1990 Cab from the Monterey Vineyard.  Got it at Trader Joe's as a closeout.  I learned the importance of unmanipulated vintage--shockingly good.  Years later, I bought a '90 Mondavi Reserve at auction for over $100 just to taste the vintage again.  (The source of grapes and provenance of the wine were known to me, so the risk was low.) Boom.  Age had made 1990s even better. 

Three years ago we rented a vacation house from a wine writer in Stinson Beach who left us a bottle of Bell Vineyards Cab that floored me, too. 

That's the cabs that did it.  I could name a few Zins, PNs, my first bottles of Ribera del Duero... that's why I keep drinking wine, trying to get that eye-popping experience. They seem to stand apart from their context, but maybe that was part of it, too.

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Reply by rolifingers, Jul 8, 2011.

Wow Foxall, your appreciation for wine started early! LOL!

It's alway's great to open up a bottle that makes you hold the wine in your mouth for awhile and experience all of it's components. What pleasure!

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Reply by Stephen Harvey, Jul 8, 2011.

My first really defining experience sadly came much later than Foxall, [losing one's vinuous virginity so young, Foxall is that indicative....?]

In my early twenties I used to do my the tax returns for my wifes best friend and her partner [also great friend of mine] in exchange for a bottle of red.  After 5 years or so of the annual ritual my friend bought me a bottle of 1976 Penfolds Grange.  But there was a condition attached, we must share it together...now that is an onerous contract!!!

So we decided that we would share it for our 30th Birthdays.  He was born in  Aug 1958 and me May 59[Great Bordeaux VIntage].  So we decided to have the celebration in November 88.

We booked into one of our best retaurants - Drumminor, sadly now a Funeral Parlor...oh how the world changes.  As a silver service restaurant BYO was frowned upon but fortunately the proprietor, sommeliar and front of house guru - Vittorio de Iesio, a bouyant, robust and expressive italian had a sense of occasion and after much pleading of my case he agreed to my request on one condition [more conditions...life is a contractual nighmare!!!] being that corkage was a taste for him.

So we proceeded to dinner and when we arrived and checked in with the young lady at the front desk, she yelled out "Vittorio the man special wine is here" and so out trots Vittorio... "Where is it?" He takes the wine and looks at me and says.."I will speak to you later"

So we sit down, order some champagne and get ready for hopefully a great night. So another very nice young lady comes up to take out food order, but before she can start out storms Vittorio and says "no, no, no, you two must order my Chateaubriand, you bring Grange you eat Chateaubriand"

So 5 minutes later Vittorio emerges with the wine goes through the theatre of removing the cork and presenting us to taste and then off to decant.

Entre was enjoyed and the Grange was poured.  Well was it the wine, the event, the theatre? I am not sure but my memory of the experience was one remembering a wine that was so much more intense in flavour and length of palate than I had ever tried.  It seemed to linger forever, then came the amazing fillet of beef.

Yes Roli....WOW

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Reply by Richard Foxall, Jul 8, 2011.

That's a great story, SH.  Hard to separate the Wow from the overall experience, although there's also the Wow of not expecting it, like that cheap Monterey Vineyard Cab.  It's always great when the restaurant owner comes over and fusses.  I would rather know one really good restaurateur than a dozen billionaires.

My parents were European in sensibility:  We had very small beer mugs for Friday/Sat pizza or burger nights, and tiny wine glasses (they were really for cordials, but had a foot).  Alcohol was never off limits, which is why there was no temptation to sneak into my parents' very well stocked liquor cabinet.  (Name a spirit or liquer, they had it.) Some time ago, I asked my mother if she could remember a time when I didn't like beer.  She couldn't. 

I also remember the first time I over-imbibed, although I didn't realize it at the time.  I won't tell that story here, but it was kind of a result of a large dinner where no one was supervising the consumption and I really didn't have the sense I had had too much... I was just mildly tipsy, no one else realized it, and it was only years later that I realized what that "headache" was.

We lived in Northern California, and Napa was a quick drive, so we went to wineries (the ones that had tasting rooms and tours) quite a bit when I was a kid.  Later, my father worked with a number of wineries, mostly bulk producers, but it opened a lot of doors.  One hears of Mondavi, the Gallos, even Graaf at Chalone, but Frank Indelicato is the last man standing from that generation--a great guy and they now have some good properties as well. Frank was a great point of entry to meeting and learning from other winemakers/owners.

SH, wrt to the other topic: Without going into the details, my parents were also Europoean in the sense that they did not hide the facts of life from us, and as children we were aware that there was both a biological and pleasurable aspect to the procreative act.  But they were less tolerant of the actual presence of it in the house by their unmarried children.  'Nuff said there. Anything else, you gotta buy my memoir.

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Reply by rolifingers, Jul 8, 2011.

Thank you SH, I really enjoyed your input, as I read it it played out in my mind like a movie. It would have been even more comical if after the Front of House yelled out "Vittorio, the man special wine is here " the other diners would have wanted in on it.LOL!

 

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Reply by dmcker, Jul 8, 2011.

"I would rather know one really good restaurateur than a dozen billionaires."

One definitely bon mot, Fox, but what about a dozen or two good restaurateurs?  ;-)

Always make a point of cultivating those wherever I live or even stay for awhile. Last night with my younger daughter visited one who's on his way up here in Tokyo. Best Portuguese food in this country, I'd wager. A bit of a bear to his staff, and one unfortunate waitperson was having a rough time last night. But he smiled when talking to me, at least, and served four utterly sublime dishes out of the six total. My daughter was impressed and that's not easy these days. Even though he's rough on his staff he's closing the restaurant for 10 days starting next week and taking them all to the Douro...

I've probably known at least that many billionaires. All of them quirkily interesting, but the odds of wanting to visit with them and being assured of being pleased by the experience are definitely better with the dishes at the Portuguese place....

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Reply by Richard Foxall, Jul 8, 2011.

d: There are so many billionaires these days... ;-)

I picked the dozen number for a reason, although that probably would have to account for some families where there are more than one.  Come to think of it, almost every billionaire I have ever known had a sibling or offspring who were also billionaires.  Theory:  The chances that your sibling is a billionaire are much higher if you yourself are a billionaire.  I worked for one as a gardener when I was a teen--he had brothers who were $1bn-aires, and several as an executive recruiter before I became a lawyer--one had brothers and cousins, the other started a business that has made his sons $1bn-aires.  (Some of the folks we recruited for them are now billionaires themselves, so while they weren't billionaires then, I might count them, too.) Of course, here in the Bay Area, we were all billionaires on paper before the (first) dotcom bust, right?

True enough that many restaurateurs can be maniacal in the business.  Definitely not all, and even those maniacs have something--a love of food, wine, and the magic that happens when people break bread together--that folks whose main measure is money don't. No one could be a great chef or restaurateur if they were motivated solely by the idea of becoming wealthy.  Ego about the experience you give people has to be a part of it.

When I travel alone, I eat at the bar near the service area and eavesdrop when the servers pick up BTG wine, drinks, etc. At some point, I usually wind up in a conversation with the staff, and pretty soon, you're far from alone. Unless there are places I really want to go in the city I am visiting, if I have a good experience the first night, I will come back in a day or two.  I married a woman who worked both front and back of restaurants before we met and she likes to eat at the bar, so we still do this when we are together.  On our first date, Charles Phan set up a special table for her at the Slanted Door (they were booked up before she called for the reservation) and sat down with us, imploring us to try some new dishes.  She had dated one of the staff, and Charles likes her better than the staff member... I realized that I had met my match when it came to ingratiating yourself in restaurants.

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Reply by spikedc, Jul 9, 2011.
Edited Jul 9, 2011

Great stories guys, mine i'm afraid is a little more dull but never the less did make me realise what i have been missing.

It was at a wine tasting evening last year when i visited the Yalumba stand and tasted 'The Octavius', in my limited wine experience the first sip of this caused me to stand and be stunned at how good a wine could taste, can't remember if it was WOW! but it was something along those lines.

Unfrotunately it was a little rich for my pocket but it is on my list for a special occasion. Perhaps next year for our 30th wedding Anniversary.

 

 

 

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Reply by Richard Foxall, Jul 9, 2011.

Any anniversary is worth a special wine or two, spike.  If you think it would bring the most pleasure for the dollar, I say go for it. 

For our tenth next week we're popping the anniversary bottle of Ch. Montelena Estate Cab plus another that I just ordered from Bell--one of my Wow factor wines above. 

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Reply by rolifingers, Jul 9, 2011.

Yes spikedc, it's well worth it

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Reply by rolifingers, Jul 9, 2011.

There was a wine that I purchased once that had the Wow Factor.I went into a NYC wine shop (I've told this story before) and noticed a display of Cabernet Sauvignon bottles from a certain California winery which were RESERVE, I don't even remember the name. I believe it was around $9.00.

I purchased a bottle, and upon my arrival home I opened the bottle and poured a glass, the first sip was just incredible, I held the wine in my mouth for a while and just enjoyed every nuance it provided,each sip was just a thing of beauty, and all I could say was WOW.

The following day I returned to the Wine shop and spoke of how incredible the wine was, the wine seller (no pun intended) explained to me that the wine was originally selling for $30.00 and they just wanted to get them out the door. Needless to say I purchased the remaining bottles and they didn't last very long, I could not stop myself from opening one every night till they were all gone.

 

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Reply by EMark, Jul 9, 2011.

That is a great story.

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Reply by Richard Foxall, Jul 9, 2011.

Love that, Roli!  Like finding an old Gibson ES 150 at a garage sale for nothing. Except being able to go back and get more to share, enjoy later.  Hard to believe one's luck sometimes.

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Reply by rolifingers, Jul 10, 2011.

Ahhh, play the guitar Foxall ?

And thank you EMark

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Reply by spikedc, Jul 10, 2011.

Foxall, friend of mine found a 1970 Hoyer electric guitar (not many around) in his attic, had no use for it and as i play guitar he gave it to me, needed a little work but it's a nice guitar.

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Reply by Richard Foxall, Jul 10, 2011.

Roli: Poorly.  But I was picking up one of mine at a repair place in SF one time and actually ran into a guy who found exactly that at a garage sale... thanks to Ebay, widows and bereaved parents everywhere know what their loved one's instrument is worth.

I can't complain--my instruments are pretty generic, Yamaha dreadnought, Fender Strat, some other stuff, but I got the Strat for $100 and two NBA tix, one of which I actually got to use, so that was nice,  My friend had puchased a new one, it was pre-Strat mania, it's a year that purists don't like, it needed a little work, it had no case, but it sounds great and it's one of the best investments I've made, if that's ever a concern.  The main acoustic was bought from a guy whose roommate used it as security for a loan, then bought drugs with the money and disappeared, so I got a deal on that.  Friends with fancier guitars and way more skill can't keep their hands off it, but it'll never appear on anyone's collectible list.

Biggest regret is not having enough time to play them and nowhere to plug in an amplifier without waking the kids after they go to bed. 

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Reply by Richard Foxall, Jul 10, 2011.

spike, I have to look up the Hoyer.  That's new on me.

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Reply by spikedc, Jul 10, 2011.

Foxall,

Hoyer

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