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Just Call Me Your Wine Lifeline

So, I get a call late last night. First it hits my cell phone which I've left in the bedroom on the dresser, but I catch the last few buzzings from the vibrate mode on my way down the hall. As I'm picking it up to check the missed caller ID, the home phone rings, and on the other line is my friend Leigh.

"Alder!" he says breathily into the phone. "You gotta help me!"

Leigh is drunk.

"Hi Leigh, what's going on?"

"I'm at this fancy dinner thing. And I'm sat next to some guy named [name withheld to protect the innocent]. Have you ever heard of him?" he asks.

"Um, no. In the context of what, exactly?" I say.

"In the context of wine, you idiot! Why do you think I'm calling you?!?" he puffs into the phone. "I don't know how I ended up here at this table next to this guy, but he's dragging out all these wines out that are just blowing my mind."

"Hey" I say, "that's pretty cool." While we chat I Google the guy and come up with nothing. "So you're drinking some good stuff?" I ask.

"Well we just had something called 'Maya,'" he says, and a while ago he was pouring me some California Chardonnay that was like $500 a bottle."

"Um, would that be Kistler?"

"YEAH! that's the stuff. And it just keeps coming," he says. "Listen," he goes on, "I just asked the guy what he thinks about Robert Parker's influence on the world of wine, and he nearly choked on his dinner." Leigh giggles. "That set him off for about half an hour talking about the top ten reasons that Parker is an !@#$!@#%"

"Well it sounds like you're doing fine," I say. "What do you need my help for?"

"I've run out of things to talk to him about!" says Leigh. "You gotta tell me some stuff I can lay on him!"

Leigh is a close friend who I've been sharing wine with for several years. He's still a wine novice, but a very enthusiastic and rapidly advancing one. He still occasionally has me come over and asks me to buy him a case or two of stuff online to try out. Gradually he's been learning what he likes and doesn't like, and has lately been complaining that I've ruined him on all the cheap wine that he used to drink.

I'm secretly pleased about these latest developments, but this call has me in stitches.

"So" I chuckle, "are you trying to impress this guy or just looking for some way to hold up your end of the conversation?"

"I don't need to impress anyone," snorts Leigh, "I just want to keep this guy going so we can have something to talk about long enough to drink more of this wine!"

Suddenly I realize something. "You're calling me from the bathroom aren't you, Leigh?"

"Yeah," he says, "so what? You gonna help me or not?"

Not being a woman, I've missed out on all the opportunities to get those frantic calls from girlfriends in the restroom on the occasion of dates gone horribly wrong. I guess this is as close as I'm going to get.

Stifling my laughter, I say "Well, since you've got him going on the global wine thing, you might ask him what he thinks of Michel Rolland."

"Who the hell is that?"

"He's probably the highest paid most famous winemaking consultant who flies all over the world helping people make their wine better or more commercially viable or both, which usually means higher scores with the critics. Some people blame him for driving towards a more homogenized style of wine that suits Parker's palate."

"Ooh," says Leigh, "after the Parker thing that will surely give him a coronary. Great stuff. What else?"

"Ask him about terroir and what he thinks it is. Is it just the soil geology, or does it go beyond that to encompass more? Does it include what the winemaker does? Do all wines have terroir"

"Hey that's great!" says Leigh, "Good stuff."

As I'm about to go on to the next item he interrupts and says, "That's plenty, plenty." He is slurring his words a little.

"So are you keeping track of what you're drinking? Taking any notes?" I ask, wanting to see just what sort of bacchanal this has really been.

"Oh man," says Leigh, "I'm half cocked as it is, I couldn't write notes to save my life."

"Alright, well you just have a good time then," I offer.

"Thanks, man, this is great," he says, "now I gotta get back before I miss any of the wine!"

With that, he's off, and I'm left with a grin, wondering who will be the next person who drunk dials the wine blogger for conversation advice.

$19.99 for the first minute, $5.99 for each minute thereafter. All major credit cards accepted, discounts given for those who manage to drag a bottle of the really good stuff back to share with me.

Comments (8)

Jack wrote:
06.09.06 at 9:46 AM

Pretty funny! But you forgot to publish your 1-900 number.

Leigh wrote:
06.09.06 at 9:50 PM

Hi Alder

Thanks for the advice last night. I have been nursing a hangover all day but have to say it was a small price to pay for one of the most interesting evenings I’ve had in a long time. The dinner I went to was held in a private club in San Francisco and involved an eight course meal two flights of four wines, one red and one white, followed by a sauternes, port and then cigars. I was expecting a regular restaurant meal and had no idea what I was walking into.

On entering the club, which was ours for the night, we were offered champagne, caviar and foie gras . Then all 20 of us were seated at a single huge banquet table. Our hosts had erroneously decided I was a wine “expert” and I should sit next to the real expert who had selected the wine for the evening. To say I was out of my depth would be an understatement of huge proportions. After my emergency call to you, I embarked on a long conversation about terroir. Which was very interesting. Fortunately the real wine expert was also a consummate conversationalist and we had a blast talking about wine and all kinds of other things. Anyway I did manage to write down what we were drinking so here it is.

2000 Kongsgaard Chardonnay 9.5
This tasted on English toffee, cream and caramel, I normally don’t like the butter chardonnays but this was delicious
2000 Montrachet Grand Cru Lois Jardot 9
(????) Kongsgaard (yes another one…I was losing it at this point!) 9
1997 Ermitage Blanc De L’oree 9

On the whole I found the Californian chardonnays much easier to drink than the French which were very minerally and full of exotic savory flavors like capers and herbs. I think I’d enjoy the French ones more if I had them alone with a single course.

1997 Maya 9.5
This was the best wine of the night.
(????) Harlan Estates 9
Not bad
1997 Caymus special selection 8
Very flat on the finish. It just died
1959 Chateau Bechamel (not sure how this is spelled they took the bottle away before I could write it down ) 7
I’m sure I was supposed to appreciate this more, but it was very old and shuffling. It was good with the goats cheese roulard but not spectacular

1997 Chateau La Tour Blanche 1ep Cru 9

Sandmans port (no idea what year, no idea how much I drank, but it was two cigars worth, and they were big ones)

06.09.06 at 10:55 PM

I'd guess, just off-hand, that Bechamel was actually Beycheville, and yes, a '59 is probably beyond the pale at this point.
I'd also suggest, based on Alder's account, and your comment, (and MY EXPERIENCE) a glass of water for every glass of wine you consume. It will be immensely helpful in keeping alert to the nuances and subtleties of the wines you taste, and your brain (and the rest of you) will thank you in the morninig.

Melanie wrote:
06.10.06 at 11:36 PM

Ha! Sounds like me, although my friends don't discriminate between asking for wine advice or any other sort of things that might come up in life. :)

DL wrote:
06.11.06 at 7:09 AM

Now this is the kind of event to fly in from Boulder to enjoy. A couple of Montes after that wine and food experience...and life, well life would be a dream.

06.11.06 at 7:13 AM

That's so funny! I get calls from people asking what they should order - how the hell should I know, I don't know what they like.

MalB wrote:
06.12.06 at 8:53 PM

What a great post - very enjoyable!!

Ben Bicais wrote:
11.27.06 at 11:28 AM

What a tasting! Drinking all of those complex, nuanced wines with an 8 course meal would wear my palate out towards the end as well. The 97 Maya must have been phenomenal; I think they only make 500 cases a year.

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