It’s been a weekend with a lot of surprises not the least of which was last night’s post. I spoke to my friend Bill this evening and out of deference to him and his family, I will write nothing of that conversation. Suffice to say that Bill and the kids are doing as well as can be expected.
But that brings us back to the wine event of Saturday night. I have a great many feelings about the event as I was part of the group that did the planning, rather than just a sommelier hired to choose wines and host the event. My normal role is simply to meet with a client, discuss their wine desires and price-point considerations and make some recommendations about what kinds of wine they’d like me to pour. Then, I show up, set up the table, the wines and begin the pouring. I charge $35.00 an hour for this service and I do not do it often. In fact, the majority of work I do is charity work–but even that, I end up treating on a client basis–only charging for the wines themselves.
In this instance, one of the things we were looking for was donated wine. The purpose of the event was to raise money and the expectation of what we’d raise was never going to exceed 10K dollars. I actually thought it would be quite a bit lower than that–much lower, around 2 or 3K. Turns out, the Shakespeare Company earned over 4K, so not bad considering all.
The wines were donated by Langdon-Shiverick and Opolo Vineyards. I was in charge of the LS wines because I worked directly with them. They donated 3 Spanish reds–An Etim Grenache blend, a Bajoz Cano Grenache/Tempranillo blend and 1707 Syrah. All of these were exceptional and they added a Kesseler German Riesling to the mix to round it out (see LS’s site to check out the wines). The wines were impressive, tasty and quite good. But even with the advent of sales sheets, we sold only one case of wine. This presents a problem because it makes wine donation a much tougher sell each year and it is a little frustrating to ask folks to donate the very product they make money selling. As a sommelier, it rubs against the grain. As a supporter of this particular non-profit, I understand the need. But it’s hard to do and is something I won’t feel comfortable doing again.
Opolo Vineyards’ David Nichols brought in a nice selection of their wines including Viognier, Syrah, Zinfandel, Late Harvest Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon and a Bordeaux Meritage called Rhapsody. All were excellent and tasty. I’m not going to put tasting notes here as I’ve gotten away from that for some reason. I feel like I’m not the world’s most qualified taste-tester and to be honest, I’ve concentrated so much for the past year on growing, farming and grape issues that I now find myself tasting for different things when I drink wine–and not all of them are things I know enough about to report–or make terribly exciting. I will say this, as an oenophile, it was fun to compare the 1707 syrah with the Opolo syrah. The Spanish varietal did not have much oak on it. It wasn’t stored in oak barrels for very long, if at all–and the Opolo got a lot of oak barrel time. The resulting differences were really spectacular with the flavor profile changing in large ways. The Opolo maintained its vanilla and toasty characteristics which brought out some really lovely darker fruit flavors. Even its color was much richer as a result of the wood. But the Spanish syrah captured some red fruit (strawberries, cherries) and had none of the vanilla or toasty characteristics. It drank much more smoothly on the finish than the Opolo, but the Opolo had a longer profile and longer finish. OK–that’s the end of my geek talk.
I’m not much for working on committee’s and though as a teacher, I have found that a necessity, it is not one I love. I really do enjoy working with people, but where there are committees, there is politics–and, well—that’s all. Kingsmen is a great organization (though I confess their grammar leaves a little to be desired) and I really do love what they do. Their shows in the summer, their educational tours, their true desire to bring the Bard to folks everywhere is such a noble cause and one worth supporting.
On the wines–I’m going to be seeking out more Spanish varietals, I think. I did so in the past and then veered off into Italian wines, which I still like a lot. I find that the quality of the Spanish and Italian wines I’m drinking has gotten much better while the prices for these wines remains remarkably lower than their American competitors. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still up for a Jaffurs Syrah and a Lane Tanner Pinot Noir (and about a million others), but these European varietals (albeit not the Frenchies) really are a treat for a lot less cash.