Another week of July, come and gone, and while it was beautiful, relaxing, stifling hot, and full of family, friends, and loved ones seemingly all at once, it of course went by entirely too quickly and ended abruptly with the start of yet another Monday morning. Presently, I’m reflecting back over the week, and the friends that we had over for dinner, other friends for drinks, the family we saw. It was rich in people and experiences, good food and wine.
There were tremendous moments of levity, like Titus declaring his love for lemons on video, and moments of gratitude when Sonja’s folks stopped by with a gift of four lawn chairs to replace the ones we have that are actively falling apart. In addition to teaching my current students, who are by all definitions truly an amazing group, I also had multiple encounters with former students, ranging from casual run-ins on campus to planned dinners, and from twitter to a very welcome if unexpected text. Former students being in touch after graduation is to me one of the greatest joys in my teaching career. Being remembered, even in passing, is something for which I am truly grateful.
There were also several wine events this week, and the wine below will fill you in on several of those. In all, I tasted 33, though as usual many were rather unremarkable. Yet each great wine was, of course, linked to a great experience, and that is what always makes them so much more enjoyable.
Early in the week I had the privilege of meeting winemaker Ed Killian. Ed has made the wine at Souverain for decades now, Souverain being a favorite of mine, an old-by-Napa standards estate founded in the 1940’s just after prohibition. Ed used to make some really terrific small production cabs out of great Alexander Valley fruit, my favorite being a 2005 I picked up at The Winery here in town, but I’m afraid that since Gallo has taken over, he doesn’t have the luxury to pain on such exquisite palates. Instead, however, and that’s why I’m including this wine, he puts his talent into producing terrific wine that incredibly affordable. This wine retails in the $10 range, yet the car that Ed affords it is impressive for something with a 200,000 case production. A tremendous budget Cab, this is a solid daily drinker. I recommend it.
I love JCB, if not as much as I love C&H, two friends of ours who got married a few months back and who came to dinner this Wednesday. Naturally, we needed to celebrate, so I brought this bottle out from the cellar. Dry and full of life, bursting in tart fruits and hints of brie, its as good as a Brut Burgundy gets in my opinion. It certainly paired beautifully with terrific people and a chance to slow down and catch up on life.
All they do is win. CK is the oldest winery in the Napa Valley, founded in 1861, and while the history is really fascinating, I’ll spare you. I tasted this wine while meeting a friend to talk for a bit after work in Lincoln this week (he had a Bullet and diet). I gave the 2013 vintage 95 points, back when I still used point as a rating scale. Of this one, I just said “Daaaammmnnnnn…”. You can judge for yourself between the vintages. I recommend you try them both.
I bought this at HyVee when it went on sale from $24 down to $9.99, and I hope to go back sometime and buy some more, though I encourage you to beat me to it. I opened this while I was cooking dinner for Sonja and her parents who stopped by with the lawn chairs I mentioned earlier, and it was a dark, brooding companion for cooking that later opened up into beautiful dark purple fruits and nice structure. I recommend this one for its value, and as a good example of Alexander Valley Cab.
Yesterday, with the help of my dear friends at Vivino, Corkscrew, and Varozza, we hosted a Vivino meet up in Omaha for the first time ever. There, imbibers tasted through the 2006, and 2008-2012 vintages of Varozza Cab. While my favorites come after 2010, when winemaker Christy Melton was hired, I enjoyed how well the older ones had aged. The 2006 and 2008, which I was pouring for people, certainly lead to some fun conversations. Great Cabernet. I highly suggest trying them all.
At dinner last night, as he so often does, my dear friend Zach brought wine. He’s really into interesting things right now, like a Pet-Nat, orange wines, unfiltered, and more. This one is a natural wine from Italy, with natural yeast, no filtration, and a raft of other issues that made it interesting, artistic even. I truly enjoyed it, and catching up with he, his girlfriend, and several others of our friends. Wine is such an interesting thing; there are no limits to the variations. Try this wine… if you can find it. I’d never had anything like it before.
And once again, there you have it. As I lay propped up in bed, recovering from minor surgery, reflecting on the lovely wines I tried this week, I can’t help but to think that I’m indeed a lucky man. A dog curled up at my feed, the scents of dinner wafting up from downstairs, and plenty of work to be done — but only after I put my beautiful children to bed, I’m as happy as can be. I rather suspect I could be just as happy without wine in my life sometimes, but, hey, why risk it?