Ever since last weekend, when I brutally shoved a cork down the neck of a 21-year-old bottle of Left Bank Bordeaux, I’ve been practicing with the cork puller, the one with the two little prongs that you wiggle back and forth like a lock pick until you remove an old or damaged cork. Tonight, I grabbed a ten-year-old bottle, one that should still have a pretty good cork in it, and went to work. With no trouble at all, I massaged the cork from the neck of the bottle, flaking a tiny bit off into the wine, but otherwise being quite pleased with myself. But as one of my mentors in coaching used to say, “Don’t do it until you get it right, do it until you can’t get it wrong.” I’ll pull another cork with that odd little device soon.
After a short decant, I began to enjoy the wine, but realized early that I didn’t need a whole bottle tonight. I took some down to our Air BnB guests and offered it to them. They accepted, and the conversation quickly evolved to a lesson in why we in America call wines by their varietal while the old world typically favors region, and what Tempranillo is, where it is from, then where Napa and Carneros are and why I love them, until I’d taught a mini-lesson on wine to my new friends. I enjoyed it thoroughly. I don’t know much, but what I know I love to share. What’s the point in knowing things if you don’t tell other people?
Something else I know: This decade-old Truchard Tempranillo is a pretty cool wine. I didn’t know what to expect, but it was $15 so I threw it in an online shopping cart one time and hoped for the best. It’s been waiting in my cellar ever since, and it paid off. A deep, sensual, rich wine with a complex profile of leather, dry black fruits, brighter red fruits, herbaceous qualities, wood smoke, cedar and more, I was taken by the intensity of the wine, and yet pleased that it drank so effortlessly. Over time, it opened up in the decanter, giving way to more fruit and a bit of vanilla towards the finish. Really a nice expression of Carneros, as well as the varietal, I got back online to buy more, but sadly none was available. I suppose I’ll just have to add Truchard to my list of places to visit the next time I’m in the Valley.
It’s evident that Truchard, who is no newcomer to Napa, has taken the advice of doing things until they can’t get them wrong. This wine was a work of art, a really interesting and very California take on a varietal found more typically in other countries, and a nicely affordable one at that. Now I’ll try to follow in their footsteps and continue working on my cork-pulling skills.