Our Wine Tasting Process
Here is the gist of a typical conversation that has repeated itself during the last year between Paul Jr. and myself (Sr.), since I moved to Julian (It is usually the following sequence of events).
Paul Jr. goes to a trade tasting sponsored by a distributor, and does his thing of tasting every wine at each station. (A tedious process at best… reach for a short pour, look, swirl, sniff, sip, swish, and spit… for up to about 60 wines (in 2 hours)… then rest the palate for 15 minutes… and do the next 60 wines by closing time of the four hour event. Sometimes less than 120 wines, and at other times more than 120 wines if the day is going easy in that 4 hour session. During the whole process, one chews on a piece of bread, in between wines, to clear the palate (I have often consumed the equivalent of a full loaf of bread by the end of the event… all the time avoiding cheese accompaniment, which is often available but masks the finer points of flavor).
From his list of wines that he has approved of, he arranges for a bottle to be shipped to our tasting room in Arcadia This retaste is not included in our monthly count. There, he tastes them again, at a less pressured pace. He “nitrogens” his favorite selections, and ships them to Julian.
U.P.S. seems to find my driveway in the Cleveland National Forest daily. (By now the driver must think I will be needing a liver transplant any day!). He usually delivers around 10 a.m.
After allowing the bottles to rest for an hour, I taste the wines at the best time of day for doing so… the mid-morning period when you senses have been restored to their operating level after a nights rest, and before they are fatigued from the passing day. Best time to taste wine in my opinion… 10 to 11 a.m. This conversation usually follows:
Sr.” You have a winner with….’87”
Jr. “Yes… wasn’t it great?”
Sr. “You are getting pretty good!”
Jr. “Well… they sure had a lot of junk at the tasting that day!”
What Paul Jr. really meant by the last statement was that it is easy to pick the good ones when there are a lot of mediocre one, around. It is a little tougher to pick them when there are many decent wines in the showing.
He is getting very good. He has picked the last 12 selections solo, with my concurrence thrown in at the end with no hesitation.
Our routine has developed into a ritual, it seems, and I am thankful for the invention of “nitrogening” the wines… The wines are very intact when retasted a day or two later… and even longer. I wholeheartedly endorse the product we use…Wine Life (which happens to be carbon dioxide and no nitrogen!).
But the best part of all of this is the father to son transition that is in motion and the satisfaction from it!
- Import Selection: Chateau Chariot, 1988. Corbieres
- Domestic Selection: Chardonnay, 1989. White Oak
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- Import Selection: Chateau Larroque, 1989. Bordeaux
- Domestic Selection: Charbono, 1979. Inglenook-Napa Valley
- A Note From The Cellarmaster
- Adventures in Eating: Fresh Raspberry Pie
- Import Selection: Cabernet Sauvignon, 1988. Los Vascos
- Domestic Selection: Muscat Canelli, 1990. Santino Winery