Thursday, March 24, 2011

Wine Pigs, First Spin

The wine biz is a difficult industry for a woman. The same is true of the restaurant world, and the two are intimately entwined. I know the next few sentences might upset a few, but I wouldn't lay down a tale untrue. With stereotypes in mind and the knowledge of exceptions to the rule, mind your judgement and assess the story laid before you.

The past ten years of my life, I navigated the rat race of indecent proposals, profanity, butt pinching, breast brushing, chef snickers, scandalous sex rumors, vulgar come-ons, lude bartenders, drugs, booze, rage-devoured male managers, chefs, or owners, holier-than-thou male wine aficionados, (clearing of throat) excuse me, experts. Then to boot, a culture conducive to women with something to prove. The truth be told, I count on one hand the genuine gentleman I have encountered, a rare species to behold.

On a tame note, most male sommeliers and masters of wine prove to be sophisticated, fun, intriguing, intelligent, cultured, and perhaps a bit eccentric with an underlying arrogance, small doses or brazen, depends on each man and what he holds within. I don't know any masters of their craft who aren't somewhat arrogrant, pride is warranted where reverance is due. I'll never forget the ultimate snub when a famed MW turned his back on me in mid conversation to greet the male bartender at a restaurant where he was to dine that evening. With allegiance to reputable behavior, I paused giving him the benefit of the doubt, waiting for the admirable "Pardon Me," but I finally resorted to awkward interjection. He promptly ignored my interlude and rudely forged on to exclude me, mighty important talk it was too. With this instance in mind and countless others, I have come to the careful conconclusion that most men in the biz unconsciously or knowingly dismiss the female palette.

This tale to be told, though, has hope waiting to unfold, as I've found an oasis in the sludge pool of self-important male wine-Os. Many trips I do take to the house of Wine Pigs, a name they've been dubbed by friends of old. Iowa-farmboy-liquor-retailer meets master-mind lawyers, bonified wine salesmen, and little ol' me: just a gal into wine virtuoso. Greedy they are not. Male, and true to form with all their sexual inuendos they are. Doesn't matter, I enjoy their company and the vino experience they so graciously share in exchange for female flare. Rare form I sit, watching them weave their tales of extraordinary sips, wines of bygone eras, days of Bordeaux fetching prices shockingly low. Stock market numbers, chefs ever so bold, memoirs of friends passing to be told, voice volume rumbles as the cheese and wine flow.

With casual friends sharing the same plot in life, undying love for God's given grape lots, I have to say I will share many escapades to Chevy Chase where the Wine Pigs gather to slop. On this particular day we opened:

2007 Domaine de Baumard Trie Speciale Savennieres
One of my favs, Chenin Blanc, kissed with oak. Full body mouth delivery expressing quince paste, apple and hazelnuts, the perfect cue for a picnic lunch. Unique to describe, the acid hides under a layer of viscous aged notes, almost like oxidized but not, just a quality of this particular type found in the region of Anjou on the banks of the Loire. Savennieres produce amazing age-worthy whites loaded with sapidity, acidity and extract. The flavor that throws me a loop is ripe grain mixed with grapefruit.

2003 Chateau Destieux Saint-Emilion Grand Cru
Woah boy, heavy, heavy on first impact, made me immediately think aggressive oak. This is a chateau that did not make the 1996  Grand Cru classification, but was incorporated in 2006. Interesting notes of coffee, plum, polished tannin, dark chocolate, maybe even some cedar box, but OAK, OAK and more OAK. Not my style, but riveting none-the-less. So aggressive I thought, which would mellow with something bold, like lamb, venison stew, or just a big ol' slab of ribeye done up for two.

2004 Cos d'Estournel Saint-Estephe
I asked the head Wine Pig to bring me Les Pagodes de Cos, but he refused on the grounds that we had too little time to lose. The highlight booze for sure. Definite finesse, less upfront aggression, which surprised me as Saint-Estephe tends to be blockbuster. Superb tannin palette-feel, lingering finish with that intoxicating melange of Indian spice that I just don't quite "get" yet--hard for me to depict distinct aromas. Cocoa dusting, red and black fruits galore. Expertly integrated oak, still young, but loved this. My kind of wine, so my love affair with Cos d'Estournel lives on lingering in the atmosphere of classics that never die young.

2007 Gould Campbell Vintage Porto
the whammy I had to guzzle so I could hit the beltway before mad rush hour set in. Just saying, port is a dying trend, but with the right pushing I think it could swing back around again. I'm tired of restaurant lists with poor selections. In a perfect world, grape utopia, I could stand to give lessons on Madeira and Porto. I wish entrepreneurs would dare to give in and make low margins on after dinner drinks, the sweet wines few care to "get." Wishful hoping, who knows what the leprechaun might bring? But back on track, the notes for Port. Rich, rich, rich, with layers of tannic grip. Blueberries on the rise, way too young to appreciate, yet great bang to finish on.

Ciao, till I write again...