Working in the tasting room, I often ask guests if they can point to an impactful wine experience that increased their interest and appreciation for wine. My personal “aha!” moment occurred back in 1993 when my wife and I were living in London. More of a beer drinker back then, I could name some of the classic grape varietals and wine regions, but I had yet to be motivated to expand my wine palate. That changed one night when we had dinner with an old family friend, Phil, who was visiting from California.
We settled into a charming French restaurant in Covent Garden called "La Stamine." Phil appreciated wine, and he needed little time to select a 1982 Chateauneuf du Pape for the table. A Granache-based blend from the Southern Rhone, this wine was full bodied with generous aromas and flavors including dark fruit, earth, herbs, toast, and spice. Still possessing good acidity and structure, this wine was a perfect complement to the decadent lamb cutlets on my plate.
The wine was drinking so well, we ordered a second bottle. For the first time drinking wine, I had noticed a broad array of flavors with depth, intensity, and harmony. Every drop was like an epiphany. I was also fascinated to learn a little about the history of the Chateauneuf du Pape region, and the local Papel residence which contributed to the quality and the reputation of the wine. Now that’s what I call an “aha!” moment!
Suffice it to say, that experience with Chateauneuf du Pape challenged me to seek out new wine regions and styles. It was the start of a most enjoyable journey and going strong for 30 years. I have to say that wine education is a wonderful thing. It’s where drinking wine and studying are the same activity!
Thanks for letting me share my “aha!” wine moment. I invite you to visit the West Wines tasting room and try our hand-crafted wines from Dry Creek Valley. There you will taste wines with character, depth, balance, all of which are excellent examples of the Dry Creek Valley and Sonoma County regions. Maybe you'll experience an “aha!” moment yourself. Cheers!