Confessions of an Italian Wine Lover

This is the holiest week of the year for Roman Catholics.  Holy Week commences with Palm Sunday and culminates with the rebirth that is represented by Easter.  It only seems fitting that I should use this week for reflection and confess that which has been roiling within me;  festering for decades just below the core surface of my very being.  Therefore,  I’m freeing the skeleton in my closet for all to see.  I’m shedding the burden.

I am coming out!  
I have been amorous with another.  It started long before this website came into being – round about the same time my love affair with Brunello came to be.  Here goes.

I’m a closet Bordeaux fan.  There, I said it.  I’m free!  I am now an out of the closet Bordeaux fan.  

~ Chateau Cos d’Estournel ~

How and when did this happen?   As a young early 20 something,  I was already developing a palate for wine.  It was a bottle of 1990 Brunello that opened my eyes and my mind to the bewildering enjoyment that a mere beverage can bring; enjoyment that exceeds tactile and taste sensations and extends to the intellectual.   At the same time, I was also hooked on re-runs of that classic yarn from American television; M*A*S*H – except now, with more years under my belt, I was better able to understand the jokes and double entendres that 10 years earlier went past or over my head.  One episode in particular struck the flint that ignited the fire which drove my closet obsession.

Hawkeye, BJ, and their intellectual adversary Charles Emerson Winchester were in the famed Swamp, when Winchester spied a bottle in Hawkeye’s hands. 

Winchester:  You have a ’47 Chateau Margaux! 
Hawkeye:  No, I have a ’47 DeSoto. 

Winchester: Cretan! This is an individual with a life all it’s own.  Born of the loins and suckled at the bosom of the Haut Medoc. 
BJ: Sounds like what went on in the backseat of your DeSoto….. 

In that instant the hook was baited and I leaped.  I had to experience this “Margaux” and since I had just missed most of the ballyhooed 1990’s being released,  I waited for the next great vintage to make my move.  Except that was before global warming,  so the next great age worthy vintage (1995) wouldn’t arrive for another 5 years;  7 or 8 if you count the time until the wines finally hit the market.  Still, I was determined to be ready.  

Over the intervening years, and through the courtesy of some great wine friends with deeper cellars than my own,  I was able to taste some miraculous Bordeaux from the late 70’s, mid 80’s and even some amazing examples from the 50’s and 60’s.  They left an impression.  I kept reminding myself, John, these are French wines!   Yet the more I tasted, the more I had to admit that yes, even the French know what they’re doing.  I was determined to let my Bordeaux age to the maturity these fine clarets showed.  Conversely, the more I tasted these wines young,  the less I enjoyed them.  Bordeaux, for me, has to be old.   So I’ve locked them away – tucked them deep into the recesses of my cellar and psyche.  
Cos d’Estournel….
Ducru Beaucaillou …..  Rauzan Segla…..  Clerc Milon……. 
Leoville Barton …….  Pichon Lalande ……. Lafite….. Mouton…. 

Five years later,  the 2000 vintage arrived – the latest vintage of the century as it were,  and so I doubled down and put some 2000’s in my cellar with the somewhat morbid notion that this would likely be the last Bordeaux vintage I ever buy.  I reasoned that if I wanted these wines to be 30 or even 40 years old,  like the fine wines my friends graciously opened for me,  I would be somewhere between 60 and 65 years old when I finally got around to enjoying them.  So there they rest, buried behind my 1995’s and I haven’t bought a bottle of Bordeaux since.  

My love affair – my main squeeze – the fig that is the fruit of my life, is, was and will be the Italian wines of my heritage.  Barolo, Barbaresco, Dolcetto,  Brunello, Chianti,  the myriad Super Tuscans and the Southern Italian wines that speak directly to my ancestry will always charm me, capture my soul, and feed the writing on these pages.  I love you all!  Yet there will always be that “other woman” waiting…..  


She whispers hauntingly…. seductively…. from beyond my sight but never out of earshot.  She offers a small but proud collection.  Not even three cases in total – and there they rest in the bowels of my cellar; like a gym sock on a shower rod;  or in this case…
…….. the rod of my closet.  



Tuscan Vines

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