A Graduation Worth Remembering
The lack of posts over the last four days stems from the occurrence of a significant event in my life. I have just officially graduated law school. Not only did I graduate, but I was honoured by being selected by the Faculty of Law to give a speech at convocation on behalf of the graduating class. Rather than focus on personal achievement and massive celebration, I chose to remind us all that it took many small events and encounters with other people to get us all where we are today. And, that going forward in the future it will be incumbant on us as professionals to be neighbours to the strangers that will fill our professional lives.
All this focus on ethical duties and professional dignity made for a heartfelt event that I’ll remember for a long time to come. Luckily, soon after the ceremony I headed down to Seattle for the celebration. And, I suppose just as I have felt a significant change in my sense of self and sense of the world moving from student to professional, I suppose my choices of wines to celebrate with also mark a transition in the style of wines I drink and the approach I take to sipping the tasty juice of fermented grapes. Whereas I used to focus on trying to taste great examples of what every region across the world was famous for, I have now started to set my sites on the lesser known and uniquely produced wines. It is these sorts of wines that have become emblematic to me of the benefits of being open minded and always willing to learn and explore.
But, that’s enough pontificating, right? On to some wines! After driving down to Seattle in the afternoon and braving the border on the infamous Black Friday, I settled into the Pan Pacific by popping downstairs to Whole Foods and picking up dinner and booze for the evening.
Having just had an amazing 1999 Aglianico Taurasi Riserva recently from Kits, when I saw another 1999 Aglianico Taurasi Riserva on the shelf I had to jump at the chance for a comparative tasting. This example came from Azienda Agricola “contrade di Taurasi” di Enza Lonardo, which seems to be either a small family winery in Sicily or a small farmers collective. These guys have been around since 1998, and plant all their wines in the volcanic soil of their small 4 hectares of vineyards. This wine had 4 months maceration, and 24 months in tonneau, 6 months in steel, and approximately 18 months in bottle. While not quite as complex as the Mastroberardino Radici I had recently, this was still extremely tasty wine, with great acidic balance and tons of fresh berries and earth. It went amazingly well not just with pizza, but surprisingly, with ginger mashed yams. In fact, the pairing with the yams was one of the most amazing pairings I’ve had in years – with the ginger bringing out the baking spice elements of the wine in amazing fashion, and the acid in the wine cutting through the heavy cream and butter in the mash. So goood. This was $60 and I’d give it a rating of Very Good+.
But, of course you cannot properly celebrate without a bottle of champagne. The champagne I chose was biodynamically farmed, came from Agraparte & Fils, and went by the name of Terroirs. It was made from Grand Cru fruit and was very easy drinking. A thick mid-palate with cream and nuts. Not quite as complex as the best grower champagne, it certainly went down really really well, especially in a luxury jacuzzi. Very Good+. $37 for a half bottle.
I think I also had a bottle of Deschutte’s Jubelale, which was a really tasty xmas beer, but I can’t remember too much about that one ;).
The next day I headed over to Esquin, an awesome wine store in Seattle, and grabbed a bottle for dinner at Spinasse (an awesome Piedmontese restaurant with killer pasta). Despite all the Washington wine options, I had to choose the Le Roc Des Anges “1903” Old Vine Carignan 2005, made in the Languedoc region of France. The winemaker apprenticed at Domaine Gauby, one of the best producers in the region, and I was enticed to try a 100% Carignan that supposedly did not taste like crap. Welp, the European Wine Buyer at Esquin (who convinced me to get this) was bang on. Amazing juice. Really approachable, with tons of fresh and clean black berry fruit, maybe a little cherry and plum, and a nice dose of earth and a hint of game. It was a fantastic pairing for the rabbit liver pasta I ordered and I will attest to this being the best darn Carignan I’ve ever tasted. Made from 100+ year old vines (planted in 1903, hence the name). Get it if you can find it. Excellent. $45 at Esquin.
Of course, with one day left in the weekend, and needing a relaxing evening after driving back from Seattle, I popped open a very cool IPA I brought back from the U.S. to go with some very tasty Meinhardt Indian food. The Double-Wide India Pale Ale from Boulevard Brewing was a bottle conditioned and superbly made IPA from Missouri, boasting tons of pine, flowers, and incredible freshness. Drinking fresh IPA really proves to me that IPA must be consumed as quickly as possible. This was also really balanced, and avoided the over the top IBU’s that I tend to hate in the over-hopped styles. It’s also a testament to why choice of hops is key as the cascade hops they use are some of the best around. Excellent. $10 / 750ml.
And, last but not least is a bottle I’ve been aging ever since finishing first year law school and heading down to Napa to celebrate. The plan was to open this on graduation, and well, I stuck to the plan:
This bottle, an Imagery wine, is a “port”, or fortified dessert wine, made from Petite Sirah grapes in Paso Robles. Imagery is the side project of Benziger, and focuses on making small production wines that often buck trends. This port was really really smooth, with perfect balance of acidity and sugar. And, while lacking the same complexity as a vintage port, it was really just damn tasty. Tons of blueberry (as is common for Petite Sirah), and chocolate and coffee. The tannins came out with air, and the sulphur reduction I nosed to begin with faded with a good decant. Not a perfect wine, but much better with chocolate than traditional port, and really, just super duper tasty. Very Good+. $?.
So, in the end this was a super fun weekend in Seattle and graduating, and I think all the wines I drank provided ample celebration for this once in a lifetime achievement. Woo!