I think it most appropriate to start this by saying I am very sad that Arnold Palmer has died. I know that we all die eventually, but this guy inspired me with his style of golf. His dad was a grounds keeper for a golf course and taught Arnold how to play the game. Arnie as fans affectionately called him broke 100 at the age of 8. He came from a working class family, developed a style of golf that was hardly traditional and became perhaps one of the greatest golfers to play the game. He had style, charisma and was very approachable. You will be missed Arnie.
The one thing that Arnold did was bring an elitist sport down to the level of the common person. In that spirit, there are many wine writers like myself who want to keep wine where is should be, as a beverage that can be enjoyed by anyone. For reasons unknown to me, there are still a lot of folks out there who seem to think that wine is more than that. They want wine to be high society, blue blood juice. They stick their noses up at any wine that doesn’t have some sort of pedigree and heaven forbid they buy an eight dollar bottle. For all of you out there who shy away from wine because of this attitude, please reconsider. Ignore the ignorance of wine snobs and join me in finding great wines without spending a lot of money. There are a lot out there, and i will go to my grave helping you find them.
One question that has been thrown my way often is how do you know if a wine will age? I’ve been in wine for a long time and one thing I can say for sure is that no one will get it right 100% of the time. There are four basic elements I look for in a wine to determine its ability to age, and one other factor that plays a role. Acidity, fruit, tannins and balance. These are the most important elements to look for in a wine that will age. For me, acidity is crucial to aging. Without acid, a wine will go flabby before its time. However, the acid cannot be so harsh that it dominates the fruit. Otherwise, you will have a wine that will end up quite tart in a few years. There must be fruit behind the acidity. Tannins also play a key role in a wines ability to stand the test of time. That is where barrel aging comes in. There are both wood tannins (barrels) and skin/seed tannins. Both are important in the wines ability to continue to improve over time. Balance of the three elements makes for a wine that will improve as it rests in your cellar. The other factor is quite important…Reputation. Is the producer known for making age-worthy wines. A little research and guidance from your trusted wine steward should help you in building a modest cellar with wines that will age.
I took a trip to Walla Walla last week compliments of Vehrs Dist. out of Kent WA. It was their inaugural trip and I was one of the fortunate they invited to come. Let’s just say that it was a stellar trip…Treveri, Leonetti, Long Shadows, Woodward Canyon, Gordon Brothers, Fidelitas, Waters, and more. I will be writing something about that trip soon, but I wanted to share something that most of you will be interested in. All of the wine makers and vineyard managers were quite high on the 2016 vintage. I would keep my eye and wine spending budget out on the wines from this vintage out of Washington State…Just say’in.
One last tidbit…For those of you that were fooled by the storm predictions that came our way recently, I hope you learned something. Hype sells, and most of us fall for it. How many times has the weatherman predicted 5 straight days of eighty degree weather and none of us believed it? We want to believe the worst! Weather happens, and there is nothing we can do about it. We live in a time where power outages are taken care of in a timely manner. Roads get cleared, life goes on. I know there are a lot of you out there that now have enough water, milk and food to last you a few months. Good for you! However, we barely got a puff of wind in my part of the hood, and now, what do you do with all the excess? Blame the weatherman!
Stan The Wine Man