Hey lady, I got your wine delivery

by Lorin Michel Wednesday, February 24, 2016 7:44 PM

It is no secret that Kevin and I are big wine lovers. We love red wine. Love to drink it, love to make it. On the rare occasion that we take a little vacation, we go wine tasting. Several years ago, before we decided to build a house and put all of our vacation money for the rest of our lives into that, we had planned a trip to Tuscany, Italy, mainly because of the wines. Also, the film Under the Tuscan Sun, of which we’re fans mostly because of the romance of renovating an Italian villa in Tuscany. Kevin is also a very big Diane Lane fan.

I like Italian wines. I’m particularly partial to Montepulcianos as opposed to a simple Chianti though a reserve Chianti from a good year can be lovely. Mostly I find chianti’s a little light, a bit like a California Pinot Noir. They’re fine but not usually fabulous. I have no doubt that had we gone wine tasting in Tuscany I would have become a huge fan of all Italian wines. I doubt that they would have eclipsed California wines though, not for me, not for us. 

As detailed in the film Bottle Shock, starring the late, great Alan Rickman and a young Chris Pine with too much hair, California put itself on the wine map in 1976 when a Chateau Montelena Chardonnay and a Stag’s Leap Cabernet Sauvignon took first place at a blind wine tasting event in Paris. Until then, France was always thought to have the world’s best wines. They were shocked – shocked! – to learn that their precious Bordeauxs had been outclassed by the lowly wines from, gasp, Napa Valley. Napa and other wine regions in California have been winning awards and making exceptional wines for the entire world ever since. 

We are red wine drinkers. I believe that white wine has a definite place in the world and that’s usually in something I’m cooking. But for drinking, all things red and the heavier the better are the way my taste’s run. I love syrah, and petite sirah; I adore cabernet franc and to a lesser extent, cabernet sauvignon. I go nuts for a petite verdot which is nearly impossible to find. Like a petite sirah, a petite verdot is hair on the chest kind of wine. The kind of wine that is almost so heavy it eclipses most foods. The kind of wine that you can sink your teeth into. 

We’ve had wines from other regions, namely Washington State and Oregon. They’re also good if not yet in the great category. We’ve had wines from the north east but they are almost uniformly not wonderful. The climate simply isn’t right. It gets too cold in the winter for too long. Arizona makes some OK wines as well. Not wonderful but they’re interesting. The climate in Southern Arizona is the polar opposite of the climate in the north east. It’s too hot for too long. Some types of varietals grow well here, or at least better than others. One is actually a grape of Italian origin called Barbera. I bought Kevin six vines of it for Christmas and they arrive on March 2. Once we get them planted, we’ll be growing our own grapes and eventually making wine from them. 

What arrived today was already-made red wine. We are members of the California Wine Club and have been for a long time. They tend to offer more boutique style wines, smaller California winemakers who produce a small number of cases. Every month, we get a delivery from them of 4 red wines. We never know what we’re going to get and some are better than others, as with all wines and wineries. They’re not horribly expensive and it has given us a great opportunity to try wines we wouldn’t have otherwise known about. 

The phone rang around 4:30. We still have a private line so that we can buzz people in from the gate. It never rings unless someone is up front. A faint voice came through. It’s like listening to someone through a tin can. It was John. “Gotta wine delivery for you!”

John always delivers our wine from the California Wine Club. Within minutes, he was at the top of the hill, handing me our box. I smiled, he grinned. “See you next month,” I said.

It was a perfect way to celebrate this waning Wednesday.

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