A friend at work who knows my fondness for fine wine asked me what I'd been drinking lately. I found myself slightly embarrassed as I'd not really tasted anything noteworthy for quite awhile. My drinking has been limited to some very humble, low priced offerings since giving up my position as Wine Director for Restaurant 213.
The question did get me to thinking: What would I like to drink if I had the choice? In the old days, I would taste whatever the wine reps brought by placing me at their disposal. Granted, their offerings were often good and occasionally sensational. Yet, it does beg the question. What would I like to drink?
1. French Champagne. I know, I know it sounds really vague but I have NEVER been disappointed when I opened a bottle of the real French stuff. The humble Moet & Chandon White Star is a reliable mid-priced Champagne which has never disappointed me. Nor, for that matter, has it overwhelmed me. I have been overwhelmed with the fragrent, sumptuous Krug brand. On more than one occasion I have shared a small sip of a horrifically expensive bottle of their vintage stuff and was floored by the difference. Careful: There is a Krug brand in California: this ain't the REAL stuff. The French Krug is most definitely the REAL stuff.
2. 1986 Cabernet Sauvignons from California. I had my personal wine awakening in 1984 while stationed in San Diego in the Navy. I visited Napa Valley several times while living in America's Finest City and each time I sampled products from different wineries and always falling back to the bold California red. It may very well be that 1986 was not a great year for California cabs, but it was a great year for me and I continue to hold the memories of those first reds in my mind. Principle among them: Monticello Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Jefferson Cuvee, and Grgich Hills Cabernet Sauvignon. I bought two cases each of these 86's and they endured until 1998 when I finished the last bottle of the Monticello Cellars in my back yard that May night before we started our drive East. It was a great wine at, or near, it's peak.
3. Chassagne-Montrachet and Puligny-Montrachet. The hard-core French White wine fans will find it difficult to understand why I'd put these two wines in the same category. Well, it is simple really: I can't tell the difference between them and I find them to be day-in and day-out simply the finest white wines on the planet. There is almost something magical about them as they warm in the glass until the steely backbone is softened with flowers and butter.
So, that is it. My desires are not too special and all that I want to drink are the finest Champagnes, Reds and Whites the planet has to offer. But, for the moment I have glass of Black Box Chardonnay sitting next to me demanding my attention.