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Monday, February 3, 2014

Good Wine Makes Good Neighbors.


Good wine makes good neighbors.

Robert Frost said “Good Fences Make Good Neighbors” but I think he may have been mistaken. Rather, good wine makes good neighbors. There are few better ways to share time with friends, or those you do not yet know well enough to call friends, than over an open bottle of good wine.

In my tweets (@bruisedGrape), I frequently make reference to the #TreehouseBoys but have never really explained who they are nor introduced them.  We are, perhaps, a bizarre collection: academics, physicians, brokers, government contractors, parcel-delivery and wine guys. One might even term us “Brothers in wine”. Ours is a friendship developed over years but I joined later than most and was introduced to the group gradually.

Some years ago, we moved house and our new neighbor, a fellow academic who shared my love for wine, befriended me perhaps entertained by my naïve enthusiasm for grape juice. He had been collecting wine for decades and was passionate about the wines of Bordeaux, Burgundy, Alsace and Mosel. He shared great wines with me from each of these, and other, regions. Many of which were older that I was.  

We tasted wine together every Thursday, and occasionally, we were be joined by someone new: a stockbroker, a physician, a contractor - old friends of one or all of the others.  Then one day I was introduced to the common theme – the wine guy from whom they all bought their 1982 Bordeaux futures.  Let’s call him Mr White (please excuse the Reservoir Dogs reference). The Treehouse Boys had being buying wine from this same source for 30 years and, over a short period of time, our weekly tasting became the excuse we needed to establish a club for big kids.

The quorum was formed and, to this day, we continue to taste, commiserate, celebrate, gossip, argue, laugh and taste some more – each and every Thursday. So why then are we called the #TreehouseBoys?  We were so named by Mr Brown, the wine store manager, because putting us where good wine can be bought is apparently like building a tree house for bunch of mischievous kids and telling them it’s the first day of summer vacation – every Thursday.

We constantly try to outwit and out-taste or simply deceive each other with wine, bringing the old, the esoteric, the new and the classic. The wines are often shrouded in a brown bag until we have all completely lost any shred of the oenophile’s dignity we thought we owned. Everyone, however, returns to “wine genius” status immediately upon the great reveal and we claim to have been just on the verge of naming the region or the vintage.


So back to the point of this blog, my wine of the week, another surprise wine from one of my #Treehouse compatriots.  This week’s wine is the 2004 Justin Vineyard Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon.  Justin Baldwin bought the 160 acre Paso Robles property in 1981 and planted much of it to Bordeaux varietals.

Initially, this wine had me confused. The bottle was brown-bagged as usual. The wine was deep purple in the glass with little hint of bricking on the rim but the nose was effusive leathery, tobacco, funky with black fruit. It was reminiscent of a Bordeaux but the fruit seemed a little too ripe for an old world wine. The palate showed black and blue fruit with dark chocolate-covered beef jerky, bell pepper, spice, toasty oak and earthy tannin. The oak might have been a little much for me if the wine was younger but it had integrated a little better with bottle age and seemed less stark that it would, perhaps, have otherwise. 

Needless to say, my initial thoughts were not so structured nor did they lead me immediately to a correct first approximation of the wine’s identity. That said, it was a solid effort, and made all the more enjoyable to have the chance to share it with friends.  The only thing that remained for me was to hurry home with the last of the wine and share it with my wife who, by some miracle of intuition had created an incredible pairing - beef stew beef stew with tomato, carrot and acorn squash in a base of tomato and beef stock.   

It was a wonderful evening that began in the company of friends, and ended by enjoying a great meal with my beautiful wife and the same character-filled bottle of 2004 California Cabernet. As we finished the last of the wine I rotated the cork between my fingers and read:

JUSTIN
Just stop
Just sit
Just stay
Just relax
Just reflect
Just remember
Just Justin
Just call 1-800-726-0049

So JUST-IN-case you think that exploring wine with friends is a choice between the stuffy and the uninformative, think of the Treehouse Boys as we pull the cork on another great Thirsty Thursday Night. Go and text your friends or knock on the door of a neighbor. Ask them to drop in and share a bottle with you. Get to know them a little better and have fun with your wine. It will soon be grass-cutting season again and you will see them much more frequently anyway. 

Wouldn't it be so much better, if your Saturday ended with a great bottle of wine and a conversation with friends? So remember what I said – Good wine makes good neighbors, and whether it’s your nextdoor neighbors or other friends life is so much better when you take a moment to chat, laugh together and share something special.

I have no pricing information on this, and as for rating - I won't on this occasion - the wine was not consumed under my standard scoring criteria (http://cuveecorner.blogspot.com/). Besides, my Treehouse buddy really did not want it to be scored. Sometimes you simply want to enjoy it - with special people.There's just no way to put a score on that experience.

You are JUSTIN time to pull another cork!

Santé

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2 comments:

anna savino said...

Too bad my neighbors don't drink alcohol! And the others are 95 years old...
But you have inspired me to find a group to taste consistently with.
Oh by the way...I have a 2008 Justin Isosceles in my cellar.. should I be opening that any time soon?

Andy McCallion said...

Glad to hear you are motivated to find more friends with whom to share/experience wine - always a good idea.

The 2008 Isosceles is probably on a great plateau for drinking right now or any time over the next 5-8 years but I do not think there is a lot more evolution in its future. I would say drink it any time you are in the mood.

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