“I prefer white Burgundy to red, I just don’t think I get red Burgundy” our Spanish and Italian buyer, Ronnie said to me one afternoon. “I can fix that” I replied with a grin, “Not sure I want you to” he said with a chuckle. I already knew which wine I was going to share with him, a bottle of 1990 Domaine de Montille Bourgogne, a gift I had received last Christmas…the point was to have him smell an red Burgundy, even a modest one, from a great producer, with some age on it. Now Ronnie loves Barolo, a wine that is, or can be, very high in acid, tannic and shrill when young, but with age they open, silken and become other worldly…in short they remind me of red Burgundy. I kind of put the conversation out of my mind but when I was bolting out the door for a pre-surprise party, (for Ronnie’s 40th birthday) drink with Amy and Sexy Bitch, (for new folks, Sexy Bitch is Amy’s husband…and the name he asked that I use for him…sigh) the conversation popped into my head, and I made a last minute lunge to the wine cooler.
Sunday was a big day, had my little sister’s graduation early in the morning, she was graduating from Cal State Fullerton…with honors, (can you tell I am so proud?!) but I was going to have to bring my brother….sigh…..family, man. He and I just don’t click, I think I make him nervous and to cover that up he takes a bunch of swipes at me, snide little remarks about me being a snob or bitchy, which when being picked at….I probably am. Anyway, there was some drama the night before and morning of the graduation, baby sister in tears, the whole deal, told her not to worry and that everything would be fine….and poured myself a long glass of Pastis for breakfast…I know, that screams of “having a problem” but I knew that with some anise flavored booze in my belly, my brother’s remarks would bother me so much less. It worked, so too did the little splash of Pastis I poured into my roadie water bottle, it was my medicine and went a long way in curing the “pain in my ass”.
After the graduation there was dim sum, delicious, dropped the brother off at his car and plopped down on the couch, still in my shirt and tie, and fell asleep. Woke up to Call-o shaking me, “Amy and Sexy Bitch are out front. They want to go have a couple drinks before Ronnie’s party” I sat straight up, one eye still closed, my curled and sprayed hair matted into a nest the size of grapefruit, on the back of my head….”shit…shit” I had been hoping to change and freshen up before the party, but the stress and Pastis had benched me. Swipe of powder to the face, wipe the sleep and smudged eyeliner from under my eyes, slip on the flip flops, open the screen door and “Oh let me grab the Domaine de Montille!” stashed it in my purse and stumbled out, loosening my tie and undoing my top button, (felt over dressed) to the waiting Amy and Sexy Bitch.
Now imagine if you will, what a place called, Martini Blues looks like at 4:00 on a Sunday afternoon….yeah. Amy and I made our way to a table that was surrounded by 4 overstuffed chairs, you know those chairs that when you slump in seem to almost swallow you, the ones that have your arms closer to your ears than your sides…maybe not the best for a bar. I kept having to swing my feet and scoot my rump trying to get to the edge of the seat so I could reach forward and take a sip of my martini, I felt like one of those pill bugs that had been flipped on its back, legs flailing, arms swinging…..lame, but after the 2nd martini I just teetered on the edge of the seat for fear that I might not be able to fight my way out of the swallowing chair. Now the 3rd martini may not have been the best choice before going to another party, but not to worry, right after it arrived a rather sobering event sent us heading for the door.
When you are in a bar, in the middle of a Sunday afternoon and a 7 year old sits by you…and the bartender switches the television to the Cartoon Network….well, that goes a long way in making it okay to leave a bit of your cocktail and getting the hell outta Dodge. Now before you get too shocked, the place is a sports bar and they do serve food, it was legal for the kid to be there, it was just a bit surreal and gave me a pang of, “Dude….that’s bad”. Pounded water all the way to the next stop….the not-so-much-a-surprise party.
Had a few snacks, sipped on some J. Laurens Cremant, a lovely little bubbly from Limoux, full of green apple and buttered toast…always a tasty little sparkler and at like $13…a wicked value, the next thing I know, Ronnie is standing in the backyard with the rest of us….no big countdown, no yelling, “SURPRISE” nothing, it was like, “Oh…oh, Hi Ronnie” guess he had a feeling something was going on. The one thing he did not suspect, a 1990 Domaine de Montille Bourgogne.
After he had said his, “Hello and thanks for coming” to his guests I pulled the wine from my purse, he was pleased and tried to hide the wine from the, how should I say…the less than wine savvy partygoers, an aged red Burgundy might be a bit, “lost” on the, “I’ll just have a glass of red wine” set. Once he popped the cork, the wine did just what I wanted it to, it sucked him in with the aromatics, he wasn’t sipping as much as smelling and that is what just floors me about a Burgundy with a little age on it….seductive aromatics.
The wine had more of a brick-ish color, it had lost that oily purple rim and its primary fruit, this wine was all about secondary aromas and flavors; dried fruit, dried herbs, underbrush, roasted meat, tea and just a tiny hint of spice. Light and amazingly elegant on the palate for a Bourgogne, there was this slick, sultry mouth feel, not plump or rich…just, silky and polished with a finish that was still nervy as hell, and long with a seriously meaty flavor that was lifted by the fresh herby, tea like flavors. I could not have been more happy with what this wine gave me, it far exceeded my expectations and just goes to show that even humble wines, grown in great soils and made by a dedicated winemaker can bring remarkable pleasure.
Not sure if it changed Ronnie’s mind, or enlightened him to the magic of red Burgundy but it reassured me that there are few things on the planet as sexy as red Burgundy….