Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Bubbles Deserve Better

I woke this morning after another night of not enough sleep, oh don’t think of feeling any pangs of, “Awe poor Sam” I do this to myself. It’s not that I can’t sleep most of the time, it’s that I can’t sleep in, so if I say….went to bed before 2 am I might get more sleep, just another flaw in my silly design. I woke this morning both excited and already annoyed, the reason….going to a trade tasting.

I avoid these events like Sarah Palin avoids reality, just wont or don’t go to the sixty or so I am invited to each year, tastings, panels, winemaker dinners..nope, nope, no thanks. I know that people outside of the trade think this is just crazy talk, hell…some of my peers think it’s crazy talk too, two members of my staff seem to spend just as much time at these events as they do at the shop. Sure there are some good parts, first of all it shortens your work day, (which is my guess as to why those fellow Wine Country staffers leap all over these events) when we have a trade event to attend we never schedule that person to close the store, maybe open, work a couple of hours, then shoot up to LA for the tasting, then you are free for the rest of the day…drunkards not so much good with the counting of change required for end of the day duties. The other upside is of course the wines, but sometimes that can reason enough not to go too, “Jadot and Duboeuf tasting? Nah, think I’m good thanks”.

I go to about 3 or 4, usually two of those are for Beaune Imports, dig Michael Sullivan and think he has the best French book in our area, (yes there are others I like too, Kermit, Martines, Veritas…people like that) so I never miss one of those events. I have been known to attend a North Berkeley tasting or two and I used to make it a point to go to the annual Terry Theise Champagne tastings but after the west coast distributor and I had a beef a couple of years ago, (Long story but I had a conflict on the date of his SoCal tasting, thought it was important that I attend so I came up with what I thought was brilliant plan, spend the weekend with the hubby in San Francisco and hit up the NoCal tasting on Monday. Bought the tickets, got the time off, made hotel reservations and then was told, “Don’t you think you could focus better without your husband peering over your shoulder?”…um, okay. They would rather I had him wandering around outside waiting for me to finish tasting like 75 Champagnes…guess they don’t really think it all that important for me to come to their tasting, so now I don’t. Still support those wines, hell I love them…anyone that has seen my tattoo knows my love for Pierre Peters, but I simply wont go to the tasting, petty? Maybe but that’s how I roll.) that one has been removed from the, “must go” list. The other one that I try not to miss is the one today, Becky Wasserman Champagnes.

So what could I possibly be annoyed about while drinking, Camille Saves, Godme, and Jose Dhondt? The format for one, cannot tell you how much I hate the swirl, sniff, taste and spit deal when it comes to Champagne. First of all I don’t swish bubbles much…kind of just gets bigger in your mouth and starts to burn the ol’ palate after a bit, spitting is also an issue, the spit buckets at these events look like someone has been whipping egg whites in them…gag much?! But the worst, well aside from those other idiot attendees, the ones that wear perfume/cologne, park in front of the wines and have the nerve to glare at you when you try and squeeze your glass past them….argh….the whole scene just kind of makes me sad, sad for the Champagnes.

Everyone standing around, sip, scribble and spit, no love…no inspiration, no letting those flavors move you, no marveling in the way those tiny spheres dance across your palate and deliver that warm hum that starts in your head then rolls down your spine. No appreciation for the way the flavors stain your palate, relishing in the caramel, apples, flowers, oyster shell…no, just spit and, “Next”…so not how they were intended. I for one will NOT be a table hog, I will get my pour and move as far away from the herd as I can, let myself love them, let them make me hum and I will let them do what they were meant to….inspire me.

Picked my outfit, going a little saucy today…and I have a bottle of 2000 Camille Saves in the fridge awaiting my return, that bottle will get the respect and love it deserves, shit…day is already better knowing that is at the end of it


vickibarkley said...

Thinking about Camille, Jose, et al, I'm getting all dreamy, with a faraway look in my eye. Have a wonderful day, and a great session with Camille tonight!

Thomas Pellechia said...

Trade tastings, as well as tastings for the public, are akin to public hangings, but less fun.

Re, the idiots who hog the table to talk about their last trip to Europe and how marvelous everything was there, blah, blah, blah: when I ran a tasting room, and when I had to pour at large tasting venues, I developed a few ways to deal with traffic flow. Each way was developed based on the situation. One of the ways included a Louisville Slugger, because some people simply don't get the message, no matter what you tell them.

Ron Washam, HMW said...

My Gorgeous Sam,

Have you had the new Champagne from one of the heirs of Camille Saves who married Jose Dhondt's brother Jesus? Jesus Saves? Great with myrrh.

You know what I hate at trade tastings? Drop-dead gorgeous women dressed saucily. How am I supposed to concentrate with you standing there blinding me with your beauty? I'd be so distracted I might even buy crappy Veuve Clicquot if you were so nuts as to attend that tasting.

Next time, dress like most wine buyers. Vintage Wal-Mart.

I love you, Gorgeous Sam

Your HoseMaster

Benito said...

Totally agreed. Unlike other wines, bubbles have a very short lifespan after the cork has been removed, and it seems a shame to approach them with clinical seriousness.

It's hard to balance that mentality with the desire to make sparklers more of an everyday wine rather than just on New Year's, but when the bottle is fizzy, you gotta be all up in the hizzy. Or something like that.


Samantha Dugan said...

I think I've seen that look at one or two of my tastings!

First off this afternoon I had to squeeze between two douchebags that were stunning the poor dude that was pouring, with their tales from their last trip to Spain....It's a Champagne tasting asshole, no one cares! Argh..

But you see love, the retarding of the boys makes it much easier to get to the table, silly.

Samantha Dugan said...

In da hizzy foe show. I think if more people drank wines like the ones I tasted today, well it would make my job in the Champagne department a whole lot easier....just keep hoping.

David McDuff said...

There's nothing that kills me about trade tastings more than people showing up slathered in perfume, cologne, etc. And there's certainly no replacement for the pleasure of the experience and the understanding that can be founded by drinking wine with food and at home rather than at a big tasting.

All that said and more, though, there's so much depth in the Theise Champs portfolio that I'd think it would be worth burying the hatchet with whoever made the "leave the hubby at home" crack, Sam. How often do you get to taste so many fine grower bubblies at once. It can be harried, for sure. But at the very least, it's a good way to gauge which bottles are meritorious enough to be worthy of further investigation.

Samantha Dugan said...

I'm not angry with them anymore, not really, just not going to support those tastings is all. I have a FANTASTIC rep from that company, love, love, love Adam and he keeps me up to speed on things. I like it better this way anyway, get to hang out with a Cutie Pie, really taste the wines and not smell or listen to the herd. But you are right, about those wines....simply some of the best.