Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Can't Live If Living Is Without You.

Been spending a serious chunk of time contemplating big life changes as of late, the way they shift you, change your priorities and how we adjust, recover, learn to live with, or without. Change is easier for some folks than it is for others, I tend to think of myself as being resistant to change but once forced, able to adjust and roll with the onslaught of punches, knocks and eventual moving forward for better or for worse. I’m lucky that way I guess but after talking to a dear friend that is toe-to-toe with the kind of life change that comes with a complete overhaul, as in starting all over again, well it got my noggin churning for sure. While scrolling through Facebook this morning I stumbled on link connected to an aging 80s pop star’s list of 5 things he wouldn’t want to live without. A stupid list really but it did two things, one is I now have one of his songs so violently stuck in my head I think I might have to have it surgically removed and second, it triggered my simple brain to come up with my own list….

In the past few months I’ve been forced to give up and struggle with the living without two things I would have never assumed I’d have to, one far easier than I thought, the other far worse and I’m hoping somewhere in the middle I will come out unscathed, changed but hopefully for the better….or at the very least, smarter. When I began thinking about my list it was all the big things, the too big things that I haven’t the strength or fortitude to even think of living without so, as is often the case, this silly brain of my turned to my most beloved of beverages, wine, and what 5 wines I wouldn’t want to live without. Way harder than I thought. Might have been easier had I just made broad strokes as in, “Pinot Noir” but in an effort to challenge myself a wee bit, and step away from the shit that has been consuming my thoughts, I sat down and actually came up with tighter more specific list of wines that are so important to me and my happiness or pleasure that I would be truly devastated to live without. I’m sure both of you are dying to know and I am all for covering that last piece of shit post so here you go!

Wines I Can’t or Shan’t Live Without:

Pinot Noir based Grower Champagne- Shocking I know! I was going to try and just slip Grower Champagne in here but I figured I should be a tad more specific. I adore the many styles of my little grower bubbles but when seriously thinking, “I wouldn’t want to live in a world without” Camille Saves came bouncing to mind. Upon further contemplation and recollection I added H. Billiot and R.H. Coutier, all wines with higher percentages of Pinot Noir. I adore Blanc de Blancs, the Agraparts and Jose Dhonts but it is the junk in the truck having, curvy body sporting, palate staining wines from Bouzy and Ambonnay that truly get me off and I need them in my life.

Gevrey-Chambertin- Much like above I had to force myself to narrow the scope a bit here. Funnel it down from Red Burgundy to one village that drives me utterly stupid with desire and I had to go with the exquisitely sensual wines from Gevrey-Chambertin. Great producers are able to coax this sexy as fuck sort of stone fruit, almost peach-like, aromas from the grapes grown in this village and paired with the right amount of roasted coffee, smoked meat, bursting red cherries, rose petals and all with a sumptuous mouthfeel and a blast of fine tannin and balancing acidity? I’m in…all in. 

Sancerre- Sauvignon Blanc is probably the varietal I drink the most often. I love piercing acidity, tart flavors are better suited to the way I eat at home and when it comes to price you can always find a brilliant Sauvignon Blanc for $15.00 and under. So Sauvignon Blanc, most often from the Loire, are the wines that grace my table on a regular basis, I’ve not grown tired of them and the diversity, even within the Loire, is enough to keep me interested and coming back for more. That being said, it’s Sancerre I crave the most often and that particular flavor is one all its own. The intermingle of citrus, limestone, flint, oyster shells and at times a topicality…well I can’t imagine my life without that. 

Provencal Rose- These crisp, mouth filling but racy wines just edged out Bourgueil for my number 4 spot. In fact I scribbled it out and put it back on the list three times before committing. Just seeing the new vintages of the delightful Roses from Provence can make me happy, walking past stack after stack of them warms my heart and watching my customers excitedly purchasing mixed case after mixed case gives me a thrill. I love Rose season, adore the foods of Spring and Summer that they go with and I will gorge on Provencal Rose until I nearly burst. It’s true love, without question. 

Sherry- Cheating!! I know, I know. I just figured since I drink more Sherry than most folks I know, and more in one sitting than I should at times, that I could get away with one fairly broad category here….like it’s a public service or something seeing as all both of you are going to run out and buy loads of Sherry because I like it. (Sigh) If held at gunpoint and made to pick only one style, while I would miss my worshiped Fino I think I’d have to say Oloroso would be my desert island Sherry. Something in the complexity and texture, the richness of warmed nuts and the savory stock cube like flavors…pairing a glass with some shaved sheep’s milk cheese and cured pork, fuck. Does me in each and every time.


There you have it kids, my must haves and can’t live withouts. Thrilling no? Oh, and if given 5 more spots, I’d have picked; Chablis, Bourgueil, Madeira, Alsatian Pinot Gris and Northern Italian whites. I think.   I showed you mine now.... 



Romes said...

OK, I did my list, not sure they are in order and I can't be as specific as you...
1)Grower Champagne
3)Sancerre (Really any Loire SB)
4)Cru Beaujolais
5)Italian Dolcetto

But I also feel like I don't know nearly enough about Burgundies - white and red to keep it off the list. I do know I am starting to really love Chablis and Petite Chablis! And I know having to limit my wine world would make me very sad so I hope we never have to use these lists!

Love ya

webb said...

You know i don't yet know enough about ANY wines to choose five, so these don't count but ...

1) Sauvinon blanc - just really discovered this year, but it has flown to the top of the list.

2) vigonier - lots of good ones in Virginia

3) claret - dont judge me! Am still a novice novice with reds, but like this one a lot.

4) Pic poul de pinet - its really 3, but dont want to retype all this.

5) boones farm - kidding, of course. Dont have a five. Really, champagne just dont know any Non-grocery store ones.

John M. Kelly said...

I'm with you on the Saves, but most of the grower Champagnes trip my trigger.

Big fan of the Dauvissat "la Forest" Chablis (actually prefer it to the grand crus).

I'm inspired by red Burgundy from Volnay and Pommard more than I am by Gevrey or Vosne Romanee. Any of the various Boillots, or Roumier. A red Corton can thrill me too.

Provencal Rose, absolutely - if someone said I had to only drink one sort of wine exclusively for the rest of my life, this would be it, just for the sheer immediate drinking pleasure.

California Pinot Noir - but only from a couple of producers.

That's five - the five that popped into my head first. I'm glad I don't have to limit my choices to these, though.

Samantha Dugan said...

All very fine picks indeed and I struggled with Beaujolais myself. I wanted to include it but in the end I had to go with things that make me puddle and well, Gamay isn't it for me. I love you too girlie and would give a bottle of each of these to spend a night chatting with you.

You are learning what you like and as a retailer I LOVE that about you. Oh and we have Sauvignon Blanc in common! Thanks for playing!

Fantastic list! I think the point of this little game was to truly think about the wines that move you, are practical or just mean so damn much that it would break your heart to never see them again. Good reminder for me, and fun to see what everyone else comes up with. Love ya lots dude.

Thomas said...

My first three are Riesling. After that, who cares?

Samantha Dugan said...

Oh come on....not even one Italian wine?

Samantha Dugan said...

Been thinking of another list, that might be easier for you, name 5 wines that if they were to fall off the face of the planet you wouldn't miss, in the least.

gabe said...

i like this game. lets see if i can come up with five:

1) willamette valley pinot noir - after six years in the valley, i just can't imagine life without it.

2) champagne - i don't drink it often enough to get too specific. if it's from champagne, i'll drink it.

3) sonoma county zinfandel - if it wasn't for good zin, i might have never fell in love with wine. these days, i'm usually too big of a wine snob to drink it often, but it's great to get the reminder every once in a while.

4) riesling, local or german - its just good to know that one of the best wines in the world carries enough stigma that I can still afford them

5) tj's under $10 wines - realistically, the one kind of wine I probably truly couldn't survive without

Rogue Wino said...

Realistically speaking (for my budget, and what I end up drinking):
Aglianico (though interchangeable with sangiovese, dolcetto, or langhe rosso)
Blanc de Noir bubbly
Sonoma coast or Oregon pinot
Odd, rustic Languedoc or Sardinian red

List changes as weather warms up, of course :)

Samantha Dugan said...

Harder than it looks right? Well it was for me anyway and you ended up doing the same kind of thing, a balance between actual wines we consume, on the daily or weekly mixed with those aspirational gems...those heart stoppers, that keep us enthralled enough to keep at this. Thanks for playing kid, was kinda fun for me and it had been cool as hell to read everyone else's answers too.

Rogue Wino,
Seasons do in fact change the list which is how Rose made this one, been inundated by suppliers with clinks sacks full of just-flown-here, and not finished by the way, samples of 2012 Roses the past couple weeks so they are on my palate...and my mind which is how I could honestly answer that they were in my top 5. Lemme see now, looks like Thomas is the only anti-bubble thus far...interesting.

Thomas said...


The problem, for me, is that I've got so much wine under my belt, and there's so much out there, that I find a list to be completely unable to make sense.

As for five wines I wouldn't miss:

The wines with more oak than fruit.

The wines in a color that is best for a breakfast juice.

The volatile wines that gain cult status because, "you have to understand them."

The wannabe versions of wine produced in the wrong appellation.

The wines that winemakers claim need all that Velcorin, cone spinning, et al.

Thomas said...

...wouldn't miss if they went away, that is.

Samantha Dugan said...

Oh and like John and I are new kids on the block? The point of the whole silly exercise was to both feed my curiosity and to have us take an honest look at the wines that move us. Not an actual list that we are going to hold anyone to silly head.

I posed the "What wines would you give up for good?" question at work yesterday and, aside from me, the first answer out of everyone's mouth was, "California Chardonnay in the Rombauer style"...I shit you not, each and every one of them. Kinda thought of you and your debate over on Ron's blog. For me #1 had to go to Zinfandel, (fuck I loathe that stuff) and #2 went to the Rombauerian, (and yes, I just made that word up...sue me) Chardonnays.

Thomas said...


You want wines that move me: all of northeastern Italy, Alba, Valtellina, Lugana, Basilicata, Sardegna, Champagne, Chablis, Crus Beaujolais, Sancerre, Quincy, Picpoul de Pinet, Costiere de Nimes, Corbieres, Savoie, Limoux, Banyuls, Rheinhessen, Mosel, Nahe, Dao, LBV Port, Madeira, Manzanilla, Ribera del Duero, Finger Lakes Riesling, northern California cool climate wines, Oregon Pinot Gris, Ontario wines, and a few more, but I'm way over five!

Ron Washam, HMW said...

My Gorgeous Samantha,
Wow, sorry to be so late to the party. My GPS is broken, which hurts like a bastard. Need to see my urologist.

To be honest, there is so much great wine in the world, five could be taken away and I'd just move on to something else, which is what we do anyway when the wines we love travel out of our price range. But, for the sake of fun, my five would be:

Chateau Rayas--you knew that. I can't afford it any longer, but the bottles in my cellar only come out for very, very special occasions. (And Chateauneuf-du-Pape is a category I always need.)

Chave Hermitage--Been in love with this wine forever, but, like Rayas, can't afford it any more. But Chave's pedigree and longevity and sheer power mixed with elegance gets me off.

Cheval Blanc--Is there a more beautiful Bordeaux? In blind tastings of Bordeaux, I ALWAYS picked Cheval Blanc as my favorite. Can't afford it, but love it.

So I'm sort of living in a fantasy world, as though I drink those three top wines regularly, which I don't. But they are three wines that are some sort of standard of excellence in my heart. But then what? What are the real five?

Chablis--Has to be my favorite white wine most of the time. Grand Cru, Premier Cru, I don't care. Just from a great producer, and I'm thrilled.

Barolo and Barbaresco--Something about Nebbiolo, its amazing aromatics, makes me happy.

Napa Valley Cabernet--I do love it, I do, I'm sorry, it's not exotic enough an answer for this crowd. But Spottswoode? Dunn? Diamond Creek? Corison? Give 'em ten or twenty years and, wow, just wow.

Rhone Valley Wines--As I said above with Rayas and Chave. I have a long romance with nearly every appellation in the Rhone, from North to South. Certainly couldn't live without them.

Zinfandel--Like Gabe, Zin was my first love. And though I would never argue that Zin is a great wine, it's a wine I love.

Hard to leave out Champagne, Russian River Pinot Noir, Chianti Classico, and Friuli, but five is five.

I love you! Thanks for the fun wine exercise.

Samantha Dugan said...

Totally cheating but, well least I got something outta you!

Ron My Love,
Some of these I knew, Rayas of course and I think Thomas and I have both been the lucky recipients of your generosity with your beloved Rayas, (although one might question if either Thomas or myself are very special occasions) so thank you so much for that. Chablis I also knew but I don't think I would have guessed it in your top five...very special place in my heart that Chablis stuff so I get picking it. Barolo was nearing my top 10 but I often describe those wines as "Truly sexy but with a mean ass mouth" referring to the acid and tannin structure and seeing as I haven't had enough, or really any, older Barolo I just couldn't pick it. Fuck do I need to remedy that.

The fine print of the restraining order you served me keeps me from exercising the parts of you I'd like to so wine, it's all I got! I love you...

Winey The Elder said...

1. Ldh Tondonia - White
2. German rieslings
3. Sancerre
4. Gevrey-Chambertin
5. sangiovese

Thomas said...

Rayas is supreme, but since I can't afford it either, I'm already doing without it, so it can't make my list of wines I can't do without. When I had it to sell in my shop, I used to steal a bottle from myself...

Sam: in truth, I hate lists more than I hate orange wine. But I part ways with you on Zinfandel--what the hell do you know anyway???

Samantha Dugan said...

What about the Lopez de Heredia Rose? I'm still on the fence about that wine. I think it's cool, like I think orange wines are cool but I don't think I love it....at least not with the idea of Rose in mind. I think I need about 3 more bottles and a pile of cured pork products to complete my research. I've tasted it several times but never with the intent of food and feeding my geek...think I need to fix that. Thanks for playing and unlike Ron, I would have bet Chablis was in your top five after that sultry oyster and Chablis comment you posted that got all the ladies squirming.

Thanks for cutting me some slack. I am not a list person either but I was aching for a cover up post and this was a less easy than I thought out as it were. What the hell do I know?! Not a damn thing...other than I adore you and am grateful you are here.

Thomas said...

Goods grief! Now I have to live up to something.

Give me a subject for my next blog entry. I'm stuck, too. This is why I don't like blogging anymore. I have enough trouble coming up with ideas for my weekly column.

Winey The Elder said...

Yes, I struggled with Chablis and muscadet for the same reason, but you gave us this "Sophie's Choice" assignment and sancerre is on my table far more than any other white so I couldn't leave it off. German rieslings are my 'go to church' ethereal wines and something in the LdH white (truth, I love their rose and reds too) just makes me - to use your phrase - puddle. Their old viura is my last taste before the executioner's blade wine.
This was fun. Thanks.

Samantha Dugan said...

Oh yeah, I'm just bubbling over with ideas. How else does one decide to write a sullen post about Easter or shopping for underpants?! Hey, how about writing a piece and why you think Riesling is more noble than Chardonnay...your first trip to Italy or the first wine you tasted on that trip? Your favorite clam sauce recipe and the wine you want while making or drinking it? Yeah, like I said, golden nuggets of blog ideas I'm giving you here....sigh.

Samantha Dugan said...

OR eating it. Fuck. I give up...I'm a total tard.

Daniel said...

Can I choose White, Red, Rose, Bubbly and fortified/passito? Or how about Italian, French, Spanish, Portuguese and Argentina/Chilean?
Or Piedmont, Rhone, Veneto, Mendoza, Alentejo, Rioja, Tuscan...etc....

Wait. The definitive list.
Bubbles from Somewhere real; France, Spain, Italy, Pepsi
Any decent dry rose; even though summer in the PNW is short, I do need to drink it everyday, all day long from July 5th until Labor Day.
Whites with screaming acidity; Alto Adige, Piemonte, even a good vinho verde,
old Tawny colored sweet wines; not too sweet.
Reds from little distinctive vineyards; especially Piemonte.

actually, my favorite bottle is the one that is open, so as long as there is something to drink...

Samantha Dugan said...

Welcome you and thanks for playing! Now how much fun would this be if we didn't have to dig a little deeper than red, white and bubbly?! Like I've said a bunch of times already, I just did this to make us all think a little about the wines that pull at our heart strings and forever have a place on our palates. I am however finding it way interesting that there is very little Chardonnay, (yes Chablis has been mentioned but only once or twice) and Cabernet Sauvignon...I mean other than Ron has anyone listed Cabernet Sauvignon? As a retailer this is sort of fascinating to me. Like 2 of the best selling wines in the US are barely mentioned here. Wicked interesting.

Anonymous said...

Long time reader first time writer. Love your list, though I prefer the Unbearable Lightness of Blanc de Blanc. Right-on Gevrey: I find the best of the hyphenated Chambertins among the most sensual(Umm.Mazi!)of burgundies, and often decent value. But I really checked in to praise your nom-de-porn on Hosemaster: Sounds like A Bond-Girl to me. This proves your inner smile is still functional. Keep on keepin' on.

Samantha Dugan said...

Well welcome to my comments section but you are of course no stranger to me as I've seen you over at Ron's. Thank for posting and I did struggle with the Blanc de Blanc thing but in the end, had to go with that sexy, curvy, voluptuousness of the Pinot...must have been the Fellatia Soave in me. Thanks again for adding your voice kid.

ColoradoWinePress said...

Fun game!

1. Domestic Syrah
2. Rioja
3. Cabernet Franc (mix of Bdx, Loire and domestic)
4. Provencial-style rose
5. Blanc de blancs

ColoradoWinePress said...

5.2 German riesling...

Charlie Olken said...

Sam--I read this when first up but somehow missed the invitation to offer my own list.

--Good bubbly from anywhere.
--German Riesling. Love wines from the Nahe.
--California Chardonnay--those with depth and balance with Phelps Freestone, Lee Hudson's own, HdV, Ramey.
--Zinfandel. Tops for me are the wines that come from east facing hillsides in Napa, such as Brandlin and Storybook Mountain. Dry Creek Valley Zin, when they are not desiccated monsters are also tops for me. Ravenswood Teldeschi, some from Bella, and Ridge Lytton Springs and Geyserville
--Exceptional Pinot Noir--could be Russian River, especially those from West Side Road, but I can love wines from Central Otago and tasted a brilliant wine sourced in Oregon from Ancien. Great Burgs, of course. Bonnes Mares, and I wish I could say DRC but even in my dreams, I cant afford it.

Samantha Dugan said...

Colorado Wine Press,
Syrah, and domestic no less....now you've ignited my intrigue. Can you give me a handful of names you'd weep if were no longer? If I had to bet that would be one I didn't expect to see here..

When was the last time you had DRC? I can tell you, as someone that had it while basking in the glow of a dinner in the Loire Valley, at chez Dagueneau, after a meal that started with lobster and foie gras terrine and ended with steaks grilled in the fireplace...the wines obviously as opulent and over-flowing, the DRC was kind of a empty-headed let down. I can think of at least 10 other wines I would pick before any from that particular domaine. Let the rich newbie collectors have that noise, come share a a bottle of Lafon, Montille, Marchand or Maume with me. Oh, and where is the Cabernet Sauvignon for you mister Cali?!

Charlie Olken said...

When was the last time I had DRC? Not a fair question.

But every time I have had almost anything under that label, it has been ethereal.

As for CA Cab, you asked for five, and not six. I suppose that I might drop Zin out but I do drink more Zin than Cab except for special occasions when a well-aged Cab or Bdx or both simply lights up my life.

Samantha Dugan said...

Charlie My Dear,
I only ask because that is the Domaine that everyone tosses about and for me, there are so many others that deliver for a fraction of the price.

I was breaking yer bawls about the Cabernet because I was shocked that it wasn't really on anyone's top five list and yet, much like DRC, remains the pinnacle...

Anonymous said...

Palo Cortado.....like a whispered wish.