It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way–in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.
Thank you Mr. Dickens for Comparison Only is what we’re here to perform.
My parents were visiting recently, ironically stopping by before departing on a wine tour of the west coast, including Napa & Sonoma, Oregon and Washington. I often say “I aspire to my father’s lifestyle” and I mean it. He is enjoying the rewards due to him from a lifetime of labor by pursuing that which provides him great pleasure. One of these pleasures is the fruit of the vine. All of the finest wines I have ever tasted have been either at my father’s table, or at a table hosted by my father. It is through him that I have come to this passion for the vintners craft.
We made a reservation at our favorite local bistro for a dinner. While we both perused the wine list I spotted a Carmenère, from of all places, Walla Walla, Washington. My father introduced me to Carmenère about a decade ago and told me its story. I know that he visited Chile a few years ago and toured the varietals’ adopted homeland, so I suggested we try it. Pulling paternal rank knowing that he’d be footing the bill when the check arrived, he demurred, saying it was a bit too expensive (at around $42. You see I come by many traits honestly!) Not wanting to let the opportunity pass, I said “I’ll buy it.” He agreed and I ordered up a bottle. The proprietor let me know that it was an excellent choice and that it was one of his last bottles.
How Carmenère came to be planted in Walla Walla, WA is a story I’d love to hear some day, until then I’ll have to let the wine speak for itself. This Beresan Carmenère is a wonderful example of the varietal, which any Chilean winery would be proud to produce. It drinks as I’d expect a good Carmenère to drink; deep, rich, complex, and flavorful. While not as massively dense as some I’ve tried, it certainly isn’t what you would call light. Between the four of us the bottle went pretty fast and my father ordered a bottle of the other Carmenère found on the wine list; a Chilean called Root:1 (at around $32 at the restaurant, likely much less at retail.) I’ve had a Root:1 Cabernet Sauvignon before, but never their Carmenère until now.
It has all the same characteristics of the Beresan Carmenère, but with a slightly lighter flavor with quite a bit more fruit. Perhaps the fact that it is only 75% Carmenère, with the rest being Cabernet sauvignon and Syrah is what gives it the fruit-boost and lighter profile. Honestly they were both excellent, with the Beresan being my favorite of the two.
As Dickens said it is indeed the best and worst of times. A time when a modestly wealthy gentleman much watch his expenses due to the foolishness of the great titans of Finance who brought upon us this winter of despair. But it is also our Spring of hope, with everything before us, such that amazing fruits of far off continents are available to us for a few dollars here and there. Savor the fruits where you find them.
It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known.