Tuesday, March 7, 2017
Lost In the Supermarket
The things you find on the shelves. Jesus.
I am an ardent shelf stalker. I go through 'em all. Wine stores, supermarkets, duty free. Even when not actively looking to buy anything, I glance through, look again, compile and file away the inventory and prices. Why do I do even do this? Maybe someday this arcane data will make a difference. What can I tell you? I was a weird kid and I wound up a weird adult.
But, sometimes my compulsive behavior pays off.
Faccenda Enrico, Barolo, Rocche di Castelletto, 2005
Once upon a time, an Israeli engineer on relocation in Italy decided to import Piedmont wines to Israel. His nickname was Doosh and he called his company the Doosh. No English speaker was able to contain a smirk. The operation has long since ceased to exist, but I recently found this bottle, from what looks to be a small, family firm in Barolo, in a local supermarket chain. This type of discovery is one of the thrilling twists in the plot that makes a wine lover's life so wonderful. Firstly, because finding it was exciting and remembering the Doosh was like revisiting an old Damon Runyon story. Then, the wine. With typical, intensive aromas of iron, tar, dust and black fruit, this is not the most refined of Barolos (often a grungy style of wine in the first place) - the discreet sweetness of the fruit, the tart acidity and the rusty tannins play Chuck Berry, not Beethoven. Old World charm doesn't get a lot better than the twisted, long, saline finish, its kinky, spicy intensity whipping your palate to set it up for the next mouthful, right after the nose pulls on your heart strings.(Feb, 3, 2017)
Joseph Drouhin, Nuits St. Georges Premier Cru, Les Proces, 2001
The reason I found the Enrico in the first place was a friend tipped me off that he'd found a small stash of the Drouhin Proces in the same store. I won't share the details. If this store has any more hidden treasures, hell, avarice is a virtue. But I imagine my friend running into this unexpectedly. I know where the wine was kept and I know you need an employee to access the shelves where it was kept. Did he suspect what he might find there? What was he looking for in the first place? It's hardly a store that raises a lot of expectations.
And then he spotted it. He's a Bourgogne head, just like me. He knows Drouhin is one of the good negociants, so he recognized the potential in the name itself. He knows 2001 is a tough, old school vintage for the die-hards. The rare, unknown vineyard must have thrilled him; he must have relished the notion of stumping the illuminati in blind tastings. He did, in fact stump us. We recognized it for Nuits, I think we recognized the vintage. To his credit, my friend didn't insist we name the vineyard. We would never have gotten it.
It's really an old school wine. It's not a sexy vintage. You get a lot of iron, a lot of rotting leaves and rusty tannins. You don't get sleek, fleet footed fruit. This isn't where Burgundy seduces you, it's where it scratches you in the face and threatens to claw your eyes out. (Feb. 14, 2017)