Technically, I wasn’t fired, I was laid off. Also, it won’t happen for another 14 months. And I wanted to get laid off so that I could collect a really nice severance package and take a sabbatical for a few months after it was all over, de-stress, and pursue the wine angle full-time for a little bit.
The strange part about it is that if I’d agreed to relocate I would still have a very lucrative job at the same company – but after 13+ years, I’ve basically had enough of that high-stress corporate environment (making a very long story very short).
Don’t get me wrong, I’m having some doubts. Did I do the right thing? Is the economy gonna pick back up? Can I make any real money doing this wine stuff?
You know, the standard stuff: Man doesn’t like shore; Man leaves shore; Man loses sight of shore; Man practically pees himself for losing sight of the shore.
So, let’s just agree that the title was a total bait-and-switch deal and move on, ok?
As odd as it sounds, this was an occasion to celebrate, cholesterol numbers be damned. So we celebrated at Dude Central, to the tune of six bottles of wine (we did not finish them), all of them from the sample pool with the exception of the first wine (which was one from the personal stash).
At this point you probably (and understandably) care more about what we drank than about my future, so let’s get cracking…
- NV Pommery Champagne Brut Royal (Reims): I like my Champagne as yeasty as they can get, and this one delivers as it tastes like they tried to stick an entire loaf of bread into the bottle. Some nice overtones of flowers as well. But the fruit plays a minor role, so you’d better love bread action before you think about throwing down the cash for this.
- 2008 Grooner Gruner Veltliner (Kremstal): What a great introduction to Gruner, and an affordable one too at around $15 (or less). Wines like these – with citrus, bracing acidity, spice and garden-veggie aromas – are totally killer with salads because they compliment the flavors while cutting through the vinaigrette. Also stands up to veggie white pizza.
- 2006 Heron Hill Ingle Vineyard Riesling (Finger Lakes): Do you remember those commercials where the person stuck a big straw directly into a huge piece of fruit, as if they were going to drink the entire thing, pulp and all? This wine is just like that, only the fruit is an enormous lime. It’s a really solid offering from this consistent FL producer and I’d even go so far as to say that Heron Hill is starting to capture a sense of place, a terroir, from that vineyard location.
- 2007 Olson Ogden Wines Unti Vineyard Syrah (Dry Creek Valley): This is a hell of wine. It’s a big wine, but it’s the kind of ‘complex big’ wine (the finish moves from concentrated red berry to smoked bacon) that makes people who don’t like big CA wines do a triple-head-take move. It’s even better on day two if you let it sit and exercise sufficient restraint to leave some of it in the bottle for the next day. Give it four years in the bottle, then guzzle.
- 2006 Rockaway Cabernet Sauvignon (Alexander Valley): It’s really criminal to open this wine this early, when it so clearly needs 5+ years to fully round out the harsher tannins on the mid-palate. I know it’s a sample, and I’m supposed to do that, but it still hurts. There’s a lot going on on this wine, and it’s even better than the inaugural release that was bottled last year, which means (to me, anyway) that they really are sitting on some of the best fruit in Alexander Valley. But… it’s huge, it has ultra-concentrated dark fruit and spice, and the booze is really potent. It’s like that Apache Chief guy from the Superfriends cartoon, where he would say “Inyuk-chuk” and grow to some massive size – I felt like a glass of this wine was doing that at my dining room table, with black fruits growing so big they overtook the entire room. I know, I’m a weirdo. Anyway, if you can find this wine for under $70 I’d say you were getting your money’s worth.
- 2005 Kanu Kia-Ora Noble Late Harvest (Stellenbosch): You knew I was ending this celebration with a sticky, right? This was my first Chenin-based late-harvest, Botrytis-infected wine from South Africa. It’s promising, but a bit of an acquired taste because it combines fruit, nuts, honey, and secondary aromas – I love that and thought it was pretty damn tasty, but you may want something more simple to end your meal. I wrote that it was “like almond brittle made with apricot & doused in kerosene. But in a totally good way.”