I was having lunch with Paul Marconi, General Manager and part owner of Casa Dea Estate Winery, when an elderly lady and her daughter approached him.
“Where do you brew the wine?” she asked enthusiastically .
Her daughter looked appalled.
Paul didn’t even flinch and replied warmly, “We brew it at the back of the winery dear. Go in and have a look and meet our winemaker.”
I’m a wine tourist. I write from the point of view of people like that lady who enjoy the wine, the outing and really don’t know diddly squat about wines except that they like what was in their glass.
I wonder how many times I have asked equally gauche questions and people have kindly kept their laughter until long after I’ve left.
I don’t have a nose for wine. Most sommeliers and wine critics have great noses. I am overawed by the contestants in Wine Align’s ‘So you think you know wine” video challenge who compete to identify anonymous bottles of wine from anywhere in the world. They are sommieliers, wine judges and critics and they are usually amazing. John Szabo, Canada’s only Master Sommelier almost always nails it, but there was one hysterical video, Episode 3 – 7, where everyone was dropping Italian place names and phrases for what they believed was an obscure Italian wine and it ended up coming from California. You can watch the video here It reassures me that everyone looks gauche in this business at sometime.
At Terroir, in May, I sat in on one of John Szabo’s lectures on Prince Edward County wines, and the guy next to me was extolling the virtues of John’s nose. The lady on the other side of me, confided that her brother was a professional “nose” too. He worked for the municipal sewage system. She was not amused when we laughed. Apparently a good nose for identifying strange odours is important for keeping sewer system running smoothly.
Somehow it seems a waste of a good nose.
Unfortunately when you write a wine column like I do about the joys of wine touring, people expect that you have a nose. They watch me expectantly as I swirl and experimentally sniff the glass of wine. At this point I’m supposed to say something like “stone fruit, vanilla bean, new mown hay and is that a hint of dill?” and instead I look up and say beatifically “Nice!” and occasionally “Amazing!”or not so beatifically, “Hmmm. What do you think Colin?” and my poor startled husband says something about ” Great minerality” Always a safe bet.
Three years of wine touring and we’re really not far from “Where do you brew this stuff?” But we have a wine cellar full of really “Nice!” or “Amazing!” wine that often managed to win awards and they taste of… well …wines we like and memories of summer days wine touring and meeting interesting people like Paul Marconi.
In case you are interested, we took home the Dea’s Cuvée charmat sparkling and the 2010 Pinot Gris that tasted of sunshine. However, if you are a real connoisseur and want “Amazing!” and price isn’t an issue, they have a reserve appassimento Cabernet Franc that is well worth the extra expense for the time and care winemaker Paul Battilana put into it.