I was never part of the party. A consistent and persistent outsider. Sitting on the benches. Watching everyone else from afar wondering what in the world the deal was, what all the talk about, and why I wasn’t part of it. I was a traditionalist, I guess in many ways I still am. I was told that Burgundy was the vinous equivalent of Jerusalem and that I must, as a wine drinker, focus all of my attention on climbing the rocky, limestone-infused and chalky path that was, in order to get there – to taste perfection.
So I’d sit there in the dark corner of whichever wine bar I found myself in on any particular day of the week. Across all time zones I have dared to travel I always find that people are constantly excited about the mention of it. Initially it was a secret that only a few members alluded to. Whispers on the back-benches of the alcoholic parliament of the wine trade. Usually a rumour – nothing serious. Nothing life-changing. Certainly not.
But I was wrong.
On a recent trip to Manhattan it happened. I wasn’t sure if I wished to collude with it but I did. I let myself go to whatever may happen.
It was a trip that I will never forget.
It all happened at roughly 1800 hours at a friend’s apartment in the Upper West Side. The aromas of garlic and butter were sizzling in the background en route to prepare the Coq-au-Vin – from a recipe that we had scored from the New York Times the day before. It was a nice moment and we were living the highlife. Then. Then she suggested it. She whispered that word. Being a good friend she asked my permission first before she initiated. It was a consensual experience but I still felt naughty and unaware of what would happen.
A cold rush came over me as she opened the fridge door. Within a blink of my eye it was there staring at me. I quizzically looked at it. Examining it. It was beautifully alluring. I couldn’t look away. There was a glow surrounding it making me question what I had been doing before this moment. I always thought that if I had pulled out a Gevrey-Chambertin it would glow like this but this was something else entirely. She was beautiful, just beautiful. A real 21st century Lady Madonna.
It was probably only a few moments since we clocked eyes but it felt like all time had stopped completely. Classical Spanish guitar music was playing the background – I was sure of it. It had happened, I was seduced. My friend had got out the corkscrew and was about to initiate the ceremony. In all honesty I couldn’t even fathom what was to happen or accept the fact that all roads up until this point had led to this moment. I was lucky to be in this position yet there was a touch of angst filled the air around me. I found myself questioning the audacity of my friend’s judgement. Before I knew it my beautiful Riedel glass was filled with a liquid more beautiful than any other.
With great anticipation I reached out and picked up my glass. The intensity of my sniff made me feel as if I was half-man, half-Dyson vacuum cleaner. Within seconds I was surrounded by red cherries, fresh strawberries, red currants, vanilla wax, raspberry coulis, blood orange peel and watermelon martini aromatics. Talk about a religious experience. I felt as if I was walking through the town of Grasse. The next few moments were truly exciting. I had been sucked in, converted to the holiest of orders. I donned my robes and allowed for the procession to continue. I raised the glass up high, no need to raise it in to the light as it was emitting at least 10W of light pink hue across the room. My friend eagerly watched me from across the kitchen bench. I opened my mouth and slowly dripped the nectar on my tongue. It was just as good as I had heard about. The rumours were true. I couldn’t believe my luck. It was official. I was part of the club. The happiest day of my life. The chilled liquid elegantly trickled down my throat leaving behind it a raft of beautiful flavours. It was soft, sultry and refreshing all at once. The finish was longer than I could have ever expected. As if it was running a race with the legendary wines and vintages that proceeded it.
I had to stand up just so I could sit down again in relief. It happened. It finally happened. It immediately made sense as to why this was one of the most hunted down wines in the world. I finally got to see for myself what all the hype was about and what is more – I understood it.
I finally got to taste the Wolffer Estate Summer in a Bottle Rose. It was, and still is, heaven.
Only a limited amount is allowed to travel outside of the Hamptons (due to it selling out so jolly quickly. NZ has got a tiny allocation and is exclusively sold via The Cellar Store. Click here to get your share NOW!