Wine102 9/25 Year of the Plague

A grand dinner with J's CWT crowd. (Often lawyers develop a lifelong circle of friends/associates from their “first firm” fellowships. Certainly true for J. Her second summer at Cornell Law was spent as a summer associate recruited by her perspective first firm CWT. That summer they moved her around different groups - at the One Wall Street “White Shoe” firm - to see where/if she fit in. Perhaps first “Corporate” for a month. Then finally “T & E”, Trust & Estates. T & E is wills and trusts, family stuff. It was a perfect fit.

J is a Park Ave Lady – could have been a model but also so sophisticated. Rich Old Ladies, her clients, love lunching with her as they discuss their estates, their lives as widows. I remember her having to convince an 80ish widow from Maryland, whose husband had owned a good portion of CBS, that she could afford to rent a limo for her trips to NYC – that she didn't have to take Amtrak.)

So two ex-CWT partners from those days were at dinner along with C & G. He heads the London office. And a very successful ex-Federal enforcement then board member of one of the banks he used to enforce. All of them “first growth” wine lovers. At dinner (outside) we had a great Chablis then a fine Italian Barolo. Thinking about wines started with buying the Rieslings for Dev's belle.

So the wine thing was ingrained from birth. All Sicilian. My mother's mother made an incredable chablis using California chardonney trucked annually to the East Coast. “You make great wine in Rochester NY as long as you use California grapes”, my father always said. His Connecticut father's house – 3 stories which he built - had a floor to ceiling winepress in the basement supporting the first floor ceiling. My parents were ingrained. Perhaps with wine you're implanted.

And Dad was a chemist which is a good tool for winemaking. “If it has carbs I can make wine out of it.” He taught winemaking at Vassar while he worked at Poughkeepsie IBM as a chemist. So as a child I was a student of wines. Even mead. My first job & in NYC... WOW (remember, I'm from Philly) was well-payed – in fact a “5 figure salary”.

I made a concious “LIFE DECISION” about wine. At age 21 you drink Champagne. My first job out of Villanova on Wall Street & I could afford Pommery champagne at $6 a bottle. Pommery is the champagne Hepburn bemoans in the Philadelphia Story. Blaming it for her downfall on the eve of her wedding day. But Pommery might be too expencive today so I suggest Calif sparklings, e.g. Mumm Napa at $20. Affordable.

At age 30 you can switch to red wines. I had years from 21 to late 30's to live WITHOUT A CELLAR. You can't cellar wines & have them available daily until you're paying a mortgage. You gotta have a basement for a real cellar. So don't get too serious about Reds until you have a cellar. Which was age 40 for me.

The decision was faced – What Red (& whites even) to cellar. For me it was an actuarial decision depending on our income & depending on J's input. One of the several things I treasure in J is her passion for certain LIFE DECISIONS important to me. Wine being one shared passion. J has an extrodanary palate. In the 80s, the global heirachy of fine wine started with France. If you couldn't afford France you could go down the ladder to Calf, Italy.... But J&I could afford France.

In France the latter starts with Burgandy. Then step to Bordeaux, then Rhones. I wanted the best so we didn't collect Burgandy. Even then the best Burgandys were too too expensive for us. To a student of wine Bordeaux was rich. So stratified, so studied. I got into futures of Bordearx. We could afford to drink perhaps 2 bottles of “the first growths” a week. Latour was $20 a bottle then. But Fort de Latour was $10 (Latour's second growth grapes).

And Lynch Bages quickly became an affordable step down. A second growth Bordeaux.

And after Bordeaux we collected & drank Rhones. Rhones also have a wonderful formal classification system for the student (and data base drinker) & collected sauternes they are beautifully catorigized for a student. D'Yquem then 4 or 5 at the next tier. & Champagne & Calif sparkiling. And because of Jan, Mosels. I was taught there are 4 noble grapes: 2 reds – cab & pinot & 2 whites – chardonney & riesling.

Now these regions/grape choices would only work for me in 1980.... you have to figure out your own...

Building the Cellar, when we bought a house, will be the next wine103....