I’ve been on a skin-contact kick lately. I think that beginning our relationship with Gravner and diving into those wines in a serious way triggered a perspective shift in my brain. While I had always enjoyed “orange wines” and found them interesting, I was never able to “see into” them the way I felt I could with so many other wines. Though I’m a little embarrassed to admit how late in the game it happened, something clicked for me recently, and I’ve been finding myself craving those warm, analog aromas, that beautifully assertive textural crunch, that primal sense of the ancient and raw. There’s a deep spiritual satisfaction in that “Oh, I get it now!” moment, and it’s something I’ve always loved about gaining an appreciation for authors and filmmakers and musicians as well. So it’s been fun riding that feeling with skin-contact wine.
This past Wednesday evening, I decided to check in on the 2009 Arboreus, a wine I hadn’t had in quite a while. I opened it to drink with some homemade mujadarra–an incredibly simple but satisfying traditional Lebanese dish made with lentils, rice, and onions cooked in lots of olive oil (hello, Il Censo) to the point of heavy caramelization. (I’ve found that skin-contact whites are great-to-dreamy when paired with anything involving caramelized onions–give it a try sometime…) The wine was impressive upon opening: dense and thick, with a toasty vanilla edge that obviously has nothing to do with oak; cafe au lait and fresh caramel, but also crunchy peaches and apricots; and broad, firm tannins that freshened up everything and unified all of those exotic counterparts.
As good as the wine was, I also wanted to try the dish with a red, so I crammed the cork back into the Arboreus and set it aside. What prompted this email wasn’t so much what happened that first night, but what happened three days later… My little sister had been in town visiting since Thursday morning, and I had forgotten about the poor Bea—he had never even made it into the refrigerator. Puttering around before dinner, I pulled the 3/4th-finished Arboreus from a group of to-be-recycled bottles, more out of sheer curiosity than any hope of it still being sound, and gave it a very light chill…
I was not at all prepared for how eye-poppingly dazzling it had become. Had someone snuck into my kitchen and shaved six ounces of white truffles into the last glass and a half’s worth of wine?! Day-four Arboreus had the depth and majesty one hopes for (usually in vain) in a 20-year-old white Burgundy, and it somehow tasted fresher and more integrated than on the first night. Even its color had deepened and solidified–an imposing copper ore that looked as if it had been sculpted rather than poured into a glass. My little sister, unprompted, said, “I think this is the best wine I’ve ever had in my life!” It’s definitely one of the most memorable wine moments of 2016 for me, a year filled with more than its share of delicious bottles. Now I can’t wait to try the same thing with Gravner, San Fereolo, et. But it will be difficult to top the impact of this, a truly Great Wine…
It’s something I love and cherish about wine—its ability to surprise you, to pull you out of your own mind unexpectedly, and to make you feel a sense of sheer wonderment that years of working in the industry can occasionally temper… Thanks for reading. What have you guys drunk and loved lately?