Wine: Breathing Time
2005 Vieux Télégraphe Châteauneuf du Pape Blanc “La Crau”
Every once in a while something remarkable happens along one’s journey of endless discovery in the world of libations. I have learned that, unless you spend a great deal of time traveling, there is usually an importer involved—a trail-blazer—names like Eric Solomon, Neal Rosenthal, Ron Cooper and, the incomparable Kermit Lynch. He opened his doors in the year I was born, and his name was legendary, growing up in California. He moved culture and changed lives, as evidenced by those who still seek his counsel; among them, Jim Harrison—the most important living American writer—who even writes in Kermit’s newsletter, on occasion. In fact, Harrison, who eloquently while feverishly, discredited the 100-point scale—did so gracefully and categorically in that very newsletter.
People talk about eradicating snobbery in the wine world—this ongoing “issue” has its omnipresence well-rooted, amid a labyrinth of misconceptions. But between people like Lynch and Harrison, there are no dragons to slay, only discoveries to be made. It’s all about sharing openly, lovingly. We tend to fear things we don’t know—it’s human nature, so we’re told. This is ending with the coming generations, hungry for new experiences in a flat-world. One such experience might be alternative white wines—getting away from the homogenized Chardonnay your grandmother knocks back—which is, thankfully, a far cry from the Lancers and Blue Nunn of my youth.
The 2005 Vieux Télégraphe Châteauneuf du Pape Blanc “La Crau” 13.5% [Kermit Lynch H. Brunier et Fils] is medium-gold in color; the bouquet is vibrant with youthful aromatics of ripe golden apples, pear and lemon—with candied undertones—pineapple, faint resin, Corinth raisins and fresh herbs. The palate is steely, great structure, with fat, round layers of flavor: pineapple, golden apples, tropical fruit, spice, fresh herbs; long, rich finish, candied lemon and sweet green apples; with lingering sweetness, faint tempered wood. The palate is incredibly vibrant and bright.
The kicker: it is not known when this wine was actually opened—most likely 3-4 weeks ago—regardless it’s remarkable. How could this have happened? Don’t ask. It, somehow, wound-up in the back of the kitchen-unit, most likely a party. The only other non-sweet white wine I have known to have this longevity is Joly. And, Joly this is not; but it’s lovely, and incredibly distinctive. Based on earlier experiences with this vintage, I would recommend decanting this bottle, or at least opening it a few days before you drink it.