Thanks Ricard. Miss old Crouch End, moved out in 2011 after 14 years there. Yeah Dominik is a good guy and one of the most intense/interesting winemakers I’ve met. Seriously talented guy. He kindly spent a few hours showing around his vineyards and cellar. Those wines! And that olive oil!!!
First taste of wine - some cheap German white at a wedding aged 15, which I choked on and regurgitated next to the girl I was desperate to impress.
Next try at wine, Sainsbury’s Claret aged 21 in 1984, before generic Bordeaux was a pleasant experience.
Transformation and epiphany aged 24 when Oddbins was at its prime and their flagship store was near my office under the arches in Farringdon Road in London. Trefethan Chardonnay 1983. Buttery unctuous loveliness That hooked me and I had many other great bottles from there, even getting DRC La Tache “under the counter” once - £40 well spent!
I was a teenager, travelling back home with my parents through France. As my dad was driving along a country road he suddenly slammed on the brakes, put the car into reverse and sped backwards towards a fork in the road that we had just driven past. He had spotted a sign by the fork that pointed towards a village called Montrachet.
So next thing we knew we took a detour and headed towards Montrachet (obviously I had never heard of it before at that age) and ended up having lunch in the hotel/restaurant called Le Montrachet.
It’s fair to say that as a 16 year old I had never seen anything like it. There were professional wine tasters that had brought their own wine glasses in wooden boxes to their tables. Everything about the place was like nothing I had ever seen before. I had certainly never seen wine take center stage in that way.
I remember eating snails for the first time and having a glass of the most extraordinary wine. Whilst it was many years before I tasted any Montrachet again, it certainly gave me a very early introduction into how special food and wine could be.
My parents often remarked to me that until then I was happy with a burger and chips and a fizzy drink.
Wonderful story! Thanks for sharing.
Step 6: Thanks to @wamt74’s comment, I just remembered another of those ‘special moments’. It transformed my thinking in a way that is hard to remember exactly because you can’t imagine ever thinking any other way, but …
Some friends invited us to their wedding, and as she was Hungarian, it took place in Budapest. It was such a beautiful place to visit, but the experience of the trip was at their evening reception, where we began the meal with a starter involving foie gras which was matched with a glass of 3-puttonyos Tokay. Sweet, but not unctuous. Superb!
The wine regulations have changed since those days, and I doubt you could even find such a bottle, but the revelation was the potential versatility of wines that were otherwise relegated to fantasies, or very specific events, and it made me re-evaluate the assumption that any wine should be trapped by its ‘moment’ - and instead to look for ways to challenge these. Port, sherry, madeira, champagne, etc … were all presented as 'the thing to have when …" instead of how they might complement occasions.
And yet … it has been FAR too long since I tasted some Tokay (or Tokaji) so I must now remedy that.
You can find them, for example in my wine rack… but true it is true 3 puttonyos is no longer allowed only 5 and 6.
Okay, just for clarity:
Tokaj is a town in the centre of the region
tokaji is an adjective meaning of Tokaj - so the wine region is called Tokaji Wine Region and wine is called Tokaji
Tokay is nothing … except for it is actually the correct pronunciation of the name of the town
So basicly you can say I am drinking Tokaji wine, just as you say you are drinking Rhone
Interesting, szaki1974, I didn’t know they’d deregulated 3 and 4 puttonyos wines. I’ve only recently come around to the glory of good quality 3 puttonyos, having always bought 5 as I equated that with the better quality stuff. But unless it’s really well balanced I find it quite hard work after one glass (although it will always be my favourite pairing for stilton), whereas well made 3p can be so pleasant and versatile. Been drinking more szamorodni Tokaji in recent years, which I find can be more interesting all round.
I second the spelling correction through, Robert. Tokay is long dead, a relic of dark pre-EU regulations when Alsace could get away with playing on the great Tokaj name.
I like questions that allow reflection, so thank you.
My first memory about wine was as a child on holiday in the late 1970s with my Dad in our 2CV in Provence and a regular visit to the local co-operative and their petrol pump dispenser to get the next gallon of red.
As a teenager I worked in a lovely German restaurant in Northumberland whilst doing my A Levels and through my time in University. This was my introduction to the variety of wine, countries of origin and grape styles, with occasional wine tasting evenings, one memorable one being de Bortoli in about 1983. A long day and evening of service was usually rewarded with some of the fine offerings of food and, if lucky, a sniff of any left over bottles. I learned a lot from the owners and their Maitre d’ about the importance of good food and wine.
My epiphany was probably during the early 1990s when returning from working in outback Australia to the UK. My wife and I toured the Hunter Valley and discovered their semillon (Brokenwood winery where they did tastings in the shed with the families all helping out) and, later, during our backpacking in New Zealand we came upon Esk Valley winery in Hawkes Bay and their gooseberry packed Sauvignon blanc with further tastings in Marlborough. What revelations in wine alongside the green lipped mussels and clams of the Marlborough Sounds.
I still enjoy regular epiphanies when on holidays, most recently in Santorini.
This is a fascinating topic! So thank you for starting it!
I can not think of a particular time when I started to be really interested in wine. I come from a town called San Fernando, in the region of Cadiz in Spain. It is just on the border of the Sherry region so wine has always been in my life. Wine was often around at my parents kitchen table. It would be a moscatel of a fino bought in bulk in 2 litre plastic bottles. So my introduction to wine was gradual and natural; it was just part of the meal!
When I was a teenager I started cycling, mountain bike at the time. Encouraged by the sense of freedom and adventure of cycling I started to cycle to the countryside in nearby towns. The town of Chiclana is just a few kilometres away so I would cycle there and then head to the tracks around the surrounding hills. These were all covered in vineyards as far as the eye can see, green lush vines, light reflected by bright albariza soil. At the time I realised how important wine was for my home region. And for the first time I realise that wine was something that really came from the land and its people.
Years later, thanks to my work as a photographer and my general passion for eating and drinking I have found myself visiting plenty of winemakers. But one experience in particular has stuck to my head and it provably was the most humble and humbling of all.
I was in Jerez, in bodegas El Maestro Sierra, a personal favourite of mine. I was taking some pictures for an article in a wine magazine and in a cheeky way I asked winemaker Ana if we could sample some botas (the local terms for barrel). She offered to show me her 3 favourite botas of fino. We sampled the 3 and I was astonished by how different and characterful all 3 were despite being the same wine at the same stage of ageing. One of them was fuller and darker in colour with hints of green and an apple taste. Another was more briny and salty while the third seemed to have an oily texture and a hint of peach flavour. I then realised what a wonderfully complex thing wine was. Those wines showed me what the land and the skill of the winemaker can provide. Since then on I have always been intrigued by wine.
I was brought up in a virtually teetotal family so going to University in 1966 proved a turning point in my education in more ways than one! Freshers’ Wine was a college (University College, Durham) tradition where the freshmen entertained the rest of college with sketches, pieces of music, stand-up etc. Wine was served and this was my epiphany as I tasted a fruity white wine (I have no idea what it was) for the first time. I remember Dennis Pepler giving a hilarious rendering of Saint Saens’ ‘Elephant’ from the Carnival of the Animals on his double bass so I obviously didn’t overindulge in my new found love of wine! As my undergraduate years progressed I worked my way round the contents of the College cellar from which we undergrads were allowed to purchase excellent wine at bargain prices. As a graduate doing my postgrad cert in education I remember a special graduate dinner in the Castle state rooms where we consumed the last of the college’s 1948 vintage port from the year that I was born!
Great story! Thanks for sharing it. I must say I am particularly enjoying this thread. I have always been of the thought that wine is more than just a drink, or a bottle with a price. Wine is about stories, not just those of the winemaker and the land but the stories of how we find, drink, and fall in love with wine. I always remember special bottles, but more so those bottles that I have had an emotional attachment to because of the company that they were drunk with, or the special time at which I enjoyed them.
3 posts were merged into an existing topic: Is this the time, and weather, for a sherry?
Late 70s, must have been at least 1978 for it to be legal…Victoria Wine (remember them?). Manager was an old boy who looked like J R Hartley from the Yellow Pages ad…
Anyway, he recommended a Mosel Riesling Kabinett and a cru bourgeois claret, can’t remember which but it was a 1970, for this callow youth to buy for family Christmas Dinner…such a revelation…never looked back.
@MrNXM’s story got me remembering, too. My epiphany happened the very first time I can actually recall tasting wine.
Summer 1960, aged 8, and our next-door neighbours were having a garden party. I was allowed to taste some white wine. It was magnificent and I was told it was called Chassagne-Montrachet. It gave me, even then, some idea why my father and grandfather were members of this “Wine Society” thing. For years I remembered the name of the wine although I’ve no idea what vintage or vineyard it came from.
Autumn 1975, I did the vendanges in Burgundy in a village called Cheilly-les-Maranges and the following spring I spent another 3 months working for the same vigneron. It gave me such a kick when realised we were only 5 miles from Chassagne-Montrachet and that it was a real place. Just remembering the villages we might drive through on the way to Beaune - Santenay, Chassagne, Puligny, Mersault, Volnay, Pommard - gives me the same kick today.
Autumn 2017, and ever since that first day I’ve been watching for the wine that is so high and wild I’ll never need to drink another (with apologies to Leonard Cohen.) Haven’t found it yet, the search continues.
Mine probably seems a bit boring after reading all of the big name regions and wines that most of you have mentioned, but mine was a ridiculously cheap red - Aldi’s Toro Loco Tempranillo which I think is still under £4 a bottle!
I had only tried a few reds before and thought they were too dry and tannic, and I wasn’t really a wine drinker at all, reds or whites. My manager at work recommended it, and as it was cheap, I decided to give it a try. I did some googling and discovered it was quite well regarded, despite being so cheap. Although not the most amazing wine, and it wasn’t on a special occasion, just a night after work, it was the first red wine that made me think “this is pretty nice” and started my interest in wine.
I tend to spend a bit more on a bottle these days, but I’d still consider myself an “enthusiastic novice”, so hopefully I’ll get round to trying some of the special wines and regions others enjoy so much. I don’t have any wino friends, but I recently got my brother and a friend interested in wine, so it’s good having someone to share it with!
I’ve a few spare if you need some?
OK, I must have been with aspirations beyond my family’s lifestyle. Whilst at secondary school i with a friend started buying half bottles of whatever Unwin’s had in stock. We really enjoyed the Beaujolais, Lothed the claret for laying down, I didn’t lie down as it was both acid and tannic. Got on better with the burgundy ( before the 1973 rules) and then discovered the clean dry wines of Germany which I fewlt could become my everyday wine.
Leaving home and going to Medical School did not ad to my experience until I met up with a former Naval Officer who managed to get us both into wine tasting. This was mainly young Bordeaux but it was very educational particularly when we were allowed a sip or two of mature claret . Then anotherneyeopener when we tasted some fine German wines at a Hallgarten tasting. Once more an infatuation grew stonger but not with the sweeter wines that replaced the drier offerings.
Italy was magic from the beginning. I think that t his was down to a bottle of Amorone, well aged and so deep and full of flavours that when I had finished my glass I realized that I needed another glass to finish.
Then journeys through France with my wife driving. Such a wondrous exploration of the great wines of the Southern Rhone , Provence, and the Luberon. Unforgettable talk with the wine makers and the fun of the fair at the local co-op who were more than generous.
So I would agree that there is not one epiphany moment in my life but a journey when each road might open up with new vistas of delight.
Oh, I was so proud when I gave a case of the WS claret. Mt Father was complimentary and my Mother asked for more.
Without doubt the moment was back in 1990 at a wine tasting, not a wine soc one but our local merchant Lay and Wheeler as it was then. It was at Broxbourne, meal included. It was a champagne tasting, my wife was expecting our first child and so was driving and not drinking! we were crammed into a silver blue mini with another couple. I remember the car park was full of Rollers and the like, we felt a bit intimidated as newcomers to these sort of ventures.
I can’t remember much about the champagne but the star of the evening was the claret that accompanied the main course. It was a 1983 Pichon-Longueville Comtesse de Lalande- Reserve de la Comtesse. It was fabulous; I bought a case of six that evening but when I went back for more a few months later it was in short supply. If only I had bought more at the time. 28 years later I can definitely say I have not tasted a better claret, or to put it another way not found anything that has been so right for me. If any expert out there could steer me to something similar today I would be delighted to explore! I can’t recall how much I paid for it in 1990 but it wasn’t excessive at that time; I see it now commands a pretty decent price.