Three of the Best

This past week a good friend of mine and co-worker Guilhaume Gerard has decided to hang up his hat as part owner of San Francisco’s Terroir Natural Wine Merchant to move onto other things. We here at saignée wish him the very best in whatever is next.

So to send Guilhaume off we opened some bottles. But not just bottles, mind you, but bottles, the type where italics are not only nice to have, but necessary to get the point across.

We started out on wednesday of last after work with a bottle of Substance from cult Champagne maker extraordinaire Jacques Selosse. This is not the first time i had ever tasted a wine from Selosse, but it was the first time that i had believed the hype. Now i’ve tasted good champagne before, and i’ve tasted superlative champagne and a lot in between these broad categories, but never anything like this. To call it the best champagne i’ve ever tasted might be damning it with faint praise, to employee such cliched hyperbole might be damning it with bad prose. The Substance is ripe and full where most Champagne is (to borrow a phrase from Lyle Fass) “thin and dilute.” A truly fantastic Champagne that left us scratching our heads at the selosse rose opened right afterwards (a good wine, but not close to the same level).

The next night a longtime customer brought two bottles from his cellar, one 1996 Thierry Allemand “Reynard” Cornas and a 2007 Overnoy Arbois-Pupillon Poulsard. The Cornas, being a vintage wine from a good producer who produces long lasting wines, bought out the immediate question from a number of wine geek friends when i first talked to them “is it ready?” which is always a puzzling question to me since it seems to address not whether a wine is good or bad or what it evoked but rather some strange ideal of wine that exists in their head, or some perceived ideal that they have set up for themselves (i realize that those with a more philosophical bent could expound on this better than me). This happened to me some four times in the past few days and i was perplexed. “Could the wine get better?”, i was asked, or worse, “was it past it’s prime?” Who the fuck knows, really, as it was profoundly, seriously good and one of, if not the, best Cornas i’ve ever drank, ready or not.

so where to move on from here…

The last wine was the wine that i would more readily drink over any single i’ve tasted in my life, and that either says a lot about the wine, or it says a lot about me. It was a simple bottle of 2007 Overnoy Arbois-Pupillon Poulsard. It is simple not because of what it is, but rather what it costs and the ranking of the grape on the strange, invisible, hierarchical scale that seems to exist. the wine, as our customer put it, tastes like it wasn’t made by a person, but rather it sprung up fresh from the ground ready to drink. There is a quality to the wine that exists only in this wine and very few other places. call it soul, call it a weird mineral profile that you can’t quite pin down, call it exuberance, a drinkability that Leonard Maltin might call an “intellectual rollercoaster ride for the tongue.”

In other news: Read the latest Art of Eating from Edward Behr on the topic of Chablis. It will fucking shock you on how good wine writing can be when freed from the constraints of editing (as Alice Feiring pointed out to me).

If you didn’t already guess i am now employeed at Terroir. A lot of the wines i will be writing about i sell, but i would like to keep this blog my blog and mine alone, so feel free to call me out on any bullshit. This career change also should account for my low blogging frequency and general dip in (already low) quality posts. After 5 solid years of being tethered to my chair designing videogames in front of a screen, being in front of the computer for any period of time aside from some work for Terroir is not particularly welcome, but i hope to step it up soon.

~ by Cory Cartwright on September 23, 2009.

7 Responses to “Three of the Best”

  1. I don’t think of Allemand wines as being of the type that they need a long time to show well. 1996 is probably not a vintage that needs any more time to reach an apogee.

    It was only thinly veiled that you were now at Terroir. Not a bad gig if you can find it. Did you have any of the salumi I sent out?

    I’m sorry to see Guilhaume go, but looking forward to his new place, whatever it is.

  2. Congrats on the career change! no matter how appealing the new job may have been on paper, it takes guts to give up what you know and get paid for, especially when there are other people relying on you, like a wife. i think it’s awesome, and i wish i had the same guts.

    you picked a great place to work, obviously, and i hope your days/nights working there will be happy. congrats again

  3. Will you be working the Thursday day shift? If so, it will be your job to shower me with, I mean kindly offer me samples, rather than Guilhaume – who’s been great. Sad to see him leave!!!

    See you in the latter part of October.

  4. hope your wife gets a raise…

  5. Take it from my Cory. You have made the right decision in terms of your career. I too left an office job, suit and tie to get closer to the thing I love. That is of course wine.
    I’ll see you at Terroir when I am home


  6. sad to see GG leave Terroir but that’s awesome that you’ll be there Cory! Congrats!

    Really looking forward to seeing you in SF again… one of these days…

  7. Good luck with your new venture. You have a great blog here and would like to see it stay.


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