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More Than Just the Liquid in the Bottle

February 28, 2010

Last night was the eleventh annual Open That Bottle Night.  It did not feel the same without John & Dottie cheering us on from their column in the Wall Street Journal.  But I know that somewhere they were participating in the holiday they created.

A few years ago Mrs. Fussy and I happened to find a bottle of 2001 Lazy Creek Vineyards unfiltered gewürztraminer at a state store in Altoona, Pennsylvania.  That alone was a bit of a mystery.  The wine was old even at the time.  And how on Earth did this limited production wine from a small family winery make its way all the way out to the Keystone State?

We had visited Lazy Creek a handful of times and were utterly charmed by the winery, the wine, and the family behind them both.  Skipping out on the bottle was not an option.  It would be like bumping into an old friend in a foreign land and not saying hello.  So we bought it, drove it back to New York, and put it with the rest of our wines.  Where it sat.  And sat.  And sat.

When OTBN XI rolled around, we knew this bottle’s time had finally come.

Some people make a special meal for their special bottle of wine.  We didn’t do that.  In fact, we had a dinner with friends and our kids earlier in the evening, and had a perfectly lovely time.  But as much as I love the children, they do not pair well with the quiet contemplation of an older bottle of wine.

So we came home, put the kids to bed, and had a wine date.

Neither of us was convinced that the wine would even be drinkableNine years is a long time for a bottle of dry gewürztraminer.  The cork was in remarkably good condition, especially given that it had not been stored in ideal conditions.  And when we poured the first glass, the first sniff immediately brought Mrs. Fussy back to the Anderson Valley.

That was always our favorite region to visit wineries.  Its cooler climate is ideal for pinot noir, gewürztraminer and sparkling wines.  And because it was a bit further from San Francisco, there were no tour buses.  Plus we could easily stop for a few tastings on the way to our favorite bed and breakfast, far away from the things of man.

As we drank the wine, we talked about what we were doing in 2001.  For starters, we got married.  We were living in the best apartment ever.  I was doing some big work for Taco Bell at Foote, Cone and Belding.  Mrs. Fussy had a few professional milestones of her own.  It was a pretty good year.

Which made us think about other good years.  For me it was a tough call between 2005 and 1999.  And we talked about our most challenging year, which for me was clearly 2007.

We poured another glass.

And throughout the conversation we kept on picking out new elements in the wine.  She found honeysuckle.  I found dried orange rind.  She caught a whiff of peanut butter.  I noted blanched almonds.  She mentioned sweet toasty oak and vanilla and I suggested a mace-like spiciness.

The wine had clearly passed its peak.  Possibly it had passed its peak before we even bought it.  One will never know.  But the wine hadn’t turned, it had merely continued to age.

With the kids in bed, and our conversation shifting to all manners of topics, for a few hours it was almost like being back in 2001.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. February 28, 2010 11:48 pm

    Sounds perfect!

  2. March 2, 2010 10:45 pm

    A little off topic, but maybe something for one of your Q&A posts: When cooking with a dry white wine, what do you reach for?

    Thanks.

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