FMN – May 2022 – It’s My Birthday and I’ll Drink What I Want To

As I approach a big birthday, I find myself reflecting back on my life: accomplishments, setbacks, and of course, my consumption (the drinks not the disease). When I first started my exploration of wine and spirits, I hadn’t any idea of what I was getting myself into. My memory of that young man full of blissful ignorance reading and tasting everything I could, just to get “up to speed” with the basics, is barely a shadow. I had no comprehension that the first step of this journey would lead me down a path that, now two decades later, still finds my thirst for new experiences and knowledge unquenchable. Since it is, for better or worse, my birthday month, I will select the wines that I selfishly want to drink. Some are loved regions; some old favorites and others are newfound gems. Rest assured, all are about stimulating that need for discovery.

I hate to sound like a broken record (or for the younger generation a partially corrupted audio file), but I do love my sparkling wine. Any time I stagger upon a bottle from a lesser-known region, I simply must try it. This particular instance, the sparkling coincides with my love of Argentina. I have long said that even though there are some amazing Malbec (single variety and blends) coming out of this country, they have yet to produce their best wine. Classic in style, with the lean bright acidity and begging for food, yet with a splash of ingenuity by adding some Malbec to the blend. This is just another reason to plan an entire meal based on nothing but Argentinean wine.

Another wine that has always found a way to seduce me are the Alsatian white wines. Every style from dry to sweet, these wines have something about them that hits me right in my white wine area. Usually rich with unctuous fruit and a complexity that few youthful white wines seem to attain. Many can age for decades but they never seem to last that long on my shelves. If you are edging into the white wines with the nicer weather on the horizon, I implore you seek out these wines and sample the many varieties offered by this small mountainous region. Not only do they fit the bill as a great summer sipper, these wines are veritably unmatched with their ability to accompany foods.

I know it sounds cliché as it seems everyone is jumping on the rosé wine “lifestyle.” Rosé wines have always been close to my heart but, since I am drinking selfishly this month, my style gravitates to those a bit more “sturdy.” As many of you know, not only am I drinking a different style from the mobs, I also sought out an unusual area, New Mexico. This serendipitous discovery came during a rosé tasting at the American Wine Society annual conference, guided by Advanced Sommelier Michele Padberg of Vivác Winery. This rosé of Sangiovese they make out there is nothing short of spectacular and has motivated me to develop some content based on their winery and a focus on the wines of New Mexico. Like I keep preaching, you can sometimes find the most amazing things in the most unlikely places and this proves this theory, in spades.

Although I claim not to discriminate when it comes to wine and spirits, that may be a bit of a fallacy. Like everyone, I have my favorites and gravitate to them with mindless regularity. Having said that, one of my favorite red wine areas is the Northern Rhone. Unlike their brethren to the south, these wines are Syrah-based and more often than not, 100% Syrah. Unlike the crowd-pleasing Grenache based Southern Rhône blends, those from the Mistral tattered vines of the North remain a bit more closed and slightly shier in their youth. With bottle age, the tertiary aromatics that emerge are nothing short of ethereal. For my birthday, and at my age, raising myself to another plain of existence may be just what the doctor ordered.

In certain times, let’s call them banner moments, life rewards us with the ability to take pause and reflect on the road traveled. The trials and tribulations, the successes and set-backs have all had an impact that make us who we are today. Not to sound overly cheeky, but life truly does speed by and these times of reflection help us to pump the brakes a bit. So, no matter what stage of your life you find yourself, remember to savor the journey; and please do it with that drink in hand.



Mascota Vineyards Unánime Traditional Method Brut                  Argentina                           $20

This traditional method sparkling consists of 85% Chardonnay and 15% Malbec has classic small persistent lazy bubbles. The nose boasts of bread crust with tropical citrus curd. The palate is tart with a citrus laden acidity, a creamy mouthfeel and mousse-like bubbles. Flavors of citrus (tangerine and key lime) curd wrapped in a crusty fresh baked bread and a slight honeysuckle nuance fills out the palate. The finish is all lingering citrus and palate cleansing acid. This sparkling begs for food and I’d serve it with creamy cheeses (Brie), grilled fish with lemon caper sauce, or marinated shrimp.


Hugel Classic Pinot Gris 2018                                    Alsace, France                                 $30

This classic Alsatian style white has a robust nose with aromas of dripping ripe tree fruit (pear, apple, apricot), honeydew and an orchard blossom note. The palate is rich in feel but dry with a softer linear acidity; slightly citric in nature. The flavors mirror the nose with the addition of some citrus fruits, ginger, and a slight pleasant phenolic bitterness on the finish. Pair this wine with sausages (knockwurst or bratwurst), Asian inspired chicken dishes and mussels.

Vivác Winery Rosé of Sangiovese 2021                 New Mexico                                     $16

The diverse overt aromas of fresh picked strawberry (leaf and stem on), grilled watermelon, orchard fruit (pear nectar), and a fruit blossom element. The palate is dry with the indication of either some residual sugar just below threshold of perception or the ripeness of fruit showing through. There is a broad linear persistent acidity that continues to show good structure through to the finish. Medium weight body with a slight glycerol-like texture and medium intensity. The finish lingers with melon and red fruit hung on a line of tart acidity. There is a very slight tannin perception that lingers in the background but will play a part with food pairing or assist (along with acid) with longevity if wishing to bottle age. You could absolutely pop and sip but this wine will hold up to slow roasted barbecue, tuna salad niçoise, or turkey with cranberries, sage, and thyme dressing.

JJ Chave Selection Saint Joseph Offerus 2019     Saint Joseph, Northern Rhône                                 $30

This seductive nose has a greater concentration of black versus red fruit, pepper corn, pencil graphite, all spice, and a purple floral note. There is a subtle toasted note that lingers as a backdrop. The palate is dry with bright mouthwatering acidity, crunchy red / black fruit (mulberry), medium body, medium intensity, and sandy tannins on the gums. There is a slightly warm but well integrated alcohol. Between the primary fruit and the nature of the acidity the wine is a bit youthful but a pleasure to drink now. If you are able to withstand the temptation you could bottle age for 5-8 more years. Pair with fatty grilled meat (ribeye), duck breast with crispy skin over mushroom risotto, and wild boar (pork) sausage with sage. Or you could just sip and raise a glass to my birthday.