Old Friends, New Friends


Have you ever re-connected with a friend you lost touch with after a long period of time? Maybe at a social event or on the street or even on Facebook – and after a few minutes of conversation you realize that while time has passed and circumstances changed, the connection is still there.  In some ways it feels as though no time has gone by at all and that you’ve picked up right where you left off.

I have found this to be true of wines too.  Sometimes you can be re-introduced to a favorite wine that you have not tried in quite some time and you wonder how you came to deprive yourself of its delicious-ness.  Of course everything won’t be the same.  Several vintages have gone by…for you and the wine, and while neither of you are the same, the core of attraction is still there (of course things don’t always play out that way with people or with wine, but we’re going to keep this positive).

I was recently re-introduced to a wine that was a favorite of mine at my wine bar a few years back.  Cepa 21 is a newer project headed by the owners of Bodegas Emilio Moro. a very well established winery in the Ribera del Duero region of Spain. The aim of the project was to build a modern functional new winery focused on producing modern style wines.  The wines of Bodegas Cepa are a nice counterpoint to the more traditional wines of Bodegas Emilio Moro.

Hito is the little brother of the winery’s self-named wine. The name refers to the stone markers used to identify the delimittation of a particular vineyard or farm.  Like Cepa 21, Hito is 100% Tinto Fino (the purest Tempranillo clone).  The 2010 Hito is as delicious as I remember earlier vintages. Rich in fruit with hints of violet and blackberry. Savory ripe and balanced in the mouth.  This wine is perfect for grilled or roasted meats and an exceptional value to boot.

Now on to new friends:  Have you ever met someone that you click with so well, that you’re so in synch with upon first meet, that you just know you’re going to be friends?  Malcolm Gladwell chalks this up to the sub-concious’ processing a myriad of details not evident to the conscious, and presenting its findings to the conscious as intuition.  I think there’s something to this. There are so many triggers in the experience of wine.  Many of which are beyond the realm of the wine itself – where you were, how was the weather, what were you eating, what music was playing….?  I  believe that the sub-conscious details of past wine experiences inform our experiences with new wines in ways not evident to our conscious.  We become so enamored of a wine for reasons that extend beyond what we ‘know’ and acknowledge about it.

I recently had a new wine experience that caused me to examine the underlying reasons we are drawn to a wine.  I think its safe to say the #1 reason for most of us is that it tastes really good.  Within that reality there are a number of other considerations all of which live in the realm of the conscious.  What really interests me is ‘the certain something’ you can’t put your finger on.  Sometimes these feelings even overrule the conscious. Back to the friend analogy – ‘We would never be friends on paper, but there’s something about this person’.

When the planets are aligned and your conscious is in agreement and harmony with your intuition, its a no brain-er.  I experienced The Withers ‘Mr. Burgess’ recently at a tasting.  Right out of the gate I loved it – it was delicious.  It was made of of a blend of grapes I’m particularly fond of, and it had an interesting story.  The name The Withers is an equestrian term (honoring founder, Andrew Tow’s wife’s passion for horses) which is defined as the place from which a horse’s height is measured. Mr Tow’s new project focuses on high elevation, cool climate sites that yield exceptional, nuanced and balanced red and rose wines drawing from Rhone varietals grown in the Sierra Foothills and Mendocino County.

Mr. Burgess is a Syrah dominant blend featuring Mourvedre and Grenache.  The wine derives its name from one of the Tows’ horses, a beautiful Irish Connemara pony who is featured on all of their labels. For me the wine is evocative of some of the best S/M/G blends I have tasted, with extraordinary balance and poise – but there’s something more.  Perhaps over time my subconscious will reveal to me that underlying attraction. If not, I’ll just be happy to have made a new friend!

Bodegas Cepa 21 ‘Hito’

Type: Red
Vintage: 2010
Country: Spain
Region: Ribera del Duero
Producer: Cepa 21
Varietal: 100% Tempranillo
Sugg. Retail: $15


The Withers ‘Mr. Burgess’

Type: Red
Vintage: 2010
Country: United States
Region: California, Sierra Foothills
Producer: The Withers
Varietal: Syrah/Mourvedre/Grenache
Sugg. Retail: $45



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