About a month ago, I posted the above photo online and it got quite the response. It had so many comments, I could barely keep up with them. Asking people to make a permanent decision on wine is one tough thing to do. Us winelovers, love wine! Not just a single one, but many, so do have to limit ourselves to just one varietal makes us go through the sweats.
My friend Anatoli, sent me a message after seeing the response, suggesting that I turn the question into a blog post. I thought is was a fantastic idea and I decided to reach out to several of my social media friends and posed the question to them. I chose to not provide my answer, since I am pretty sure everyone who reads this blog is fully aware what my answer would be!
AdVINEtures (Chris & Allison Wallace)
If we could only drink wine made from one grape variety for the rest of our lives, that grape would be Pinot Noir. Pinot just has such a multitude of facets, depending on the clone, where it is grown, how it is vinified.
First of all, we could not imagine a life without bubbles. Pinot Noir, along with Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay are the three main grapes of Champagne. Blanc de Noir, what the Champenois call their wines made from 100% Pinot, has enough tension to be terrific as an aperitif and enough body to go with a main course. Or if the time and place are a hot sunny day and a deck, then a Rosé of Pinot Noir can be just the refresher you need. We would head right down to the Willamette Valley in Oregon and over to Domaine Drouhin in Dundee Hills for their spectacular Rosé of Pinot Noir.
If we are imbibing at lunch (on vacation, every day) a medium body Pinot with elegance and balance is just what we would look for. And for that we would head over to Sonoma’s Russian River Valley and knock on Stephen Hansel’s door to get one of his amazingly balanced Pinots, either the Walter Hansel North Slope or the Walter Hansel Cuvee Alyce….or preferably both! At dinner time, if a stew or a roast is the fare, you just cannot go wrong with a big, robust Pinot from Santa Barbara County. And to do it up just right, we would pull out all the stops and open a Brewer-Clifton Pinot Noir, probably from the Hapgood Vineyard. Greg Brewer makes full body, intensely flavoured Pinot Noirs that always retain Pinot’s trademark elegance–the iron fist in the velvet glove! If we were to just sit and have a glass of wine on its own, and be mesmerized by Pinot Noir’s ethereal qualities of elegance, smoothness, complexity and extraordinary balance, we would have to go to the grail, to Burgundy. I will never forget the extraordinary experience of the 1993 Ponsot Clos de La Roche. As the gentleman who brought the bottle said after I commented on the texture: “It is like dragging a silk stocking over a satin sheet”.
We would not want to go through life without enjoying all of the diversity of the wine world, but if we had to limit ourselves to just Pinot Noir, it might not be such a bad life after all!
I am frightened by this question because I know what I would be missing if I could only drink one varietal. But I choose Pinot Noir because she is so versatile. You know like Meryl Streep. Do you want light and amusing or complex and dark. Meryl’s range is endless and Pinot Noir while is more limited than Ms. Streep, it is still pretty darn impressive. Choose your style from Burgundian to one of the several California styles or perhaps Oregonian, German, Italian, Alsatian, Loire and New Zealand. Did I miss any?? I’m sure, but they all put a very different mark on this grape that allows for “something different” showing quite a range for such a thin-skinned grape. And then there is one more reason that this varietal is my choice. Pinot Noir makes great rosés and blondies and of course Champagne and sparkling.
If I had to stick to drinking wine from one grape variety for the rest of my life, it would have to be Cabernet Sauvignon… I think! Although it might sound very boring to an American audience (Cab Sauv is obviously the #1 most-drunk wine in the US by some margin), let me explain my reasons. Wine is an acquired taste, a taste formed by our individual and unique life experience with wine. So, here is mine… I trained and qualified as a winemaker in Bordeaux, France, and had the opportunity to work in a Médoc first growth, and one of the very most famous wine estates in the world at Chateau Margaux. It’s this experience, tasting and making mainly Cabernet Sauvignon wines, that’s allowed me to understand what’s behind a bottle of wine, including what it takes to make some of the finest fermented grape juices in the world. It’s made me as a winemaker, and as a wine lover. So I feel I owe it to the grape to keep it as my fav forever. Plus, admittedly, Cab Sauv wines can taste pretty nice! To my palate at least… Although, many say with age, people tend to like more acidic and more savory wines. As I’m getting closer to 40 now, I have to admit Pinot Noir is slowly winning me over. So perhaps I should have picked Pinot? Time will tell. Age gets better with wine. Cheers 😉
If there was only one wine we could drink for the rest of our life…
This is a really, really tough question. It requires a process of elimination. Okay, let’s eliminate all white wines. There, that was easy. This is not to say we dislike white wines, in fact to the contrary. There are so many white varietals that we enjoy from around the world. But if we have to choose just one varietal, it would have to be something full-bodied, powerful, bold, that can keep us company forever. Wine monogamy requires that you pick something that is going to keep you excited forever; something racy, sassy, spicy.
Okay, now that we’ve chosen a redhead …what kind of red? Pinot doesn’t have enough body, as much as we enjoy the various iterations of this varietal. Cab is too predictable, at least California Cab. We would want something that would surprise us each time depending on its mood, the weather, the country, etc. After thinking it through for quite a while, we’ve decided to make an impulsive and rash decision. Nebbiolo. No, wait. Sangiovese. Yes, that’s it. Sangiovese.
One varietal to drink for the rest of my life. Would it be Cabernet Franc, whose smell gives me a tingly feeling whenever we’re near? Would it be Chardonnay, my intense and steamy love affair? Or would it be Riesling, a happy buddy that makes me smile more than any other? There are things you have to take into consideration other than those when you can only have one varietal for the rest of your life.
That’s why it would always have to be Merlot. It’s my go-to every day drinker and it’s the only option I see that I could indeed drink every day. Merlot is simply my reliable, trust worthy, best friend forever. The versatility and laid back personality that it offers are key factors. Lush and round in body with soft tannin. Flavors of blackberries, blueberries, cinnamon, and vanilla. You can go with a fruit forward style or you can go with an earthy style. It pairs well with steak, pasta, cheese, stew, salad, and even pumpkin pie. It shows great quality in all price ranges, especially in the $12-$18 range where it’s been the best bang-for-your-buck varietal for years. Can you really find a killer Pinot Noir for $15? Can you really? And when I’m feeling like I want a Cabernet Sauvignon there’s plenty of awesome Cabby Merlots, the bonus being that they’re still not as astringent as its more popular cousin.
Yep. I’d be drinking Merlot forever. And loving every second.
It was romance at first sight, I was standing there in the tasting room at Whitecliff Vineyards waiting for the owner. I decided to do a tasting while I waited and was blown away by their Cabernet Franc. With a big smile on my face I stepped back to wait. I must have looked like I worked there because someone came in to purchase a case of wine for an event and asked me what they should buy. I said Cabernet Franc of course and when asked why, I told them it’s very versatile, beautiful black cherry, plum with an exciting burst of black pepper on the finish. That was the beginning. It is my go to varietal when I want to grab a bottle, whether it’s to drink with my cheese, main dish or just relax with.
One of the reasons I like it so much because depending on where its grown the characteristics will be different. Cool weather Cabernet Franc grown on the east coast tends not be as fruit forward and high in alcohol that Cabernet Franc grown on the west coast. Depending on your mood you can choose east versus west. Then you have Cabernet Franc from the Loire Valley that is cool weather, fresh fruit and soft tannins and the many other regions it is grown in. Cabernet Franc is also a wine you can drink now or cellar for a few years. It’s light enough to bring to that barbecue in the summer and heavy enough to warm you up in the winter.