In a couple of my previous posts I wrote a bit about what it means to be considered the ‘wine guy’ (Part I, Part II). Of course, these two posts only tell a fraction of the story of what it means to be
obsessed/completely consumed/singularly focused ‘into’ wine. While it’s certainly fun to dine and share wine with those slightly less enamored with fermented grape juice, part of being the ‘wine guy’ is that you seek out other wine guys (a.k.a. wine ‘geeks’) to serve as enablers. I am no different. So when I was confronted with the opportunity to go to Shola Olunloyo’s mythical Studio Kitchen with a bunch of other wine geeks, I simply had to go.
Now, as far as I can tell, within the wine geek community, most wine guys have a speciality. Much like just about anything else, I suppose (for example, back when I used to play basketball, I was known for playing pretty good defense–I was also known as ‘the black hole’ on offense since once I was passed the ball, no one would never see the ball again; in cycling there are sprinters, climbers, and everyone else [I’m in that third group, fyi]). Well, in my wine geek circles, I am known as the ‘champagne guy’. Back when I really started getting into wine, I was leading bike tours in Europe and knowing about the local wine was a huge part of the job. The problem: I was overwhelmed by the wine world–there was just so much to know and learn. Luckily, I got some really good advice from my boss at the time (who has since become a really good friend): focus on just one region at first, learn it really well, then keep branching out and expanding. Since said boss knew just about everything about every single European wine region except Champagne, it seemed to be as good of a choice as any. It also helped that the company had just started tours in Champagne and I was able to visit the region repeatedly. It did not take me very long to become enthralled with Champagne (the region), champagne (the sparkling wine), the Champenois (the people from Champagne), and la Méthode Champenoise (the method of making Champagne which is now technically an illegal term). As a result, I now have far too many bottles of champagne in my cellar, have read numerous books about Champagne and champagne, and like to have a bottle of champagne just about any time I can. I even thought up my own personal motto: “If it doesn’t sparkle, it doesn’t matter.”
That brings us back to Studio Kitchen. The group that was going is made up almost exclusively of fans of Italian wines–Italian red wines. Given the menu, I thought they might branch out and consider some whites, but I was mistaken. I have found that those who are Italian wine guys, in general, drink red wine with everything. Now I am the first to espouse the idea of drinking what you like, but with lobster?!? I digress. Being the champagne guy, I was told to bring a bottle of bubbles. No problem. Actually, it was a problem–which one? I did not want to go the cheap route since some people there know their wines. I did not want to go the super-expensive route either since some there see every other wine that is not red and Italian as a waste of time (philistines). So after much internal debate, I went with a 1996 Duval-Leroy. A solid producer and an outstanding year. My second choice was the 1996 Pierre Gimmonet Blanc de Blancs 1er Cru, but I decided against it since I had purchased the D-V through the state store last year and the PG was purchased on the internet several years ago from a private seller and the label was rather beat up.
Popped the cork. Poured the wine. Wine was corked (i.e., BAD). Fan freaking tastic. Here I am the ‘champagne guy’ and I bring a wine that most people poured out (I will admit I drank mine, and then drank some more since, well, a bad sparkling wine is better than most still wines to me. After all, my motto: “If it doesn’t sparkle, it doesn’t matter.”). Now, I know I said in a previous post: “When I taste a bad bottle of wine, I do not think of who paid for it as much as who made it”. I know that it was not my fault that the wine was corked. At the same time, however, being the champagne guy and the last bastion of French wine before these Italian wine heathens, I brought a wine that people poured out.
P.S. I had the Gimmonet the following night since I was paranoid that all my old-ish champagnes were corked. It was incredible.
Double Ugh but also a sigh of relief.