Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The New Vintage: J. Gauger and Son Viognier, 2008

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Just a short post here, an excuse to put up a few photos from the last days of winter. No recipes, no techniques, just a glimpse at a fine afternoon.

As the temperature cracked the seventy-degree mark this past Saturday, my father and I took the opportunity to complete an annual project. You see, for the last couple years, my father and I have annually produced a limited run of about 50 bottles of wine. Pressing the grapes at the end of summer, gently nurturing fermentation as the leaves fall, keeping a watchful eye as the gold-green liquid sleeps through the long winter, home winemaking is a study in the art of patience and subtlety.

You won't find the frantic immediacy and short-term satisfaction of homebrewing here -- wine cannot be rushed, it cannot be disguised; in the finished glass, there is nothing but the outcome of yeast, the grape, and time.

Working outside as spring sprung around us, we bottled this year's vintage, an obscure French varietal known as Viognier. Prized for its ethereally perfumed nose of jasmine, honey melon, and ripe, musky pears, it's bright enough on the palate to pair with a simple Sole Meunière, yet full-bodied and silky enough to withstand an encounter with cream sauce. It's the kind of wine that demands to be served at an outdoor meal, a wine that's born for a summer picnic.

My father's grandson (and my nephew), Cooper, came by with his parents to watch the corking process. The wine will hit its stride in a few months, but since it's ready to drink now, we sat and enjoyed a glass or two as we watched Cooper play, the sun setting in the distance. It was indeed a fine afternoon, captured and saved in each of the 50 bottles. How lucky we are -- each time we open one, we can go back.

Music: Marvin Gaye -- "Heard it Through the Grapevine (Montreux, 1980)"

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