The Wines That Changed My Life

There are some wines that just stick in your memory...
For me, there have been many times I was surprised by what was hiding behind the cork. I mean, I enjoy every drop… most of the time... but there are definitely standouts.
I’ve spoken before about prying the cork out of a Bin 707 with a bent fork so a pair of wet-behind-the-ear 20 somethings could swig straight from the bottle. Definitely a memorable moment, but that’s not the type of experience I am talking about today.
I’m talking about the ones when you know you're tasting something rare, something beautifully made, where you think “oh my god, I didn't know it could be this delicious”. So good it has to be shared.
That's the funny thing about wine. It's not like “this is great, I'm gonna have it all to myself”, it’s more like “this is great. I want to show everybody”.
That’s the wine drinking culture. When things stand out you want to share the experience with others because something great is always better shared.
In 2010, a friend suggested that I should try a 1998 Bannockburn Pinot Noir. Back then, Pinot Noir as a variety didn't have a great reputation as being ‘age-worthy’. There were a couple you could point to but on the whole you know, they just weren't. Maybe it was the quality of the fruit, maybe the grapes were too young, or maybe the winemakers had not quite attained the experience necessary to make great and long-lived Pinot Noir, or maybe I just wasn’t drinking the right wines, could be any one of those reasons.
But this recommendation became one of those experiences. 
That bottle forced me to recognise Gary Farr’s skill as a winemaker. I knew he was good, by that time Wine By Farr was well and truly established making some of Australia’s finest wines. But in this wine a deeper level of respect for his winemaking was established. I was drinking an Australian Pinot Noir that was still full of primary fruit and wonderfully structured at 12 years old and not looking like it was going to fall over anytime soon. I would be interested to try another bottle of this vintage and it would not surprise me if it was still drinking well. At the time, it was the best $50 I had ever spent. 
Another time, in my earlier years, I was waiting tables at Catalina, which has a significant wine cellar so I was receiving a hands-on guided tour through some of the best wines the world has to offer that were available at the time. I can still remember it clearly.
An American couple came in to celebrate...something, and as their meal came to an end, they ordered a bottle of 1972 Château Climens Premier Cru. In terms of Sauternes, Chateau Climens ranks as one of the top Sauternes wines in Bordeaux.
In most industries drinking on the job is frowned upon, but in restaurants it's more common and particularly if you are serving wine. Customers will offer you a glass of something quite regularly...particularly if they are regulars. And sometimes exceptions must be made. Especially when you are asked to consider there “aren’t many of these bottles left in the world” - you have to try it!
After 16 years I still remember it vividly. It had a beautiful hue, that sort of tawny-marmalade-orange colour that literally painted the walls of the glass. There were flavours of caramel, toffee and marmalade. Wonderful. There was fresh fruit, fresh flowers, then this deep, rich, sticky dessert wine flavour coming through that enveloped the caramel, toffee and marmalade. Although I would claim to have a better than average palate, my palate memory is quite poor (some people can get very “rain man” like and recall specific wines tasted on specific days, the food served and the glassware). So I find it surprising that I can still remember that wine on my palate to this day.
Tasting something so rare and special, reminds me of another time I tasted an extremely rare drop; a bottle of the 1998 Domaine de la Romanée Conti Romanée-Saint-Vivant Grand Cru... The setting was not what you would expect; instead of fine dining and food pairing to tip off an extravagant evening, it was Anzac Day a few years ago with some close friends and a bowl of Doritos. Not the perfect pair for a $2,000 bottle of wine (at the time), it was a little bit heathen but it worked and the perfect setting for a memorable experience. My friend had been given the bottle for Christmas, an incredible gesture, and in turn my friend wanted to share it with me.For it’s age, it was full of flavour, nothing was out of place, perfection in a glass, yet still very rich and dominating. It was the sort of glass that, only once you taste it, you know that this is why people seek out top Burgundies. What you had been searching for the whole time. 
I guess that’s my point about the wine industry, the industry we are all engaged in. Whether its industry folk sharing stories and a bottle of wine, or just wine lovers. When somebody finds something great, they are quite often happy to share it with other people that would relish the experience. Wine is not just great for conversation, it’s also good at bringing like minded people together.
At The Right Drop, we want to share all of our experiences with you. If you have experience you want to share with us, send us an email at hello@therightdrop.com