Wine Pairing, ii

It doesn’t have to be with food at all, of course. A wine can match a moment, a change in the air, an emotion.

We were grabbing oysters before we went to the movies for the first time in a year, in the moment between the vaccine and the Delta variant. And we drank this:

CLOS DU ROUGE GORGE, macabeo, Côte Catalanes Blanc ROUSSILLON 2014

There are seven years of age on this Mediterranean white (the vines cling to the steep northeast-facing hillside of metamorphic rock and brush around Latour-de-France at the foot of the Pyrénées). I love white wines with this kind of texture and dimension when the season’s turning; they remind me of caramelized squash, changing leaves, a changing angle to the light. There’s an energy here that makes you pause and reflect.

Not enough of us age wines like this. It’s not because they won’t deepen and acquire wisdom over time, but because white wine (strike one) from a grower in a corner of France best known for bulk co-op wine and vin deux naturels (strike two) hasn’t been the sort of thing, historically, that people (or restaurants) with the money and space to age wine have cared about. (It’s 100% macabeo? The grape they put in cava? Strike three.)

No matter that Cyril has been a force in the revitalization of the Roussillon for the last 20 years, a meticulous caretaker of ancient vines and profound soils, or that the region itself merits more attention and study than having its unique particularity of language and history (Catalán, varied) stapled on to the Languedoc with a hyphen. No matter, of course, that a little bit of knowledge (‘I know what macabeo is, and what it’s for’) can lead to greater stupidities than what the Buddha, I think, would call a ‘beginner’s mind.’

This is a wine that will match a season (make me feel like what’s in my glass mirrors how the world is turning around me). But maybe it’s less about the way this bottle matches a moment than how it created one. It was only supposed to be a quick drink before going to see a show; the bottle itself made something else happen.

Tasting this is a reminder to pay attention: great wine is here, now, if we’re willing to take a moment for it. Worry less about what to pair with it; more about whether you’re bringing your full self to what it can share.

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