Coveting Cotes de Paso


Cotes de Paso - Halter Ranch Vineyard

Covetous photo courtesy of Sarah Forstner


There are moments with a glass of wine when I’ll be sipping along my merry way and all of a sudden a certain clarity will enter the scene.  As if a group of notes in a musical piece all suddenly meld into one unified tone that causes the world to vibrate with exuberance.  What I’m really saying is, sometimes about halfway through a glass of wine I’ll realize that the experience has transcended the normal level of enjoyment and achieved the sublime.  Before I get carried away in amorphous and esoteric description, let me provide some context. 

This Saturday past was a close friend of mine’s 30th birthday.  For this momentous occasion 9 of us gathered in our delightful backyard bearing couches, chairs, chips, beers, wine, and a digital projector for a viewing of the mindbending and pleasantly late nineties film Run Lola Run in which an orange haired heroine alters time and possbility through sheer force of will to save her arguably useless and degenerate boyfriend from a major mishap and subsequent group of terrible decisions.  It was about halfway through the film, with a glass of 2011 Cotes de Paso in hand that I realized:  “This wine is perfectly suited to this moment.  It tastes absolutely delicious.  It is pairing wonderfully with the barbecued potato chips to my left, the polish sausage sandwich I just ate, and the impressively rapidly running actress in front of me.”

Before I embark further, let me convey that I realize it may seem as if we are harping on about this particular wine.  In fact, I’ll even state directly, we are harping on about this particular wine and for good reason.  It is unequivocally delicious, pairs for days, and I feel, despite good performance in the tasting room and popularity in restaurants, is also underappreciated for the bliss point it achieves.  I want to go a bit into why this is and why it shouldn’t be before embarking further on the fascinating story about Lola and sublime wine time (patent pending).

There are certain aspects and desires from the perspective of tasting wine that begin to stick out like sore thumbs once you’ve seen thousands of people taste through a flight.  In red wine there is immediately and almost without fail,  a response to the depth of color in the glass.  Without any formal scientific research beyond day to day observation, I’ll say confidently that most wine tasters get more excited about a red wine when it is inky and dark, than when it is clear and light.  There is nothing wrong with this really…except that it might often set the taster off on the wrong foot when it comes to a lighter bodied red. The obvious meta-examples and possible exceptions to this tendency when it comes to particular varieties of grape, are Pinot Noir and Nebbiolo which are both epically popular varieties that are also very light and clear in the glass (usually, not always).  So I suppose what I’m trying to say is, be aware of the tendency of your mind to desire inky color, but try not to make it the deciding factor when it comes to the worthiness of a wine.  There are too many other components involved when it comes to wine to make this the first stepping stone.  Particularly given that doing so may deny you something like the sublime experience I will now continue to convey.

And so I sat, soaking in the visual joy before me and the liquid sublimity in my glass and I can think of few times when I have smiled so widely over a fermented beverage (and this is saying A LOT. I have been working with and obsessing over fermented grape juice for multitudinous moons now).  So as the movie ended, and I greedily consumed the last few drops of that delicious bottle (before you make any assumptions about my consumption, let me state for the record that the bottle was already 2/3 consumed when I poured my first glass) I continued to sit, a bit dumbstruck, thinking:  “I need to hoard some of this wine immediately before the rest of the world realizes how good it is and takes it all away from me.”


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