This guest post is a singular opportunity to also identify another, less well known but equally well endowed individual who has traversed that same long, winding road through the vineyards and wine shops. Another equally important topic is source material for all of us; a suggestion is forthcoming. The overall intent today is to keep to the subject that interests each of us while attempting to put a personal spin on my own journey and development of that “laser-like palate!”
Barring the odd bottle of Mateus or Riunite whilst in my youth, any wine experience was rare. It was the meeting up with a now dear friend in the western suburbs of Chicago during the late 1970’s that initialized the interest/involvement that resonates to this very day. Mr. R. D. Zajicek, culinary wizard, bon vivant and wine connoisseur is the fellow to whom I owe a deeply felt, sincerely considered, personal thank you. Rick not only has an extraordinary palate but has acquired an even more extraordinary cellar, not by hit or miss methods but by targeting only the very best product from California and France.
Sometimes the wines were relatively inexpensive but more often the opposite was true. The fact remains, excellence was his only criterion. He has illustrated that while the collecting aspect is challenging and great fun, the consumption is even more so; especially when sharing with family and friends, with fine food always being the perfect foil for that carefully selected bottle. He’s been proven to be absolutely right in that process because it’s the sharing that begets the true pleasure, with the added benefit of lively, intense conversations. Thank you for the concerted effort, the keen insight and mostly for the friendship.
So, after this tutelage and guidance from a master, how does one carry the message forward, to be a help and not a hindrance? A recommendation: a subscription to Connoisseurs’ Guide for California Wine. Please note, I have no personal interest in this publication. The charge is $90.00 for its print version, slightly more for the online access, and they do not accept advertising. The reviews are on domestic wines exclusively, mostly CA, OR and WA. The commentary is straight forward, clearly stated. What it has done is allow my personal search, and yours to if you subscribe, to be directed at "good" wines only rather than attractive labels. I have never had a recommended CGCW wine that was not superb in the last 25 years.
Some people think that I possess this "laser like" palate (thank you TB) but in fact my palate is no different, better/worse than anyone else. I just limit my purchases to those wines that have already passed an extremely stern exam. Another personal recommendation, CGCW notwithstanding, is that each wine enthusiast seek out that one single legitimate source who will continually provide impeccable information thus avoiding befuddlement with the unnecessary cacophony of too many voices. As Steven Stills said many years ago, ”For what it’s worth…”