I was invited to a dinner party hosted by some good friends recently, and I knew (thanks to “The Captain” Bob Loudy) that there would be copious amounts of roasted beef for dinner.

Without hesitation I concluded immediately we needed Barolo.  Paolo Scavino to the rescue!  What I didn’t know was that my little Barolo would be up against some of California’s heaviest hitters…



Paolo Scavino’s Bric del Fiasc from 2005 is a juicy, highly nuanced Barolo.  It’s smoky and layered, while still retaining some of that violet freshness that enchants ever Nebbiolo-lover.  Even the 2005 is still young- tight and tannic at first, then opening up shyly to reveal all these layers of texture and aromatics.  This wine is music.  If this Barolo were a song, it would be Miles Davis’ Blue in Green.  Seriously.

Then somebody broke out the Big Boys.  All I can say is, wow.  These were some LARGE wines.


The only thing I know about Orin Swift is that I work with distributors who simply cannot keep his wines in stock.  We opened the Papillon 2009  to find an entire chorus of gospel singers waiting inside. Papillon is a kitchen-sink Cabernet-based blend (78% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc, 2% Malbec, 2% Petit Verdot- whew!)  It is thick and dense- rich with plum and cassis and framed by cedar and vanilla.  Like I said: Gospel Choir.  This wine is a liquid version of Madonna’s Like a Prayer.  Complete with finger-less lace gloves.

Next came the Caymus Cabernet Sauvignon.  This Napa Valley Classic is a powerful wine with unmistakable notes of sweet fruit and smokey meats, layered with vanilla, leather and cocoa.  In fact, upon tasting, we declared this wine to be simply ridiculously chocolate-milk-decadence.  This wine was screaming Don’t Stop Believing by Journey.  Self-indulgent, over-the-top and total fist-pumping, electric guitar slinging, celebration.

Wine isn’t a beauty pagent- there are no winners or losers.  Wine is about flavor experiences and food pairing.

Like it, don’t like it- you always learn something.

In this way wine truly is a lot like music- everyone experiences it differently.  In the end you just have to sit back and marvel at how beautiful such a basic human creation can be.