Monthly Archives: August 2013

“A special bottling from Trifecta Cellars for ‘One Revolution’  14.3%

One of the servers at the Nashville restaurant where I work came up to me a few Saturdays ago and said, “Dude at (table) 72 just bought a bottle of Sassacaia.  You should go over and talk to him.”  So a few minutes later, I did.

I introduced myself, we started chatting and exchanged cards.  He introduced himself as Pablo, but when I looked at the card the name had no indication of “Pablo”.  Though I don’t speak Hungarian I grew up in a Hungarian family and can usually recognize Hungarian names and the strings of letters and accent marks that are consistent with the language. And this name looked Hungarian to me. I asked and he told me that he was.  Turns out he was the owner of Trifecta Cellars.  The only thing I know about Trifecta at that point was that it had something to do with horse racing.

What I learned later is that Trifecta makes highly allocated Napa Cabs and Russian River Valley Pinot Noirs.  They have no distribution (direct sales only) and there is about a two year wait to get any.  “Bomba” is a special bottling of Trifecta Cab.  Half the proceeds from the sale of which go to the One Revolution Foundation, a charity founded by Chris Waddell, Pablo’s best friend since middle school and an American Paralympic athlete.  One Revolution works toward improving mobility for the disabled of Tanzania.

We chatted a bit more about how our families ended up in the States over the magnum of Cannubi Barolo that I chose next for his table of five.  At some point he told me he would mail a couple of bottles to me and asked me to let him know what I thought.  This happens on a fairly regular basis in the restaurant business.  Someone tells you, “Hey man, I’ll send you this, I’ll send you that, I’ll send you a bottle of ’83 Margueax , no worries.”  Three days later, I have a box waiting for me on my desk at work.

About a week later my wife and I invited two friends over to share it.  They aren’t “wine friends.”  They don’t particularly know a lot about wine or have great pallets.  But they are good friends who happened to be home the night we wanted to open the bottle and wine is meant to be shared.  I am an impatient man and at 7:15, they were 15 minutes late.  So at 7:16 it was popped and decanted.  Almost 7 years old and there was no sediment in the bottle what so ever.  This could have aged for 10 more years, easily.

First smell and taste one minute after opening:

Immediately off the nose it was tight and hot – at 14.3% alcohol, its going to be hot and it was, unappealingly so.  But even as tight as it was, I peeled back the alcohol.  In tasting wine, one of my favorite things to do is to look beyond the obvious, look past what is smacking you in the face to what is tickling your toes.  To unlock hidden gems that no one else identifies and appreciates.  After just a few seconds I smelled current (ok, classic cab).  But I also smelled sweet tobacco inside the cedar chest I had in my bedroom growing up.  I smelled licorice, dried fig and a hint of vanilla.   At this point, anticipation is a cruel partner…it was not what I smelled, but how they smelled that told me there was going to be so much more to come.

On the pallet, the tannins didn’t attack.  Instead they wash over your tongue velvety at first.  Then after a few seconds when I thought the possibility of grip was gone, I felt the tannins grab hold with the precision of a thousand tiny needles on my tongue.

Five minutes on the heat from the alcohol changed to a cough syrup quality.  As it barely began to open, the nose revealed chocolate, hints of dried cherries and at this point I was tasting, deeper down, herbal notes of, perhaps, sage.

And as more alcohol continued to burn off, I was able to get a sense of the medium levels of acidity in the wine that was an indication of the wonderful balance and structure it carried all the way through the long finish.

Thirty minutes on, as it really opened up, the softening mouth feel showed itself.  Then, as if waiting for a boxer to exhaust himself during the first three rounds of a 15 round match, chocolate and vanilla came through balanced beautifully with acidity and structured to know exactly where it was going.

At 45 minutes the first glass I poured for us dwindled.  We began to restrain ourselves while waiting for our friends.  That’s when I began drawing something from this wine that I have never smelled before in a glass of wine, and had never even heard of.  It took a few minutes between smelling it and identifying it: pine needles.  Perhaps the sage that I smelled before was actually pine needles.  I don’t know and don’t care. It was the first I’d ever gotten pine needles.  As much wine as I taste, I still need these surprises to remind me that wine is a living, breathing, changing thing.  It is also an indication of the size and depth and complexity of this wine.

A few minutes later our friends arrived in time for a glass each and my wife and I made sure was got the last 4 or 5 ounces ourselves.  The Bomba was still opening and changing and would have continued opening for who knows how long.  But I am a weak man when it comes to wine.  So nearly an hour after I pulled the cork I couldn’t resist any more.  I finished the last couple ounces, lapping up what was in my glass at that moment, trying not to think about what the last bit of Bomba would have revealed over the next hour, two hours or ten years but instead what it was offering right then. And for their part, our friends drank it, enjoyed it, and said they liked it and that it was good.  And because it is really only wine and wine is meant to be shared with friends, that simple appreciation was good enough, too.