“Hey man, how's it going.” I looked at the text. I hadn't heard from him in over a year. We hadn't seen one another in person in longer than that, yet any time we talked it was like we picked up right where we had left off. Never any awkwardness, just bull sessions about the usual stuff- family, women, new albums. This time was no different; 2 hours later, we were still reminiscing, shooting stupid memes from Instagram back-and-forth, and generally acting like the dumb teenagers we were when we met. It's rare to find a friend who understands you so thoroughly, who you connect with in a way that's timeless.
Finding a wine that connects with us in this way is equally difficult. Much of the joy in being a wine lover comes from discovery, the excitement of “what's next?!?” Yet certain producers, for whatever reason, possess a spirit that we want to return to over and over again. It's highly subjective and deeply personal. Like that old friend, we can go years without experiencing the wine, but when we do revisit it, it's equally stirring.
I had the privilege of being reminded of this fact recently when I was lucky enough to taste the 1993 “La Migoua” bottling from Domaine Tempier. The iconic producer of Bandol, I first tasted Tempier about nine years ago when I worked at a wine shop in LA. I was only 22, and this Mourvedre-dominated vineyard struck a chord with me- animal, sanguine, tannins like the texture of burlap, it recalled the hometown I'd recently left in its evocation of Santa Maria BBQ and my grandpa's venison- and a whole new world was opened. Since that first taste I've followed the wines off and on, and every bottle has consistently delivered that same joy.
It had probably been a good two years since I last had a Tempier, and probably three since I'd had the “La Migoua.” With one whiff, I was transported; I was back to being in my early 20s, at that LA wine shop, a snotty kid who thought he knew something. Further back in time, I was driving down Broadway, smelling trip-tip on red oak, salt air from the ocean nearby. The wine was amazing as ever; grilled game and dried fruits, a kiss of smoky earth, perfectly refined tannins. This was a bottle at its apex, and a perfect example of why Tempier is so special.
With age, it had changed, and I connected with it in a different way; it lost the vibrancy of youth, sure, but it was possessed of more meaning, more depth, in its maturity. It made me think about that old friend. As we've matured, our conversations run more and more to career and family. We still talk about a lot of the same dumb male nonsense, but those topics are surrounded by questions with real meaning, honest appraisals of hopes dashed and dreams deferred, and talk of the future. There are few people in our lives that we can share these things with; if we're lucky we find a few.
After I experienced that bottle of Tempier, with all these thoughts racing through my mind, I decided to take a walk. I had Madvillainy on the headphones, a true hip-hop masterpiece that my buddy and I used to geek out on in college. I caught a brilliant MF Doom line that I'd never noticed before, cracking up to myself; I had to call him up. “Hey man, how's it going...”
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