I get to know so many of you and the lives and events that good wine has enhanced. Oftentimes, I get to tell you a little about my experiences with each wine in the offering email, but here's an overview of me and the journeys behind Timeless Wines.
Like many, my first foray into wine was through food. I was fortunate enough to have good friends, one of which was a French-trained Chef who had a restaurant that quickly became where I enjoyed my evening meal. The restaurant had a private room right off the kitchen with only two tables. This was reserved only for the Chef's closest friends. I never had to order. The Chef would prepare each course and pair it with a wine for me.
Galileo once said, "Wine is light, held together by water." There, sitting at a tiny white-linen table, with only the golden glow of a table luminary filling the wine glass at my place setting, is where I truly understood the meaning of his words. The Chef would sit down with me at the end of the night and ask me about my meal and then explain how the wine brought out the flavors he prepared. Food took on an entirely different level in my hierarchy. Alone, it was purely physiological: it was nutrition to feed the body. But, allow the extraordinary combination of wine with food to saturate your being and the match transforms into something that feeds the soul.
At this same restaurant, in the same private room with only one other table, one would think to enjoy the company of Chef's family;perhaps his mother or his wife and children. Maybe I would even be lucky enough to have dinner with Chef's younger sister. Instead, the other table was only ever occupied by a gentleman and his dog.
This man just happened to be world renowned wine importer and taster, Fran Kysela. Robert Parker regards him as one of the finest palates and selectors of top wine. I was sitting across the room from one of the most prominent men in the business. A man who had not only been importing the finest wines in the world for 30 years, but he himself was discovering. And of course, his dog;Jake.
Fate stepped in to cultivate an ideal that every person keeps tucked away in only the smallest corner of their heart. I didn't know it then;but I was about to turn my taste bud delights into a career. It was a slow growing friendship. A few conversations throughout dinner, then we would see each other about town and have casual chats. The Chef and Mr. Kysela had known each other for years. Chef was often invited to join the wine trips that Kysela would sponsor for buyers and distributors to prospect new wines overseas. Chef would tell me it was "the experience of a lifetime" and that I should definitely join in on a trip. It wasn't something I actually believed would ever come to pass. At that time, in 20 years of the wine business, not one person was ever invited to join a trip that wasn't a wine affiliate. I was an IT Director, and my extent of knowledge was only the tidbits of info I would get at the end of the night about my meal and its pairing.
The next thing I knew, I was getting a call from Mr. Kysela himself to discuss the upcoming trip to France. It would be in January. I remember his words, "Now listen, it's not like it won't be fun, but it's not a vacation either. We have a set schedule. It's non-stop. There is no point of rest;and you will have no free time. We are there simply to discover new wines and taste new vintages." This was serious and intimidating. I didn't want to do it, and I certainly had no idea what I was in for.
The Chef picked me up that early January morning. He handed me a Traveler's Journal, something I had never even seen before, let alone open up to write in. "Take notes", he instructed;and off we went. The time zone changed and there was no rest. We drove 2 hours from Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris to Epernay. Champagne Valley;the soil was chalk and a piece still sits on my desk at my office. The underground cellars were really caves that had been chiseled out of the ground. I can remember the smell as we weaved through the maze of small dimly lit tunnels draped in cobwebs and huge glass bottles. All at once, the tunnel opened to a grand room with a huge white clothed table and place settings for all 18 on the trip. A feast was served well after 11 pm. The combination of alcohol along with exhaustion and adjusting to the overall environment change made for a baptism of fire at this first wine dinner. People were passing out at the table. I couldn't keep my eyes open. When I look back at the notes I scribbled next to each sample, it was obvious I had started out with full gusto. The first few samples had detailed descriptions and information…as the dinner went on I scrawled out raw one-word specks of ink. I don't even remember what time it actually was when we finally arrived at our hotel that first night.
The trip is known as "The Death March";2weeks and 560 wines. We were up at 5 am and most nights didn't get to bed until 2 am. We visited 56 wineries as well as sampled at local restaurants. By day 4 of the trip, Kysela and I were seated on the bus next to each other and I was able to ask questions that had been adding up since the start of the trip. He was more than generous with information and even seemed excited to share his knowledge about the wines and the regions. Not only did my notes improve at each tasting, but my palate sharpened and I was able to breakdown the wines by the end of the trip.
I returned home a changed man. Hundreds of books and thousands of tastings later, I began to put into action what is now Timelesswines.com. I attended many more wine trips overseas, absorbing knowledge and tannins. I've been fortunate enough to sample in Spain, Germany, Austria, Argentina, New Zealand, Chile and Italy and even led an Australia wine trip. It truly was the experience of a lifetime and I wanted to be able to confer the benefits to other people. I started Timeless Wines so that everyone could have the opportunity to please their senses and lift their spirits with fantastic value wines.
Tasting Note: This very aromatic Syrah has hints of black pepper, dark berries and herbs and a bloody, earthy character on the nose. The palate is full-bodied with velvety but structured tannins and a balanced natural acidity. The finish is fresh, long and supple. Best served at 16 to 18 °C, this wine will greatly benefit from decanting when drunk within the first 3 to 5 years after bottling.
Andrea Mullineux told me that their debut 2012 Mullineux Iron Syrah has been the hardest cru to fine-tune over the years. Indeed, it has been trialed since 2005 but never bottled...until now. "We have been working hard to perfect the acidity here and it's been important to get life into the soil, getting the vineyard healthy, so that it can be picked with good acidity. Because it is dry farmed, in a space of three days, it can god from 22 to 26 Brix – so picking decision is critical," she said. It has a subtle marine influence coming through on the nose with macerated black cherries, boysenberry jam and touches of iodine. The palate is medium-bodied with fine, quite grainy tannins, very nicely poised with touches of fig and marmalade towards the slightly saline finish. This is a strong debut to form the trio of Syrah single "terroir" offerings.
"The 2013 Iron Syrah has a roundness and softness on the nose that almost belies its complexity - red berry fruit, red peppercorns, rooibos and undergrowth scents that are very well defined. The palate is medium-bodied with ripe tannin, wonderfully savory and quite gamey, and beautifully balanced with impressive volume and sustain on the finish that you would have difficult distinguishing from a top Côte-Rôtie. This is an excellent Syrah, my only reservation being that there is a touch of heat on the finish. - Neal Martin"
- The Wine Advocate (erobertparker.com, November 2015), 93 pts
"Similar to the Schist Syrah in its weight and meatiness, the Iron Syrah offers a more elegant, immediate appeal. Dark red plum, smoked meat, and savory herbs are seamlessly integrated on a lush, juicy and firmly structured palate, finishing very very long."
- iwinereview.com (January 2016), 95 pts
Ancien Pinot Noir Russian River Jouissance is made from 100 percent Pinot Noir.
Jouissance comes from the southwestern corner of the appellation, only nominally protected by the coastal hills and open to the maritime influence of the Pacific Ocean, is the single source for these grapes. The soils here are sandy loam and very well drained, typical for the Russian River Valley. The cooler sections of Russian River, near Sebastopol, are known for producing explosive and aromatic fruit flavors balanced with acidity and earthy aromas. All seventeen rows are planted with Dijon 115 clone, nudging the wine toward perfumed aromas and light spice notes as a compliment to the lush fruitiness derived from the soils.
Notes of strawberry and tart pie cherry are accompanied by notes of sweet vanillin, toasted hazelnut and coffee as an introduction to this joyfully juicy blend of rich fruit and earthy spice. The wine opens to a well integrated mid-palate of dark berries, toffee and cassis. The broad palate is elevated and brightened with a mouthwatering acidity that welcomes this wine to the table. Sassafras, herbal notes and baking spices are revealed in the satisfying finish.