A Tale of Two Cabs

It was the best of wines, it was the…well, it was another great wine.  But I kind of had to start a piece with this title like that, right?  I recently requested my first sample.  Writing a test piece for an online golf magazine, I wanted to tie into the World Challenge tournament, so I decided to reach out to a sponsor.  I knew it was an excellent wine, and out of my general price range, but I didn’t know how far out, until after I’d already asked.

After looking up the wine, my immediate thought was, “Retract!, Retract!”  How could I just ASK for a wine of that caliber and price point, but it was too late.  A short time later, I had a response in which she simply asked for more information about the publication.  I told her that although I could not guarantee placement, being that the piece would be my first sample, I could guarantee that I would write about it on my blog, if nothing else.  She looked up my site and responded right away.  Her response was so gracious, so kind and complimentary, that I felt completely at ease.  She said, in fact, that I should ask for more samples.  I thanked her profusely for making my first request such a pleasant experience.  She told me that the 2009 Far Niente Cabernet Sauvignon would arrive at the end of the week. 

080Never have I been so anxious for a Fed Ex shipment, and never has it come so late in the day.  When the wine finally arrived, after I jumped around, I put it directly in the decanter.  Although I generally like to let a wine sit after shipment, I needed to turn in my piece right away, so I decanted and waited.  In the piece I did for Back9Network, I likened it to a “velvet robe.”  Lush fruit, huge but elegant, and delicious.  We paired it with Filets with mushroom sauce and a wedge with blue cheese.  A classic steakhouse meal with a classic steakhouse wine.

084The next week, I wanted to provide another fabulous Napa Cab at a more approachable price point.  After some research and some questioning of those in the know, I chose the 2009 Conn Creek Napa Valley Cabernet.  Tight at first, but after some time out of the bottle I noted red cherry, berry, nutmeg, vanilla from the oak and earth.  A very nice wine and a great alternative for an average weekend.

Was there a difference in the two wines?  Of course.  And although the Far Niente is out of my price range, even for a special occasion, it was really magnificent.  I may have to stretch my range once in a while because it was an experience, indeed.  After all, when you consider the cost of eating out and the wine mark up at most restaurants, you can totally justify this splurge if you choose to stay in and make something fabulous at home.  Yes, there will still be dishes, but you won’t mind after a glass or two. 

There is an intrinsic reward in putting yourself out there and asking for what you want.  No matter the response, you have identified and articulated your desire and goal.   That has always been a tough one for me, but something that has gotten easier with practice.  If I’d known the value of what I was requesting, I wouldn’t have asked, and I would have missed out on something fabulous.  In this circumstance, there was a very nice extrinsic reward and a lesson that goes beyond the wine.  This lesson will be remembered as my “Far Niente moment.”     And, dear friends, I think I will need occasional reminders.

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Being a stay- at-home mom can leave one thirsting for a taste of the outside world, a world in which sentences are composed of more than three words. Being an educator means one is always seeking an opportunity to explore and learn. Being a woman with a need to connect can be a challenge when adult conversations are rare. In wine, I find the marriage of art and science, agriculture and storytelling provides limitless areas to explore. But it is the people that keep me engaged. The tenacity needed to keep the family dream alive, the risk to start anew, the trials and principles. I love the history of the vine, the impact of a season, the sentiment in the bottle. That is why I write. I write to tell their stories, to share a piece of mine. I write to learn as I teach others. I write to connect with new friends, to disconnect from the world. I write to celebrate what makes each of us unique, and that which ties us together.

11 thoughts on “A Tale of Two Cabs

  1. you know what – and I forgot to comment on the picture – that steak with mushrooms is pure food porn, the ultimate expression… Very well done!


  2. This was a brave move – to open the wine right after arrival… I had a few of “bottle shocks” of my own, so I typically let it rest at least for a few days, despite the utmost desire to open the bottle even when FedEx truck didn’t even left…

    By the way, it seems that you are so good with samples, can you request Screaming Eagle for one of your future posts? I will gladly (very gladly) take a special trip to help you drink that : )


    1. I had no choice and it was a little heartbreaking, but someone had to do it. It was an article for the tournament that had begun that day and I sent it off that night.
      Yes, I am afraid Screaming Eagle won’t ever be happening. But if it does, you’re invited.


  3. Excellent article Alissa. I like the way you described the price as “out of my budget” and then noted that when you cook at home you can spend what you would have spent on a meal for two on good wine. Well said. (I went to cooking school and we eat in a lot because we eat well and good wine is cheaper at our house.) You are a women after my own heart. 🙂


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