Being members of Joseph Phelps vineyards, like our membership at Robert Mondavi, allows for a nice discount on tried and true favorites. And come shipment time the chosen varietal becomes our house wine for a few weeks.
We usually mix it up but when we have guests, or when the dish Eddie is preparing calls for it, we pull out (in this case it was the le Mistral 2005 Monterey County) a wine we know will not disappoint.
But, it no longer surprises.
Same holds true for whites of course. I remember when Kendall Jackson changed it’s winemaker after their initial popularity with their Sundial Chardonnay several years ago. I bragged that I knew something had changed, the season was harder on the grapes possibly; when I no longer enjoyed the wine.
But, this time the surprise was that my palate detected a shift.
Whether house wine or not, whether changed winemaker or not, I was bored with the wine and never returned to it. Point being is that we are fickle, and, I had it a summer too long.
My sister-in-law Diane swears by Champagne. She would prefer it any day to any other wine. But she doesn’t drink wine every day like we do. So her house Champagne is still fresh; festive even.
I can’t imagine having a house champagne year-round. And now I can’t even enjoy the nuances of my Mistral. My palate is always reaching for the next surprise. I want terroir that bites me! I want the nose to visibly waft up and stain my nostrils!
But whether it is the nut-fruit of the Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc or the light rosé made by our local vineyard, I have learned to mix it up so that I can be bitten.
And that counting on variety is more compelling, than sticking with something old and true, in the case of wine. Or wines by the case.