Carmel Magazine

Carmel Magazine HO15

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Page 117 of 211

The exper ts speculate. Damien Georis expects a "true and honest wine with good acidity." Birkmeier is not so optimistic, worried the famed Burgundian fruitiness will taste "cooked." Silvestri takes a more poetic approach: "No matter what's in that bottle it will be something to marvel." The panel knows that modern Pinot Noir is made in a more fruit-forward, drink-me-now style. What gives them hope is that Old World winemakers in France constructed more com- plex wines with an ability to age. Removing the cork becomes a hushed spec- tacle. Birkmeier uses a special Durand opener, and takes a full three minutes on the almost-sur- gical task. Bits of black cork crumbs tumble onto the table, but it's eventually eased out intact. We almost expect the sound of cathedral organ music. The poignancy is palpable. Walter breaks the silence by instructing Birkmeier to pour the wine into 10 glasses. Time is now the enemy. Once uncorked, the centur y-old juice will deteriorate quickly as it's assaulted by oxygen. The wine's youthful red-amber hue is a good sign. We all swirl and sniff, and the panelist's eyes tell the story; they almost twinkle. Walter is vis- ibly delighted. Yes, the wine is alive. Damien smells walnuts, dried plum and tobacco. Birkmeier loves the musky notes. They quickly sip in order to chronicle the evolution out of the bottle. Gingerbread. Dried orange peel. Forest floor. "Cer tainly not vinegar," Birkmeier says. "It's elegant for its age." Walter savors the moment. He asks if any- one in the room can guess how much he paid for this treasure ($65). What it would fetch today at auction is immaterial to Georis, who's more interested in putting histor y to his lips. He knows the people of Musigny are talking to him. The first sips speak of bright sunshine, hunched backs, grape-stained fingers and faith in the future. But soon the wine begins to taste like a dusty version of what it once was. Quickly it fades, its death in the glass shocking yet beauti- ful. Ghosts of time have revealed themselves. They've had their say, and we've lapped up the words, leaving us humble and hopeful. Inside are two distinct, elongated 'stains' from tannic sentiment as the bottle rested twice for long periods. 116 C A R M E L M A G A Z I N E • H O L I D A Y 2 0 1 5 Damien Georis shows the deep punt in the bottom of the 100-year-old bottle. Left: Tannic sentiment clings to the sides of the bottle, marking two distinct times it was stored—once in Burgundy and once in Carmel.

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