As the year winds down, I always try to take some time to reflect on the past 12 months, take stock, and look forward to our next trip around the sun. The first thing that comes to mind is how blessed I am to be in this business, producing something I truly love and believe in. It has not been an easy ride – in fact this year in many ways has been more challenging than ever. That which doesn’t kill us makes us stronger, however, and stronger we will be indeed. 2014 will bring a lot of exciting changes to the world of Scott Paul Wines – watch this space for upcoming announcements and all the news…
As for things outside of work that have been highlights of the year for me:
Favorite Concerts –
Pearl Jam, Eagles and Fleetwood Mac are putting on the best shows of their lives right now, and their Portland and Seattle gigs this year were simply outstanding. I have personal history with each of these groups, and perhaps I’m biased, but all young bands should be required to see these shows to understand and appreciate what great live performances are all about. I did not mention Bruce Springsteen only because I did not see Bruce this year. He is still, and always will be in my book, the best live performer on the planet.
As far as new music this year, not much really blew me away. The stuff that makes it through to the mainstream in this era seems pretty mediocre to me. Justin Timberlake is a major talent, and so is Bruno Mars, but it’s not what I want to listen to for personal pleasure. Albums I loved this year include the new one from Pearl Jam (“Sirens” is maybe Eddie’s best song ever), Kacey Musgraves, Natalie Maines, and Civil Wars. There’s a new Springsteen album coming in January, so there’s hope…
Favorite Films –
Blue Jasmine and Dallas Buyers Club are the two that rocked my world. Cate Blanchett, Matthew McConnaughey and Jared Leto should all win Oscars. And I love that Woody Allen is doing some of his best work at age 78. That gives me hope, with the big 6-0 looming for me next summer…
Favorite Wines –
I am ridiculously lucky to be able to taste the array of older wines that I run across in my travels. This year there were a few that really stood out:
1966 Pommard Rugiens – Violot-Guillemard. Had this with Le Pigeon chef Gabe Rucker and Andy Fortgang and our families at Le Benaton in Beaune last summer. It inspired Gabe and Hanna to consider naming their unborn daughter Pommard (they changed their minds later to Madeleine, after their fave resto in Burgundy, Caves Madeleine.)
1961 Pommard Rugiens – Huber-Verdereau. A gift from Thiébault Huber, and enjoyed at the Paulée in Beaune last month. Pure, still powerful and persistent, and dazzlingly complex. Amazing wine.
1941 Richebourg – DRC. It never ceases to blow my mind how good some of these wartime wines can be. In the middle of WWII, with just the women and children around to tend to the vines and make the wine – the results are often remarkable. Perhaps these are the greatest examples of the power of terroir – the greatness of the great vineyard sites simply would not allow themselves to be denied. Brought to the Paulée last month by the Burghound himself, Allen Meadows.
1915 Chambolle-Musigny les Charmes – Jadot. Certainly my favorite wine of the year. Direct from the cellars of Jadot – 98 years old and in pristine condition. I was captivated by it’s extreme elegance, freshness, and purity, its kaleidoscopically complex aromas, and the most refined silk on the palate. A wine that will live in my memory as long as I live.
My favorite Champagne of the year – the new release of Georges Laval Brut Nature. It’s what I’ll be drinking on New Year’s Eve. (I’d drink his 2008 Les Chênes for the holiday, but we sold it all before I grabbed a bottle for myself!) Vincent Laval makes micro-amounts of what are arguably the best wines in all of Champagne. Shhhh – don’t tell anyone…
Favorite Meals –
I am spoiled rotten at home, as Martha is a fabulous cook. We are also spoiled rotten to have such breadth of great choices in Portland and Wine Country, not to mention a few choice spots in Burgundy as well. Tops for me this year:
Chez Guy – Gevrey-Chambertin. The truffle menu. Need I say any more?
Auprès du Clocher – Pommard. As many times as I go there, I’ll never tire of the amazing melted-Époisses and spice-bread dessert. OMG.
Caves Madeleine – Beaune. My go-to spot in Burgundy, and Le Pigeon chef Gabe Rucker’s favorite meal in France. Simple Bistro cuisine at it’s absolute best.
Le Pigeon – Portland. We had a number of memorable meals there again this year, but perhaps the two best weren’t in the restaurant. Gabe cooked an amazing meal for a bunch of us in Beaune one night last summer that was one of the best nights ever. Then last month he had a bunch of people over to his house in Portland and he cooked up an 8-course extravaganza that was completely over-the-top. Gabe has got to be one of the most talented chefs working in the US today – we’re all lucky to have him in our midst.
I hope you enjoyed a lot of good food and wine and music this year, and that the new year brings you nothing but the best. (And that Santa brings you a bottle of ’59 La Tâche! If he does, CALL ME!)
My warmest wishes for a wonderful holiday season!