Morituri Te Salutant: Ici/La Bas, Les Révelés 2000 -- Anderson Valley Pinot Noir, Elke Vineyard

This is an exercise in sense memory, as it's taken me three weeks from bottle opening & first taste to making this first ever attempt at evaluating a wine in any kind of detail. (And since as a thorough, careless, blasé fool, I neglected to take any tasting notes.)
I feel rather badly about ending up drinking the bottle all by my lonesome, in four installments: my first choice would have been to share this with Alan Baker, the Cellar Rat, now temporarily (I hope) retired from the blogosphere and pulling long hours as full time IT point man for Crushpad in San Francisco.
For the price of a one case participation in his Pinot 2.0 project, (...and plane fare, & the cost of living in the Bay Area, of course!) Alan let me tag along & test my learning curve on the steep terroir of winemaking-- steep enough, considering all the organic chemistry one must be conversant with to enable halfway informed snap decisions that might alternately ensure or endanger the palatability of 300 bottles of final product, (--in Alan's case, actually, 1200, since he was making four barrels of Pinot) & the fact that I gave up on science at a junior high school level, as I was going to be an artist!
I had bought this bottle of Jim Clendennen's second (third? fourth?) label at Au Bon Climat/Qupé's biannual winery open house event for Spring 2005-- I believe it may have been held May 10th-- & left it in storage at El Camino Wine Storage in Atascadero until Fall of last year. Since Alan was sourcing his fruit from Wentzel Vineyard in the Anderson Valley, I thought we'd have occasion to sample how one winemaker's take on the terroir (that word again!) held up a few years down the road from harvest. Alas! It was not to be: my track record for throwing parties-- or organizing gatherings-- that nobody but one, or at most two, close friends show up for stretches in what I believe is an unbroken streak from the first Twist-Sockhop I threw at the age of seven or so for my cousins who had moved back to Puerto Rico from Topeka, Kansas...(--ok, I've got Chrissy Hynde singing 'Stop Your Sobbing' on now...)
Another factor adding to my usual socially insecure, perfectionist second-guessing on the right occasion to break open a bottle that has accumulated any kind of emotional charge was having the chance to try the 2002 iteration of the very same bottling at Range on Valencia Street-- it may have been my first or second visit there while I was in San Francisco: they had it by the glass and my first impression was of an overwhelming cherry-vanilla oak wash...by the time I finished the dregs the wine seemed to be straining towards some better balance, but it put me on guard & set up some anxiously negative expectations...
Cut to the chase: I made up my mind to open my prize & drink it in a measured, disciplined way on Walpurgis Nacht, last April 30th. If I remember right at all, the nose seemed promising & dense with the usual wet hay & forest floor-- wound a little tight, but with a subtle, flowery undercurrent of violets. Oak very much in check, to my relief. However, in the mouth it was a bit of a letdown-- I remember some food-friendly but somewhat one-dimensional tart cherry, the midpalate a little thin, but with some nice, lingering spice kicking in to give it some unexpected length.
I only had a second glass (maybe a wee bit more...) two days later, on Wednesday, May the 2nd, & compared it with some Costiéres de Nimes-- Chateau de Nages Réserve 2003-- to try to goose my palate into discrimination by contrast-- but it may have been unnecesary.
I don't have the sharpest olfactory tool, and as the wine opened up and elements integrated & settled, I don't remember any salient character to the pleasant, compact braid of flower, forest and fruit-- maybe some newly detected cola notes? But on tasting, a world of spice tickled the tongue: white pepper and a touch of cake-- as of nutmeg darkening and lingering into clove in the aftertaste. The acidity was tamed down, & the fruit was a deeper black cherry. I'm clutching at straws of memory, now...the midpalate certainly seemed to have filled out...
I almost finished the bottle next time out -- (I can't for the life of me recall whether it was Thursday or Friday night) --but I saved a glass to bring to my friend Enrique (Kike) Morales, wine broker and distributor with a few classy feathers in his cap-- Laurel Glen, Chappellet, Truchard, La Sirena, Williams-Selyem, Howell Mtn. Vineyards...
After another day or two of breathing that life-giving but circumstantially harmful oxygen in the open bottle, there were subtler but still further changes in the wine-- it was still one spicy glass of Pinot, but better integrated, with a definite cola and rose petal core in the midpalate. This is when I said 'wow!' & that's why I left what turned out to be a bit less than four ounces in the refrigerator for (what turned out to be...) a whole 'nother week while I went to Vega Baja to visit with my friend Ricardo & his family, pick up some medical test results, look for a mechanic & discuss community organization strategies for environmental protection during a visit at Casa Pueblo in Adjuntas-- & then we got word Ricardo's very good friend and colleague, graphic artist Omar Quiñones, had breathed his last... & I ended up drinking even that last three-quarter glass of 'Les Révélés' in his name, by myself, while I reflected on his good friends who had been my own colleagues earlier in our lives-- like singer/songwriter José Nogueras, who is still alive thanks to getting a new liver-- & the times we had crossed paths only half-knowing each other--
& I wonder-- where can I get another bottle of that 2000 Anderson Valley Elke Vineyard Ici/La-Bas 'Les Révélés' Pinot Noir to share with friends who are still of this world??


Principal Proceso Principiante

repetido el rodeo canino
que asegura reposo y asienta
sillones de polvo a la brasa--

(para descansar en llamas
que perfilan el mullido divan
de abuelas emigrantes, retornadas)

desplazo un segundo paso inicial
para recomenzar el cultivo
de lengua germinal, si no materna

ante la dudosa pantalla de luz
que enmarca un perdido refugio
tras su lama de biombo roto

pero el dolor sensual--
el fuego que anega su chispa en jarabe
--ahoga la coyuntura sin articular

y no hay comodidad sin contorsiones
que atrofian los miembros
y tuercen la marcha hasta replegar
en lisiada vejez acorralada