WBC 2009 Day 2: Sex and the Sauterne

an amazing race

By this time on Saturday night at the 2009 Wine Bloggers Conference, you’d imagine I’d be topped out. But no. Sommelier Doug Cook of Able Grape, who poured so many phenomenal wines at last year’s WBC, was at it again: telling stories, pouring, and tasting as fast as live blogging. Instead of taking notes, I grabbed finished bottles to write about later.

There was an unfortunate snafu:

The hotel insisted they needed to close down the conference room. So off we went to a hotel room, about a dozen of us and two cases of wine. Hotel staff wasn’t thrilled with that either, so back we tromped to the conference room provided we vacate by 1am.

sex and the sauterne

Near the end of Doug’s tasting, he presented us with a sauterne. I want to say it was from 1978, because I remember thinking the wine was probably older than Doug. The nose blew my mind–sweet honeysuckle, pear? more! When I took a mouthful and tasted it, tears formed and rolled down my face. I wanted little else than to abandon myself to the swirl of emotions.

I was self-conscious, but there was little I could do: I was caught in public having sex with a sauterne, an orgasm even. I didn’t understand what was going on. It wasn’t that I was drunk. Well okay, by then certainly I was drunk. But that wasn’t what was making me cry, making me feel that way, that ecstasy of emotion.

The wine released every feeling in my heart all at once–all the joy, the sadness, the beauty that this life has to offer–it was all there, almost as if every emotion and everything I’d ever done and that I’d ever experienced was somehow, somehow in that golden glowing liquid.

That sauterne was orgasmic.
I felt connected to myself, to all life, to the universe.

Confused, I was. I couldn’t abandon myself to my emotions or walk away. We had to pack up. I had responsibilities.

So I did the next best thing: I put the box I’d collected, empties, open and closed bottles, including the empty sauterne, and set the box right outside the conference door, along with most of my sample of the sauterne still in the glass. I would finish cleaning up, then retrieve my treasures, retire, and at my leisure later let myself let go and go deep into its golden glow.

Picking up took time, and then I was engaged in conversations, and finally, I headed off to collect the sauterne and the bottles.

The box of wine was gone. All gone. Someone else scored my finds. Drank my sauterne.

So Doug, if you’re reading this, please tell me: what was that sauterne? and how can I possibly replicate that experience?

And readers, please tell me: am I crazy? Have you ever experienced anything like that in a wine?WBC

UPDATE: I heard from Doug Cook

Why that was the 1986 Château Raymond-Lafon. Great Sauternes is one of those life-changing “so this is what wine is all about” moments. Sooo glad you enjoyed it!

(As an aside, that’s probably also why in the 1855 Bordeaux classification, the only wine to get the very top classification was a Sauternes, as great as the reds are)

To which I answered:

Thank you so much, Doug, for stopping by and letting me know more about that particular amazing sauterne–and more about sauternes in general.

Now I’m going to have to try to find something similar! And of course a great way to learn more is using Able Grape!

And thank you, also, for sharing your wines this year and last. One of last year’s most memorable pours came from you as well–and equally unexpected: it was a chenin blanc!