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Dodged Another Doom

What to drink while waiting for the next apocalypse

Zot! I never could’ve guessed that here and now, at the end of the whole world, indeed all existence, I’d be strapped to the bench tapping out another wine column. I always imagined myself huddled with my loved ones, sharing final kisses, maybe slurping down that last bottle of 1961 Dow’s Port as the mushroom clouds rise on the horizon.

Never for a moment did I envision loading the truck with all our guns and ammo and makin’ a mad dash to the nearest neo-Nazi fortress where we’d hunker down, ready to take out the stumbling hordes of surviving liberals coming to eat our food, attack our women and hug our trees. That’s not survival; it’s just delayed disaster.

Whoa! Wait! I’ve just been cued that we missed the Mayan Apocalypse! Calculations, it seems, were off by just a few parsecs (see Hubble site, NGC 2623) or maybe a millennium. Oh, well. I should’ve noticed ’cause we’re all still here. Apparently, the next scheduled apocalypse is still TBA, though it promises to involve zombies. Now, I know there are lotsa zombies. I’ve seen ’em, all over town and on the campuses. What? Someone just tweeted me that those head-down, staggering critters are just normal people on cell phones, not actual zombies, though related.

Anyway, this is typical of wine. In its long history — thousands of years — wine has survived through nearly countless apocalypses, and we’re still pouring new wines into new (and old, recycled bottles). I’m putting the ’61 Dow’s back in the end-of-the-world stash, mellowing for the next Rapture or whatever. So, new wine, and still time to drink it:

Walter Scott 2011 Pinot Blanc ($13) is a dry white with marvelous flavors (apples/pears/some citrus zing) and floral aromas. The texture is smooth with crisp acidity just ready for creamy foods. Not much was made but bottles still linger on retail shelves because so few consumers know just how tasty and versatile pinot blanc can be and just how talented are Ken Pahlow and Erica Landon, owners/operators of Walter Scott Wines, Salem.

Matt LaVelle, winemaker at LaVelle Vineyards (Elmira) continues to ring the bell: LaVelle 2011 Pinot Gris Oregon (Extended Lees Contact) ($22) is a good reason, if one was needed, to drink pinot gris. The term “extended lees,” refers to the winemaking process of giving the juice a bit longer contact with the crushed fruit, resulting in enhanced flavors and somewhat reduced acidity. Here, we get tropical fruit flavors and citrus notes that beg for fresh seafood. Gimme crab ’n’ gris, uh-huh.

We’re shameless locavores, but here’s a conundrum: Capitello Wines is owned by winemaker Ray Walsh, now a Eugenean, but born in New Zealand. He travels yearly to NZ to make/bottle/label wines which he then imports. Walsh’s Capitello 2010 Pinot Noir Marlborough ($23) is simply superb, with bright, expressive fruit and a texture like velvet in the mouth. The wine is acutely balanced and the finish lingers long on the palate; at this price, it’s theft that’s truly grand. [Full disclosure: Ray once married, then divorced my oldest daughter. I do not hold that either against him or in his favor, and I would not recommend his wines if they weren’t so excellent.]

Day-um! Dodged another doomsday only to dash insanely toward the fiscal cliff. Life just couldn’t get much more interesting. Does it make sense to wish all a happy New Year?