I’ve lived in the South for 23 years this week and (bless my heart!) have never really understood many phrases used by my adopted region. In the latter half of 2012, I came to appreciate one term, or at least I think so. I do believe I’ve had “the vapors.”
According to Wikipedia and several snarky, know-it-all websites, having the vapors is an antebellum expression for being overcome by emotion or ever-so-slightly stimulated by someone or something.
Yep, I’ve had the vapors alright.
What caused me to get all hot and bothered? Recognizing that you’re reading this in a wine column, you may have guessed it was a particular wine, which I will get to in a second.
I’ve been tasting wines in a serious way for about 13 years and I have to admit that I’ve had a challenging relationship with pinot noir, especially those from Burgundy. Often as not when Burgundy is concerned, I have been seen gazing dumbfounded at my tasting glass asking: “Are you beguilingly complex and ethereal or disappointingly weak and thin.”
Anyone who says they “get” Burgundy is lying to you, to themselves or both. True lovers of the red wines of Burgundy will tell you that, yes, these wines can make you feel as if you’ve touched the face of God, but they also offer severe lessons in patience and overcoming disappointment. To say you love Burgundy only supposes that you know the meaning of heartache. I think the best any wine lover can hope for is peaceful coexistence with Burgundy.
So, anyway, back to the vapors. I was tasting through a panel of red Burgundies in August, dutifully taking notes, when I happened upon Pierre Damoy’s wine from the town of Gevrey-Chambertin in the northern section of Burgundy. This particular bottling came from a 3.6-acre vineyard called Clos Tamisot, which lies behind his family’s residence.
One sniff and a couple of quick swishes of the Tamisot and I was thousands of miles away from the drab, cluttered tasting room. I was sitting in a sunny field of wild flowers where a willowy, blond maiden smiled as she handed me a bowl of ripe black cherries and raspberries. I do declare: the vapors!
This may seem odd to some, but I didn’t deem the Tamisot as the high scorer of the day. In fact, it came in second. The highest honor went to the Georges de Vogüé Old Vine Musigny. I felt it had more complexity and a longer aging life ahead of it. I try to remain staunchly objective with my evaluations. While the Clos Tamisot spoke to me in a very personal way, it is made a hedonistic style, which I prefer. Shrugging off personal bias, I shaved off a point or two.
Upon further reflection and for the purposes of this column, however, I glued those points back on. When you take into consideration that the Tamisot costs only $75 the de Vogüé goes for $575, one might consider the Tamisot a regal Burgundy that most of us can treat ourselves to at least once a year. All things considered, I’d not only say the 2009 Pierre Damoy Clos Tamisot was my personal favorite wine of 2012, but I am also giving it my rarefied Golden Thumb Award.
Due to its minute production level (approximately 5,000 bottles) and the relatively inexpensive price, tracking down the 2009 that I had will be difficult. However, the 2010 has just been released and I can only hope another fruit-bearing maiden and a sunny day waiting inside.
Gil Kulers is a certified wine educator and a consultant for a metro-Atlanta wine shop. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Note: Wines are rated on a scale ranging up from Thumbs Down, One Thumb Mostly Up, One Thumb Up, Two Thumbs Up, Two Thumbs Way Up and Golden Thumb Award. Prices are suggested retail prices as provided by the winery, one of its agents, a local distributor or retailer.