The first experience of... What is so important about the first. Think about the many firsts you have experienced and those countless others which have yet to happen. Tonight we opened a bottle of Van Der Heyden, 2000 Napa Valley Cabernet. It's rich and luscious with deep fruit flavors and a hint of age, it's slightly sweet and calling for foie gras or beef, it's complex and beautiful and...a Late Harvest dessert wine. I just read the fine print. And it is amazing. Of course, I did not realize I was opening a late harvest bottle for the two of us. I thought I was opening a Cabernet but as I sit and sip, savor and ponder, I realize that it was the perfect choice for tonight.
I can remember the first time we tasted the Van Der Heyden wine in their tasting room, a dusty cob web filled room brimming with delicious wines, where the wine is king and the great tastes are queen. We were brought there by a good friend and fellow chef who was working in Napa at the time. Upon our arrival at the tasting room, we wondered what we had gotten ourselves into. It was dusty and funky and there were strange bugs in bottles on the dusty shelves, or so my memory dictates. But our friend knew what he was doing and the wines were complex and delicious. We've been members of their wine club since it began and we are constantly beguiled by their offerings of old favorites and new offerings. We have yet to be disappointed by their selections, really their creations.
Appearances can be deceiving and had we judged them by their tasting room and never sipped a wine, we would have missed out on something truly special. When we taste their wines we think of Breen taking us around on that trip, showing us the way and sharing his discoveries on the wine trail. It's a reminder to us to accept what people have to offer and be grateful for what they are willing to share. It's a reminder to share things that we value with others and help them find the things they might not find their own. It's a lot of information from a bottle of wine and that's even before we crack the seal and apply a corkscrew to the bottle.