I do believe that there are certain grape varieties that are inherently better (or more “noble”) than others; that certain winemakers, or chefs, or politicians (none currently come to mind) are objectively more gifted or can more clearly express a vision than others.
I am also as equally sure that in 99.9% of the cases, objectivity gets the crap punched out of it by context.
The time and the people and the place mean so much more than the quality of the thing. I’ve had wines
that would be considered ordinary by any critical standard. But because I was drinking them on a houseboat on Lake Powell while singing the great Seger’s even greater Roll Me Away at the top of my lungs with my wife, sister, and dad they were First Growths. The flipside holds true too. I had the good fortune to taste 15 vintages of Ridge Montebello on a gorgeous afternoon in Los Gatos a few months ago, and the wines were stunning…any critic who knows anything would have regarded these wines with the great respect they deserve. But these wines were among about 40 others and there wasn’t enough time to really appreciate them, and I was distracted, and, and….
It’s 5am and your day is starting with a bunch of fruit in the yard that needs to be crushed, boxes to be punched down, fermentors to be tasted through, blog posts to be written, East Coast distributors to be called, and you unfocus for a moment and realize that you realize
that you’re starving. And through the gloaming…the lunch wagon appears like a miracle.
This particular wagon – Sara’s Catering – specializes in Mexican rustic. Burritos, gorditas, chorizo, lengua, carne asada, great hot salsa…all kinds of cakes (Hostess…and the ones from Mexico that seem so exotic to us gringos), juices and soda jammed horizontally into a bank of ice, steaming coffee and boxes of gum. A smiling woman makes it to order on her stove top or you can pluck ready-made from the hot box. And you take it back to the cellar and relish it leaning up against a Cabernet box bubbling away.