I mention 'luck' in the context of a trade (wine!)dominated by big personalities, egos and pr companies.
I am also aware of my timing in terms of simply being alive and available at the right time.
I am one of the lucky ones because I am in the trade when someone like Miguel Torres is alive. He is a man who is a lot more than a famous wine maker with a mission. (There's lots of them around.) No, he is a soft and inviting personality who has maintained his ability, through inumerous successes, to have a youthful appreciation for wonder. He spreads this 'wine wonder' through an unfailingly energetic spirit of sharing.
A number of years ago I was a participant on the Miguel Torres Wine Course. A few years prior to that I had visited the Torres facility at Villafranca and over the past six years have returned there twice and attended three lectures/dinners with Miguel Torres here in Dublin. Short of attempting to persuade you that I travel well and travel often I mention all of these because at every single event Miguel Torres presented himself and presented himself well. That's a rare gift for someone who is Chief Executive of one of the biggest and most succesful wineries in the world. (Take note bureaucrats; humanity may not be a cost related item but when it adds to the perceived value of a brand it's a loser who doesn't encourage it.)
He's not a saint. No-one is recommending canonisation. Clearly he works his team very hard. That's business. He really does take note when his agents screw up while he's around. He looks to the bottom line as much as anyone else. He does get tired and let's face it he sometimes gets his lines mixed up and then wanders off message. But I remember....
One time I left VinExpo in Bordeaux and with about two hundred thousand other lost souls began a hot walk back to a hotel to try and get a taxi. Miguel and his sister Marimar were walking in the same direction. I tucked in between the two of them and for the next ten minutes we chatted like three schoolchildren, swinging our shoolbags on the way home, on a warm summers evening. Short of holding hands it epitomised the true spirit of 'wine family'.
Last week local agents Woodford Bourne hosted a Dinner with Miguel Torres at South in the Beacon Centre, Dublin. Besides introducing:
Vina Sol 07
Nerola White 06
Marimar Don Miguel Vineyard Acero Chardonnay 05 outstanding
Santa Digna Gewurztraminer 07
Jean Leon Merlot 04 a fave of mine
Nerola Syrah 05
Salmos 05 brilliant
Mas la Plana 03
Torres 10 Brandy
and El Silencio Arbiquena Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Miguel had time to talk about his family and tell a few jokes. I like the one where he was impressed that his hotel in Chile stocked his Torres 10 year old brandy. At least it showed well behind the bar when he arrived. Next day he couldn't see it on the spirits trolley. 'Why not', he asks a passing waiter who replies with honesty and sincerity, 'We only stock that when Mr. Torres is visiting!'
Recently Jonathan Nossiter followed up Mondevino with Gout et Pouvoir. His tenet that the wine world has succumbed to banality is well expressed. Perhaps he should now focus his talent towards the positive and to those wine makers who have continued to express individuality as a virtue.
I propose Salmos 2005 by Torres out of Priorat as a contender for a brilliant wine ploughing its own furrow where many have not. I propose this wine because even though Torres quotes Parker as proclaiming Priorat as the best region for red wine production in Spain and even though Torres respects the might and skill of Parker and the quality of the US market and its consumers he still made a wine that reflects the region rather than a style for the Parker Palate.
Ah, the brush stroke of genius at work....silent and soft...it swishes with delicate motion...the wonder will always be not where it is intended to go to but where we are prepared to follow.....