The best advice I can give a young man or woman with hedonistic ambitions but little money is to make friends with someone who owns a boat and someone who has a fabulous wine cellar.
I bought a boat once. I named it Albatross. The expense and frustration taught me the wisdom of having a pal with a pleasure craft.
I have a little wine cellar, but nothing like that of a rich friend who once opened 52 top cabernet sauvignons so a famous wine writer could get tasting notes, then put the bottles on a table and invited over 20 pals, including me
True, as a wine writer, I sometimes get invited to tastings set up by distributors for wine shop owners, restaurant wine buyers and the media. I’ve tasted 1961 Bordeaux, top burgundies and exotic pinotages this way. And featured today are some of those fabulous wines.
Some are from world-renowned chateaux like the Puligny-Montrachet white burgundy by Joseph Drouhin, established in 1880, with links back to the 12th century Dukes of Burgundy.
Some are California versions of traditional French wines. Darioush “Signature” Viognier is Napa Valley’s version of the famous Rhone Valley wine.
Some are wines from the “garagista” tradition, created by brilliant or lucky weekend winemakers. Williams Selyem is one of these, given birth in a garage in Forestville, Calif., in 1979 by pals Burt Williams and Ed Selyem, elevated by word of mouth to cult status.
Some of these wines are made in tiny quantities, as with the Ardore cabernet sauvignon from Napa Valley, produced in only 10 barrels — meaning only 3,000 bottles for America’s 300 or so million residents.
Some of these wines are hard to find due to demand or limited production. Sometimes wine fans must put their names on years-long lists and wait for wine fans ahead of them to … well … die.
Here’s where you need that friend with a cellar.
• Nonvintage Duval-Leroy Brut Rose Champagne: lively, tiny, delicate bubbles, salmon color, floral aroma, light body, flavors of red raspberries, dried fruit and minerals; $50.
• 2009 Williams Selyem “Unoaked” Chardonnay, Russian River Valley: floral aromas and flavors of intense, pure fruit, including tart white grapefruit and ripe peaches, steely and crisp; $60.
• 2009 Joseph Drouhin Puligny-Montrachet “Les Folatieres,” Premier Cru: floral aromas, opulent ripe peach, pear and pineapple flavors, creamy and rich; $99.
• 2110 Chablis Premier Cru “Vaillons,” by Simonnet-Febvre: steely and lean, with aromas and flavors of lemons, hazelnuts and minerals, age-worthy; $28.
• 2011 Darioush “Signature” Viognier, Napa Valley: intense floral aroma, powerful flavors of vanilla, white peach, ripe pear and spice; $50.
• 2011 Spottswoode Sauvignon Blanc, Sonoma Mountain/Napa County: intense, pure fruit, white grapefruit, cut grass and gooseberries; crisp; $36.
• 2008 Ardore Napa Valley Red Wine (100 percent cabernet sauvignon): concentrated black raspberry fruit, silky tannins, flavors of minerals and citrus; $125.
• 2005 Rio Sordo Barbaresco Riserva DOCG, by Produttori del Barbaresco, Piemonte: intense, dry tart cherry flavors, firm tannins, long finish; $60.
• 2009 Mount Eden Vineyards Estate Chardonnay, Santa Cruz Mountains: intense, rich, tart pineapple aromas and flavors; $55.
• 2009 Pahlmeyer Merlot, Napa Valley: light body, intense flavors of black cherries and minerals; $65.
• 2008 Altamura Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley: intense black cherries and dark chocolate, very smooth; $90.
Note: A recent column misstated the price of Nonvintage Pol Roger “White Foil” Brut Reserve Champagne. It is $50.