I have been drinking a lot of red Burgundies recently. Two reasons: Firstly, it can be just a divine offering of Pinot Noir that can have you crying into your glass a first sniff, and secondly, I have been celebrating the life of my dear friend and business partner at Rose and Arrow Estate, Mark Tarlov, an irreverently brilliant person who loved nothing more than pairing a Grand Cru Burgundy with a wonderful burger.
Photo: Mark and Rose and Arrow winemaker Felipe in one of our famous vineyard analysis pits in Oregon.
Mark’s passions were film and wine. He was an accomplished producer in the 90’s making Christine, Serial Mom and Copycat to name but a few, and his stories about filming in places like Africa with Sean Connery were legendary. He also loved telling the story of his first wine epiphany, which occurred while on location in San Francisco at a restaurant called Postrio. After asking the sommelier to recommend a bottle, he was presented with a Pinot from the famed Morey-Saint-Denis in Burgundy. When Mark tasted it, he nearly fell off his chair. He proceeded to order the same bottle every day until the restaurant ran out. The sommelier explained he was lucky to get one of the 250 cases a year that were produced from a small unique plot in the vineyard. "Why?" is a question Mark loved to ask, and with that, he began his journey to uncover the secret behind a world class wine. That journey led him to Oregon where he created Rose and Arrow Estate with the mission of producing Grand Cru quality wines outside Burgundy.
In honour of Mark, today I opened a 2018 Frederic Magnien Bourgogne ‘Graviers’ ($28). Magnien, a well-known Burgundian winemaking wizard, was one of Mark’s favorites. This is made from a vineyard in the Climat (sub region) of Chambolle Musigny, famed for its balanced and minerally wines. It is also aged in clay amphora, which I always find gives a purity to the fruit. It’s just a brilliant wine and quite frankly an absolute bargain. To start, the nose is gorgeous. It is like sitting next to a river running over limestone soils amid a blossoming red apple orchard while eating fresh cherries. When I took a sip, alluring was the first word that came to mind. Like a subtle but meaningful glance from your future partner across a room that stops you dead in your tracks. Soft red cherry and below, just layer upon layer of minerals and tension. I would drink this with coq au vin or any roasted chicken with a rich mushroom sauce.
To close this reflection on great wine and dear friends, I'll leave you with the first few lines of one of my favorite Emily Dickinson poems:
I bring an unaccustomed wine
To lips long parching, next to mine,
And summon them to drink.