We celebrate weddings, anniversaries, holidays and funerals with alcohol. For thousands of year’s beer, wine and spirits have been an important part of civilization. Ships are christened with champagne, Irish whiskey is poured on the graves at Irish burials and beer festivals are cheered every October. This is who we are as a people, we raise our glasses and hail the occasion and with merriment, we rejoice and sometimes we toast the passing of someone. In good times and bad we quite often pay homage and honor them with ‘a drink’ and sometimes with many.
What do you drink when the passing of the family dog happens? What is the correct wine to acknowledge such a memory? This is the question I’m faced with this month. A few days ago my wife and I put down our 13-year old Border Collie ‘Buddy’, as her kidneys and pancreas would no longer function and as much as we might have wanted to ‘will her’ well, she let us know in her way that she was done. Since it seemed that children were not to be for us, we made a conscious choice and our pets became a significant part of our lives and they were as much as children might have been - our family. Many trips were cancelled because a pet sitter (aka: friend or family member) could not be found and the idea of hiring an agency to have someone ‘house and pet’ sit was even less appealing. I mean, let’s be honest - regardless of how great their references are, what it really means is that you are inviting a stranger into your home to stay or at the very least, skulking about and that’s just weird. Not to mention they are not us and never will be and they don’t know our pets and their habits and what they really need, quite like we do. So like you do with ‘family’, they were our priority. In the case of Buddy, she had diabetes, she was insulin dependent (2x daily) and she was blind and deaf, but you would not know it to watch her. We loved her, would have done anything for her and we kind of did. We’ve got vet bills large enough to have covered the cost of a child’s college education; or at the very least a semester. And trust me; this occurred more times than I can remember.
We tried to have kids, but after many unsuccessful attempts we put all that love and focus on one another and on our pets. Over the course of our 18-years together, my wife and I have had 12 animals, not including the countless rescues (from possum, lizards, mice, birds, turtles, hawks and every insect you can imagine) and we were there for all but one of them when they were put to sleep and we’d have had it no other way. As of today we have one big, mean (but lovable) Orange cat left, who himself seems a bit depressed from the empty feeling that lays about the house. He misses her too, we can tell.
In honoring an animal, a true companion we have decided to celebrate her memory with the best Pinot Noir we have ever had; Kosta Browne. We are not just going to pick any random bottle of K.B. No. We are toasting our sweet Buddy with the Wine Spectator Wine of the Year for 2011; the Kosta Browne Sonoma Coast, 2009.
I own two bottles of this award winning California Pinot Noir and tonight my wife and I will be dinning at one of our favorite restaurants ‘The Napa Rose’ (reviewed here) and opening what I am sure will be a spectacular bottle, celebrating a much missed member of our family.
Writing this review every month is more than sitting down and enjoying a nice bottle and then telling you about it. This column is my therapy; a cathartic way for me to define my life to you before I uncork any wine I think about the meaning of it to me.
My wife and I have taken a page from Ernest Hemingway and we’ve made it a rule that with every new bottle we open, it is toasted. We celebrate the wine and we cheer; to each other, to our happiness, to some great news we’ve gotten that week, to our Dad’s (who have also passed), to the coming summer, to a low interest rate - you name it. We simply look into each other’s eyes, lightly clink our glasses and salute the world.
And this month… this night, we celebrate our love for a sweet dog, named Buddy and enjoy an exceptional night in her honor, as we toast to her with a phenomenal wine.
I have a nice Kosta Browne collection of various years and labels, but the Sonoma Coast, 2009 by far exceeded my expectation of what a quality wine should be. There is one more bottle of this hard to find Pinot Noir in the wine cellar and maybe when it’s time for us to say goodbye to our big ‘Orange’ cat, we’ll open it and see how well this vintage has aged. After all, he certainly deserves it.
Note: The Sonoma Coast 2009 label is a blend from three different Pinot Noir growers in the Sonoma Coast, California region.
The quality of this wine needs no further explanation other than, find a bottle and drink it. This vintage is California Pinot Noir at its finest. A truly high alcohol and fruit forward delight. From the burst of plum and tobacco that hits your nostrils after uncorking to the cherry and fig that washes over your palate upon the first sip and into a spice and strawberry finish; a truly marvelous wine that deserves respect.
**As a side note; A few months ago I reviewed another vintage of Kosta Browne the Kanzler label (reviewed here) and the differences in each selection from this winery are significant. Please read the Kanzler review (Read Here) and learn about the history of the K.B. winery. It’s my favorite Pinot Noir being produced today.
Wine Spectator Wine of the Year for 2011
Kosta Browne, Pinot Noir
Sonoma Coast 2009
Produced by: Kosta Browne
Winemakers: Dan Kosta, Michael Browne and Chris Costello
Appearance (Color): Ruby
Aroma (Complexity): Plum, Berry and Tobacco
Body (Texture and Weight): Medium
Taste (Balance of Flavor): Fig, Cherry, Walnut
Finish (What lingers): Strawberry, Apple, Spice
Food Paring: Roasted Chicken, Pork Loin, Pizza
Final Rating: 96
Drink now through 2019
My rating system is based on Wine Spectator's 100-point scale.
Wine Points How Good the Wine Is
95-100 Classic: a great wine
90-94 Outstanding: wine with superior character & style
85-89 Very Good: wine with special qualities
80-84 Good: a solid, well-made wine
70-79 Average: drinkable wine that may have minor flaws
60-69 Below Average: drinkable wine but not recommended
50-59 Poor: undrinkable wine, not recommended
Wine Serving Temperatures:
64° - Full Bodied (Bordeaux, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec)
62° - Tawny Port
60° - Pinot Noir, Rhone, Burgundy
55° - Beaujolais Nouveau
54° Full Bodied White Wines (Chardonnay)
52° Medium Bodied White Wines (Sauvignon Blanc)
50° Rosé, Light Bodied White Wines (White Zinfandel)
48° Champagne and Sparkling, Ice Wine
John Turi has had an impulsive career as a writer, wine aficionado, and artist. He has two published books of short fiction and poetry. He is a former child actor with the anxiety to prove it. He began college with a major in Mortuary Science. With a desire for writing he switched to Creative Writing and then finally finished at a free love hippie art college in Southern California as a graphic designer / sculptor. For over six years he worked in the wine industry and acquired a delicate palate for varietals. For the last 20 years he has become a private rare book and wine collector. He desires California Pinot Noirs, but his true love is the Italian Sassicaia. As a way to pay for his wine collection he works as a senior marketing manager / designer for an adult sex toy company. He is also training to be a certified master sommelier. Currently he resides in Southern California with his lovely wife Shawn-Marie.