On Saturday, January 24, 2015 at approximately 6:00 P.M. the very last bottle of this fine Pinot Noir was poured. I claim to know this because the winery asserts it was their last bottle. Perhaps in some dusty cellar there rests another copy but that would be mere speculation. We must face facts, something remarkable has left the world.
It is not often one attends the death of a wine, especially such a glorious finale. When poets write of a “good death” they surely had this in mind.
Leafy at first, with mushroom essence, gradually like a trickling tide, leather and meat emerge woven with hints of brown sugar, only to give way to lovely floral notes as it sits in the glass. Graceful yet almost weightless on the palate, dried fruits wrapped in still vibrant acidity usher in a generous mineral-inflected finish that provokes and then fades like a memory. There is so much quiet energy restrained yet riveting, it went gentle into that good night but with all its integrity on full display.
Perhaps I cannot write a proper eulogy: I was not present at its birth, never witnessed the awkward stage before finding its voice; I missed the full flowering of youthful energy and the gathering of patinated wisdom. But no matter. I strongly suspect its best moments were its last. Aristotle thought that one could only assess the goodness of a life when it nears its end—only then is the fullness of its goal revealed, the end point at which all things aim. Surely this moment was the telos of Pinot Noir.
For all things that aspire to firmness of character to its last moments, this wine was an inspiration. The song has ended but the memory lives on.
We will give Lord Byron the last word:
Oh snatch’d away in beauty’s bloom!
On thee shall press no ponderous tomb;
But on thy turf shall roses rear
Their leaves the earliest of the year
And the wild cypress wave in tender gloom