January 29 2009
We all know that a wine is more then the sum of its part, the very best expressions have a soul, an embodiment of something that causes our own introspection, moving beyond our DNA to ponder our own existence during a soul-searching respite made all the more enjoyable by an abetting, quixotic companion.
That is how I felt drinking the ‘05 Kelly Fleming Cabernet Sauvignon.
It is all beautiful black cherry and plum fruit, drenched in a creamy mocha and amaretto, framed in earthy elegance, with the inviting allure of structure front to back and a tightly laced finish that lasts for minutes.
And, frankly, I am glad I am drinking this in January and not December because I now know where the benchmark is for wines to come this year.
It is that good.
It is so good in fact, I did not want to spit, nor did I want to swallow, I just wanted to savor it.
Kelly Fleming is made in very small quantities (700 cases for the ‘05) and is difficult to find, available at fine restaurants in the markets you might suspect—AZ, CA, TX and NY; though distribution is opening up in several other markets this year. Also available online at the winery web site, this is one wine to act on.
If you need more proof, winemaker Celia Masyczek was named Food & Wine magazines winemaker of the year for 2008, adding this award to an equally impressive list of clients for which she works, including Scarecrow, a wine that is so scarce and so coveted that they aren’t even taking names for the waiting list.
I caught up with Kelly Fleming, and her son Robert, and I did the twenty questions interview that is sporadic feature here. Proving to be a good sport, funny, very smart and literate (and a football fan—my guess on which of question #20 is the truth!), Kelly Fleming indulges me on my interview questions, which seem to go more along the lines of a winery producing, well, more ordinary wine, and not an $85 wine that could have a market at $150.
One of the benefits of doing a blog, is I can do as I please. I can ask silly questions to serious wine people. And, under normal circumstances, I would do a tasting note and review this wine with both stars and a number. I am not going to do so this time. Just trust me when I say that this is excellent wine. Drink the Kelly Fleming Cabernet with food, or alone, preferably dinner with a loved one, go for beef, but stay away from a steak as this isn’t just a steak wine, and then drink alone as a glass, finishing off the bottle. You will appreciate it more in each individual setting, but it will be alone, in contemplative mood, where its seductions will gather you in.
20 Not So Penetrating “Getting to Know” Questions for a Wine Craftswoman
Good Grape: Which of the Seven Deadly Sins are you most guilty of?
Kelly Fleming: Gluttony. I am in the wine business for a reason.
Good Grape: What is your biggest pet peeve?
Kelly Fleming: Whining adults who have a habit of interrupting.
Good Grape: What is on your nightstand?
Kelly Fleming: Well it’s not an ashtray full of cigarette butts and a bottle of Jack Daniels. At least not right now…
Good Grape: What is in your refrigerator or pantry that you would not openly admit?
Kelly Fleming: Anchovy paste.
Good Grape: What do you drink when you are not drinking wine?
Kelly Fleming: Don Julio 1942.
Good Grape: What type of music or radio station is played most often in your car?
Kelly Fleming: JJ Cale all day long …
Good Grape: In what era would you live if you transport yourself?
Kelly Fleming: I’d go back and start at the beginning!
Good Grape: What is the best wine-related book you have read?
Kelly Fleming: Any book that mentions wine makes me want to drink wine. So, technically any book about wine.
Good Grape: What is your favorite movie genre?
Kelly Fleming: Adventure or comedy, something like “Get Shorty.”
Good Grape: Is your desk messy or organized?
Kelly Fleming: Grand Central Station.
Good Grape: Are you always early or terminally late?
Kelly Fleming: Never early, sometimes on time and often late
Good Grape: Do you read the comics in the newspaper? If so, what is your favorite comic?
Kelly Fleming: N/A
Good Grape: Who would you want to play you in the movie about your life?
Kelly Fleming: My life is not over. Not sure if this would be a drama or a comedy. . . .
Good Grape: What super-power would you most like to have, and why?
Kelly Fleming: I’d like to fly. The movement and perspective interest me. I’d fly over the vineyards of Napa Valley.
Good Grape: You are moving and can only take three or four items with you. What do you grab?
Kelly Fleming: With no time: Passport, reading glasses and credit card. With more time maybe some photos, camera, corkscrew, dinner china. . . .
Good Grape: What do you do if you have a spare hour?
Kelly Fleming: Roam around the property with Gina, our dog. Think about doing a painting.
Good Grape: What is the name of last great restaurant you dined at?
Kelly Fleming: Boulevard in San Francisco.
Good Grape: What is your favorite ice cream flavor?
Kelly Fleming: Any flavor melting over the cone from the original Swenson’s in SF.
Good Grape: What is the best compliment you have ever received?
Kelly Fleming: “You have wonderful children,” or a close second “Those are you’re children?”
Good Grape: “2 Truths And a Lie” – Share 3 unique things about yourself and your life, 2 of them true, 1 false, readers will guess by leaving a comment
-I think doing the splits when drinking and entertaining …
-I believe I have rhythm and can dance …
-I live for football season.
Good Grape: Thanks very much, Kelly. My guess is that doing the splits at dinner parties in Calistoga is a bit of a stretch of the truth, but who knows what can happen after too much Don Julio 1942 …