Due to a crazy schedule and even crazier topics I have missed the past couple of Monthly Wine Writing Challenges. Last month’s winner, The Wine Raconteur, was awarded the dubious honor of selecting this month’s topic and he chose “epiphany.” My master’s degree in History of the Christian Tradition leads me to great excitement when I hear the word “epiphany.” However, he has specified the definition of “insight or revelation.” My own definition of “epiphany,” religious or otherwise, I attribute to Oprah Winfrey in her understanding of an “Ah-Ha” moment. Wikipedia (good thing this is not a grad school paper) defines epiphany as: “An epiphany (from the ancient Greek ἐπιφάνεια, epiphaneia, “manifestation, striking appearance”) is an experience of sudden and striking realization. Generally the term is used to describe scientific breakthrough, religious or philosophical discoveries, but it can apply in any situation in which an enlightening realization allows a problem or situation to be understood from a new and deeper perspective.” (Sorry, I had a bit of ancient Greek in grad school so I felt the need to include it even though it still haunts me.) Wikipedia’s definition seems to cover all the bases, so in the spirit of #MWWC I will share a couple of non-religious epiphanies, if there really is such a thing.
Let’s focus for a moment on “an enlightening realization allows a … situation to be understood from a new and deeper perspective.” Back to grad school. One of the first classes of my first semester of grad school (20 years after completing an undergraduate degree) segwayed me into seeking a focus in church history and the professor became my mentor throughout grad school. In this class he wanted to start us out with open minds ready to challenge our preconceived perspective of what we “thought” we knew. In so doing he showed us a 20 minute Ted video that became an “Ah-Ha” moment for me and literally changed my life. The video is called, “The Danger of a Single Story” and was given by Chimanda Adichie. I am a huge fan of Ted Talks and was part of the SMU TedX team in grad school; however, I have never seen a Ted Talk like this one. It was a powerful epiphany for me that opened my eyes to a new level of presence, intention and enlightenment I did not have before watching and contemplating the video. Here is the link, I encourage you watch it.
Building on that epiphany and the danger of a single story I was blessed to travel to Cuba in 2013 with the same professor and a group of fellow students on religious study visas. With a new perspective, awareness and intention (and literally no contact with the world outside of Cuba, including my family) for 10 days I had one epiphany after another in Cuba; far too many to share in this article. It was; however, another life changing experience and not only deepened my faith but also my historical understandings of truth and gave me eyes to see what true ecumenicism can do to make the world a better place for all people. I cannot wait to go back!
But this is a wine blog so somewhere through this journey I need to get back to wine. I am not sure I have ever had a wine epiphany but probably the closest I have come happened just a couple of months ago when I was hosting a dinner party for a group of friends (we call ourselves the Dallas Wineauxs, coined by Texas Wineaux). I made dinner and my friends (Terry the Texas Wineaux, Ryan Sorrell and Mark Leyendecker and spouses) brought the wine. It was an epic night of wine, food and friendship. However, the highlight of the wine night and my wine epiphany came in the bottle of a 100 point wine brought by Mark. It was my first 100 pt wine and it was truly stunning. I am sure you want to know a bit about it but who am I to describe a 100 point wine? I will do my best….
Alban Vineyards 2005 Lorraine Edna Valley Syrah: This 100% Syrah, named after John Alban’s wife Lorraine, poured a deliciously inky violet into the glass and opened with rich and full aromas of black fruit, an inviting earthiness, and licorice; with soft notes of fading violets as the aromas lingered. On the palate this wine had a strong backbone of rich, concentrated fruit including blackberries, black plums, and black raspberries with brooding flavors of smoked meat, cedar, mocha, pepper, licorice and penetrating minerality, with just a touch of vanilla lingering on the back of the tongue. At 10 years old this wine was drinking with a lot of life and youthful; however, it was incredibly smooth with seamlessly integrated tannins wrapped in a perfectly balanced acidity. The finish was long, really building on the earthiness and spice as the velvet texture filled the mouth like a glove. Robert Parker, who awarded this wine a perfect 100 point rating in 2007 said it would drink beautifully for 15 years. Having enjoyed this wine 8 years after his rating I would definitely say this wine had a lot of life left in it to be enjoyed for years to come. This wine gave no indication of its 16.5% alcohol, drinking smooth and seamless, complex and perfectly integrated. 96 pts Wine Spectator; 95 pts Stephen Tanzer. At time of purchase Mark said he paid $65; SRP on wine.com today is $499. This wine was outstanding with the lamb I prepared for dinner; a truly perfect combination. Yet, I chose to savor most of it without food; instead deeply intentional and focused on savoring each sip. I had no idea the first 100 pt wine I would enjoy would be 100% Syrah and I was super impressed; it was simply stunning.
There is little information to be found on Alban Vineyards. The web site offers a sign up form for their mailing list and contact information; that is it. Mark shared with us that John Alban is a renegade wine maker who marches to the beat of his own drum. He does not care much for rules and the ones he knows about he sets out to break. This was evident in tasting the Alban Vineyard Roussanne 2011 Edna Valley. The beautiful white wine was so well endowed most would have claimed it a red wine if blind-folded. I do know John Alban is one of the Central Coast’s original Rhône Rangers, planting the first American winery exclusively with Rhône grapes. He likes to keep a low profile, he does not market his wines and does not send any to critics or media.
So that’s enough epiphanies for now. I hope your life brings you a wide variety of epiphanies and I hope to have many more. It is always fun to have wine epiphanies; as well as epiphanies from nature, friends, loved ones, kindness, strangers and faith.
My Song Selection: As I said I believe I have experienced many epiphanies, or Ah-ha moments, in my life. Life in some ways in like a puzzle that we slowly build, adding pieces one at a time throughout our lifetimes. I try to live a life of intention, recognizing the each puzzle piece and putting it into place. Grad school provided many puzzle pieces for me; as did my trip to Cuba and even the Alban Vineyards 2005 Lorraine Syrah! Therefore, the song I have chosen for this article is by one of my all time favorite bands, RadioHead. I hope you enjoy it!
Let me know what song you pair with your life’s epiphanies. Cheers!