For this guy, usually it’s the wine that makes the memories. The wine that marks time, shines a light on special occasions. And while wine was part of this year’s holiday celebrations, it was more about the unusual circumstances that makes the 2017 Napa Bridge Red Wine stand out from many Napa reds I sampled in ‘22.
We’re in Brockport, having snuck into town among the unfriendly swells of a big rainstorm that accompanied Cara and I all the way up the 95 corridor. We started our trip in the unfriendly “green” radar of RDU and flew with the storm all the way up to Washington and then again to the ROC. Good pilots and friendly attendants balanced out rolling turbulence until we were on the ground and headed for family and Christmas treats. As the temperatures plummeted and precipitation picked up last night, flight cancellations were suddenly national news and made us feel lucky to beat the storm into town.
This morning we woke early and did a walking tour of the neighborhood before the storm really took hold. The pavement was wet and skies ominous, but that was all just prologue to the real weather events of Christmas weekend in western New York. We had just started clearing breakfast dishes when the power flickered for a few hesitant moments and then died. Looking out through the snowflakes to the neighbors’ houses it was obvious the entire ‘hood was impacted.
Early afternoon, I bet the power would be restored by 4:05pm (it wasn’t!). We checked the local power company websites (not by WiFi obviously!) and saw the confirmed outages affecting much of the area, and many others. The snowfall didn’t seem to be the chief factor, but rather the howling gusts that bent limb and landscape to their will. At that point, I was pleased Mom’s recent siding and window project was complete, as you could almost see the house bleeding heat to the elements.
Funny moments? Those were the times you checked an appliance for the time, or when you automatically flicked a light switch when entering a room. Those moments when great neighbors called to check in on us, or when we reflected back on the last time (1991ish?) power was lost for an extended period. Less fun was reading that power crews are not able to get up poles and bucket loaders when winds exceeded 35mph, readings I was positive we exceeded several times each minute, or when your brain wondered how long the outrage would really last.
We broke out a puzzle and then cards, throwing hearts and that queen of spades hammer until it was so dark that we were calling out our discards to one another. Then it was Parcheesi by candlelight, wrapped in blankets and warm hats, until finally this guy had to break out the Napa Bridge. Maybe this was to fight through the doldrums of the powerless afternoon, maybe an appeal for warmth, or just because I knew several were ready, willing, and able?
At first taste, I was not overly impressed with this 2017 Red Wine from Napa Bridge Vineyards. Vanilla notes (not always my favorite) were definitely present, and the wine was slightly dry, tannic, and acidic. Red fruit flavors of cherry, and maybe blackberry were notable. Having ordered this online several weeks prior to Christmas I had anticipated a welcome treat that could be shared with the entire family. Check…ish? I would have bet it a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and maybe Cabernet Franc—at least upon initial sampling? Generally I found it “meh” but, since our entertainment options were limited by Mother Nature’s fury, I sunk into this reality and enjoyed it with the great family time.
Once the wine had an opportunity to breathe, it was much more enjoyable. Since a powerless afternoon zapped us of stove or appliances, we opted for local pizza dinner (thanks Steve!) and carried the Bridge into the evening hours. The house was a balmy 51 degrees when power was finally restored around 730pm. Phew! Special thanks to all the dudes braving the swirling snow and icy winds to get back our comforts of home.
Later on, I discovered that Napa Bridge Vineyards combined nearly equal parts Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Petit Verdot for this fruit-driven 2017 Red Wine. Other reviewers described its plum and cherry notes as well as “cedar and herbal inflections in this mouth-watering, velvety blend.” I would not use “velvety” in my recap but warmed to this vintage over several subsequent tastings over the weekend.
Be assured, I know the day was nothing like Buffalo residents faced, nor those traveling by Southwest Airlines during Christmas 2022. It was inconvenient at times, to be sure, but somehow melded us all together more closely. It’ll be a Christmas that we’ll be talking about well into the future, and that’ll always be the place I keep too the 2017 Red Wine from Napa Bridge Vineyards. Happy holidays, friends!