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james suckling uncorked

Is It a Sin?


Posted: Apr 13, 2009 11:10am ET

I started thinking of the wine that I wanted to drink for lunch about 15 minutes into the Easter service at York Minster in England. I know that this is not at all the Easter spirit, or pious. But I couldn’t help it. There was mention of mature wines in the reading of Isaiah 25:6-9, and, God forbid, it got me thinking. I had Easter lunch organized with my two children and ex-wife at the Hotel du Vin in York after church. I couldn’t help but contemplate the wine at lunch. The place has a good wine list.

My daughter sings in the Minster Choir, so I spend a lot of time in church when I am in Yorkshire. “It certainly won’t hurt you,” says my ex. I guess not. Worse things could happen.

It’s funny how wine pops into your head at the strangest moments. I thought it was only sex that guys thought about all the time, or football, or cars? And not in those order. Maybe I need some more therapy (not shopping) in Los Angeles to sort me out? (Just joking.)

Anyway, the 90-minute Easter service finished with some beautiful hymns and a confused Easter sermon from the Archbishop of York. We picked up my daughter in her school uniform after the service at the entrance of the Minster and went to the restaurant.

I had been thinking about drinking a red from the Loire like a top Bourgueil or Chinon, but the wine list didn’t have any. And my ex said that “it would not go with the smoked salmon starter and risotto” she had chosen for lunch. No use in getting in a fight over a bottle of wine!

I chose a South African Chardonnay. There’s always lot of New World wines around in the U.K. It was a 2005 Springfield Estate Robertson Méthode Ancienne Chardonnay. The wine reminded me of a still Champagne with its yeasty, apple pie and lemon character with mineral undertones. It was very fresh yet showed rich and almost exotic fruit flavors. The acidity was fresh too. It had obviously had the full lees stirring and aging in new French oak barrels. Yummy.

I love the way South African wines bridge the New and Old Worlds of wine. The Springfield Chard had the richness of an Australian Chardonnay and the freshness of a Puligny-Montrachet. I scored it 90 points, non-blind. It went really well with my pan-seared fillet of salmon over wilted spinach. My ex was right! And we had a fun lunch.

I hope you too had a good Easter or Passover.

David A Zajac
April 13, 2009 12:45pm ET
Wow, lunch with your ex and your saying you had a good time, good for you! Personally I would rather eat leftovers with Riunite than have lunch with my ex, but every once in a while you hear of people like you that actually still get along afterwards, congratulations! As to the wine, I think a Brewer-Clifton chard would have done the trick for me...very tasty and they age well too, just opened a 2001 (forget which vineyard) and it was still incredible fresh and delicious.
Brad Baker
Vancouver Canada —  April 13, 2009 1:12pm ET
James, I had my family over for Easter dinner. This year, my wife gave me a hard time for buying multiple brands//types of wines instead of sticking with one type that everyone would share. My logic was having the family experience a vast arrray of types and styles side by side. They are generally the type of wine drinker that sticks with cheap aussie wines. We went from a chateau neuf to a 05 Bordeaux to a auzzie shiraz and a cali Cab. It was a fantastic time had by all, and it was fun to see how everyone had different tastes. (I loved to Grand Ponet! 3 hours breathing)Happy Easter to everyone.
Jonathan Lawrence
April 13, 2009 1:29pm ET
Don't feel bad, James; religion has driven many of us to drink! I commend your fortitude in sticking it out for 90 minutes. I also like the contrast between your ex's "It certainly won't hurt you" and your "Worse things could happen". For myself, I had some Laetitia Pinot with the remnants of my 5-year-old's chocolate bunny.
Gil Lempert-schwarz
Vegas Baby —  April 13, 2009 2:14pm ET
According to solid sources, the word 'Wine' is mentioned more times in the bible than the word 'God'; guess you weren't the first to contemplate a good bottle in the house of the Lord...
Matt Scott
Honolulu HI —  April 13, 2009 4:00pm ET
A lot of Salmon going around yesterday. My parents in Scottsdale, Arizona had it and last night my wife and I did at home in Honolulu as well. I prepared it with a maple syrup/rum sauce and had it with a 2002 Domaine DES Baumard - Quarts De Chaume and was blown away. I just love the quince and fig character of those wines. James - Thinking of wine during church is still very pious-like ( :
Thomas Hughes
Texas —  April 13, 2009 4:19pm ET
The York Minster is one of the most impressive Churches I have ever visited and I think the largest in England (if I recall correctly). Stain glass windows the size of a tennis court! You just don't see workmanship like that in the US. Was it Benjamin Franklin that is credited for saying, "Wine is a constant proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy!" I agree.
Bernard Mclaughlin
Chicag,Il —  April 13, 2009 6:30pm ET
I too sat in church thinking about what wine to have with dinner.we had a 2004 Dujac clos de roche with lamb. The nose alone would of made anyone happy,but with lamb it was a superstar.(2hours decanted)
Karl Mark
Geneva, IL. —  April 13, 2009 8:44pm ET
I brought a Chardonnay from Israel (Kosher no less) to Easter dinner, and it held it's own. Also tried a 2001 Chateau Filhot because Sauternes always seem to go well with ham.
Jeff Franklin
April 13, 2009 10:26pm ET
Sorry Gil, but Wine is mentioned about 238 times while God is well over 3,000.But I can still see the need for a stiff drink after 90 minutes of Easter day lecture!
Allen Black
Ajax, Ontario —  April 14, 2009 4:03pm ET
York Minster is beautiful. Saw the Evensong performance there in Sept08. Absolutely incredible. Being there for Easter would have been special.
James Suckling
 —  April 14, 2009 5:32pm ET
Allen. You saw my daughter sing then! Glad you enjoyed it.
John Jorgenson
Seattle, —  April 15, 2009 4:00pm ET
As to the sin question, only you can answer that one. The easy answer is no, but that may not be accurate. The only sin I can think of that may have been committed is thou shall have no gods before me. That's why you are the only one who can answer that question. Chances are I had the oddest wine/food pairing out there. My wife and I took my Mom to an African Restaurant that served traditional Gambian cuisine. We had Peanut Stew with Lamb, Whole Baked Tilapia (including the eyes), and Chicken/Couscous/Yogurt Wraps. What would you drink with that? We had water, and then we washed it down with a very nice Cab-Franc from Darioush.

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