31 August 2006

The Wine Century Club Followup

Back in May, I applied for the Wine Century Club, an organization honoring those who have tried at least 100 different grapes. I filled out the application, provided dates and the offer to provide producer, region, and vintage notes on each grape tasted as well.

Once again, in my defense, several of the odder grapes were tasted as parts of European blends. However, I also tried a few single-varietal wines that were not included on the application form, but I added them and I received credit for those. (I've also tried several more grapes in the interim, and as always welcome any challenge to my tasting of any of these grapes. A friend of mine has a case full of wines from Bulgaria waiting for a tasting, and I can assure you those grapes won't show up on any mainstream list of wines.) And honestly, you could probably spend a month in Italy and taste more than 200 grapes easily.

Since then, I'd completely forgotten about the club. Until today.

Let me set the stage, since so many wine anecdotes involve beautiful women, luscious sunsets, and idyllic landscapes. I prefer to bring a little realism into the wineblogging world.

It was five in the afternoon. I was home from work early, and was dressed in my typical après work garb of khaki shorts and a t-shirt, no shoes. I was in the backyard tending the tomato vines, and my t-shirt was speckled with yellow pollen and the bright green blood of tomato hornworms. To make things more wonderful, it had started raining. I struggled to pick any of the nearly-ripe fruit to avoid any cracking (a big influx of water can cause tomatoes to split). Then I heard the bad brakes and slipping transmission of my local postal carrier, and trod out front to receive the mail. Along with the usual junk mail, bills, and other detritus, there was a large envelope, handlettered, all the way from London!

Once inside, I opened the letter to reveal my certificate admitting me into the Wine Century Club. Even though I'm a member of the New York chapter, the application was processed in London, printed there, and mailed from there. So now I've got to find an A4 frame here in the middle of the United States...


Fredric Koeppel said...

Is fragolino on your list?

Benito said...

Afraid not... Somehow I've missed that one and Lambrusco. Any recommendations for a Fragolino worth trying?

Fredric Koeppel said...

Actually, fragolino is the American muscadine grape that was somehow taken to Italy and is planted in the Northeast, in Friuli and the Veneto. A few properties make wine or sparking wine or grappa from it (the Nonino family makes fragolino grappa) but of course it cannot receive an official designation becauae according to Italian wine law, the grape is illegal. It's sometimes referred to (rather luridly) as "the forbidden grape." Randall Grahm makes a fragolino grappa, but then he would, wouldn't he.

Steve De Long said...

Thanks for the great post and sorry about the A4 format, which is part of the reason for the certificate to be delayed.

What's this obsession with Fragolino? I now need to try some as soon as possible after that nice little story . Then there are a few questions: Does Mr. Koeppel have shares in a Fragolino vineyard? Will Fragolino have its 6 months of intense fame just as did the Lambada, the "forbidden dance"?

Benito said...


No worries on the A4 format--I haven't actually shopped for a frame yet, but it shouldn't be any problem. I work in the print industry (thus giving another clue for any local readers trying to divulge my identity), and I routinely deal in A3-A5 prints for export beyond the shores of this fair land. If I can't find one locally, I can always work out a deal with one of our international partners. I may have to slip a sixer of beer or some barbecue or a stack of forged birth certificates in the shipment, but I'll get a frame one way or the other. And thus my Wine Century Club Certificate will hang in honor alongside such things as my International Thespian Society award, my ten-gallon blood donation award, and the esteemed award from the Society for Heating and Cooling Engineers (awarded in 10th grade for my science fair project on the thermal expansion of pipes, PVC, copper, steel, and aluminum).

As for Fragolino, that obsession is purely on the part of Mr. Koeppel, who to my knowledge does not operate a vineyard comprised of those grapes.

Fredric is in fact the local wine writer for our city's main newspaper, The Commercial Appeal, and he is gracious enough to frequent this blog with his occasional comments and criticisms. Visit his website if you are further interested in fragolino. (We southerners are quite fond and protective of our muscadines, which have a deep, earthy flavor to them.)