John Stimp­fig

‘When wine, food and friends con­nect in the most mag­i­cal way’

Decanter - - CONTENTS - John Stimp­fig is con­tent direc­tor of De­canter

Al­most ex­actly twenty years ago, I first met and in­ter­viewed the bril­liant, be­guil­ing An­gelo Gaja, re­sult­ing in two glo­ri­ous days driv­ing around Bar­baresco and Barolo. De­spite be­ing a rookie wine writer, Gaja ac­com­pa­nied me through­out, pro­vid­ing me with an as­ton­ish­ing run­ning com­men­tary on the re­gion he loved so ar­dently.

Apart from An­gelo’s cava­lier ap­proach to road safety, I re­call an as­ton­ish­ing ar­ray of bot­tles, from his father’s leg­endary ’61 Barolo to his own sin­gle-vine­yard neb­bi­o­los, in­clud­ing a 1989 Barolo sperss and sorì san lorenzo.

As I was leav­ing, he prof­fered a large bag con­tain­ing a hard­back book and wooden wine box. the book was ed­ward stein­berg’s The Mak­ing of a Great Wine: Gaja and Sorì San Lorenzo. ‘It will give you ev­ery­thing I for­got to tell you, and drink the wines when you and they are ready.’ In­side the box were the ’89 sperss and sorì san lorenzo.

ever since, I’ve been wait­ing for the right peo­ple, oc­ca­sion and moment to broach one of these two trea­sures. Fi­nally, in Au­gust, the op­por­tu­nity pre­sented it­self dur­ing our sum­mer hol­i­day in scot­land. en route to skye, we were booked in for an overnight stay in the Bor­ders with sarah Kemp and her hus­band, Brian st Pierre.

Given that both knew An­gelo and his wines bet­ter than me, I couldn’t think of any­one more ap­pro­pri­ate. An­gelo had at­tended so many De­canter events with sarah, they were al­most joined at the hip. more­over, it was Brian who in­ter­viewed An­gelo when he was man of the year in 1998.

In­evitably, there was a de­gree of an­tic­i­pa­tion as I eased the long cork from the sperss. Hap­pily, a quick sniff and sip showed the wine was in per­fect con­di­tion and rude good health, be­fore it was de­canted.

that night, we en­joyed sev­eral won­der­fully mem­o­rable wines; a sub­lime vin­tage fizz, a mag­nif­i­cent 2001 su­per­tus­can, a top 2005 Pomerol and a glo­ri­ous 1998 sauternes. But with­out a scin­tilla of doubt, the star of the show was the spell­bind­ingly vi­brant sperss.

Per­haps our pref­er­ence was un­duly in­flu­enced by the 20-year wait and our shared af­fec­tion for An­gelo Gaja as much as the im­pe­ri­ous qual­ity of the sperss. All I know is this was one of those rare full-cir­cle moments when wine, food and friends con­nect in the most up­lift­ing, mag­i­cal way. And for that, we were all pro­foundly grate­ful.

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