Life is nothing more than a collection of memories, it’s best that they be of the better category. Recently I have experienced two such events, the Taste of Copia Downunder in Napa, CA, and Toast of the Town in Chicago. Such experiences should also be enhanced with addition and presence of both family and friend and, again, such was the case.

In mid April, while visiting with my son and daughter-in-law in Dublin, CA, Maynard whom you’ve met electronically, was able to get us into the Copia Centers Tasting with 20 of the top Australian vintners and we tasted some marvelous wines. All of us have experienced that “in over my head” feeling and that’s perhaps how I felt. Certainly I was not intimidated, there was no judging, and everyone, as is per usual with the Aussies, very friendly and low key and I and my son, Eric, had Maynard and his friend Barb as our aces in the hole. Maynard is judging all over the country this year. Nevertheless, we learned of the Australian geographic differences, which is not unlike our own AVA nomenclature, and from that I became a fan of the wines of the Barossa and Eden Valley. It is in the state of South Australia near the ranges of the city Adelaide. Being south of the equator, this region would be the equivalent of the more northern areas of the US. Perhaps that was in the minds of its first settlers in the 1840s when they began planting vinifera from the old world. Some of those vines remain and many of the vintners are fourth, fifth, and sixth generations of the same family. A common eneologic fact seems to be how winemaking is good enough for one generation to pass it along to another. And, as an “in over my head” taster, I fell in love with the Australian shiraz, and please, do remember that the Z is pronounced with its Anglo-Saxon shrillness. Shirazzzz. My favorites, and with pumped chest, I can say that Maynard, too, agreed that the three top shiraz were from Peter Lehmann, Henschke, and Wolf Blas Gold Label, which at around $15 is in my opinion a fabulous buy. The food was good, too. Other top wines included Yangarra’s Cadenzia blend, Leeuwin’s dry Riesling (yummy and tasty), and the Pink and Yellow bubbly wines of FWE imports, also a tremendous value. I don’t want to belittle the other vintners, they were all very good, I tasted not one bad wine.

Two thousand miles east of there, my wife and I tasted, thanks to a Christmas gift from our children, at Toast of the Town, in Chicago. They combined the evening’s festivities with appetizers from the top restaurants in Chicago, and at many of the stops, we did the two and three, “fillerup”, tastings to go with the awesome food. It was a marvelous event that was held in the Field Museum main lobby, and I must say I had marvelous tasting with some of my 500 closest Chicagoan friends and my favorite dinosaur, Sue. Both events are safely tucked into my RAM and will be repeated next year and recalled as needed.

Much fun, enjoy, behave.