People the world over know Rudolfo Anaya as the writer that has most eloquently articulated the Chicano experience for other cultures to appreciate. Most famous as the author of Bless Me, Ultima, Anaya is a retired UNM professor and a children’s book author, but few know that he is also an oenophile and wine critic. He's penned a series of wine reviews based on "The 12 Days of Christmas," in which he rated one wine a day. Here's a sample offering, in which this literary doyen clearly expresses the passion and poetry inherent in wine.
-- Joseph Baca
The First Day of Christmas
Bodegas Lan Rioja Edicion Limitada 2004
Releasing the essence of this bottle was like welcoming an old amigo home. Anda, let's party!
It was ready to breathe! It had life! Like a foal just dropped and kicking, I could tell this vino was heady, strong; no effete fragrance here.
Pouring the first glassful was sheer delight. The color was rich, substantial, a dark blueberry, a swirl in the glass that tantalizingly begged to be taken to the lips, like some of those freshman girls I knew so long ago.
But no bubblegum flavor here, this is no feminine wine. This is puro macho, male dominance, the tickle on the palette is hardy, not soft as other Rioja (feminine) wines tend to be.
"Feliz Navidad, partner, welcome to me casa," I said, welcoming the robust taste, the kicking ass of my taste buds, the pronouncement of a good vino.
Surprised? Oh yeah! My taste buds exclaimed. This is special. Sitting in the sunlight, allowing the light to filter through the dark grape coloration, I was as near to God's gift as possible. (I always hold the glass to light to catch the rainbow scintillating, from mauve to blackberry dark, the vino releases its substance.)
The bottle kept breathing as I sipped, so did the glassful, as vibrant as the first exhalation of the bottle when the essence was released.
I munched on smoked salmon, courtesy of Abe and Bel. (Unlike the Europeans who must match wine to food, I take the viands on the table without waiting for a match. No doubt this is a wine made for rare meat, a thick steak that can speak back to the vino and mate, creating a delight of palate and gastronomical enjoyment. But what of those who don't eat meat? Can they not enjoy this wine with their choice of food? Of course they can! I insist!)
So 10 thumbs up for this vino that came all the way from Spain to share its essence with me.
Later I had a glassful before dinner, one with dinner, and like a naughty boy out for a playful night, I had one before going to bed. Next day Abe came to share a few drops left, which he enjoyed. I am sorry he did not share in the moment of glory, the releasing of the essence, the popping of the cork, which is always a moment of expectation, birth, multitude of aromas flowing from the entombment in 2004 to my kitchen in December 2007.
I eagerly await another bottle from the 32,000 sealed ... should I be so lucky.