Last night I experienced the deep satisfaction that I imagine missionaries and prosletizers experience on the moment when they convert someone. The occasion was our usual Friday night wine tasting. A new member named Jerrus has been coming to the tastings for a few weeks and he showed up. A pleasant young man (compared to the rest of us now oldies), Jerrus seems well versed in wine, except that his knowledge is solely in the area of Napa and Sonoma.

The first wine that came up on our blind tasting was a 99 Chateauneuf du Pape Vieux Telegraph. It was lovely and featured everything we love about this wine including what I call “that Mouvedre thing” towards the finish. The unmistakable rusticity of Provence Mouvedre gave this obvious Ch. d Pape away as a Vieux Telegraph. When we unveiled the previously blinded bottle , Jerrus amazed at our guessing skill, hurriedly set about writing down the name of the bottle, later photographed it with his Blackberry, and asked us what Ch. d Pape was. We obliged and explained.

What followed was a series of old Bordeaux ranging from ’80 to ’95. These tastings are not pre-organized. Whoever shows up just brings whatever they feel like on the occasion. Coincidences like this, an old Bordeaux tasting with a Chateauneuf prelude, occasionally occur. It was amusing to watch Jerrus and his girlfriend express surprise and pleasure as each wine was unveiled. He then picked our minds about how Bordeaux was organized as a region, and received a brief tutorial from me with an admonishment that after tasting Bordeaux for over 10 years, and visiting the region, I still do not feel I truely understand it yet. Jerrus realized he had quite a bit of future work to do.

He contributed a 96 Mondavi Cab Reserve to the tasting, which complemented the other wines well and proveided a different perspective. By the end of the evening we could all see this previously California-wine-guy smitten with the French bug. It was nothing short of a religious conversion.

And yes, it was a pleasure to be a vehicle for the enololgical enlightenment of one soul (actually two, because his girlfriend was right there with him). It’s a shame that there are thousands out there who have yet to see the light, and most never will.

Moris Senegor