Friday, September 9, 2011

A Big Fish story

“I have never seen or heard of such a fish. But I must kill him. I am glad we do not have to try to kill the stars.”
-- Ernest Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea

Not every big fish makes a splash: 
Gavel Ridge's 2010 Big Fish
is under the radar but over the top.  
Terry "Doc" Holliday does not sell wine produced at his fledgling vineyard in west central Wisconsin. Not before its time, not any time. It is made in extremely limited batches and reserved for the enjoyment of family and friends. (He did sell about half his Marquette grapes last fall, which helps pay for the fun he is having as a winemaker and grower, and he will do the same this year.)

But Doc, a research and development manager by trade, is quickly mastering his new craft. Perhaps the only thing keeping his 2010 Big Fish Marquette from becoming legendary is the fact that so few will have a chance to put their lips to it. Or perhaps that is why it WILL become legendary. Barely five cases were produced; only a dozen or so bottles remain. And Doc seems intent on killing the rest. His reasoning: If it's this good now, why not drink it?

Robert M. Parker Jr. will never have a chance to rank 2010 Big Fish, critics and aficionados will never discuss its immense possibilities, and Wine Spectator will never devote a spread to the tiny vineyard on Gavel Ridge. They will never know, and neither will you -- unless you join Doc and Patricia Holliday Saturday for the new Marquette harvest on the picturesque wind-swept hills north of Whitehall. Your reward: a Gavel Ridge T-shirt, and a chance to taste the jam-o-licious Big Fish before it disappears.

Already a curious story is circulating about the lush grapes of Gavel Ridge, a story that supports the ancient notion of grapes as an aphrodisiac. One area winemaker who bought Marquettes from Doc last year swears this is true: He gave a bottle of his wine to a brother, who shared it with his wife and later regaled a story of wild love-making that lasted through the night. Believe what you want, that winemaker has already placed his order for the new grapes.

We are very fortunate to have a bottle of Big Fish stashed away, and it might as well be the '61 Cheval Blanc from the movie Sideways. To paraphrase: The day we open that bottle of '10 Big Fish, that's the special occasion. We might even drink it out of a paper cup.

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