Now, I’m not going to try and lead you to believe this is how I spend EVERY Sunday.
No, this Sunday was a touch different from my usual routine…
Every few months, myself, my wife, and four of our closest friends get together for the Juicy Potato Club. The J.P. Club obviously needs a small explanation…
When we were in Sardinia last year for 2 of our friends’ wedding, the day before they were due to be married, my wife and I stopped by a small farmhouse store to pick up some supplies, before then heading to the beach to rendezvous with the rest of the wedding guests.
We grabbed some olive oil, bread, cheese, and what we thought were melons. Once we got down to the beach, we unpacked, I started cutting into said “mystery melon” on the nearest large boulder and I took a bite.
“Hey Kris, what kind of Melon is that?” asked Philip, the groom’s brother-in-law.
“I’m not too sure Phil!” I said, still chewing on the crunchy, but yet juicy melon-like object, “I think it’s some kind of Juicy Potato.” I stated matter-of-factly,
I then proceeded to hand round a platter of the now named Juicy Potato on the beach, exclaiming “Juicy Potato anyone? Juicy Potato?”
Basically the Juicy Potato Club is just a reason for the original Sardinia crew to get together at someone’s house. Make dinner, drink wine, play games, and generally have a great time. Unfortunately because of work commitments and schedule conflicts, it has been about 6 months since the last meet up.
Wanting to make it up to everyone, our host for this meeting, a man by the name of Mr. Lou Irwin, decided to offer up some wine that he had been saving for a special occasion. But first, we would play some Croquet.
That’s right, I said Croquet.
Everyone was surprised to learn that I (an Englishman) had never played croquet before. I of course had to inform them that contrary to popular belief, I didn’t grow up in a Jane Austen novel, sipping afternoon tea, eating cucumber sandwiches with the crust removed, and playing a competitive game of lawn Croquet with my good chums; before then retiring to the drawing room to talk of current affairs. No, that isn’t quite how I grew up.
In case you don’t already know, Croquet is a game that involves hitting wooden or plastic balls with a mallet through hoops embedded into a grass playing court, and dates back to the England in the early 1800’s.
I’m almost certain however that nowhere in the official Croquet rulebook does it state that the game should be fueled by a lager, vodka and lime cordial drink, intense profanity when you miss-hit the ball, trying to determine just how long you can balance the mallet on your nose before it falls off, and riding the mallet around like a horse when you make a good shot (Happy Gilmore style)! I’m fairly certain those things isn’t in the rulebook, but I’ll check into it.
I was third in line to step up to take my first shot, and figured I would apply some golf-like tactics in order to excel quickly. I lined up on the ball, adopted a golf-like stance, swung the mallet back slightly, swiftly went to go and hit the ball, and completely sliced it, missing the first hoop completely, much to the hilarity of everyone else. I resigned to the fact that Croquet just isn’t my game!
Shortly, about 4 shots into the game something actually very mysterious happened…the sun went behind the clouds, a gentle breeze blew through the park, the planets moved into alignment with each other, and I proceeded to play the most amazing game of Croquet ever played in Jacksonville, Florida (I’m guessing).
I have no idea where it came from, maybe I just have Croquet in the blood. I’ve never been very good at any sports, however it now seems that I have wasted my whole life on a career in wine. I should have been playing professional Croquet this whole time!
After the spectacular carnage that resulted in me completely annihilating the competition, and then subsequently having to be convinced by my wife that in fact I wasn’t going to quit my day job in order to pursue a career in Croquet, the sun had gone down, and it was time to head back to our host’s house.
For the few years preceding his birth, Mr. Lou Irwin’s Uncle gave him a bottle of wine each year, and not just any bottle of wine, as we are about to find out.
The first bottle which I couldn’t wait to open was the 1976 Sterling Vineyards Cabernet (Magnum). Lou already had concerns that the wine had become a vinegar-like substance, due to it being moved amongst multiple locations, and not necessarily stored in a temperature controlled environment. The ullage level of the bottle was fairly low, but no lower than what I would have expected. The “ullage” in a wine bottle is the space between the wine and the bottom of the cork. Over time, this space becomes larger as the wine is exposed to oxygen. The cork was well and truly soaked all the way through, but I managed to remove the whole thing without too much breaking off into the bottle.
Next, fingers-crossed as I went to smell the Sterling for the first time, and what do you know!?!?! The wine was still good!!! Admittedly showing earth, truffle and tree bark, but there was still plenty of great dark fruit there. I think we may have just missed this wine by 3-4 years, but it was still VERY enjoyable!
Next up was the 1980 Chateau Mouton Rothschild. I was particularly excited about this one as 1980 is my birth year, and you just don’t get the chance to taste wines from your birth year too often!
The cork on the Mouton held together much better. I poured a half-glass for myself and took a sniff,
“How is it?” asked Adam.
“It’s good.” I stated, my voice cracking slightly.
“Did your voice just crack?” asked Adam.
“Yes it did.” I replied.
The 1980 Chateau Mouton Rothschild was impressive to say the least, and I was honored to be given the chance to taste such a wine. More refined than the Sterling, and still with great acidity, I felt that the Mouton could have gone a few years more in the bottle!
All in all the Juicy Potato Club was a great success, the only concern is: what are we drinking at the next meeting!?!?!
We didn’t consume the below bottles (Lou had done that with his family a few weeks earlier), but I thought you would appreciate the photo’s:
-Chateau Lafite Rothschild 1970 Bordeaux
-Sunrise 1965 California Port
-Rutherford Hill 1978 Napa Cabernet
-Jordan 1981 Alexander Valley Cabernet