In addition to being a guitar gear freak, I’m also obsessive about fine wines. The other night, I cracked open a bottle of 1985 Beaulieu Vineyard Georges De Latour Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon from my collection, and shared it with my best friend. I’ve been wanting to drink this particular wine ever since I won it at auction a few months back, and was just waiting for the right time to drink it. But I was also getting a bit worried about keeping it too long because unlike their French counterparts, California wines aren’t known for their longevity. But there are some exceptions out there, and this bottle was definitely one of the exceptions.
The cork was intact when I opened the bottle, which totally surprise my friend and I. This meant that the wine would have very little sedimentation. There was also perhaps on 4 mm of seepage into the cork, which meant that the cork used was absolutely top quality in this case. We knew we were in for a real treat.
We both took a small tasting pour, swirled the wine, then took our tasting sips. Both of us closed our eyes, then after swallowing that first taste, we both at the same time said, “OH. MY. GAWD!!!!” As wine connoisseurs for over thirty years, we’ve literally tasted thousands of wines, but this wine topped both of our lists as the best cabernet we’ve EVER had! In 1991, Robert Parker rated this wine a 91. Now in 2011, twenty years later, I don’t think this wine is even rateable. To us, it surpassed all of the best wines we’ve tasted.
Over the three hours that it took us to finish the bottle, the wine’s character changed, demonstrating to us just how marvelous, majestic, and magnificent this wine was. It was so complex and sophisticated, that we both, who have a fairly wide and experienced wine vocabulary, had a difficult time describing the wine. In the end, we both agreed that this single bottle of wine bestowed upon us a genuine religious experience.
Religious experiences don’t happen very often, and at least for me, are brought on by things or events that are truly awe-inspiring. For those unfamiliar with the term, a religious experience is one in which it is virtually impossible to articulate the feeling. It’s an experience so profound that words would only diminish it.
With gear, this has happened to lots over the years. Here are some that I’ll share here:
- The very first time I tried out a BOSS CE-2 Chorus pedal. I have a few chorus pedals now, but when I need a particular chorus sound, this is the only pedal that’ll give it to me.
- After years of looking for a good delay pedal, playing the Mad Professor Deep Blue Delay sent me off into the nether world. There was simply nothing like it.
- Getting my very first high-end guitar, a Gibson Dot ES-333. Up until that point, I just had some very cheapo guitars, and getting that ES was like a rite of passage.
- Unpacking and playing “Amber,” my first Gibson Les Paul. I had wanted one forever it seems, and when I finally had the cash to get one, I can’t even begin to describe the mix of emotions I experienced as I held her in my hands that first time.
- Playing my Yamaha APX900 acoustic at the guitar shop where I bought it. No Martin or Taylor has ever sounded as good to me plugged in. Yamaha’s ART pickup system is unlike any other.
As I write this entry, I realize now why I and probably so many others are such gear junkies: We thrive on religious experiences. Besides being virtually impossible to describe, religious experiences are the ultimate feel-good. They’re also addictive… So it’s not a small wonder why I’ve got so much gear. 🙂