Hannah Crosbie's Week In Wine: Is it possible to recreate a memorable wine experience?

 (Rebecca Munroe at Ploussard, Clapham)
(Rebecca Munroe at Ploussard, Clapham)

It’s my first time in New York, my first time in Brooklyn, and my first time at a restaurant on the bucket list of every person who has a stick and poke tattoo: The Four Horsemen.

My short legs are slick under my new jean shorts as I sit à droite of the woman who managed to get us a 5pm table, manager and author Stephanie Mercier Voyer. I’m trying to play it cool. I’m giddy to be in New York, sit at this counter and be with Stephanie, who I’ve resolved to be friends with since I heard she hired prosthetists to dress her up as The Penguin for Halloween. Though I must admit, she is far better dressed for the heat today.

Soon, I have the wine list in my hand. I panic. A wine selection among friends is always a compromise. How to find something to capture this moment: life-changing for me, another Monday evening at work for Stephanie?

I decide I want to drink something American, though the man behind the bar ribs that Stephanie has only been drinking wines from the Jura. We make our compromise.

What lies in between the mountainous boutique region of the Jura and the 50 wine-producing states of America (all of which produce wine, by the way)? A solera-aged Chardonnay from California’s Scar of the Sea, of course.

Why? Allow me to explain... One of the most famous wines from the Jura is Vin Jaune, a wine which is fermented underneath a layer of yeast called ‘flor’. When in contact with the flor, the wine is imbued with a savoury, salted almond quality. In Sherry, this type of ageing under flor is combined with a ‘solera’ system, where the barrel is topped up with different vintages to slowly build a distinct style.

Still with me? Good, because a solera under flor is exactly what Scar of the Sea use to build up the complexity of their Rancho Tepusquet. 50% of the wine is a wine solera that dates back to 2014, and 50% is their 2021 Old Vine Chardonnay and the two of them are combined right before bottling.

Obviously, I fell in love. And because God loves a trier, and as soon as I returned home to considerably cooler London, I sought to recreate this experience. After a quick Google (other platforms are available), I saw that Scar of the Sea was indeed in the UK, imported by Indigo Wines. But, sadly, no sight of my specific prized wine. The closest thing I found was the Old Vine Chardonnay that made up 50% of the blend. Tinned fruit with a lick of citrus zest. Decidedly modern US Chard, but with an old-vine intensity.

I’m guilty of chasing the feeling. And drinking this magical wine in my block in southwest London helped me realise this. It’s impossible to recreate the exact moment a special wine brings to your lived experience. It’s only half the story, because I can’t recreate the dizzying feeling of a new city, like feeling vertigo on solid ground; how wine’s sapid bitterness made the beads of sweat on the back of my legs freeze; or how the pleasant buzz of a few glasses gave itself wonderfully to the enjoyment of a joint by the bins. But while there’s life in my body and a glass in my hand... believe me, I’ll try.

Hannah Crosbie is a wine writer, TV personality and the author of Corker: A Deeply Unserious Wine Book (@hannahcrosb)