Number 216

I am drinking a 2002 vintage pinot noir from Bryce Vineyards.  I am 50. 18,262 days on the planet, and you will not experience much better than this bottle of wine.  The 2002 vintage of Bryce Vineyards was an interesting bottle of wine. There were less than a ton of grapes harvested from their 4 acre vineyard, not surprising since it had only been planted 3 years earlier in 1999.  The 2002 vintage of Bryce Vineyards took three and a half vines to produce each bottle of wine.  It was one of – now many – global warming years and the alcohol was substantial – 14.7% per bottle.

Three year old vines generally produce wines that are most commonly referred to as plonk. You are lucky to make any wine at all from three year old vines.  Perhaps you blend it with other grapes to flesh out a vintage and add some youthful exuberance.  Fourth year, maybe fifth, you start to have a product to work with.  By ten years of age you can make decent wine.  By 20 you are in the major leagues.  30 year old vines and you are an A-list star – the George Clooney of grapes.

Bryce Bagnall would never be confused with George Clooney.  Maybe Bill Murray, or Tom Hanks.  There was a comedic air to him. A rustic charm.  He came across as a farmer, someone connected to the earth, but no yokel.  I remember the day he learned he had been approved for a medical marijuana permit.  He laughed and joked with us about the absurdity of modern times.  He knew he was not going to survive, but it didn’t stop him from living.

To taste the 2002 vintage today, eight years after harvest, is to look back in time.  It was hot.  We were younger.  There is a smell given off by freshly crushed Pinot Noir grapes, and once you have inhaled it – indeed, once you have been immersed in it up to your hips – you never forget it.  A wine from young vines, getting a bit long in the tooth, that still possesses it, is a miraculous thing.  Sometimes you can bottle miracles.

Bryce Bagnall was born the same year as I, four months my junior.  He has a daughter, and I have a daughter. Maybe there’s something about that similarity in age that made his death resonate so deeply with me. No one lives forever. No wine lives forever. But all living things resonate, including a fine bottle of wine.  Bryce died of Lou Gerhig’s disease. His 2002 Pinot Noir is still a heavy hitter.

216. Bryce BAGNALL – U.S. Social Security Death Index

Birth: 17 Dec 1960  State Where Number was Issued: California  Death: 13 Nov 2006

Published in: on August 3, 2010 at 6:36 am  Comments (1)