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Friday, August 19, 2022

A toast to the heroic Ukrainian resistance and their allies

S.W. and Rich Hermansen
Guest Writers
wine@lbknews.com

A close friend and fellow computer geek and I had an opportunity to meet for the first time since the beginning of the pandemic. In his youth, after completing his PhD in Physics in his native Ukraine, my friend was drafted into the Russian Army and spent three years guarding trains in central Russia. Such was the reach of the Russians at the time. Before the collapse of the Soviet Union, he sought asylum along with his mother and sister in the US. Like many people in the countries that have broken off of the old Soviet Union, they have no love for their former Russian rulers

I proposed a toast to the brave actor and comedian, President

A close friend and fellow computer geek and I had an opportunity to meet for the first time since the beginning of the pandemic. In his youth, after completing his PhD in Physics in his native Ukraine, my friend was drafted into the Russian Army and spent three years guarding trains in central Russia. Such was the reach of the Russians at the time. Before the collapse of the Soviet Union, he sought asylum along with his mother and sister in the US. Like many people in the countries that have broken off of the old Soviet Union, they have no love for their former Russian rulers.

I proposed a toast to the brave actor and comedian, President Volodymyr Zelensky of the Ukraine, and his equally brave compatriots in the resistance. My friend opened a 2012 La Croix Picot Savennieres-Chenin from the Loire Valley of France. Although many wine experts consider any white wine held in the bottle for more than four years to be suspect, I recall enjoying a Samuele Sebastiani California Chenin Blanc of a vintage several years past the four year mark. Savennieres has the structure and reputation for aging even better a decade after its release. We found hints of dry sherry and dried pears in a relatively hot (high alcohol) white wine. The taste of the Savennieres tends to turn flat after a few years, only to recover from the waning of its clean and lively taste to achieve a golden finish.

My friend lamented that he did not have a Massandra White Muscat of Red Stone Special Reserve from the Crimea to open. Not unlike a Portuguese Madeira, the fortified Muscat vintages from the Red Stone fields hold their own for decades through heat and cold and sloshing about to a degree thought to ruin normal wines. These sweet wines struggle under harsh conditions and flourishes. To paraphrase Nietzsche, “What does not kill one makes one stronger”. Some call it a crime to open a bottle less than a century old. Whether or not you buy that idea, good luck finding a bottle of the Red Stone Muscat of any vintage.

Since the 2015 land grab of the Crimea by the Russians, a flagship of Ukrainian viticulture has now fallen into disrepair and disrepute. Where and when they rule, dictators cheapen human lives and culture in their quest for power. Democracy restores and sustains human values and a peaceful environment for progress. Wine must be one of the least of the amenities lost in war and repression, yet in a toast it gives us a symbolic foretaste of the results of the long struggle ahead to build and preserve a better future for us and our children.

We salute the courage of Ukrainians to stand up to a seemingly overpowering force. Protests against loss of freedom due to mask mandates and social distancing look silly when compared with the hardships that face the Ukrainian people. Please join me in contributing to Jose Andres’ World Central Kitchen or to other organizations providing aid and relief to victims of real repression: the resistance in the Ukraine and the refugees.

of the Ukraine, and his equally brave compatriots in the resistance. My friend opened a 2012 La Croix Picot Savennieres-Chenin from the Loire Valley of France. Although many wine experts consider any white wine held in the bottle for more than four years to be suspect, I recall enjoying a Samuele Sebastiani California Chenin Blanc of a vintage several years past the four year mark. Savennieres has the structure and reputation for aging even better a decade after its release. We found hints of dry sherry and dried pears in a relatively hot (high alcohol) white wine. The taste of the Savennieres tends to turn flat after a few years, only to recover from the waning of its clean and lively taste to achieve a golden finish.

My friend lamented that he did not have a Massandra White Muscat of Red Stone Special Reserve from the Crimea to open. Not unlike a Portuguese Madeira, the fortified Muscat vintages from the Red Stone fields hold their own for decades through heat and cold and sloshing about to a degree thought to ruin normal wines. These sweet wines struggle under harsh conditions and flourishes. To paraphrase Nietzsche, “What does not kill one makes one stronger”. Some call it a crime to open a bottle less than a century old. Whether or not you buy that idea, good luck finding a bottle of the Red Stone Muscat of any vintage.

Since the 2015 land grab of the Crimea by the Russians, a flagship of Ukrainian viticulture has now fallen into disrepair and disrepute. Where and when they rule, dictators cheapen human lives and culture in their quest for power. Democracy restores and sustains human values and a peaceful environment for progress. Wine must be one of the least of the amenities lost in war and repression, yet in a toast it gives us a symbolic foretaste of the results of the long struggle ahead to build and preserve a better future for us and our children.

We salute the courage of Ukrainians to stand up to a seemingly overpowering force. Protests against loss of freedom due to mask mandates and social distancing look silly when compared with the hardships that face the Ukrainian people. Please join me in contributing to Jose Andres’ World Central Kitchen or to other organizations providing aid and relief to victims of real repression: the resistance in the Ukraine and the refugees.

S. W. Hermansen has used his expertise in econometrics, data science and epidemiology to help develop research databases for the Pentagon, the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Agriculture, and Health Resources and Services. He has visited premier vineyards and taste wines from major appellations in California, Oregon, New York State, and internationally from Tuscany and the Piedmont in Italy, the Ribera del Duero in Spain, the Barossa Valley and McLaren Vale in Australia, and the Otego Valley in New Zealand. Currently he splits time between residences in Chevy Chase, Maryland and St. Armand’s Circle in Florida.

Rich Hermansen selected has first wine list for a restaurant shortly after graduating from college with a degree in Mathematics. He has extensive service and management experience in the food and wine industry. Family and friends rate him as their favorite chef, bartender, and wine steward. He lives in Severna Park, Maryland.

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