Okay let me start out by saying that I’m freaking thrilled that my laptop is working! After a harried morning of packing, trying to make drop off arrangements and discovering that my wine travel bags, (Wine Mummies as they are officially called) were missing in action I finally found myself standing outside the Jet Blue terminal at Oakland airport waiting to be picked up by, (let me just drop a fancy wine dude’s name here) none other than the Charles Olken of Connoisseurs’ Guide to California Wines. I was fumbling with trying to get in a quick smoke, craning my neck to see if I could recognize any faces in the oncoming onslaught of cars and futzing with my suitcase, juggling, feeling a little anxious and I dropped my backpack, which houses this laptop, not once but fucking twice! Cringed, cursed and hoped for the best but never had time to check on this beloved hunk of plastic, metal and boards that contain years worth of my silly babbling until now. Had to pop a couple things back into place and there is now an odd ticking sound but so far as I can tell all is well.
Arrived yesterday afternoon and was whisked away to Chez Olken where I was to participate in my second Connoisseurs’ Guide panel tasting. I was invited last year to blind taste bubbles but this time it was less about having a reason to have me here and more about timing. I was going to be up here, with Charlie in fact, to attend a dinner in honor of our buddy Thomas Pellechia, wine writer and educator that just so happens to be a fellow blogger……sometimes. Thomas is the East Coast faction of our little disbanded group of HoseMaster hooligans so he was unable to join us last year when we all finally met, broke bread, each others bawls a little and drank wine face to face. When I heard Thomas was heading west I sent out the email, “Thomas is going to be in Sonoma, who’s down for another dinner?” aside from one straggler, (Mr. Wark I is looking at you) the responses came quickly, of course we were all down. Thus began the planning and schedule juggling but tonight I will finally be meeting Thomas face to face while being at a table with some of the most beloved people in my life. Simply cannot wait….
Last night was pretty easy. I had feared that my beloved Charlie would torture me with Lodi Zinfandels or something, but the tasting was Chardonnay and Cabernet which ended up being pretty cool for me. I so rarely get to taste California wines in flights like that; eight wines of the same variety, all tasted blind. Not to mention being able to taste, write about and discuss them with people so passionately knowledgeable about them. Was truly fascinating for me and I will come right out and say that I was quite impressed with the Chardonnays we tasted, not a oaky, butterscotch rich wine in the bunch. As for Cabernet, well let’s just say that nothing I tasted is going to be changing my mind anytime soon, still just isn’t my thang.
In between the tasting and dinner I slipped outside into Charlie’s backyard, lit a “get that Cabernet off my palate” cigarette, stood silently watching the water in the canal flow and ripple, the “thump, sploosh, trickle” of an oar as a father pulled his son and daughter along the canal in a rowboat, my head turning as I heard Charlie’s rumbling chuckle…feeling truly honored to be included. At some point in the evening, the tasting over, dinner picked away at and bottles being passed around, this time for consumption not for evaluation, the conversation shifted into a subject that tends to make me edgy and uncomfortable, me and my writing. Don’t get me wrong, hell I crave adoration as much if not more than most, it’s just so damn humbling that I find myself getting twitchy and looking for anyway to deflect. I don’t take compliments well. Oh you can bet your ass I want them, just unsure how to handle it when I get it and when you get Charlie Olken and Ron Washam in a room together….well I found myself fleeing for the “thump, sploosh, trickle” of the canal once more. As I sit here this morning, the house that last night was vibrating with voices and rich with the smells of smoked pork and fresh corn, now silent as everyone is still tucked away in bed, well I find myself feeling a little like an asshole…but I can kind of explain….
I can count on one hand the number of things I was ever told I was good at and um, I don’t even have to use all my fingers to do so. Sexy I got often enough, pretty once in awhile and though I shall never see that as the truth more importantly, those aren’t things that I did/do or make happen. If that happens to be true then it’s the luck of genetics or whatever, not my doing and not something I like spending too much time thinking about. You tell me I’m a good mother; well I will take that and wear it as a badge of honor. That’s something I earned. The wine thing, well that took some effort, lots of tasting and honing my skill but that too is as much luck, (as in being lucky enough to have a sensitive palate) as anything. This writing thing however, this is something that I do hold very dear. Something that I pour myself, my heart into, it’s very precious to me and to have that met with such appreciation, praise and at times gratitude......well that right there completely overwhelms me. I deflect not to make light or belittle the remarkably gracious and profoundly powerful things Ron and Charlie say….that many of you say. I’m not that big a jackass. It’s just, to hear those things and especially from people I love and so greatly admire, well it fills my heart to damn near bursting and it takes all I have not to be reduced to a blubbering pile of running mascara. Fills me with more pride than just about anything outside being Jeremy’s mother. I don’t dismiss the compliments, I hold them tight to my chest as some of the most cherished gifts I have ever received, I simply flee or change the subject to preserve my badass status and not look like Baby Jane.
So last night; Chardonnay, Cabernet, smoked pork, corn, Charlie’s infectious chuckle, heart filling words of encouragement and maybe a slight misstep in the gracious department on my part. Today, Sonoma, John Kelly, lots of tasting, dinner with Tom Wark, Charlie, Ron, Thomas, John Kelly and Marcia, hopefully no jackassery and a couple bottles of smuggled in French wine, little Pommard and Chevalier-Montrachet maybe? Feeling very lucky this morning, very lucky indeed.