Wednesday, February 26, 2014

There But For The Grace....

“Oh man, where's the person that should be attached to that cart?” my somewhat heart-sunk voice echoing through the warm cavity of my newish model Toyota Camry. I was on my way home from a long work day full of tasting wines, both good and bad, as well as helping all the customers that come in looking for our suggestions for this or that. I had turned on the street I always do, a long slightly industrial road that chugs along with commuter traffic but come around 8:00 PM, pretty vacant and quiet. I flicked my turn signal and directed my car into the right hand lane, as mindless an activity as I do all day and that was when I saw it.

A banged up silver shopping cart loaded with tied off Target bags, stuffed with what was left of someone’s life. The ticking of the blinker in the car urging that I turn, turn right and head home, the dingy plastic bags, double tied plastic handles, a crusty golden blanket that was exactly like the one I had on my bed when I was little, the plushy kind with the satin across the top. The one I would snuggle under when mom was too angry or lost to want me in her room. The one that felt achingly soft against my young skin, the satin bit placed between my pointer and middle fingers, and irresistible sensation I wouldn’t be able to replicate until I was old enough to truly understand sensuality. 


Living in urban cities my whole life seeing a cart like that is far from rare. Hell I see them a couple of times a day some days but, to see them unattended, without a disheveled human of varying color and gender attached to it, holding on to what is left of their life, for dear life, well that is truly rare and seeing it there on my drive home…heart breaking. I made my turn, my tummy sinking as I craned my neck to take one more look back, hoping to see someone appear out of seemingly nowhere, wrap their tragically grimy fingers around the front of their home and continue on…didn’t happen. The image of the left behind cart stayed with me for the rest of the night. I wondered what could have happened to the poor soul that tied off all those bags, collected all those scraps of wood, slept beneath that golden blanket. Several scenarios ran through my head, none of them pleasant which bugged me at first but, well none of it is terribly nice to think about, even if there had been a sad soul moving that loaded cart along. That kind of loneliness and helplessness always makes me sigh, like those bone rattling deep ones, and think, “There but the grace of….”

“So, what should I do for my 25th birthday this year?” a coworker asking me a question. Not all that shocking and I was honored to be included in the idea crunching conversation. Even took me a few seconds to realize the face that was forming those words and asking, a coworker but also my son. My Jeremy. 25?! Holy shit.

“Mom. Mom, can you wake up? I have to talk to you.” My voice young, shaking, raspy from crying in the bathroom for an hour before I had the nerve, or the surrender is more like it, to come and face my fiddler. My mother shifted from her spot on the couch, her broad arms bare and long nightdress twisted between her thick folds and gamey with her scent. She looked slightly afraid when she saw my face; stained and terrified, green eyes nearly closed from the puffy. “What is it Sam?” this time her voice shaking a little but hers still affirming her position and letting me know that she was a tad irked that I woke her. She had no idea. 

I broke into hysterical sobbing, begging and trying like hell to make some sort of case for myself. I shoved a packet of adoption papers in her lap, the wide bands of cheap carpet digging into my bare knees as I grabbed her hands and tried to make her forgive me. I was pregnant. Seven months pregnant, long ago departed from the boy that helped me get that way, shaking like I was icing over, as alone as I had ever been in the world. I had kept it a secret this long but was forced into telling her that night when I lost control of my bladder. I didn’t know what was happening to me and was all too aware of the fate I had been promised for as long as I could remember, “If you ever get fucking pregnant I will throw you out. Period.” I told her that I had found a family that wanted to take the baby, that it would be no burden to her and, “We can, please Mom, please, go back to the way things were?” she got up from the couch, didn’t say a word, tossed the papers on the coffee table, went to her room and closed the door. Not one word. My heart split wide open, fear making me consider for one second folding myself over the railing of our balcony…just to make the screaming in my head, the banging from the inside out, stop long enough for me to take a deep breath, feel it hum and fucking hear it leave the pit that was my despair. I heard the screaming that night even louder than I had for the months before, this time it was my own mouth curled and the rawest form of fear I’ve ever  known exploding from within. My voice anguished and every bit of hope I had escaping on a wave of deserted and terrified yelps. 

One week later I would be rushed to the ER, after my mother finished her dinner of course, bent over in a kind of pain I was sure was a punishment of godly proportions. “There’s no amniotic fluid and the umbilical sack has closed in on the baby, he is in severe distress, his heart has stopped beating” a young beautiful face with eyes so warm and comforting I wanted nothing more than to fall into them…have her take me home. My body was in so much pain, I was vomiting and crying, everything was falling apart around me and here were these warm brown eyes, talking to me. Telling me what was going to happen and what I needed to do. The night I lost control of my bladder, that was the night my water broke, the night Jeremy announced himself to my family and the night he began fighting to save, well to save both our lives. It would take him a month to grow strong enough to be released from the hospital, took less than two visits for him to work his sweet magic on the hard hearted lady that was as confused and afraid as her pregnant teenage daughter. Jeremy slipped into the pieces of the heart I had broken. He filled it with absolute love and healed us all. We all brought Jeremy home, 25 years ago come July and I can’t help but think, “There but for the grace….”

“Is this Sam?” a voice on the other end of the line I picked up at The Wine Country. “Um, yeah” I replied not even close to recognizing the voice. “Hey, it’s Michael Sullivan, of Beaune Imports and I hear you’re coming to France with me in a couple months” I could hear the smile in his tone, until, “Um, I don’t think so” my flat and tight-lipped response. He then asked if he could talk to Randy and the next thing I know over the PA system I hear, “Sam, can I see you in my office?” took nearly a week for me to make my way to the back of the store that day. Each step sticking to the ground I knew and a trillion miles away from being ready to be planted on the one I didn’t. Finally made it back to Randy’s desk and there he sat, leaning back in his big puffy chair, hands laced behind his head, big grin spread across his sweet and loving face. I knew there would be no amount of arguing with him, although I would try no fewer than 20 times, that would make this not happen…I mean other than me quitting. I was being sent to France. Leaving the country and going on the trip that my beloved boss, my beloved Randy, had been dreaming of sending me on ever since he returned from the same trip. Probably even sooner. He was likely starting to push and pry at Michael while they were there. He knew something I didn’t. He had a faith and belief in me, that I didn’t. He and Michael suspected I would unfold, develop and thrive once standing in the soils, seeing the faces, smelling the air and feeling the life of that place pulse through the body and heart that had been seeking a place to belong. France. France became a part of me on that trip and I’ve yet to recover, nor do I wish to. Randy knew what would fill my bits of broken heart, it was finding a me I could be proud of. He knew and I can’t help but think, “There but for the grace…”

“Just get dressed babe. We can work this all out once we get there” my then boyfriend, now husband, holding my head in his hands after I had dropped to my knees not knowing what to do after getting a call, “You need to get here soon. She collapsed after calling 911 because she couldn’t breathe. They tried to resuscitate her but, well you’d better just get up here as soon as you can”…my mother, gone just a week after I’d seen her for her 55th birthday and just days after a rather heated phone call we shared. I often think of that night on the phone, the rage and sadness. The shattered bits of a woman that while not without regret, gave her everything to being the best mother she could be and now felt the very real getting up silently and closing the bedroom door as her kids began building their own lives. Her voice like a combination of needles and nails on a blackboard. The accusations and self-pity. The crying and the screaming. All I could do was sit at the edge of the bed I shared with the man that would just days later walk me though the longest and scariest night of my life, just sit and let her skewer me. Listen as her pain spilled in my lap and felt the little deserved nips at my soul when she brought up all she had done for me. 

I often wonder why I go there rather than the night I last saw her, her birthday party night when she was happy to have all her kids around her at one of her favorite restaurants. No, I go to that last night…the last time I heard her voice. The argument and the accusations. I think it might be because before she hung up, right after she yelled at me, her voice dripping with pain, “You don’t need me!” and I responded with a  tone smooth but forceful, “No mom, I don’t, but I want you in my life…isn’t that better? Wouldn’t you rather be chosen than needed?” her gentle sobs letting me know I had finally reached her. She heard me, if she felt me and just how much I actually meant it I’ll never know. I can hope and part of the reason I can…because of her and no matter how bad things were and how crazy she and our life got, she held on to hope. She taught me that. That and genuine love, in all its forms. Can’t help but think, “There but for the grace of…”

Two days. It was two days after seeing that “abandoned” house cart that on my way to work I saw another. Again my heart dropping to the pit of my ever-growing tummy, (fuck) as my eyes fell upon a cart of life left unattended. I actually felt my whole body go stiff and my eyes welled up with tears…until. Turn signal flicked as my car pulled into the left lane, sunken soul and a dreadfully sad face to match as my warm car moved past another lost home full of memories and belongings. The tick-tick-tick not nearly distracting enough to make me not think about what happened, what caused that person to leave everything they had, well all they had left. I lifted my head to check the light and that was when I saw him, way up the street, a thin youngish man, life stained hands pushing another cart ahead before trailing back to pick up the second one. Still a frightfully sad situation but this industrious albeit fractured person, he had more than many. Not as much as he wants or needs, but more than some. I kinda know just how that feels. Can’t help but think, “There but for the grace of….”

I’m looking at a travel itinerary that is stuck to the fridge that contains the foods I cook my family and friends and the wines that I get to taste and share with others…another trip to France, my seventh trip to Europe in 11 years, with an importer again but this time I was asked to come, for my palate, an importer requesting my advice as to what Champagnes she ought to be importing as well as some assistance in Loire and a quick pop over to Burgundy for fun. Me. Not-so-little old me.Unreal...

“So how did you hear about our store?” a question I just had to ask of a charming and astoundingly trusting customer that I saw for the first time today. One that asked me to pick out a mixed case of my beloved Champagnes, a mixed case, rare I assure you. “From your blog Samantha. I’ve been following you for years now and yours is a very different wine blog.” Everything went all spinny after that. I think I managed to choke out how floored and humbled I was as I was swallowing extra hard hoping that would distract me from blubbering like a simpleton and making a total jackass of myself. I stood there shaking and watching my skin erupt into a layer of bumpy flesh as this handsome man told me he was here visiting from Australia and wanted to come by and shop with us, because of this silly blog….just typed that and again with the tears, but least now they are ones of absolute pride and the kind of gratitude that I can feel pulling from the balls of my feet and run through me like a jolt of sheer joy, and pride. 

David, meeting you today, seeing your face as I bipped around my department, (in my most horrible baggy jeans and most faded shirt! Ugh, I wish you guys would give a woefully insecure girl a heads up once in a while, let me pinch my cheeks, curl my mop and slap on some glassy lip junk or something. Looked dreadful but this once, well the heart swelling made me not give a shit) grabbing bottles like a kid being set free in Toy R Us, your trust in me through what you read here, well I can’t help but think…Thank You.

To each and every one of the people that took a chance

A leap of faith

Saw something

Read something

Felt something here with me…

If it weren’t for all of you?

Well there but for the grace….

There are no words big enough

I get to be here
Because of You...

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

High On Believing

Man, where have I been lately? I can’t seem to bring myself to get fired up enough to slog out anything other than the occasional, somewhat buzzy, four sentence proclamations and blathering over on Facebook and the sometime comment over at my beloved HoseMasters blog. Not sure what’s going on per se but I do feel that some of the utter nonsense and redundant hissy fits by other bloggers and wine writers has created some kind of artistic and brain atrophy, that and likely some animosity as well. Hate to admit it but there you have it. When I get caught up reading some of the shit out there it makes me want to distance myself from the whining and pomposity completely. I’ve grown so weary in fact that I have opted to avoid even my own blog. Sucks actually. 

I have found tiny bits of verbiage inspiration by way of wines, the Champagnes I wrote about last landed upon my craving frame like a mouth taking bites along the back of my thighs and this past Friday night, Valentine’s night as it so happened, had me plunging my bits of desire into pools of glorious Burgundy by way of an astonishing micro-negociant by the name of Pascal Marchand. The people that showed up to taste and learn those wines from and with me, the heart-fluttering pride in the way the wines showed and how successful the numbers looked at the end of the night, those things all help and have in fact pushed me here, now but when I look about amongst my “peers” I find myself…well cursing a lot and ultimately wondering, “Am I am wine person or a wine writer” because it takes only a few spins around the interwebs to discover, those are, or can be, two very different things.

Came home Friday night punch drunk on Vosne-Romanee, Ladoix, Clos de Vougeot and Pommard, my longing to share, inspire and be inspired sending me all buzzy to the internet. Mistake. Huge mistake. Turned out that perusing the random articles and recommendations of my fellow wine…writers, ended up being just the thing that basically sewed up my craving and sent me right to bed, huffing and muttering phrases like “Asswads! Who are these people?!” and “Don’t they get it?” before I took a few chest filling breaths and let myself float to sleep on a comforting cloud of customer appreciation and that thing that only spending a few nights with your palate drenched in absolute beauty can give you. I found peace ignoring the asinine and not trying to once again figure out where I fit. But then there was the next morning….sigh.

Skimmed the incredibly long list of chocolate and chocolate type goodies, articles and which wines taste best with them. Pear and dark chocolate truffles and ZD Chardonnay anyone? Anyone that recommends Chardonnay with chocolate is NOT a wine lover, period. They are quite possibly, obviously, a wine pusher, but wine lover? Not even close. So after a scrolling through a couple dozen of those there were the anti-articles, the ones that rightly tell people that there is no wine that tastes great with chocolate, with maybe the exception of Port or Banyuls, and play the devil’s advocate. I felt myself sitting taller in my seat. My shoulders pulling back and growing in volume, my grin breaking through the grumpy face as I read the words we’ve been saying for decades now, “Yes!’ Here we go! Finally” dripping from my coffee scented lips as I trudged through a rather banal article published on some online paper of sorts. I scrolled and even though I agreed with the first bit of the “article” the lack of passion left even my eyes drying up. I persevered and found the deeper I got into the personality less “piece” I was reading yet another formulaic wad of shit dreamed up by a “Wine loving” writer. Fantastic. I read how this, professional (?) suggested sparkling rose with flavored popcorn, as in Creamsicle flavored popcorn in place of the wrongheaded chocolate and wine pairings, and she recommended that you travel on over to her “Award winning wine blog” to see the results of her, extensive research. Yeah…wine blog award winner. Perfect. 

I kept looking, hoping and seeking and was met with a wasteland of stupid bullshit. Valentine’s Day wines recommended because they are made by a husband and wife team? What?! Less stupid than some but still random babbling that does nothing for the consumer and just when I thought it couldn’t get worse, I found a link to the worst of the breakfast cereal and wine pairing articles. Let me just say that again, the worst of the breakfast cereal and wine pairings, because there are a few now so there can be one that is worse than the other horrible ones, by Herculean proportions. 

So not only is this moron, or um, writer, suggesting that we eat Rioja with Frosted Flakes and Bordeaux with Honey Nut Cherrios, (and I’m sorry, what grown ass person is still eating those? Fuck cereal, where the hell are the Toaster Strudel and Pop Tart pairings?!) but this wad of an article writer even gave us a “Wines to avoid” section…because shit, no one wants to be the pink-faced idiot that pairs the wrong wine with their goddamn breakfast cereal. So this, professional, suggests, for the best pairings, for breakfast cereal mind you, that we “Forget about softer wines like Pinot Noir and Barolo, as the milk will overwhelm the wine. Also stay away from Champagne. The strong sparkling components do not pair well with the smoothness of the cereal and milk.” Because you know, when I think soft wine I think Barolo. ???!! Where the fuck did you read that genius? Pretty sure you’ve never tasted, or felt, Barolo if you call it soft, and if you are referring to the lightness of color, well you just yanked out your novice card and swung it about the internets. If you are illustrating the flavor or texture of wine by the color, well you are a tween and you should leave this pairing stuff to the grownups, you know, the people that actually taste and drink this stuff, please. 

Popcorn, chicken wings, Girl Scout cookies, wine making couples and cereal. Really? This is what we’re selling? I don’t get it. On one hand I can see that some might be trying to make wine less portentous by cramming them into food situations for “common folks” but in doing so, don’t they see just how bloody portentous they are being?! Insisting that wine go places where it ends up tasting like shit, because you think wine more sophisticated or refined is the height of arrogance and snobbery. Quit it. If you truly love and wish to promote wine you are doing it wrong, way wrong. Cereal and chicken wing pairings that suck, they don’t sell wine. They might sell you to some non-wine-loving editor but don’t fool yourself, (or for a second think that you are fooling me) doesn’t work and in the end makes wine the “yuck”. Another way to look at it is these writers, that supposedly love wine, are doing their best to sell themselves on the freelance market, by the pound, and to that I have to ask, “What does a pint of integrity cost now a day?” If you sell these articles and bullshit pairing ideas you are a very large part of the problem and you are actually doing more to increase sales in the booze business than in the wine one. You make us all look bad. Shame on you. And shame on those that encourage you….

So this. This is what I see when I run out seeking inspiration and that nibble that drives me to drink, worship, learn about and share wine? This and the never ending whining of critics and bloggers and their same fistful of arguments? Gack. This is the best huh? Popcorn and wine pairing? Way to set the bar. Whimper…

So okay. In order to fit, belong and be relevant maybe I ought to do some wild and crazy wine pairings of my own. Maybe it’s time for this wine lover to get her “don’t give a shit” on and sell myself on the murky stage of irreverence and quirky?! I mean, if I’m to be considered a wine person, or wine writer, I had better get in this here game right? I want to be able to call myself a wine writer dammit, I need to up the ante and junk…I can do this.

Wine for Life’s Situations

Jury Duty – we all know this is a total bullshit and obligatory life situation that we either have to do or go to jail for ignoring..or just ignore like my neighbor and best friend do, and have never been called, or arrested might I just add. For Jury Duty I recommend a wine that carries with it the same kind of bullshit appreciation, Cabernet Sauvignon. Who doesn’t want to do their civic duty? Who doesn’t love Cabernet? See, we can kill two groan inducing birds with one stone here. Drink Cabernet while waiting in that stinky room full of your peers, before you lie to get out of having to serve. 

Back to School Night Why? Why do they make us come to school, try and cram our huge, steak filled bodies into those tiny desks, nose all a-flicker with the industrial stank of Crayons and Elmer’s Glue, as some half-drunk teacher explains how they are forming our children’s minds, for us. For this particularly grueling event I suggest a flask of Paso Robles Zinfandel. Just dull the senses as quickly and deliciously as possible. Bonus is the juiciness of the wine goes swimmingly with gummy bears so…

 Gynecological Exam Easy Peesy! Champagne! I mean nothing says up to your elbows in vagina like the whisper of tiny bubbles. Sort of a cheater pairing actually. 

Kid’s Sleepover Tricky this one, but I think the key here is low alcohol. I mean you need to be at your sharpest, (possible while still dealing) when driving the wee ones to the ER for sutures after you chucked an empty bottle at their tiny heads for shaving the cat and washing each other’s hair with peanut butter. Moscato d’Asti, without question.

Smoking Jack Herer Pot Oh come on now, don’t act all stuffy here. The pot is for affect the wine is for the refinement. When smoking this particular earthy strain of weed that gives a euphoric and uplifting feel, I suggest Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand. Goes perfectly with the sticky green flavors and the light-headedness, of both, makes it all sing. Or you and your buds will but whatever…

Smoking Headband Pot This giggle inducing and herbal weed calls for a wine that doesn’t try and complicate things. A wine that just lets you be and doesn’t challenge you when you are trying to get your giggle on, so Merlot, from Washington is the way to go here. Dark berry fruit and supple tannins are just the thing this herbal and black tea flavored…herb, is calling for. Avoid Champagne or sparkling wines…and cookies, as they will over tickle the fancy and induce the bends. 

Writing a Bullshit Pairing Article Gin. Lots and lots of gin….

I might just need a hug.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Care To Be Unzipped?


A sound I hear several times a day, at least and each time can evoke a very different emotion, and I’m not even taking into consideration the madly quick “Zip” of tearing at the fly on my jeans, mostly because I don’t bother, I’m a wiggler-outer from way back. I’ve carried a backpack as a purse about as long as I can remember, (this here is where I like to remind everyone that doing “girl” really isn’t my strong suit. Before backpacks I had bowling bags, a wicker basket, a plastic lunchbox and even a toolbox for a bit…a metal one. Yeah, girl =’s fail) mostly because I do lug my laptop around but also being a mom you get used to having gigantor sacks to carry yours and other peoples crap around in. I look at those thin, shiny, clutch dealies and find myself muttering, “Don’t even think I could get my Chap-stick and wadded girlie stuffs in that!” so backpack it is and has been.

I plop my laptop in my backpack on my way to work and the “Zip-zip-zip” holds with it whatever I'm feeling about going into work that morning, the hangover and only one day off “Zip” less titillating than the “I gots me a bunch of appointments lined up and new wines arriving today” one. The sound of my zipping this blasted wheezing machine back in the sack for the trek home, again depends on what’s happening but the end of day one always carries with it a slight freedom or relief in that my day is done and I get to slip back into my home, wiggle out of my still zipped jeans and start preparing dinner before sloshing back some wine and nuzzling into my jammies. 

I confess that there are days when I barely notice the zip, coming or going. Life has a way of filling your ears and mind with other details and worries. A way of shutting out the tiny emotions that can come when we just pay a little more attention. The one “Zip” I can never ignore, the long rectangle one. The fluid, “Ziiiipppp, ziipp, ziiiippp, ziipp”  and jingle of the slider as is falls against the side of the bag. The luggage “Zip” also comes with a wide range of feelings, always better when it is your fingers releasing the slider, going somewhere, coming home…hearing someone else zipper up to leave, whole other feeling right? Little deeper heart sinking when the leaving zipper whispers its song. 

For many years the worst was hearing Jeremy back in his childhood room, packing is huge duffel bag and luggage to head back to Kentucky for school on the other side of the world…a million miles from the heart that was missing him every day. I used to hear that, “Zip” starting the mornings he was leaving and no matter what shift I was working, I was busting my ass to get out the door. No long goodbyes and no mom at the airport, nope, no sir, couldn’t take it. I heard those teeth locking up tightly and I felt my jaw doing the same. My eyes narrowing as I set forth to not hear, not see, not to feel and most certainly not to say goodbye. Bad “Zip-zip-zip”.

When it’s my pudgy fingers tugging the slider, shoving all my junk into a bag and heading out to Europe, Kentucky, Northern California and even coming home, that “Zip-zip-zip” is one of the greatest feelings there is. Not even a sound anymore, it’s a sensation that brings with it excitement, anticipation, its own brand of sadness but more born of feared loneliness than that dreadful left-behind nonsense. Yeah, I love it when it’s my “Zip-zip-zip”

I hear a zipper against leather and I can recall slamming my car door as a tiny girl, my mother’s over-sized bag containing a jillion unpaid bills, tissues, hidden bits of the chocolate she saved for her and her alone. The tobacco and lint covered wintergreen life-savers, packets of Jack-in-the-Box taco sauce…fuck, just thinking of those bags now I can smell that cacophony of ink, spent grease, sweetness and cigarettes. I hear that zipper spread open against a leather bag and that smell comes rushing back to me as well as the sound of my mother cursing as she dug for the little holder that contained her smokes and lighter. Slightly melancholy “Zip-zip-zip” but one that feels like a sweet kiss on the forehead…like a visit with my long ago.

“Are you sure?” the shaking voice of my first boyfriend. I could hear his heart thumping and feel his breath as it swished the hairs against my base of my neck, but it was the painfully slow way I pulled at his thick zipper, like we could hear each tick of spreading teeth, our very young bodies so not ready, but ready, that is with me to this day. He was so much taller than I was, his body thin, long, muscular and always with a sheen of fresh, fragrant sweat as he had ridden his bike like five miles to see me, always when we knew my mother would still be at work. I can remember the form fitting tank-top under the slippery and glossy bomber jacket he always wore. The smell of his skin, my breath, his eager question as I un-zipped, my anything-but-sure affirmation as I let go of the slider and bloomed beneath him. The unzipping of a woman, the feeling my teeth spread apart as I learned who, how and the way I wanted. That kind of “Zip-zip-zip” sexy, sweet, makes my neck go flush with the remembrances of misplaced kisses and muffled physical and emotional burgeoning. 

Last week at the store I listened as forty something people asked with shaky voices, sat back, let me spread apart their teeth  and let us pour my passion across their throbbing palates through the wines that I have spent the past 15 years of my life unzipping and exploring. Rather electrifying moment watching a group be seduced and persuaded. Seeing them reaching for more, sitting up high and tight when we passed with the next wine. Hearing the group groan as I tugged at their clinched teeth and opened them up to wines that were so vibrant and sensual that it left them speechless in a way I’ve yet to see in all my years doing these events. I took my pink-cheeked bow, smiled and reminded them of their special event pricing, thanked them from the bottom of my heart for letting me share, expose myself and my love, preened as they lapped it up before zipping up and heading over to my Champagne racks where they devoured those wines like teenage lovers. Unreal. That kind of reaffirming “Zip-zip-zip” well it is new one to add to my playbook…feel myself unzipping just thinking about it.

Friday night I poured both Brut Rose and Pinot Noir based grower Champagnes and the response to the wines was fucking remarkable. I had people hovering over the racks, mouths agape, tasting sheet slightly scrunched in their still tingling hands, “I…I don’t know what to do. I loved them all. Like each and every one of them” the words slipping from their Pinot Noir scented lips and working their own fingering on the zipper I try and keep locked up tight, the one that hides my pride and ache to be appreciated and understood. Those people returned the favor, they spread me wide open and now have me salivating…I want to give them more.

Featured Wines

N.V. Gonet-Medeville 1er Cru Brut Rose ($54.99) One of the first wines to sell out, when I get it back in and you feel it spill across your palate and fill you with melon, citrus, the still wet stems of fresh cut flowers, well you will totally get why. The delightful texture and grace that the Chardonnay, (of which this wine is 70%, along with 27% Pinot Noir and 3% Pinot Meunier) lends reminds me of a wonderfully cut bodice of a gown, lifts and showcases all the best parts without letting it all hang out. 

N.V. Saint-Chamant Brut Rose ($59.99) This was my “weird little wine” of the night. Comprised of 92% Chardonnay and 8% Pinot Meunier this was a mineral driven wine that for me, sort of stuck out in this setting. There was a ton of minerals and bits of aggressive yeast and while I do like that style I was craving more fruit here. I think Saint-Chamant makes heart-thumping Blanc de Blancs and their Rose mirrors that refinement and tang. 

N.V. R.H. Coutier Grand Cru Brut Rose ($57.99) So this was my second to last Brut Rose and I poured them in this order because, well because the wines were Rose and yet most of them were made of mostly Chardonnay. Thought that was sort of cool actually. The blend is a little closer here with Chardonnay making up 55% and Pinot Noir picking up the rest and you can feel the weight and junk in the truck the second this wine fills your mouth. Peaches, apples, some yeast and toast but again a more restrained and delicate wine but it is that mouth filling that reminds you, this is Grand Cru, and isn’t letting you forget it.

N.V. Coessesns Brut Rose, ($74.99) The wine with the highest price tag and yet, still sold out! Made from 100% Pinot Noir this was when I was able to talk about what Pinot Noir has that Pinot Meunier will never, regality and length. Pale pink in the glass the wine seemed like it was just waiting for you to lean over for a sniff, the second your head is within its reach, it nabs you. Glorious layering of red fruit, brioche, spice, flowers and more red fruit. Not as dominating as say Billiot or Saves, but there is something woefully sexy happening here, and I want to unzip and learn more.

N.V. S. Coquillette 1er Cru Carte d’Or ($42.99) These wines are ridiculously underpriced and if I weren’t such a Champagne pimp I would keep them to my damn self but, when I think of people spending this amount on some sour, washed out, tanky Veuve Clicquot, Moet or Taittinger, well I have to keep sharing. Pinot Noir is again the biggest percentage here at 66% again it is the richness and texture, the mouth feel that grabs you and won’t let go. One of the toastier of the bunch this wine straddles that fruit to savory line, and does it perfectly. 

N.V. S. Coquillette Grand Cru Les Cles Blanc de Noir ($47.99) This wine stole my heart at last year’s Champagne and Fried Chicken tasting so I worried that it wouldn’t preform as well sans salty nibbles, I was wrong. The 100% Pinot Noir damn near has fingers that come reaching from the glass, grab hold of your face and pepper you with tart red cherries, cooking spice and warmed sweet cream. Loves red meat so don’t be shy, drink and eat up…

N.V. Coessesns Blanc de Noir ($54.99) Blanc de Noir lets you know that we are once again talking 100% Pinot Noir here and we are talking Pinot Noir poured into a sundress, or a baggy pair of jeans and a white t-shirt, whichever makes your heart thump around in your chest. Power, edge, fruit, minerals…balance and this wine is always in charge. Doesn’t get too much sexier than this.

N.V. R.H. Coutier Grand Cru Brut ($39.99) Yeah, look at that price and where this wine lined up in the tasting, it’s that good. Not a shy or coy wine by any means, in fact it is another powerhouse that demands you notice it and I’d like to think if you even tried to pour this curvy, masterfully produced wine in a bullshit flute that it would slap the shit out of you. Yeast, dark fruit, melted butter and toasted nuts all with a chewy mouth feel. Crazy how undervalued this wine is.

N.V. H, Billiot Grand Cru Brut Reserve ($58.99) Another seller-outter that night and a wine that I was gratefully able to nab another case of. Deeply saturated, astoundingly rich and palate staining as the layers of toasted bread, slowly baked apples and melted butter fight for your attention. Billiot goes all over the place and I fall in and out of love but right now, it is hot and heavy this thing with Billiot and me…

N.V. Camille Saves Grand Cru Carte d’Or (72.99) Game Changer. Always is and the new release is the same. I often refer to the wines from Camille Saves as “A librarian in fishnets” and odd as that might sound to those of you that have yet to, feel that sensation, the ones that have are already nodding along. A stunningly intellectual wine that is also as sexy as they come. Imagine the sexiest person you can…now imagine them talking politics or quantum physics. Kinda leaves you speechless no? Yeah, so does this wine. Broad, full, expansive fruit that washes along the sides of the mouth and refuse to let go, not that you want them to. The finish is relentless and with your heart thumping away in your chest you find yourself feeling fucking appreciative of its stubbornness. You may never want it to leave…too bad there isn’t too much to get. Grab them while you can, trust me. 

After a night tasting these wines, feeling myself being spread apart and exposed for the lucky wine slinger I am, I have to ask....

Care to be unzipped?