One thing that this quarantine situation has done for me at least is, it has shown me a much more adventurous side. Now I have always felt that as far as that goes I have a lot more guts than brains, and I have often been reminded of that from my earliest youth right up until now. Not that I am foolish or a daredevil, but I do feel that life is for the living and if I can’t do what I feel I need to, or to a lesser extent, what I want to, well, that is just not life. But when you do get adventurous at the age of 67 years your options are kind of limited. Sure I can take a walk. And OK, I can run, jog actually, and cover three miles or so in a decent time. I can paint the house, move furniture, have dabbled in cooking and found a pretty good variety of things to occupy my time. All this while also dealing with recuperating from prostate cancer, so I do keep busy. But adventure? What can I do to really stir up my colonial spirit, my drive, daring side. As far as that’s concerned, there will always be wine!
Although I do prefer Italian wines because of the varieties and consistent flavor, Europe in general produces great wines, probably the best in the world. Most likely that is due to the centuries old processes which are strictly adhered to and sometimes even government controlled. In particular, France is a country mostly known for producing and consuming champagne. In the movie “Gigi” there is a song with practically the entire cast singing “The Night They Invented Champagne,” which pretty much tells the story of how much and why the French love it so much. But in addition to champagne, France produces other very fine varieties, both red and white. Probably the most produced and consumed is Bordeaux, which the French seem to enjoy as the Italians do, say a Chianti or a Sangiovese.
In fact, Bordeaux, like Chianti, is named for the region in which it is produced. Located in southwestern France along the Garonne River,the city of Bordeaux is really the center of wine making in this country. Known mostly for its reds, which range from everyday table wines to some of the most expensive, this region also produces some sweeter wines and some excellent whites as well. In the mid-first century as Rome was expanding its influence to most of the known world, winemaking was introduced most probably by weary and homesick soldiers who now occupied and ruled over the region. As time went on and the Empire fell wine production remained as a staple industry and before long it began to be exported to England. Wine production grew over time, aided by the excellent environment for growing, and the soil, rich in limestone and calcium. This all leads me to my pick of the day as noted above, Chateau Bonnet Blanc.
The winery is owned and operated by a very distinguished family, the Lurtons, who trace their viticulture history back for hundreds of years. The patriarch, Leonce Recapet, acquired the Chateau Bonnet winery in 1897, actually in the midst of a plague which killed off many of the vines that winery was using. Now, the Recapets must have been an interesting bunch to say the least. Although fairly wealthy in their own right, a huge portion of their wealth came from their ability to marry into more wealthy families. Leonce himself married Emma Thibeaud and placed most of their winemaking hopes on their eldest son, Andre, who was later killed during WWI at the battle of Verdun. The family had to endure another setback, another tragedy when in 1934, their daughter Denise, then married to Francois Lurton, died in 1934 leaving 4 children. However, the grief-stricken family did manage to carry on and keep things going until Andre, Denise’s oldest, was able to take over.This wine is the product of a family which overcame the worst kind of adversity, the worst tragedy a family can face, that of seeing the youngest of them die first.
Blending Sauvignon, Semillon and Muscadelle grapes in just the right proportions has produced a wine of which any family can be proud. Dry in the mouth with a pale yellow color, this is the perfect white to decant as its beauty only intensifies as afternoon sunlight shines through the glass and brightens a room. Slight green highlights also add to its appearance making it all the more appealing. This is a very delicate wine, made, as most wines are, to be enjoyed at leisure. It is perfect for sipping on a sunny day on the patio, but it can also bring sunshine to a rainy day lounging on the lanai or inside with a gentle rain falling. In fact, the sights and sounds of a light rain will really further enhance the experience because it gives you time to pause, relax and unwind especially in these stressful times. As for with meals, this is a white in every sense of the word. There is a citrusy taste, but not so strong as some of the Australian or New Zealand wines which tend to lean to limes. This is a more light, delicate flavor, maybe with a hint of pear, but tart enough to keep it from too much sweetness. Try pairing it with crab or oysters, but if you’re really adventurous, a white clam sauce or a fish chowder would do it justice.
I have always felt that any family business has to have one main goal in mind: to produce a product of which your grandfather would be proud. That has proven too often to be an impossible task, and I feel the main reason that family businesses in time sell out to bigger, more expansive companies. Unfortunately when that happens, what suffers is the product. Well, in this case, Mr. Recapet can rest in peace, as he has been for quite some time now, knowing that his family has done him proud. They have managed to keep pride in their work and in their family and have come to be most respected in this very competitive industry.
And so, there you have it. Another day in solitary has passed. But somehow, somehow, we will survive and take on tomorrow’s challenges whatever they may be. But life can throw us a curve. Sometimes a curve is real tough to hit, but sometimes you will get what is called a hanging curve and that is the one that goes out of the park. Here’s wishing you a pleasant glass of wine, some accompanying appetizers, maybe a bit of good company, and a shot out of the park that will lift your spirits and reward all of your patience!