Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Winey Tasting Notes: Mirassou Pinot Noir (comfort wine)

Please do not misunderstand the title of this little blob (someone accidentally referred to my "blob" in a typo recently and I kind of liked it). I do not normally turn to wine for comfort. Well, not comfort, exactly...but I'm getting away from my train of thought here. What I mean here is that every time I see a bottle of Mirassou Pinot Noir, I get a feeling of homey, family comfort.

The back story on this one (no, it does not involve downing an entire bottle of wine right before typing - there really is a very good reason I feel this way, so stop judging and read on): My darling son is a sophomore in college. Not just any college, mind you. Nope. The boy bleeds red, white and blue and it was always his dream to attend The United States Military Academy at West Point. And, after a million application and nomination forms, a billion letters of rec and various medical and fitness tests, that is just what he did. So when I say he is a sophomore in college, that's not the whole story: my son is a Yearling (or Yuk) at West Point. His dorm is a barracks. His campus is a post. He wears uniforms to class and has to get a pass to come home. Every summer he is away at different military training assignments. Proud mommy? You bet your Bald Eagle I am.

So back to the wine. As a family, we are allowed one Parents' Weekend at West Point. (Just one for the 4 years.) This weekend occurred last March. We were treated to the full West Point experience: Cadet Parades (in full Nutcracker uniform - that is not the official name for the uniform by the way and no, my son does not really appreciate it when I refer to it as that...), tours of  buildings that we normally aren't allowed in, tours of the barracks that we are not allowed in (our one and only view of his room - and my one and only proof  that he does, indeed, make his bed), a formal military banquet and dance afterwards and the chance to meet his sponsor family.

Sponsors are West Point professors (who are military themselves) who live on post. Each year, these wonderful families agree to "sponsor" a number of incoming Cadets. The New Cadets (that's what they're called during their first summer at West Point) head to their sponsors' homes on the one Sunday they have off during their 7 weeks of basic training. Cadets are invited for weekend dinners and Sunday NFL viewing..basically, sponsors are a kind of surrogate family (and a house away from the barracks) to the Cadets. My son's family invited us over for some drinks and appetizers the first night of Parents' Weekend.

We arrived at their home on a pretty side street in the residential area of West Point.  Out came the Colonel, his wife, their kids, their kids' friends, and the dog. The perfect family welcome! And, you guessed it: his wife offered me a glass of Mirassou Pinot Noir. (2009, California.) I loved it! An almost brown, rusty red color. A bouquet of cherry and vanilla (very welcome on a chilly March evening) Taste of cherry with a smooth, oakey finish. It just rolled around my mouth feeling very bright and lingering oh so nicely! I told my hostess how much I liked it and she laughed because it was such an "inexpensive" wine. (More fodder for my "inexpensive wine does not equal cheap wine" lecture.) Really, they were the nicest people and my son has talked about them often since we met them.

So the comfort is this: every time I sip Mirassou Pinot Noir (and I have many times since that night - this could easily become a go-to favorite wine for me), I am reminded of a brightly lit  home full of a some great people and one big dog who are giving my son a non-military bit of life in the midst of his four very military years in college. It gives me a warm, fuzzy feeling...and that is NOT just the wine talking! Cheers! And BEAT NAVY!

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