Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Winey Tasting Notes: Grammy and a 2008 Chateau Darmagnac

As much as I love to go out and troll wine stores, slowly walking up and down the aisles, sometimes you really just don't know where to go with your next bottle. How to choose, how to choose? So in a flash of inspiration a few Sundays ago, when my mother in law (aka Grammy) asked what she could bring to dinner, I quickly replied, "A bottle of wine." (This before hubby or daughter could get in the word chocolate, of which our Grammy always has the requisite Grammy stash.)

So that evening, Grammy arrived with a bottle of Chateau Darmagnac (2008, Bordeaux Superior, 12.5% alcohol, blend of 60% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Cabernet Franc). She was very proud of this wine, as she has been learning about wines from a wine loving "friend" she met in Arizona. (I will decline to go into the "friend" label any more, since it might make my hubby rip his eyes out.)

A little bit of a lesson here for those of you who, like my winey little self, are a bit confused by the French wine "thing". This is a Bordeaux wine - from the Bordeaux region of France. Its appellation is Bordeaux Superior, which doesn't mean it's a really superior wine, it means that it was grown in a specific area of the Bordeaux. So according to the bottle label, this "vineyard is planted on [the] south slope of clayey table-land on the Right bank of [the] Bordeaux". Just go with it this, because Bordeaux has over 9,000 individual chateaux and over 13,000 wine growers. It'll make your head swim trying to learn it all at once. And that's even before you take a sip.

But that's not what I'm writing about. What I want to talk about is the magic this wine bottle spread all over my kitchen when we opened it. The wine itself is a rusty red color. It has a bouquet of pepper, dark fruit and a little (French ?) earth thrown in for good measure. First sip sent flavors of strawberry and cherry and earth all over my moth. The oakey tannins lingered on...it was very nice!

But what was even nicer was the effect the wine had on Grammy. I don't mean that literally - she wasn't "affected" by the wine. But when you take a bottle of French red, add in my (self proclaimed) amazing pot roast, a leisurely family dinner around the kitchen table and a cold January night outside, you get lots of time to talk and reminisce. And that's what Grammy did with my daughter that night. At some point we got on the topic of family history. Grammy talked about her mother, who lived to be 103. She talked about how she and Grandpa (who died before I met hubby) met (they grew up together in a small western Ohio town and by the 7th grade, really didn't like him that way). This led to stories of their college days which led to stories of their early married days (as Grandpa guarded the shores of Lake Erie in the Coast Guard and Grammy served fried bologna because it was cheap!). She told how Grandpa wanted his masters degree after serving in the Coast Guard, so he would get up early in the morning, go to classes and then to his job (he was a CPA). She talked about the CPA/Law firm that he and his older brother started. She told our daughter how much her father was like his dad - kind and thoughtful and quiet. She even talked about the illness that eventually took him from us way too soon.

By the end of the evening, I knew that Grammy had brought so much more than a bottle of wine to our house for dinner. She had brought memories and stories and feelings that all too many times don't get expressed in our harried day and age. My suggestion for you all is to sit down at the dinner table  and have a good long chat with Grandma or Grandpa or Aunt Susie or Uncle Joe - with or without the wine!
Grammy and Granddaughter that night at the dinner table
(yes, she had switched to coffee by then!)
Cheers to Grammies and Granddaughters!

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