January 18, 2012

A different kind of letting go

This bottle, the 2006 Domaine Meo Camuzet Bourgogne Hautes-Cotes de Nuits Clos Saint-Philibert, should have been wonderful. Again, wine from a top producer but not a top bottling. In this case, a simple Hautes-Cotes from a single vineyard, Clos Saint-Philibert, perched above the fanciest vineyard land in the world - Vosne Romanee. Meaning, this should be good. It is. I tried it a few years ago on release and bought a couple with the intent of aging them for a few years. So here we were, and here was a beautiful pair of Dungeness crab, ready for eating with a friend while watching the 49ers playoff game. A little bit of decadence on a Saturday afternoon.

Alas, the wine was corked. And so down the drain. Who cares. The crab was incredibly good and the game even better. So there.

January 16, 2012

Letting go

We are constantly letting go.

I'm reminded of this lately by my sister, who is writing a lovely blog called One Item a Day about her plan this year to get rid of one thing per day. It's a brilliant idea. The blog is sweet and poignant, extremely personal. It's all about letting go.

It's funny because in November I went through my wine cellar to do something similar. For one reason or another, I have many wines, mostly older ones, that need to be let go. Some are sure to be great, but they apparently need special occasions that never seem to come. Others are past their best, probably anyway, and that uncertainty is part of what makes letting go so much harder. Will it be a let down? I write that and I think, so what? It's just a bottle of wine. And yet here we are. Surely it's about more than just wine.

I bought the bottle to the right, the 2000 Henschke Keyneton Estate, almost four years ago. A single bottle from the best Australian producer (the one I would choose anyway), but not their top cuvee by a long shot and not something I should have held this long. Why did I? Maybe because I bid on it on my 39th birthday, in Manzanita, OR, from the kitchen table of a beachfront rental house shared with my parents. Readers may remember that birthday was particularly poignant for me. This bottle, only connected to that moment by chance, became part of that day, a foggy, misty memory now, Edenic.

Imagine a book that dissolves as you read it. That's how wine is. A memory. So this bottle sat, unopened, until November when I lined it up with many others and resolved to treat it differently than I had. To confront things, in a way. Then the other night I pulled the cork, a little nervous. Would I be disappointed? The wine tasted decent but was a little herbal and soft, the negatives compounded by enough age that the flavors simply lacked life. The wine wasn't dead at all, just gone. We often speak of a wine that sings. This wine was silent. I wanted it to be so good, better than it had any reason to be. It wasn't, and I should have known better.

A post from last weekend on my sister's blog brought all of this together for me. She wrote about finding long lost x-rays of her son's troubled esophagaus, from one point among others in his young life when she and her husband weren't sure he would survive the complications of Down's syndrome. About her tears finding something she forgot she even had, the old x-rays, and the feeling of how can something you forgot you had trigger such emotion and be so difficult to let go? Of course, we know the answer. We can all relate, no? It doesn't make it easier though.

That post in turn reminded me of a Lorrie Moore's devastating "People Like That Are The Only People Here." That story captures unlike any other how parenting must be about letting go. No matter what. The same with children I suppose. We are constantly letting go.