Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Giving Them Something They Can Feel






“Sam, seriously?” I could feel her absolute disappointment slipping past my head on the heavily expelled huff that my, apparently silly or annoying question inspired. “What is a blouse, exactly?” the huff inducing question I had dared to ask. I’d heard the word used thousands of times, maybe even used it myself, (but I doubt it) from time to time but I was never quite sure what the word “blouse” meant really. “It’s a woman’s shirt” the words puckered up with the vinegar of annoyance from my coworker once again peeved by my somewhat dramatic lack of girl sense. “Oh. Okay. Well I didn’t know if it was a specific kind of shirt…like the up top version of coolots or something.” My eyes sort of scrunched and appley bits of my cheeks just beginning to turn warm, and pink as the “you suck at girl” hammer once again thumped at my noggin and yet, “Well how come they have to use a different word than shirt, and what the hell does blousy mean then?!” went and got my vinegar going too. Stupid clothes. Never got any of that junk, pretty, “blousy” and stylish doesn’t speak to me, never did actually, least not in the more traditional sense of the word.






Late August trips to the Gemco near the house we were living in meant two things to me as a preteen, time away from that awful place and putting down payments on my back to school goods. I would deal with the drudgery of having my mother hold clothes up to my husky frame, cock her head, stand back and watch as I wriggled into corduroy pants and had her own huffery party as I whined and winced, pissed and moaned about the weird sound the pants made when I walked and as I bent in half with my hands shoved in my crotch area, voice cracking as I tried my best to convince her that my chunky thighs, in those pants was sure to start a fire from friction alone. Endured the shoe shopping, the grabbing of the plastic tube of day of the week crunders that we had to buy every year and counted the seconds with each screech of a metal hanger as my mother scoured the sale rack for my back to school finery. I put up with it for one reason and one reason only, to get to the aisles that were packed with Trapper Keepers, boxes of aromatic #2 pencils, stacks and stacks of spiral binders, Pee Chee folders and bin after bin containing my two most cherished items, colored pens and sheets of lined paper in varying sized widths….nirvana. Trips to Gemco were always welcomed as a way to escape the nightmare of a dream house we were enslaved in but in August, it was an excuse to visit those rows of school supplies and fantasize about sharp pencils, crisp paper and the ripping sound of Velcro as I tore into my Trapper Keeper to fetch a clean sheet of college ruled paper and a sharp pencil just waiting….






Now one might think from my love of school supplies that I was a fan of that whole school business, like I was looking forward to getting my learn on and was an eager student but the truth of the matter was that I loathed school, like a lot and it was just the freedom of that blank sheet, the pens or pencils in my hand and the mere idea of being able to create something, anything that made my heart sail and filled me with hope. I would hoard paper, not wasting them on pesky homework assignments or anything, save them for the nights I couldn’t sleep in that house, when I could hear people walking around, their drunk and drugged out stumbling echoing through the tragically empty halls like ghostly creatures, keeping me from sleeping or ever feeling safe. A radio gently whispering and a stack of fresh paper at my side and I could find a tiny slice of peace. The music pulling at my body and the wide open space of paper pulling at my soul. I used to write my thoughts, share my day and speak out loud through the written word, that was until I discovered my mother would read, share and loudly mock me for my pubescent mutterings, took to hiding my journals of scrawled on sheets of paper but she always found them. One night after walking down the hall to hear my mother’s smoky voice laughing my words into the wall mounted phone I decided that writing wasn’t my medium, or a safe one anyway and I turned to forcing my feelings into the pounding of my feet to music, figuring out how to lure with the curve of my hips, the bite in my lips and the occasional drawing of my flowers.  The stillness of my lines, the crazy mixture of textures my voice, my yelling, my begging and my feelings all spilled out in patterns and colors. 






“You again?” my words sort of greeting a dazed looking customer that was standing in my Burgundy department. He had been in that same spot less than ten hours earlier, his fingers laced around the neck of two bottles of wine, his grin the kind of articulation that words could never even begin to encapsulate, “I’ve never spent this much on a bottle of wine….and now I’m buying two” the last words I heard from him the night before as he headed to the registers with two bottles of Grand Cru white Burgundy tucked into his arm. Now here he was again, still looking a bit shocked, dumbfounded and wistful, back at the wine store that introduced him to the wine that was still haunting him. His smile and sort of goofy, mussed hair a tell that he hadn’t even bothered to wash before heading back to our store to get an extra copy of the list of wines we poured, and to just be there, surrounded by the bottles holding all that luscious complexity and texture…I swear I could feel his heart pounding just standing next to him.  






“Those weren’t just Chardonnays” he told me, each word full and saturated with wonder, “I’ve had lots of Chardonnay but those? They are a whole other thing, and I feel like I can still taste them” I stood there nodding trying to contain my chuckles as I watched a young handsome man fall madly in love with something….beyond pretty and easy to taste. His hands falling on and fingers rubbing the labels we had been exposed to the night before, his energy nothing short of contagious. “I guess I didn’t think white wines could do…..that”  as a big toothy smile spread across his face. We spent twenty minutes discussing minerality, Premier Cru and Grand Cru, the power of place but mostly we kept landing on the way those wines felt in his mouth, the richness and volume, the spreading that would get right to the point of over indulgence but was pulled back by mouth tingling acidity…how that dance made the wines just that much more compelling. 






Once we’d said pretty all there was to say I took a glance at my watch and knew I had better start preparing for the next tasting that was to take place that afternoon, I bid good wishes and gratitude to my young wonderer and headed to the kitchen to pick the cheeses for the tasting. I glanced back over my shoulder to see the young enthusiast once again walking the aisle, shaking his head, fingers tracing and sides of his mouth turned up into a surprised half smile. I walked into the kitchen, reached below the counter, using my fingers as a hook I removed one of our big bowled wine glasses from a clean rack, pulled open the door of the fridge, stuck my arm in, the cold air stark and shocking against my skin as I rummaged around clinking bottles and sliding big hunks of cheese out of the way. “There you are….” The glug-glug-glug of fiercely textured Grand Cru white Burgundy falling upon itself in the glass, the spin of my wrist causing the oily texture wine to roll up the side of the glass, the aromas of fresh cut white flowers, browned butter and roasted nuts sneaking out the top of the glass in waves that seemed delicate at first but within seconds had my mouth watering…demanding me to take a sip. Took everything I had to resist but this glass wasn’t for me. This glass of wonder, power, textured stokes, it was for the dreamy-eyed youngster that was hovering over my white Burgundy department…my blank sheet of white paper just waiting for another stroke of my pen.




 Fuck, I love my job….  

31 comments:

Thomas said...

FYI:

http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?search=Deshabille

Samantha Dugan said...

Thomas,
Why thank you me amigo. Far better explanation than my old coworker....course I'm pretty sure she looked for any excuse to loathe me so...

I have to laugh every time I see FYI now, Jeremy says it like a word and it freaking kills me.

Thomas said...

FYI2:

http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=shirt

webb said...

Thought of you Friday night - had a lovely white Burgundy. Oh, so good!

Samantha Dugan said...

Thomas,
Look at you all linky and junk.

Webb,
Must have been fate my dear as that was the night I was giving my white Burgundy class! Hey, maybe it's us that is all linky now.

Romes said...

Damn I want to be in those classes and fall in love over and over again with your beautiful French wines wearing a blousey blouse.

Contract award is supposed to be Friday, maybe it will get me a step closer to all those classes and to you my typical fashion uneducated friend and love... Cross your fingers and toes!

gabriel jagle said...

Awesome.

It happened to me with a ten-year-old Mersault about two years after I really discovered wine. Thanks for taking me back to that wine. A great white Burgundy just defies logic.

Great article Sam

Samantha Dugan said...

Jess,
Got all my stuff crossed over here!

Gabe,
Truly, there is nothing like it and thankfully that customer had one of those amazingly expressive faces...made it really easy to see his elation. Dig the hell out of that.

Samantha Dugan said...

Hey Gabe,

Hoping you subscribe to follow up comments or check back once or twice but have you heard of/tasted or know much about the Teutonic Wine Company Wines? Tasted through a few yesterday at a trade event. I thought they were way cool in a super-light almost (cringing, I'm cringing here before I type this but....) Alsatian kind of way. Just wondering how much experience you might have with them. Kind of wrestling with the idea of bringing them into the store because of price points....really sort of high for a light and tangy Pinot so it would have to be sold on a "coolness" hand sale sort of situation me thinks. Just thought I'd pick your brain a bit...

gabriel jagle said...

Love Teutonic! I actually helped them disgorge their sparkling wine last winter. They've come to visit us at Illahe a couple times, and we recently did a riesling event together. So yes, I know Teutonic quite well.

I haven't tasted much of their red, but I would consider them one of the best white wine producers in the valley. Really complex wines, always great acidity, food friendly, and fair prices. Barnaby and Olga are also the real deal...they make the wines themselves, work in the vineyards, and travel to Germany to import riesling. They've also been touring the city with some weird bbq grill called a "schwenker", and are calling it the "Portland Summer Schwenk Tour". Not at all relevant, but funny enough to mention.

So, in my opinion, I definitely think you should support Tuetonic Wine Co. I really have nothing but good things to say about the people and the wines.

Thomas said...

Sam:

Are you talking about Pinot Noir from places like Baden?

If so, they can be fantastic wines, if you like racy leanness and snap.

You are correct about how to sell them. I carried a few in my shop years ago. It always took a tasting to stir movement of the wines, mainly because of their price.

Samantha Dugan said...

Gabe,
I knew it! For some reason I figured you might know those wines...something about your passion for specific wines made me think these would intrigue you at the very least. I only tasted a few Pinot Noirs, 'Adam's Vineyard', 'Alsea Vineyard', a 'Bergspitze Schwarz from Laurel Vineyard' in the Chehalem Mountains, no whites at all, well aside from the Sekt which was delightful. Not sure I would say fair pricing on the reds though...I think most would retial for $42-ish and that is sort of high for that very specific style of wine. Dug the hell out of the fact that one of them was 10.5% alcohol though!

Thomas,
Yes, very German or Alsatian in style. I always, or try to I should say, carry at least one Alsatian Pinot Noir and we often have 3-5 from Germany, (which are getting bigger now by the way) so we do have some to offer when people want that nearly lemony style Pinot. Thing is though, even those rare wines are less expensive than the Teutonic ones so that is part of my quandary.

Thomas said...

I thought Teutonic Wine Co, was a distributor. I never heard of the winery here on the East Coast.

If they cost more than the real Teutonic wines, that could be a hard sell.

Thomas said...

I suppose everyone knows that "Teuton" refers to Germanic people.

Samantha Dugan said...

Thomas,
This isn't Ron's blog so don't go supposin' on smarts. The Teutonic Wine Company is an Oregon winery...or project, I guess Gabe would know better if there is an actual winery. There was some pretty serious geeky buzz about the wines at a trade event I went to yesterday, I tried them and could see why. Very bright, tangy, super light-weight Pinot Noir that, as I said, was more reminiscent of Alsace or Germany but...and it's a big ass but, for $42 that is a tough sell, even for the most geeky. Sure people will line up to taste them at a trade tasting and the fascination with the tiny alcohol levels I get too but I just can't think of how many people would kick down that amount for Pinot, that wouldn't want deeper extraction if buying as a domestic fan, or rather drink Burgundy for that price if they like the old world. The bubbly however, wicked cool and might have to make that happen...

Thomas said...

"This isn't Ron's blog so don't go supposin' on smarts."

Hah! I was trying to figure a way to say it without saying it...

Yeah, $42 is a hard sell. I hate trendy ideas and their prices.

gabriel jagle said...

Forty-two bucks is pretty steep. You were tasting their single-vineyard pinot noir, so I imagine that is their most expensive stuff. Their Willamette Valley probably clocks in between $20 and $30, and most of their whites are under $20.

As for their winemaking style...well, you know my palate well. No wonder you're such an asset to a wine shop. In 2011 (one of the coldest vintages in Willamette history) their riesling came out around 8.5% ABV, with screaming acidity. They make a fantastic gris (and I usually hate gris), and their white blend is like $15 and its dynamite. If you are looking for wines that over-deliver on price, try to get your hands on their whites. You won't be disappointed.

I'll be sure to mention this next time I see them. I ran into the owner of Merriman the other day and told him you liked his chennin. Even if the Illahe wines aren't available in SoCal, I am glad to hear you are supporting Northwest wineries. Let me know if you ever want some recommendations...

Samantha Dugan said...

Thomas,
Well your slip was showing kid. I don't think the winery is being trendy but the hipsters out this way sure gobbled up that 10.5% stuff of that you can be sure.

Gabe,
Sort of what I was doing no? Getting your advice and all. I am going to check with my sales rep on those whites, I only had the tasting booklet in front of me and they were only pouring those reds and the bubbly. Thanks for the advice!

gabriel jagle said...

Lol. good point. Thanks for trusting me.

Was it the pink bubbly with the tutu? That was the one i disgorged

Samantha Dugan said...

Gabe,
The sparkler was an actual Sekt so I think he mentioned it was from a sister property in Germany?

gabriel jagle said...

Probably one he imports. Did you taste the Fausse Piste wines also? I think they have the same California distributor, and are also a great Oregon winery

Samantha Dugan said...

Gabe,
I did! And I loved them, especially the Rose and the Sauvignon Blanc. The cat that was pouring them was so adorable too, wanted to cover his face in tiny mommy kind of kisses. Those wines are in fact on the bring in list.

John Bradford said...

What is a blouse? A seductive piece of clothing meant to be worn by a seductress who loves Champagne, and is willing to remove said blouse for a great bottle of said beverage!

John Bradford said...

.

Sara Louise said...

I have fallen in love with White Burgandy in the past year. It's brought me back to whites.
And as far school, my favorite part of it was back to school shopping with my dad. new trapper keeper and pencil case always felt like a fresh start :)

gabriel jagle said...

Sam,

I'm really glad you got to meet some of my favorite people and taste their excellent wines. At the risk of opening a can of worms, those types of winemakers were my only exposure to "natural wines", until I started reading wine blogs. Hopefully it explains why I get so frustrated listening to bloggers sling mud at them, while they are busy in vineyards, wineries, restaurants, and trade tastings. I'll be sure to pass your kind words along to the people at Teutonic and Fausse Piste, I am sure they appreciate the support.

- gabe

Samantha Dugan said...

John,
Well welcome to my silly blog. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment. Hey I'm all about baring my soul but my body...takes a hell of a lot more than a bottle of Champagne. I'm not really a seductress I just play one on the internets.

Sara,
Love that story. Great white wines have the power to change your mind, just like they did my adorable young customer that night. The fact that you are a fellow school supply lover comes as no big surprise to me...

Gabe,
Dang it! Fresh outta worms and Kick Ass so I've got nothing to open for you. I told Ron early on that I admired your willingness to disagree and argue when it comes to natural wines. Your defending them and trying your best to explain them. Takes courage...and a lot of time so it makes me smile when I see you speaking up. That being said, it's an argument you will never "win" if there even is such a thing, and I fear one day your blue face will render you silent. I hope not...rather like dissonance myself. Thanks for spreading my word to your buddies out there in the Pacific Northwest!

John Bradford said...

Samantha,

And I know that! ;)

John Bradford said...

Samantha Dugan said...

John,
Figured you must have, far better site for feeding the "RAWR" than this silly place of mine but thanks for resting me assured and all.

gabriel jagle said...

Sam,

I ran into the gang from Teutonic & Fausse Piste yesterday, they were having an urban bbq, where they did a 5-course meal with wine pairings for $30 (!!!), and I mentioned your kind words to them. This was their first time in Southern California, and they were very appreciative of your support.

As for my role as natural wine advocate, it seems like it chose me rather than a choice i made. It just seems like bloggers have invented a movement that doesn't really exist, just so they can complain and get comments, and they would rather stick to their guns than try to really understand what is going on. I guess I am the only one dumb enough to try and fact-check a wine blog. While I hope my voice never goes completely silent, I am starting to pick my battles a little more carefully. It does sometimes feel pointless, so I appreciate your feedback. It was heartwarming to read.