“The boys, they are um…looking a little rough” me tattling, sort of, when Aline finally made it down to the belly of the hotel where I had been waiting for 35 minutes. Josh had been the next to arrive, big blue eyes swimming, or floating on leftover whiskey shots and finally Jim made his way down, out of breath and with a look that assured me that my lost night, well it had partners. I sipped away on my second double espresso, the dark and bitter elixir like punishing spikes clipping down my throat as Aline tucked her wild and wavy hair behind her ears and headed outside to gauge the situation by chatting with the struggling gentlemen. Her nearly lyrical lilt splitting the sliding doors, “Bonjour!” her rallying call, “What the hell happened?” the hysterical grumble from Team Booze Sweats as they paced and took nerve settling draws from smoldering tubes of nicotine.
Once our somewhat unruly bunch crammed our bags back in the car and were on the road to wherever our lovely French guide would lead us, we found that any sort of embarrassment was overruled by gut-splitting laughter and finger pointing as we retold and ribbed each other for the little bits of recollection that floated through the tight cabin on tufts of air scented with leftovers, dark brew and a comfort unlike any I’d ever known on one of these trips so early. I let my tense shoulders rest against the backseat, my legs stretching a bit longer and looser, the vibration of giggles and joke-slinging like strong fingers rubbing the anxious knots, massaging my throat and making my voice and laugh just that much louder. I sat there, my ass rumbling as the tires spun us to our next destination, knowing that this trip was to be one full of personalities and honesty. The four of us, the sights, the food and the wines we were to encounter, they were selected by this one bright-eyed and stylish French woman that had the insight, and sense of adventure, to not only select the wines that drew us all in, but to bring us there, together, to see why and share our story with the people that would eventually take home the bottles, set them on their table and add another night, laugh, memory to that label and the family that made it so. I let my fingers trace the buttons on the car door as I listened to the churning of anticipation and banter.
We spent the next few hours tasting with a cooperative, sampling some value driven reds, whites and roses all the while swallowing mouthfuls of refreshing liquid as well as crunchy bits of local bread that had been slathered with fatty bits of pork and seasoning. Restorative in the form of nourishment, and getting us back on the path of seeking wines for the folks back home. The Terrebrune Anjou Rouge and its luscious and friendly fruit sprinkled with black pepper, the Rose from the same producer, that zipped across our fatigued and waiting palates, giving life and incentive to keep plugging along if for no other reason than for, one, more, sip. A Muscadet from Garniere that reminded me to sit up as its sexy little acidic claws drug down the sides of my palate, made my tummy flip with oyster cravings and had me smacking my wanting lips for more. Wines that we all unfalteringly agreed we needed to share with our folks back home, and we could offer for wicked cheap come late summer when the only thing we all crave is simple, juicy, fresh tasting wines that don’t challenge us as much as give. Gots me some stacks a-coming people.
On the bumpy road to our next stop I thought about how many and how varied the voices are in our little world of wine. Big and powerful, bone shaking wines like those of Pithon-Paille, the simple and easy, less demanding and lip parting gems that can be found when a bunch of hard working farmers get together, as a collective, and produce simple table wines that won’t change anyone’s life but can, and do, most definitely make a contribution. How each of us hears, smells, feels and tastes something in each offering. I sat quietly that evening, my teeth sinking into another couple platters of preserved pork, gorgeously sinewy pillows of warm bread dispersed between firm stalks of crunchy green lettuces doused with sharp vinegar and mouth coating oil. The wines not so much speaking to me but the retailer in me could pick up on the angle the hipster wine maker was throwing out. I could sense there was a place for the wild and somewhat unwashed wines I was tasting but not sure our little corner of the wine world was ready…or moreover, wanting for that kind of challenge. Fuck, I’ve been doing this a long damn time and even lit up and full of adventure I was having a hard time swallowing. Cool for two sips, weird and redolent with hinny hole the rest of the bottle? I was wide open and listened as my LA counterpart (totally flattering myself, he is way fancy in the pants area) made a case for those wonky stinkers but I stood firm….those car ride laughter massages reminding me that I too had a voice worth hearing. Took a pass. I’m sure there is some wine bar in San Francisco that is calling me an idiot, that’s okay, I know there are a bunch of my people that are grateful that their next glass of sparkling wine from the Loire won’t wreak of body odor and horse poop. You are most welcome…(insert curtsey here)
Back in the car and we were on our way
Saint Bris and…
Bringing My Want Back In The Worst Way....