The Monday of the Memorial Day weekend has become a quiet day for me, for the last couple of years. I totally appreciate the solemnity of the day and can appreciate all the brave men and women who have given the ultimate sacrifice for my country. Though in the last several years, my Bride has always made a business trip to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan to visit clients and her contacts. On a few of the trips, I have gone up there with her, but it is predicated on the schedule that she can make. If she can work from one location for a couple of days, it is fine, otherwise, I just end up sitting in a car all day, as she goes from one location to another. This past trip for her, I would have just been riding shot gun, the entire trip, while her company is wonderful, it is not a nice way to spend a week off.
On a social media site, I had posted that I truly hoped that she would have a safe and uneventful trip. Then I proceeded to start doing some projects around the house to keep myself occupied. Lo and behold, as they used to say, I received an invitation for dinner from a dear friend, who has become even dearer to both of us over the years. He as appeared on these pages with the nom de plume that he gave himself, when he penned an article for me, he is now known as The Wine Raconteur Jr. He and his family were having dinner at his house and he invited me over for dinner, to join his family, his parents and his one uncle and his wife; and since I knew everyone he felt that I would not be uncomfortable. I told him that since I was in the midst of a project that I would forgo dinner, but if I had a chance I would stop by.
Later in the early evening after I had a chance to clean up, I ventured into the cellar to get a wine carrier and a couple of bottles of wine to take over there. It would be in poor taste to go somewhere empty handed and since my Bride is known for her culinary talents and I am not, I figured the wine would be a better choice. When I arrived at his home, I knocked on the front door, and there was no response, and since I am from that old country and old world schooling, I just took it upon myself to enter into the house, figuring that they were all in the backyard and I was right. When I stepped out of the house into the yard the smile on The Wine Raconteur Jr. was one that could have lit up a starless evening. I went directly to my host and hugged him, and then onto his wife, then I made my hellos to his parents and to his uncle and his wife as well. As I was getting ready to sit down, his two children came over to greet me too. It was a warm and fuzzy “Kodak” moment as we used to say.
I reached into my wine carrier and grabbed one bottle of wine to give to his Father, and he started to look at the label, and I told him that the label was meaningless, as it was a bottle of homemade “Dago Red” wine, the second set of homemade wines that I had received from the past Christmas season. This particular wine, I had found to be more atypical of the classic “Dago Red” wines that I had grown up with, as it was slightly frizzante and was very pleasant and not as heavy as the wines that I remembered as a kid. The other bottle that I pulled out of my carrier immediately got some notice, from the Uncle’s wife first as she saw the label immediately and saw the word Gaja. The word Gaja started a lively discussion of wines and restaurants and I related the story of how I had initially found this wine, as it the most affordable wine that I have ever seen from Gaja. We were all laughing about the story, as they had all been to the restaurant several times, the same as I have, and I have wrote about the evening already, so I will not repeat it. I asked jokingly if there was such a thing as a corkscrew in the house, and my dear friend went and produced his “Rabbit” and took it out of its gift box, to open the wine. The wine was a bottle of Gaja Ca’Marcanda Toscana IGT 2000, and since I still have some more of this wine in the cellar, I wanted to see how it had aged. This wine is a blend of Merlot, Syrah and Sangiovese and though it is from Tuscany, it carries an IGT designation. While Tuscany has DOCG and DOC designations, there is now an IGT designation as well, and it was an uphill battle originally for the winemakers that wanted to try something different. Originally in Italy they had the DOCG, DOC and the lowest designation was Vino di Tavola, or Table Wine. After the wine Sassicaia erupted on the Tuscan scene, there was a need for a different designation, and then for all the other “Super Tuscan” wines that began being made. In 1992 the IGT designation was formally announced, and this gave winemakers in historic areas the freedom to try making wines without the constraints that the original designations required. I might add that I had this wine when it was new, and now in 2015, the wine was not showing any age problems, it was showing its maturity as some of the original fruitiness had mellowed, but it was a very smooth drinking wine. I do not think anyone, and least I hope not, was disappointed with my selection. Later on that evening The Wine Raconteur Jr. produced a charming bottle of Company Fleret Svestka Plum Spirit from Czechoslovakia. There was even a prune sitting in the bottle of spirits, and while I expected something like “fire-water” along the lines of grappa, this was not the case. It was a very easy sipping drink and perfect for after dinner. This was a wonderful and totally unexpected way for me to spend that evening, and once again I must thank my charming hosts for the evening, and I had to laugh, because as I was leaving they had even prepared a large package of food for me to take home, because they were concerned that I might starve that week, and trust me, I have never looked like I was starving.