Unlike most wine regions, Champagne does not really celebrate the vigneron. Fully 87% of Champagne is produced by large 'houses' which buy much of (sometimes all of) their grapes from many thousands of small growers. There are 19,000 + growers in Champagne. Less than 5,000 of these make any wine at all. Any way you do that math, there are a lot of grapes flowing into the big houses. Today, although growers and negociants may haggle a bit over price and quality, it's largely peaceful. That was not always the case.
Notes From All Over
Lately, my husband has been MIA. Whenever I look for him, he's holed up with NFL Draft magazines, newspaper articles, and spreadsheets. That's right-he's preparing for his Fantasy Football Draft. And he's not alone. At this moment, thousands of people are poring over numbers and statistics, trying to pick the best possible 'team'.
It's all about risk vs reward. Do you go after someone like Tom Brady or Aaron Rogers? A pick like that will cost you a lot of draft 'capital'. But perhaps that's worth it for a sure thing.
Today's gorgeous sunshine notwithstanding, summer is on the wane. The sun's setting earlier; a few evenings have been cool enough to suggest a jacket. And families everywhere are staring down the firm deadline of back-to-school, none more so than those with college freshmen.
If you've dropped your child off at college, and returned to an empty car and an emptier house, you know what I mean. It's a little melancholy and a lot just plain odd to have so much quiet. Usually, I equate quiet with peace, but this was TOO quiet; it was unsettling.
Glen Campbell's country-pop hybrid music featured in the soundtrack of my youth, so hearing 'Rhinestone Cowboy' on the radio after his death last week left me feeling both nostalgic and a little melancholy. I also remembered that he definitely was NOT Hispanic.
Quick: I say 'Farm Bureau', and you think of...what? Iowa? Some state with rolling corn fields, big grain silos, and lots of red barns? At any rate, probably not Massachusetts. Right?
A computer was given the task of translating, from English to Russian and back to English, the phrase, 'The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.' What came back? 'The wine is good, but the meat is spoiled'. Or witness the tourist in Germany, who asked for a 'heisser hund'. It turns out that is NOT a hot dog, but a dog in heat. Lesson: a too-literal translation is rarely a good idea.
"Ahhhhhh...." What was that? Personally, I think it was Sean Spicer exhaling. Because whatever your personal political leanings, I think we can all agree that serving as Donald Trump's White House Press Secretary pretty much defines the word 'challenging'. Trump is changeable, mercurial, and hard to track-on a good day. How on earth did a nice boy from Rhode Island-a Portsmouth Abbey grad!-end up between the White House press corps and Trump? Left: rock. Right: hard place.
Ebeneezer Scrooge "carried his own low temperature always about him...he iced his office in the dog days."
-Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol
While the local weather has featured chill and rain, I just returned from the Dakotas, where one evening the local bank sign flashed, in quick succession: 7PM, 95 degrees. In the Dakotas, the Dog Days have arrived.
Laurie Colwin, author of two beloved food literature/ cookbook tomes, plus several novels and collections of short stories, is-hands-down- one of my all-time favorite writers. Her food writing makes me voraciously hungry, and inspires me to try nearly every recipe immediately. Her short stories (my favorite collection: Passion and Affect) are like little jewels; her novels are impossible to put down and have been the impetus for more than a few sleepless nights. She has a rare command of the English language, and her writing touches something in my soul.
"We're still having fun, and you're still the one."
While doing some-ahem-research* for this month's Wine Club (theme: Beach Reads) I found a book, Helen Simonson's The Summer Before the War, that plunged me deep into the bucolic English countryside immediately pre-WWI. This delightful book offers up a glimpse of a very different civilization, one where ladies wore hats and gloves, gentlemen were gentlemen, and nearly everyone had servants to handle disagreeable tasks like cleaning and cooking. Ah, for the good old days!