Sunday, May 3, 2009

Aujourdhui Personne Travail

Yesterday was May Day, and that means nobody works—in France, anyway. In the spirit of the day, I drove down to Surdyk’s to chat with the folks from Chateau Saint Andre Corbin, Chateau La Freynelle and the Aquitane Wine Company, who were in town to promote their products. (I’m not sure “products” is the right word, however, for the organic creation that the wine of any given year turns out to be.)
I’m always on the look-out for cheap red wines from Bordeaux that can evoke memories of the days when you could buy classed growths for less than $20.00. It’s true that in those days I was making $4.00 an hour unloading trucks, and $20.00 was a small fortune. All the same, nowadays even the cru bourgeois from the remote fringes of the area are running from $10 to $20, which is still the extreme upper end of my range.
The gentleman from Chateau Picque Caillou wore a suit, he had an old-fashioned haircut, and he could easily have stepped out of a Pierre Melville gangster movie or a Jacque Tati farce. His wine is from Grave—“Just down the road from Haut Brion,” he doesn’t mind mentioning—and it has greater finesse than body, which is fine with me. The 2006 lives in the shadow of the huge, Parker-esque 2005, he told me, but in a year or two it will be magnificent. In searching for the right word to describe the 2006 he kept returning to “classical—It’s more…classical.”
The two women at the next table, young and stylish, were promoting wines from their family vineyards. I had used up all my wine expressions at the previous table and was pleased to discover that I had purchased (and enjoyed) a bottle of the Freynelle Blanc a few days earlier. They told me how big their vineyards were—25 and 100 acres—how many workers they employed, what their production was, etc. The Mongavey was very nice, but all wines in that price range are nice, and it’s hard to differentiate when you seldom drink such things—especially at 9:30 in the morning. We ended up discussing the French film Seraphine, which I’d seen at the film festival a few days ago, and I’m sure they were relieved when I finally bid them adieu.
Did I buy any wines? Yes I did. May is my birthday month, and I had a few big bills burning a hole in my pocket that I’d picked up following a recent book presentation.

After that day of glorious idleness, which also included a bike ride along the Mississippi and an evening with The New York Review of Books, I made an effort this morning to get a few things done. It, too, was a glorious morning, the sun was bright and the air was cool. The leaves are in various phases of unfolding, the sand cherry under the bedroom window is blooming like an ikebana display, and the violets and periwinkle and just beginning to flower. I finished raking the leaves in the back yard, cut back the elderberry bushes, and gathered the dead branches from the silver maple that had fallen during the winter. Out front, I cleaned up the daylilies, removed a few dandelions with a sophisticated uprooting tool I bought last year, and apprised the task of reattaching a section of the lattice that fell off the front of the house a few weeks ago. The air is sooo fresh, and it’s warm enough to leave the front door open. And to top things off, I heard a loud squawk as I was tending the daylilies and looked up just in time to see a sandhill crane flying directly above me over the house.

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