I like wine. And cheese. I like pairing them. I am French. No French person, at least of my generation would be complete without knowing a little bit about wine and appreciating it as a delectable, and subtle nectar. I did not learn about wine by myself, no! I was raised in a happy family of “bons vivants”, in which good wine was always on the table for all family reunions. And we had many such reunions! Uncles and aunts, grandparents and cousins, all generations would sit around the table in a joyful buoyant manner, eating, drinking and singing. We did not need a reason. Life was good reason enough to celebrate together.
Wine is more than just a drink that gives a buzz. Wine encapsulates all that I described above and is source of great family memories of happiness for me.
Naturally, since we had so many family reunions through the years, my uncles and my dad would exchange tips of which wine to buy this year more than that year. However, my dad had his favorites. And among his favorites, there was one favorite that found its way to our lunch and dinner table for many years: Chateau Giscours. A 3rd Grand Cru Classé of Bordeaux, Chateau Giscours is a really fine wine: “Features a lightly firm, singed alder frame around a core of dark plum, cherry and cassis bush notes. Taut tar and warm paving stone notes fill in on the finish. Shows serious, well-embedded grip, and the core of fruit is spot on. This has the range, length and cut for the cellar” _ James Suckling, or “Aromas of mint and currants with hints of fresh herbs. Then turns to plum jam. Full body, with well-integrated tannins and pretty fruit. Long and caressing. This is really outstanding” _Neal Martin's Wine Journal
Each year, when I was a teenager, my dad would always order one or two cases of Giscours to put them in the cellar.
I grew up with that wine name in my mind, knowing it was a good wine and it was my dad’s favorite.
I have been living in the US for over 20 years now. During all these years, I have bought wine, many times. I bought simple wines, I bought good wines and great wines (like the 1959 Vosnes Romanée I got for my sister’s 40th birthday when I was living in San Francisco. She was born in 1956 and I figured it was close enough a date that she would be ok with it…). Never have I bought, been offered or even seen on a menu a Chateau Giscours.
My dad passed away this past September 1st, 2016. My dad was a scientific man who did not believe in the continuity of consciousness. He was a lover of nature. He had a special relationship with trees. When he was in the hospital during the summer, his health slowly deteriorating from the terminal process of prostate cancer, trees kept falling on our family property, as if to say, “if he’s going, we’re going too”. I took the trees falling as a sign that the universe was ready to welcome him back home and that he would not be alone.
The day he passed, I did a séance, during which I asked my dad to prove to me with scientific words, now that he knew, that he was still around. One word appeared on my phone: ATOM. My dad in his youth had been working with professor de Broglie, at the Diderot University in Paris on particle trajectories and x-rays, in the Physics of the Atom Laboratory of the University. It was in my dad’s style. One word, to the point. He was not much of a talker and would rather be alone not socializing than having a conversation with anyone, including his family. So, I felt I had a connection there.
Yet, I also felt that it was not enough. It is never enough. Signs from our lost oved ones are always a blessing. But time passed and nothing else happened. No more words, no more trees falling, nothing. Silence.
A few months later, my friends Melvin Morse and Melissa Bennett came to visit for the Holidays. Dr. Morse and I share the same interest in the inquiry about consciousness and its nature and we always have great conversations going. During his stay, Melvin told me that my dad had come to him while he was meditating a couple of weeks before and that he was startled by it, as he had never met him. It was very interesting as it was just before I had met over social media Melissa, Melvin’s partner, and that I had told her I considered Melvin like a big brother or a father-mentor figure.
Melissa and Melvin stayed with us about one week. We had fun celebrating the New Year together and a few of our good friends drinking Champagne and laughing. The day before they were to leave to go back home, they told me they had to go run errands.
In fact, they went to a wine store with the idea of buying my husband a special liquor from Peru, and for me a bottle of Champagne to thank us.
While at the store, Melissa suggested to instead get me a bottle of wine. As they debated between wine and Champagne, a sales person came to their rescue and when they asked what he recommended, he showed them three different bottles of very good red wine. Not knowing what to do anymore, they just decided in a split second to not go for Champagne and picked one of the 3 bottles of red wine the sales person had recommended, almost in a mini mani moo fashion.
When they came back home, my husband and I were outside relaxing on our lounge chairs. Melvin and Melissa gave my husband his liquor and handed to me a wine bag.
I was about to say “Oh you shouldn’t have…” as I was pulling the bottle up from the bag, but I never were able to finish my sentence. Faster than I could even realize, my eyes filled up with tears and I started to cry uncontrollably. I had never cried at anyone offering me a bottle of wine before!!!
I was holding a bottle of Chateau Giscours 2009. But you see, I did not even have time to actually look at the bottle and process the name of the bottle and analyze anything. I just burst in tears immediately. There was nothing I could do. It took me minutes to regain composure as my poor friends were wondering if they had bought the wrong bottle of wine!
They had no idea! On the contrary, this was the RIGHT bottle of wine!!!
I had to tell them the story of my Dad’s favorite wine… Truth came out of that bottle of wine!
So, you see, there is another meaning to “in vino veritas”, my dad went out of his way to give me a big sign. After that, I felt like I heard in my dad’s unmistakable “Parisian” grumpy accent: “Ok, that’s good now, you’ve got it, I’m done”.