When we created our wine blog, we chose the kitten as our symbol because it is playful and fun. Let’s face it, kittens make people smile. In fact, whenever we tell people our blog name, they always laugh. This is exactly the reaction we want. And while we do like to dwell in the joyful, silly, lighter side of life as much as possible, this week we are taking a brief departure because, well, even a kitten can be sad.
Never fear, next week we will be back to our usual antics with more of our adventures from our recent wine country trip. For instance, in our next post we plan to amuse and delight you with a description of every sip and morsel of our dinner at The Dry Creek Kitchen in Healdsburg. But this week in our house, it is a time to give pause. A dear friend is dying.
One of my closest friends on the planet is in the final stage of breast cancer. My Dear Darling Spouse refers to this friend as my Soul Mate. He says this without a shred of jealousy. He actually celebrates our Soul Sister status and is frequently amused and surprised at the parts of me she brings out.
Though I have been back for five days now from my visit to sit by her beside in Boston, I have found myself continuing to keep vigil here at home. So yesterday, as I was racking my brain for ways to lift my spirits, a particular wine came to mind: Gary Farrell Russian River Valley Chardonnay. No, I was not thinking of wine in order to drown my sorrows. That is a strategy that we at The Kitten do not recommend. Rather, this wine came to mind because it holds good memories for me with my good friend.
On my 40th birthday, a milestone I was determined to ignore, Soul Sister showed up at my doorstep, having flown from Boston to Minneapolis to my total surprise. She wouldn’t let me get away with not celebrating. She was right— I needed a party. That evening, I introduced her to the Gary Farrell Chardonnay and she loved it. We’ve sipped it on other occasions together in the years since and I’ve sent her a bottle for her birthday a time or two. But mostly it is a source of happy reminiscence for us. “Ahh, the Gary Farrell Chard,” we’ve said to one another many times, and instantly our minds settle into the the many good memories we’ve accumulated together.
I had to do some searching to find the Farrell Chard on our local shelves. It’s not a rare wine, but many retailers carry their Pinot Noir instead, for which the winery is more well known. However, I was determined and knew my heart would not settle for a substitute. Not on this evening.
After striking out at our usual haunts, I called the Minnesota distributor for Gary Farrell wines who kindly told me the one store in the Twin Cities that might have a few bottles. Shortly thereafter, I was on the phone with a very nice person at Sorella Wine and Spirits in downtown Minneapolis, who promised to set aside his last few bottles of Farrell Chard for me. (Sorry Twin Citians, this means I have temporarily cornered the Gary Farrell Chard market here locally.)
Unacquainted with Sorella before this visit, I was very impressed. A woman was leaving the store with her dog as I was arriving.Yes, they allow dogs on leash in their store. We at The Kitten feel good about shopping in places that hold pets in high regard. Also impressive, I noted that the local Twin Cities paper awarded them Best of Minnesota 2012 for “Under the Radar Wine Store.” Delighted to have discovered a hidden gem, we will most definitely be back.
I called my Other Half, who does the weekend chef duties at our house, and asked if he’d be willing to whip up some steamed king crab legs for dinner. I also may have hinted that some new potatoes with dill and asparagus with lemon butter would be quite nice, as well. Surprised, yet delighted with my very specific menu request, my Dear Darling Spouse said, “There must be a story here” to which I replied, “Of course there is.” And that was all he needed to know to get on board with the plan.
In the evening, as we took our first sips of the Gary Farrell 2009 Russian River Valley Chardonnay, I told the story of why I wanted this particular wine on this particular night. The first sip was sublime and took me right back to the night of my 40th birthday visit from my dear friend.
The wine was crisp but supple, with just a bit oak, lots of pear, and some honey and floral notes. Delicious with the cheese before dinner, as well as with the meal, it was also superb with the apple pie and salted caramel ice cream afterwards. (Thanks to Sparkle Shari for showing up with dessert.) While I needed no endorsement from outside sources to relish this wine, I did notice that Wine Spectator gave it 93 points.
Knowing that there is nothing I can do tangibly now for my dear Soul Sister, I did the only thing I could think of— I surrounded myself with ones I love, I paused to sit and savor, to tell stories of her and of us, and to relish the power of good memories. And I am sure she could feel it all the way in Boston.
So this week, we raise our glasses to cherishing good friends, to savoring the treasured moments we have together, and to giving ourselves the gift of pause when our hearts need lifting.
We have written previously about Gary Farrell Winery, a post which tells more about the winery itself.