“All good things.” Ballentine Petite Sirah 2011

Today was a success! My classes were engaged with Beowulf and our discussions about the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the field trip to Beth El Synagogue was all that I had hoped and more, a collaborative learning experience that involved the right combination of humor and sincerity. After practice, Sonja and I picked Titus and Zooey up from daycare, had dinner, and took our evening walk. All good things.

After helping a neighbor move a piece of furniture, we put the kids to bed and opened a rather nostalgic bottle of wine. We visited Ballentine Vineyards on our second trip to the Napa Valley, and we were so in love with the place that we joined the wine club. After several years (and our second child), we found that our budget didn’t allow for wine clubs anymore, but we still had a lot of their wine cellared. Since then, it has gradually disappeared, until only three remain. Tonight, I thought I’d open one of those.

The 2011 Ballentine Vineyards Napa Valley Petite Sirah was a trip down memory lane; the label itself (pictured) suggests more than a bit of travel since it first arrived at our home. Sonja and I sat on the living room couch and talked about our old house, wondering how we would fit our current life into such little space, and talking about many parts of our old lives. We discussed religion and finances before the conversation turned to literature. Sonja told me about Small Great Things, and I told her about The Count of Monte Cristo. We sipped and we shared for an hour and a half, a rare liberty to be afforded a married couple with young children. All good things.

The wine’s color leaped out at me as I put it first into a decanter, and then into glasses. Over the course of our conversation it opened up substantially, evolving from a brooding, tannic monster into a smoother, more aromatic version of itself, and a beautiful expression of the varietal from a difficult vintage. Cinnamon and blackberry, blueberry and hazelnut, fine leather and mild herbs, the flavors evolved over time, never stopping until the decanter at last was empty. It was complex enough to think about, yet simple enough not to dominate our thoughts, and it paired brilliantly with reminiscing. All good things.

These days, I am fortunate enough to drink mostly what I want to. Tonight, I wanted to drink a memory, and I wanted to share that memory with my wife. It was a wonderful Tuesday night, and I hope only that everyone else was so fortunate as to enjoy such good things.



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