Perfect pairing: La Clemence and chainsaw.
Perfect pairing: La Clémence and chainsaw.

S ometimes it’s difficult to decide which wine to drink. For instance, on Wednesday I had one of those Dan moments when home disaster strikes from out of nowhere. So the ultimate question became what wine goes with disaster? What would take my mind off the task at hand?

Teri and I had gone to church and had a great lunch of bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwiches. Then when the daily monsoon hit, we got busy doing things around the house.

At some point late in the afternoon, after the daily deluge, Teri went outside to do some work in the yard while I started warming up leftover soup for dinner. She quickly came back in and told me I’d want to go look in the back yard because one of our large trees had fallen over.

I was worried, but not terribly so because I hadn’t heard any crashes or loud thumps, so I figured it couldn’t be too bad. Whoa! Talk about wrong. It was a Bradford pear tree, about 40 feet high, that simply fell over, root ball and all. Luckily, it didn’t hit anything but an arbor next to the back fence. With all the water we’ve gotten from the rain, the ground was simply too soft to hold up the large tree.

The downed tree fills our back yard.
The downed tree fills our back yard.

If it had fallen in the other direction it would have taken out a treehouse and the fence. Or if it had gone just slightly off course it would have wiped out the back chain link fence. Or it could have fallen toward the house and done some damage to the deck.

So the fates were kind. Now all I had to do was figure out how to get the tree out of the yard.

The first thing I did was stop drinking the very nice wine I opened for an aperitif, A Papavero Vino Da Tavola Blanco. This is an excellent dry white wine from Italy. Unfortunately, I bought it several years ago before I started keeping track of my wine on a computer spreadsheet, so I don’t know where I bought it or how much I paid.

But I could tell it was very tasty. An Internet search wasn’t very helpful, but suggested the wine was under $10. If that’s all I paid for it, that was a tremendous bargain. It had bright citrus flavors, with some peach. Altogether a clean, refreshing taste. We didn’t finish the wine, so I had some the next day and it was just as good as the first day.


The view from the den as the tree fills most of the back yard.
The view from the den as the tree fills most of the back yard.

Then I decided I had better start cutting up the tree. I remembered my chain saw was in bad shape and needed sharpening, but I didn’t want to wait several days to have that done. So I thought I would buy a small saw to take care of this tree.

First stop was Lowe’s, but they were all out of electric chainsaws. I didn’t want to bother with a gas engine, because I have a terrible time keeping small gas engine tools running well. They work for a couple of months, and then you yank and yank on the starting rope and nothing happens. Except for the lawn mower, I’ve been switching over to electric tools.

So I tried Home Depot and they had a couple of nice chainsaw models. I asked for help and the salesman found me one. Another man and his young son came up and said they wanted one, too. The store only had one out front, but the Home Depot guy was going to check the back to see if they had more.

I felt guilty leaving with my saw, but I was there first, and I had a pressing need, so I took off.
Back at the scene of the disaster I got to work quickly. Put oil in the saw, glanced through the instruction booklet and started cutting. It was hot and muggy, but I was getting the small limbs chopped up pretty good, and Teri was dragging them to the street.

Then the chain popped off the track. It was getting a little dark and I was tired and hungry so we decided to eat the soup.

La Clemence 2009.
La Clemence 2009.

But I wanted a special wine to ease my pain, one that would remind me of happier times. So that led to the question of what kind of wine would go with a tree tipping over. Also made me ask the question if a tree falls when no one is around, does it make any sound. Or does it make any sound if you’re not looking, because we were around and we still didn’t hear anything?

I was too tired and crabby to think philosophically, so I just went into the cellar to find something that would make us both feel better. There were many options but I chose a dandy Bordeaux. Maybe I was thinking ahead to Bastille Day, which is Sunday.

We had the Chateau La Clémence 2009 from Pomerol. It is a small vineyard that has been getting rave reviews. We bought it last fall on a trip to France that was one of the best vacations I’ver ever had. Teri and I went with Tim and Kathie Owings, spending two weeks driving all over France.

We flew into Paris, rented a car and drove to the Loire Valley. Then we went to Cognac, Bordeaux, the Dordogne, up to Burgundy and Champagne and then back to Paris. We had enough adventures to fill a book, and I will write about some of them in the months ahead, because we had several great winery experiences.

We didn’t visit La Clémence, but I bought six bottles of the wine at a little shop in St. Emilion and had them shipped back home, along with some other wines. But at $75 a bottle this was one of the best. (Which leads me to another question: what does it say about someone if their wine costs more than their chainsaw? I’ll have to think about that.)

The wine was spectacular. It’s still very young, and Tim probably will scold me for drinking it too early, but there are five more to go.

The 7.5 acre vineyard is planted in 85% Merlot and 15% Cabernet Franc. After doing some research it appears the wine generally sells for about $100, so I got a pretty good bargain.

The taste was outstanding, with that typical Bordeaux taste I’ve never experienced in any other wine. It was full of ripe plums, berries and cherries. The tannins were full, but well-rounded, and no doubt will mellow out over the next several years.

I decanted it about 30 minutes before drinking; I should have given it at least two hours. The wine kept getting better as we drank it with the vegetable beef soup, one of my favorites. The finish is strong and velvety, never tapering off.

La Clemence with vegetable beef soup.
La Clemence with vegetable beef soup.

If I can find more of this wine, I will buy it. There is something about the soil and climate of Bordeaux that produces an incredible flavor.

I hope these tall pines won't be the next to fall.
I hope these tall pines won’t be the next to fall.

As for the tree, I can see it is going to be a long-range project. I went back out after dinner and disposed of more limbs, but there is a long way to go. And I keep looking around at other trees, wondering if one of them will be next. There’s a huge Bradford pear in the front yard that could do some damage if it falls toward the house. And there are several huge pine trees that would cause a real disaster if they fell. I just hope the roots and the soil hold out.

I had planned to finish the tree cutting in a few days, but on Thursday I was only able to work for an hour or so in the morning. I had other things to take care of later, and then the rains came again.

But I will finish off the tree, and when I do it will be time to celebrate with another great wine. And I have some time to think about what would be appropriate. So many choices.
From: Bordeaux
Cost: $75
Year: 2009

Write A Comment

Pin It