Ruminations on Home

6 Mar

Home.  For the longest time I called a small gray house on Westminster Avenue in Alhambra, California home.  My family lived there since a few years before I was born: my parents had graduated three children from Fremont Elementary and Alhambra High.  This house remained home until early in my college career, when we sold it and moved to an apartment in South Pasadena.

It was strange coming back to a place I did not know, strange sleeping on a couch when I used to be able to sleep on a bed.  I didn’t know the new area very well, passing through South Pasadena only to get from Alhambra to Old Town Pasadena.  And my father had recently been diagnosed with kidney disease, meaning his health was always uncertain.  That apartment on Huntington Drive, new and without the comfort that came from years of familiarity, certainly didn’t feel like home.

Some years have passed.  I graduated from Berkeley, worked for two years at, and am in the middle of my second semester at law school in Washington, DC.  Although I started to really like South Pasadena during my two years as a working stiff, it wasn’t until I left California for the far-off Eastern Coast that I truly started to consider South Pasadena home.  We are still living in that small apartment on Huntington; it sounds a bit strange for someone coming from the historical hubbub that was the site of the Inauguration, but I can’t think of anything better than returning to South Pas for good after graduation.

That old adage–“home is where the heart is”–is true.

I often wax poetic or nostalgic about Berkeley, or am reminded of places in New Haven and Hamden or Seoul, but I am most content here.  And, being thus content, my family and I decided to open one of the bottles I purchased the other day from Mission Wines.

Well, let me clarify.  I decided to open one of the bottles, the 2007 Domaine les Grands Bois “Cuvee Maximilien,” a Cotes du Rhone villages from Cairanne, France.  This bottle came highly recommended at Mission Wines and is considered the Domaine’s best bottling.

And rightly so.  It is very intense, a dark inky red wine that coats your mouth and leaves you with no doubt that (1) this is an excellent wine and (2) evocative of the very concept of Cotes du Rhone.

From Robert Parker:

93 points Robert Parker: “A blend of 50% Grenache, 35% Mourvedre, 10% Syrah, and 5% Carignan aged in concrete except for the Mourvedre (which was aged in barrel), the 2007 Cotes du Rhone-Villages Cairanne Cuvee Maximilien is another stunning effort. More blueberry, truffle, tree bark, and sauteed porcini mushrooms intermixed with notes of spring flowers and damp earth soar from the glass of this dark ruby/purple-tinged wine. Fabulous intensity and texture as well as a full-bodied mouthfeel, but no hard edges (despite the fact that approximately one-third of the wine is made from Mourvedre), it exhibits terrific fruit as well as noble sweetness and sucrosite (the wine is totally dry). This big wine should drink well for 7-8 years or longer. This superb estate has fashioned outstanding 2007s, all remarkable wine bargains. They are typical of the fabulous 2007 vintage in the southern Rhone.”

It was great the next day, with softer tannins and more pronounced fruit.  To be honest, this might very well be one of the best Cotes du Rhone wines I’ve ever had.  At $19.99 it seems a bit pricy but is well worth the extra few bucks.

As long as I’m writing about wine, I might as well talk about another good French wine, the 2003 “La Baronne Rouge” from Famille Lignères.  This wine is from the Corbières appellation in the Languedoc-Roussillon region.  It’s only $10.99 but just a wonderful, lighter-bodied red.  It’s soft,with bright berries, but balanced with a hint of the garrigue.  It’s delicious served with a bit of a chill.

It took me a little bit to get over the slightly kitschy pink label, but I’m glad I did.

And it took me a little bit of time to get used to a different place and a different city, but I’m glad I did.  And someday I’ll be back for good.


3 Responses to “Ruminations on Home”

  1. Shea March 6, 2009 at 6:12 pm #

    Great that you got to taste a couple hidden gem southern france wines. Cairanne is frequently overlooked, but is pretty consistently good in my experience.

    That’s also an interesting perspective on home, especially since I don’t feel as though I really have one – having lived in at least 8 different cities over the past 10 years. Perhaps, though, we are all Odyssean at heart. Personally I find ‘home’ in moments – all of which are special, but none of which seem the same…

  2. vinicultured March 6, 2009 at 6:58 pm #

    That’s an interesting perspective but one I’ve heard expressed in varying degrees from a few of my more mobile friends. I like your last line regarding finding home in moments; that observation resonates in me as profoundly true.

    I wonder, though, whether there is some “Odyssean” longing in even the most transitory among us, or whether there are indeed some people who find themselves perpetually wandering. I like the idea of traveling, though in the end I’m rooted here in SoCal.

  3. Shea March 7, 2009 at 1:38 am #

    Well I guess I would say that Odysseus is a bit of a paradox: both a perpetual wanderer whose home is his wandering, and one in search of a home that has been lost. In any case, I think ‘home’ is a complex and profound concept that seems to elide many of us, despite its seeming concreteness.

    Nonetheless, I have to say that I am a big fan of the Bay area :), or at least the pacific northwest.

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