I wrote a while back about my father breaking his back, and in particular about a meal I made and some wine I served in an attempt to welcome him back to his own home: a steak, an Artezin Zinfandel, a Côtes du Rhône. He’s made a terrific recovery—walking now around the house unassisted, and with only one crutch outdoors, although he continues to wear a brace. He’s even been back to the rock-climbing gym where he fell, working out on the weight machines and the exercise bikes, even though he burst a vertebrae there only a month ago.
There are lingering deficits—one leg still isn’t working perfectly, and he remains on more pain medication than he’d like—but a relieved euphoria has settled in with our family. We came so close to a real catastrophe—so, so close—and everything’s going to be OK, for now. So the wine we’re drinking and the meals we’re eating have taken on a more relaxed air; there’s less pressure, less need to make each one an uplifting miracle. And last night’s captured the new mood: With all the grandkids over at my parents’ house with my wife, my sister, and her husband, I ran out with my mother to have a drink and then pick up some pizzas from the Cheeseboard in Berkeley; if you’re ever in town, you’ve got to try this pie. To my mind, it’s one of the greats. It was a simple enough deal: tomatoes, mozz, a little basil, some lemon zest in the garlic oil they brush over everything. There’s a big round table in the dining room, in the house where I grew up, and instead of the formality of the past meals I’ve made, we just spread out the pizza boxes and my father held court, feeling good, listening to Irish fiddle music.
Looking in the fridge, I found a bottle of white wine: a 2006 Domaine Talmard Macon-Chardonnay. So I popped it, with low expectations, and stood in the dining room because I didn’t want to sit. I loved this wine—something about the viscous midpalate smoothness rolling right over the cheese in the pizza, and the citrus notes picking up that lemon zest, and the mineral notes trailing off with the breadiness of the crust. Together they made a soothing, uplifting little harmony that I savored by myself, in the privacy of my own nose and mouth and mind, while the fiddle music rollicked along and my father laughed and smiled with his healing, and saw me savoring the wine and poured some for himself, and my kids played on the floor and my mother showed the palpable happiness and relief of having looked over the brink and then stepped back, free again.
2006 Domaine Talmard Macon-Chardonnay
Grapes: 100 percent Chardonnay
Wood: None; this wine is made entirely in stainless steel tanks
Price: About $11
My Tasting Notes: My nose picked up honey and some floral qualities, and the experience on my palate was of a great balance between the more plush style of California Chardonnay and the mineral austerity of much Macon-Chardonnay. I thought this wine was a terrific deal.