First Growth

On Sunday evening, Stephen and I were graciously invited to a dear friend’s home for a casual supper.  Excited about getting out of our house for the evening, the invitation was especially generous because our children were included in the invite.

You can imagine my excitement and my shock when I walked into their kitchen to see a freshly opened bottle of 2003 Chateau Lafite Rothschild standing upright next to a decanter.

Trying not to squeal, my voice did go up an octave when I said, “Oh no you didn’t!”

Chateau Lafite Rothschild on a Sunday night in Tarboro.  Who said my life would change drastically when I left New York for small town U.S.A?

We enjoyed the first two sips as a foursome without any food, and the aromas coming out of the glass were breathtaking, to say the least.  Dried cranberries, cigar wrapper, pencil shavings, rich earth, blackcurrants, there were too many smells to keep up with them all.

I continued to enjoy this magnificent red as a preamble to dinner as well as an accompaniment to delicious burgers.

In case I am writing Greek to some of you, Chateau Lafite Rothschild is one of the five first growths of Bordeaux.  The 1855 classification designated the top estates of the left bank of Bordeaux based on the price of the wine it produced some 150 years ago.  In the classification, it gave the top wine estates a designation of first, second, third, fourth or fifth growths.  In 1855, it deemed only four estates worthy of the prestigious title of first growth.  These four were and still are Chateau Margaux, Chateau Haut Brion, Chateau Lafite Rothschild and Chateau Latour.  In 1973, it added Chateau Mouton Rothschild to the mix, making a total of five first growths.

As you can imagine, these wines are extremely allocated and sought after, and collectors pride themselves in procuring small (or large) amounts of each vintage.

I have two in my cellar, and they were given to Stephen and me when we got married in 2003 by our New York friend Ed Lauber.

Our dear hosts who so generously invited us over for dinner and graciously opened this amazing bottle of vin rouge knew how special of a deal this was for us.  A 10-year-old first growth being poured in our glasses so we could ponder and reminisce about the time when these grapes were harvested.

For our friend, 2003 marked the year she and her husband took their children to France with her mom and dad.

For Stephen and me, 2003 marked the year we were married.

Ten years later, my friends both mourn the loss of a parent.

Ten years later, my husband and I celebrate a decade-long marriage ripe with two  healthy children.

First growths.

They can be magnificent and celebratory.  They can be painful and memorable.

Regardless of the emotions they evoke, we all need them.

A first growth doesn’t necessarily have to be the wine. It can also be the moment in your life when you feel like you have really grown.  On Sunday, I felt that way.  I felt very grown up, and I felt older with more life behind me.

We need a night with good friends and a special wine to show us how far we have come, and we need a ten-year anniversary to remind us of the amazing journey it has been.

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  • Julie holderness

    Inie, First of all Happy Birthday! Second, the blog about the Rothschild & friends celebrates life at it’s best! Good friends, good milestones, gains & losses, and children included! Love your blog. Great insight and growth. Cheers and Love, Julie

  • Dear Inez:

    Thank you for sharing your story! It felt (almost!) like I was sipping that Lafite right next to you.

    I loved how you ended this blog. I have my own First Growth Moment I am preparing for right now. On June 2, I am taking my Certified Sommelier Exam in Columbus, OH. Obviously, I want to pass, but whether I pass or fail, I hope this day will mature me a little. Maybe my knowledge and appreciation for wine (and oh yes, my Purpose In Life – have to throw that in), will develop the way that 03 Lafite has.

    One of my favorite posts from you was Four Beautiful Years. You may remember I wrote you a long email after that one. I hope my encounter with the Supreme Court of Wine is as enriching and rewarding as your path was.

    Sincerely,

    Douglas Trapasso

  • Dear Douglas,
    Go get ’em!!! Thank you so much for your kind words. I am honored that you would read and even comment. Best of luck for a very successful exam. Fondly,
    Inez