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It’s Sunday, December 22- the day after Christmas.  I shall explain.  My company decided to cancel my November vacation and put me on a 6 week training course.  I missed Thanksgiving, the annual Nutcracker Ballet, where I play Uncle Drosselmeier and get to perform with my 9 year old daughter and 11 year old son (he plays Fritz).   Having spent 4 weeks on the course already, I ws given a 6 day break to come home, 12,000 miles of traveling and a 13 hour time change.  I now find myself headed back to complete my training, which has me flying on Christmas day AND New Years day, bastards.

Anyway, Moxie, being the smart gal, called Christmas early.  We celebrated yesterday with presents, dinner and good wine with our family.  Christmas actually started 3 weeks ago for me, in Hong Kong.  One of my friends hosted a men’s luncheon at his house.  We started out with 4 bottles of fizzy and moved on to a Sauvignon Blanc with  the Prawn cocktail.  For the main course, I had brought along the faithful Lynch Bages 2001 and the ringer- Burgess Cabernet Sauvignon 2002.  We moved on to copious other bottles of Merlot, Cab, and god knows what before I packed it in at 9:30 pm.  We had stared at noon and managed to celebrate in grand fashion all afternoon and into the night.  Those crazy Brits, they know how to get it done.

IMG_0520Later in the month, my friend Lemming had won the annual football bet so I was obliged to pour the good stuff, a 2001 Calon Segur that he eyed in my room. ( I never travel light).  He and I have a repeat bet for the next two weeks of Fantasy, I ‘ll let you know how I did.

My makeshift hotel room cellar...

My makeshift hotel room cellar…

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Meanwhile at home Moxie was busy getting the kids into the spirit. She took the younger two to the annual Santa visit. She managed to decorate the house and get the whole Christmas spirit going even in my absence, making my return awesome.

JJ and The Jet

JJ and The Jet

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Moving ahead to this past Friday… I drove to the heart of Virginia to pick up son #2 from boarding school. I packed a snack of raw chestnuts for my snack. Nothing spells Christmas like roasted chestnuts, I just happen to love them raw too. The 2 1/2 hour drive allowed me to reflect on my week, my life and my family. The return trip was loud with three smelly teenage boys all talking at once. It was a good ride.

Raw chestnuts, quartered for ease of peeling

Raw chestnuts, quartered for ease of peeling

Which brings us to Saturday, our Christmas day.
Moxie had saved every $5 dollar bill for the last year and used the cash to buy me the most amazing gift, the Big Green Egg grill.  I immediately prepared the Chicken for a good old fashion slow cook with a bottle of peach wine shoved up it’s derrier and coated with salt, pepper and sage.  The wood I used was cherry for the smoke and the charcoal was original hard wood chunks, old school…  This grill is going to be fun and the learning curve steep but I am looking forward to it.  I also slow cooked a standing rib roast, which I overdid- enough said.

The evening started out with some Domaine Ste. Michel Blanc de Blancs.  A refreshingly dry and crisp sparkler that over performs every year.  Crispy green apple and tart lemons with a delicious mousse and nice finish.  Mum likes raspberries in her glass so I obliged, trying a glass myself- not a fan.  I then opened some Chardonnay for the folks and cranked it up a notch for myself.  The last of my 2000 Opus One to go with the Beef.  This wine was given bad reviews on release and poor marks for it’s $200+ price point.  I have thought contrary to the pro’s and have really enjoyed this wine in it’s latter years where it bested Lynch Bages and other fine wines.  In case you missed it –  Opus One ’00.  This bottle was delicious but had an obnoxious odor that I could not figure out.  It detracted initially but I managed to separate the nasal channel and simply enjoy the cassis and plum infused nectar, wondering how many more years this Napa Cab can run.  It certainly shows no letting up and I now wish I had not drunk those first few so early.  Oh well, that’s what makes wine so interesting- watching the evolution and appreciating each nuanced step.