I’ve been thinking about memories lately. While it seems that most memories fade, a couple remain crystal clear in our mind. Even certain times in our lives that seemed so important, such as breaking up with a girlfriend or boyfriend, lose importance in the grand scheme of our life. Only a few memories stick out as being important enough to vividly live within my mind – so vividly, in fact, that I can relive some memories and feel the same feelings I felt at those times. One of those special memories took place when I was around sixteen years old, standing in my neighbor’s driveway.
“I would take you with us if I could.”
I still hear those words in my head, and most importantly, feel that I was loved and wanted. Those words came from my next door neighbor, the mother of my best friend growing up, just before they moved away. I had spent a lot of time at their house, and for a time I even lived with them. My biological mother was a detached person who had problems with drugs. Her only interest in people was to get money from them so she could continue her habit. And so I did not have a mother as my female role model.
But I was lucky enough to live next door to a great family and a woman who was an amazing person. She did not have a fancy degree or an outwardly impressive job, but she was an extraordinary person nevertheless. She worked long hours to help support her family while still having so much love and generosity to give to everyone around her. Don’t get me wrong, she would yell at us if we did not pick up our toys or help out with doing the dishes, but no one ever doubted for one minute that she loved all of us.
It is difficult to know what a strong woman is supposed to be when you have never really had a close relationship with one. Fortunately, I had the privilege of growing up right next door to one of the most incredible women in the world. She was the kind of woman who lifted up everyone else around her with tons of unconditional love and she always thought about herself last. She was wise and insightful, and even though I never talked about my home situation, she knew something was not right. Before they moved, when I was sixteen, she made sure to give me one more gift. That gift was to let me know that I was loved, I was wanted and that I would always have a home.
While I tasted the wines of Elena Walch, from Alto Adige, Italy, I could not help but think of the strong woman who was my neighbor. This winery is run by a mother, Elena Walch, and her two daughters Julia and Karoline. I have never had the pleasure to have met them but they are already known in the wine business as being a wonderful family that produces stunning wines while using ethically, sustainable practices.
Beyond The Clouds
I was impressed with the eight Elena Walch wines I was sent to taste and it was very difficult to pick my favorites. But it was their Beyond the Clouds white wine that triggered the precious memory with my neighbor. A wine, in my experience, that was not about showing off, but about taking me to another level of pure joy. And it is a great reminder that strong women do not make others feel inferior to show their strength, but instead they spend most of their time lifting everyone else up to help them see what is beyond the clouds.
Everyday Drinking Wine (less than $15)
Seven Sisters Sauvignon Blanc Vivian, Malmesbury region, South Africa ($11): This winery was started by seven African sisters and further shows the power of great women. It received funding from the South African Wine Industry Trust which was established to help develop black-owned wineries and vineyards. All of the wines are named for one of the sisters involved and hence “Vivian” is one of those sisters. This wine has bright flavors of green mango and herbaceous notes. This tangy wine is perfect for seafood.
Special Occasion Wine (from $15 to $50)
2013 Elena Walch Gewürztraminer Kastelaz, Alto Adige DOC, Italy ($32): 100% Gewürztraminer. Elena Walch has been given the name “the Queen of Gewürztraminer” by Gambero Rosso, and one taste of this wine is proof as to why she deserves this name. A great Gewürztraminer is not easy to make and many producers fall short by making a wine lacking life. But this is an example of how Gewürztraminer can be an ideal rich and flavorful white wine. This wine has a sensual smell of perfume with flavors of lychee and cardamom with a luscious texture. It is out of this world when paired with spicy food.
2011 Elena Walch Lagrein Riserva Castel Ringberg, Alto Adige DOC, Italy ($45): 100% Lagrein. This wine reminded me of eating my first chocolate bar with bacon. The combination of flavors are so unfamiliar that I didn’t know what to make of it on first taste, but it quickly became addictive with rich, sweet fruit and smoky, savory notes all wrapped up with chewy tannins. If you are looking for a very different red wine then this one will knock you off your feet.
Fantasy Wine (over $50)
2011 Elena Walch Beyond The Clouds, Alto Adige DOC, Italy ($65): This wine is made from a proprietary blend of predominately Chardonnay and a selection of the Estate’s finest white grapes. I don’t know if I even have the words to do this wine justice, but I will try. A thrilling mix of flavors with exotic spice, roasted cashews and pineapple upside-down cake. A very long length that finishes with extra notes of rose petal and smoke. A generous wine that certainly takes one beyond the clouds.