Friday, December 24, 2010

Jean-Paul Mollet Pouilly-Fumé les Sables `07 $34.99 (Not TJ's) ****

We buried a friend today, the morning of Christmas Eve.  Although Susan was Jewish, burying her today has made me more sensitive to life and to the people that I love. It is a Holiday of rejoicing, and tonight I want to rejoice and celebrate the relatively short decade that I have known her.  Susan M. Cohen, Esq. this review is for you.

Susan was an activist lawyer and breast cancer survivor.  It'll always be a debate - will she be best known for her Breast cancer advocacy or her running political campaigns and changing the landscape of the Judiciary?  Well, for me, it all boils down to a bottle of wine (story at the end of this review).

I finally arrived at home just after 8:30 PM.  After the burial in Connecticut, I spent my pre-arranged Christmas Eve dinner with people that I love and don't spend enough time with.  When I got home, JPH & S. were just washing up after their annual Christmas Eve family dinner.  Wanting to drink a glass of wine as I compared days with JPH & S, I polished off the last glass of this Pouilly-Fume, left over from what I am sure was an amazing fish dinner. I really just wanted to write about Susan and a wine review is appropriate, given our friendship. So, I sipped my wine and started composing this review in my head.

Now for the review:

What a great wine to have with fish.  It has a nice citrus taste - not bright, it is slightly heavy, but balanced with a deep minerality.  It sits in your mouth and after you have swallowed, it is like you have just licked a smooth block of granite.  I know it sounds weird to describe a wine as such, but really, it is these amazing changes that a fermented grape can go through that makes tasting different wines such an adventure.  The minerality is not a taste, but more of an after-feel, the "finish" of the wine, which makes for a great a contrast of the highlights of the citrus, and I would imagine, to the flavor of the fish.  Minerality is a good thing.

This is from the AOC region of the Loire Valley Pouilly-Fumé.  The wine is made from Sauvignon Blanc grapes, and it lives up to its spectacular provenance. I drank this wine as I watched Santa and her helper put presents around the tree.  The children were nestled snug in their beds and I was relaxing and recounting my day. There were tears today but there was also much joy and for that I am infinitely grateful.

Susan M. Cohen Esq. was one of my friend Nancy's Law School classmates and one of her closest friends.  Although I am not Jewish, I spent the Jewish High Holy days with Nancy, her family and Susan.  There is a Jewish law that a non Jew should not handle kosher wine.  One year, there was a large group at Nancy & Yori's for Rosh Hashanna and some of the group were strict orthodox.  Although I was aware of the rule of not touching the wine bottle (Yori always poured me two glasses of wine from the bottle, so that he would not have to refill my glass) Susan was worried that I would offend some of the other guests and she grabbed and protected the bottle. It was dramatic, passionate and totally Susan.  I loved her for that.  She would adhere to tradition, yet she was her own woman.

We spent many shabbos and holidays together.  Celebrating Jewish Holidays in the Lower East Side of NYC.  For me, a WASP from rural Maine that was one of the most exotic things I will ever do.  It was a totally foreign world and even as a complete outsider, I am embraced and loved in it (and I have learned some new vocabulary along the way).  On those quiet days, Susan, Nancy, Yarden and I did puzzles, talked, drank coffee and talked some more about work, life, adventure, disease, music - or whatever came to mind.  Like me, Susan never married (but she did break at least one heart - my score card on that front is zero); the both of us were holiday orphans and Nancy & Yori let us and many others become a part of their family's holiday traditions.   Susan dedicated her life to tenant's rights, representing the underprivileged; electing a fair judiciary (she ran countless judicial campaigns all around the United States); travel  - Antarctica, Alaska, Africa (and those are just the A's) and finally, her life's work as a breast cancer advocate and survivor.

In the end, she beat breast cancer -  because it wasn't the cancer that killed her.  It was the co-morbidity COPD.  She died after two days in hospice with loved ones at her side.  We eulogized her with stories, laughter and tears.  She was respected, loved and she will be missed.  Of course, there are many elected officials who are breathing a sigh of relief that they will no longer be badgered at all hours by Susan and her indefatigable lobbying efforts - I just want to warn them that she was not only an inspiration, she was a teacher as well.  When I am on Capital Hill fighting for better dialysis, I will be carrying some of Susan's passion for what is right with me, and in that, I hope that I can do her justice.

Tonight's picture is from this morning.  
Nancy, remembering Susan in front of a standing room only crowd.
  You see the award given to her by the State of New York earlier this year.  
What you don't see is the countless lives that she enriched.  
RIP Susan M. Cohen,
you have entered eternity and the world is now an emptier place.

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