Whenever I want to dash off a blog post but am unsure what to write about, I pull out my copy of Drinking with the Saints: The Sinners’ Guide to a Holy Happy Hour. Whether the date calls for observance of a Pagan festival like Lammas Day or the celebration of a patron saint, it’s always good fun. Today I wanted to write, but wasn’t in the mood to delve back into the Vuelta a España, and the idea of forging into another lengthy wine essay didn’t thrill me either. So out came DWTS!
Technically, August 25th belongs to two saints: the aforementioned Saint Genesius and Saint Louis who, frankly, scares me a little. First, he was a Crusader, which I think is pretty bad-ass (although he succumbed to illness during his second tour.) Second, he was a king (Louis IX). The famed orator and theologian Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet called him “the holiest and most just king” to wear the crown. Doesn’t sound so scary, you say? Well, hear me out. Louis adored his mother, Queen Blanche, who instilled in the future king a fundamental hatred of sin. She reportedly told him that she’d rather see him dead than know he had committed a mortal sin. Ouch! Thanks, Mom! Louis carried that sentiment with him into adulthood, no doubt winning friends and influencing people along the way. A philosophical argument with a friend left them debating the dubious choice of suffering leprosy or committing a mortal sin. His friend, in a moment of truth and venality, suggested sin might not be as bad as leprosy. Louis chastised his friend for such a foolish answer, saying that while sickness ends with death, mortal sin lives on indefinitely. Bet he was a blast at parties . . . . DWTS suggests honoring this man of moral rectitude and badassery over a cocktail made with Chambord, the raspberry liqueur bottled in what looks like a glass crown. Raspberry Kir Royale, anyone?
While it seems that Saint Louis was a bit of a buzzkill, not so his co-honoree. Saint Genesius was an actor/notary whose magnum opus involved taking the stage (in front of the Emperor Diocletian, no less) and mocking the rite of baptism. Apparently his goal was to point out the folly in the beliefs held by Christians by pretending to take the sacrament himself. But, lo and behold! In the midst of his most convincing performance (one that ultimately put him in a spot of bother) he had an epiphany. Cue the angels on high, the dramatic organ music, the steep intake of breath in the audience. In the very throes of satirizing one of Christendom’s most sacred rites, Genesius experienced spontaneous conversion! He immediately professed his undying love and belief in Christ. Lovely story, you say? All’s well that ends well, you intuit? Not so fast. As Genesius came back down to earth, Diocletian ordered soldiers to seize and imprison him. Despite serious torturing (and we know how seriously the Romans took their torturing) Genesius stood by his new-found faith. That earned him a beheading and martyrdom.
So how should we best celebrate Saint Genesius, patron saint of actors and notaries? DWTS suggests raising a glass of Bordeaux. Not just any Bordeaux, mind you, but Chateau Saint Genès Rouge, a lovely concoction of 80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon. It’s made on the right bank of this fabled wine region by Chateau Thieuley, just between the towns of Creon and La Sauve.
Château Thieuley itself is interesting because it’s owned by two women, groomed by their father to take over the family business. Marie and Sylvie Courselle, upon their father’s encouragement, both studied agricultural engineering and enology. They further enriched their experience by working at wineries in Australia, California, Italy, Spain as well as throughout France, including establishments in Languedoc, Burgundy and Châteauneuf-du-Pape. At Château Thieuley, they share the workday responsibilities: Marie manages the vineyard and wine making, and Sylvie runs the business side of things.
In addition to the ChâteauSaint Genès Rouge, which is crafted specifically for export, the Courselles make two rosé wines under the Château Thieuley label from Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Cabernet Sauvignon. Also bearing the Château Thieuley label are two red wines: the regular Bordeaux Rouge (70% Merlot; 30% Cabernet Sauvignon) and the Reserve Francis Courselles Rouge (80% Merlot; 10% each Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon.) They make two Château Thieuley whites, the first 35% Sauvignon Blanc, 15% Sauvignon Gris, and 50% Sémillon. The second, Cuvée Francis Courselle Blanc, is oak-aged and more complex, with a blend of 50% Sauvignon Blanc and 50% Sémillon.
Howsabout we pour ourselves a glass of Bordeaux something-or-other to fête the two Saints of the day? Red, white, or rosé, whichever tickles your fancy. But let’s raise our glasses and toast to these two martyrs as DWTS recommends, with the following words:
“May we choose Death over Sin!”
For, as we’ve learned from the story of Saint Genesius, whichever we choose, we all end up dead anyway. I, good atheist that I am, plan to sin quite a bit and drink as much wine as possible, before then. Bottoms up!