Early August evenings in Seattle are particularly enjoyable for those who prefer comfortable and tepid weather, warm enough to forget blankets, but cool enough for sweaters. Clear skies with rose streaked clouds makes necessary the ray bans instead of the umbrella precariously perched on the porch. While the weather may be held at a steady room temperature, the wine, however, is to be kept on ice. The Chateau Ste. Michelle Winery; not only a beautiful backdrop for a secluded country pick nick, but an unrivaled venue for live music. On this particularly beautiful evening in Woodinville, the grounds of Chateau Ste. Michelle were honored to host Diana Krall; Canada's princess of ivory. Jazz is a fascinating subject, it has sparked revolutions, defined and made heard cultures and regions, and has accompanied and carried movements throughout history. It represents change and pain, while at the same time tradition and pleasure. The versatile nature of jazz has carried it through myriad generations of listeners, musicians, and connoisseurs each with their own unique needs for it. Yet, the songs remain the same. Those played by Louis Armstrong and Nat King Cole have been carried by Sinatra and now by Bublé and Diana, but each rendition is wholly fresh and varying from the others as black varies from white. Lounging on blankets in the lazying sun while over-consuming the Chateau's reserves paired with classic bowls of fruit, dried meats and fish, soft cheeses, and croûtons is truly the description of relaxation and luxury--if not clichéd images of snobbery and the overindulgent bourgeoisie class--yet such luxuries can be taken humbly and without guilt, if only one is willing to take such evenings with gratitude and acknowledgment of how truly lucky one is to be found present in a setting of such beauty, sound, and taste.
The bragging rights of Chateau Ste. Michelle are many, as the oldest and most established winery in the state of Washington, Ste. Michelle hosts a trophy arsenal to rival those of many American wineries. While the wine is processed and distributed at the chateau in the Seattle suburb of Woodinville, the vineyard can actually be found in the dry and warm deserts that lay east of the Cascades in Eastern Washington. The ancestral roots of the winery reach back to 1934 when the Pommerelle and National Wine companies were formed. In 1954 the two merged, and in 1967 a premium line of wines deemed Ste. Michelle Vintners was released, followed a decade later by the building of the Woodinville chateau. The wines produced are many, the pearl of the vines being their Ethos Cabernet Sauvignon, described to exude "aromas of black fruit, molasses, cocoa, cedar, earth and a touch of black olive." Described so as I have not had the privilege of its acquaintance, my wine palette is much more naive, uncultivated, and virtually pleased by anything. As such my sister and I were satisfied with 2005 Chardonnay and Semilon, whites to counterbalance notre pere's ardor for tepid reds.
We were met at the concert by a few of my dad's work mates, who, in saintly fashion, came leaden with ground blankets, mini chaises, pick nick foods, and drink. Though our brie, smoked salmon, and fruit salad paled in comparison to the excessive wicker basket loaded with silver candlesticks, crystal glassware, and tinned pate of our neighboring pick nickers, it was more than perfect for the evening whose focus was pinned on wine, and more acutely on Diana.
Food, music, and drink: the primordial triforce not to be meddled with. They all say it; memories with loved ones are predominately created around said social situations. Food and drink brings us together in company and conversation, music playing the accentuating factor. This is a universal human trait. Miss Krall was amazing, better live than any I have heard, a true musician whose untampered with voice can stand on its own. Surreal bacchanalian situations such as these are the definition of escape--no work, no worry. Jazz puts you at ease (with or without the wine), and, as witnessed, is coddled by a vast range of ages that for each represents something entirely different. So, eat, drink, and if you can, just listen.