It was an unwelcome occasion that brought me back to Telluride. My beloved brother Jay passed away after succumbing to cancer. As our family gathered in this rustic Colorado ski town, I was reminded by my brother Bill, that we should focus on celebrating his life – not wallowing in sadness.
Jay would have wanted it that way.
To say J.R. Nershi lived life with joie du vivre would be an understatement. He was a hang gilder and paraglider pilot who had flown off the peaks of Gold Hill in Telluride and mountains in South America. He helped found the Telluride Air Force flying group.
He spoke four languages including French, Portuguese and Spanish. At varying times he lived in the Canary Islands and also helped harvest grapes in Spain. He also owned one of the best bars and restaurants in Telluride, the Floradora Saloon. I was proud to work there as dishwasher and cook once upon a time.
Jay also loved his wine. So after an outdoor memorial service in City Park with the snow covered peaks in the background, we gathered at La Marmotte, an upscale French restaurant that has a unique Telluride chic. The restaurant is located in one of the oldest buildings in town, the historic ice house.
I was asked to order wine for our group of 20 or so. For the white I selected the Pride Mountain Vineyards 2012 Viognier. This is a crisp white with flavors of apricot and orange blossoms.
For our red selection, I chose the Domaine du Grapillon D’Or 2011 Gigondas. The winery was founded in 1806 and has been operated by the Chauvet family since then. Grapillon won its first gold medal in 1893 in Paris, so they’ve learned quite a bit over the years.
Gigondas (Zhee-gone-dahs) is a rich, a Grenache-driven wine blended with Syrah. The grapes are hand harvested, destemmed and then lightly crushed. It is aged in oak for 14 months.
In the glass this is a deep garnet color. On the nose there is red fruit and liquorish. This is a full bodied wine with smooth tannins. Lush flavors of raspberry and pepper flow into a long finish. It paired nicely with my red and gold beet salad and entrée of tender braised short ribs.
Here’s to you brother Jay. May your final flight have a safe landing.