Friday, April 20, 2007

A Tale of Two Margauxs

The other day I was at a supplier’s shop to pick out some materials for a movie I have coming up. To my surprise, Corrine, the young lady who meticulously keeps track of the accounts, asked how my wine classes were going – which led quite naturally to a conversation about wines in general. Suddenly Corrine looked at her boss and me. “So what’s the oldest bottle of wine either of you had ever had?”

In unison, we both replied: Chateaux Margaux 1953. At first Corrine had an issue with the fact we’d actually drunk a wine older than she is – like I said, she’s young. But when she realized we’d both mentioned the same wine, she wanted to know our stories.

Being a gentleman, I felt it only proper to let Margot, my supplier, tell her story first.

This particular bottle, she explained, was a birthday present – the vintage year meant to be approximately the same as the her own. Her boyfriend of the time was working out of town, and she was meeting up with him to celebrate her birthday.

Apparently said boyfriend, realizing he’d forgotten her birthday, went into panic mode. What to get as an appropriate birthday present and how to have it flown to an isolate spot on the ice fields of Jasper? He made many, many calls on radiophone trying to secure a gift. Finally, he talked to a friend in the restaurant business who suggested the wine – brilliant. A Chateaux Margaux for a Lady Margot.

But how to get a bottle of wine across a province, down some logging roads to a remote helicopter pad, and then to a camp in the middle of nowhere in the 12 hours before Margot arrived? After bribing the transportation coordinator, several office assistants, and a few others – at a cost of great favours to be rendered in the future – the wine was on it way. The boyfriend’s ass was saved.

Little did either of them suspect Margot was unknowingly going to become the courier for her own gift – she also worked in the film industry and often handled time sensitive deliveries of one sort or another. All her boyfriend knew or cared about was that the wine, the lady, and a box containing some gear were on the road heading for Jasper.

Everything arrived safe and sound, but the ground crew informed Margot her boyfriend was still working on top of a mountain on the ice fields. Would she like the helicopter to fly her up the mountain so she could drop off this very important box of gear personally? With a little gentle “persuasion” from the office staff and transportation people, it seems the production company was under the impression this box of gear was critically needed in order for them to finish this project.

Margot still remembered the wine and celebrating her birthday under a clear, blue sky on a snowy mountaintop. She said there were no corkscrews, so they opened the bottle with a screwdriver and drank Chateaux Margaux out of thermos mugs while watching wild mountain peaks stretch unending into the distance.

At this point, I told everyone I couldn’t possibly top Margot’s story and would tell mine another time. I had pulled the cork with a piece of climbing gear, and we drank it out of plastic cups not thermos mugs. The weather was cloudy and a storm front was on its way. But this had been her story, so who I am to argue? I remember the wine was elegant, refined but not too much more about it. The lady was a wild gypsy, clearly contrasting the wine in her own, wonderful way.

Photos taken on location during filming of Wings of Courage. Frank takes a spin behind the wheel then relaxes in anticipation of the first sip - nectar no matter what you're drinking it out of.

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