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Or, more appropriately, what to pair with emergency pet surgery induced stress…

L’Ecole No. 41 Semillon seemed to hit the spot!

Although I rarely, if ever, post personal/family trials on this site – this is after all supposed to be a wine blog – I’m making an exception since wine played a tangential role this weekend.

On Thursday afternoon our four-year-old mini dachshund Nathan (as in Nathan’s hot dogs) injured his back while on a play and potty break in our backyard.  By Thursday night it was clear that the pain was getting worse and Nathan was having mobility problems so we took him to our local emergency vet in Virginia Beach.  The vet diagnosed him with back pain (duhhh) and prescribed a regimen of pain medication and anti-inflammatory meds.

By late Friday afternoon Nathan’s condition had significantly deteriorated – he lost all mobility in his hind legs and was unable to walk.  We returned to the emergency vet, and this time the prognosis was more serious – spine/disc damage that may require surgery.   The vet noted that an MRI would provide the most comprehensive diagnosis.

Nathan at Halloween - he was Pumpkin Dog.

Since there are no veterinary facilities with a pet MRI machine in the Tidewater area, the vet recommended that we immediately leave for North Carolina State University Veterinary Hospital in Raleigh, NC.  At four hours away, NC State Veterinary Hospital is apparently the closest veterinary facility with MRI capabilities along with 24-hour neurological and surgical specialists available.

We left our vet in Virginia Beach at 7:30pm, were home by 8:15pm, packed a change of clothes and hit the road for Raleigh around 9pm.  By the time we arrived at NC State Veterinary Small Animal Hospital just after 1:00am Nathan was unable to move with the exception of craning his neck backwards at a 90-degree angle, which seemed to provide him relief.  Watching Nathan’s condition deteriorate so quickly was scary.  We checked Nathan in and waited for test results.

Nathan in the 2010 blizzard.

By 10am the next morning, an MRI and battery of tests were complete – diagnosis, two herniated discs that were apparently putting pressure on his spinal cord, which resulted in significant pain and the loss of use of his hind legs.  Surgery would be needed, immediately.  Listening to the doctor review the ‘what can go wrong in surgery’ checklist provided an opportunity for my wife and I to freak out!  Scary, but we had no choice but to go the surgical route.

Nathan came out of surgery early afternoon – and the surgeon noted it was a ‘textbook surgery’ (if there is such a thing).  Since he would be recovering the rest of the afternoon and throughout the night, we decided to head back to the hotel to veg and try to take our minds off the constant worry.  This would mean mindless TV, pizza and wine.

For me, stress relief comfort food consists of pizza or mac-n-cheese and a familiar wine.  We stopped by a shop in the Raleigh area with the intent of picking up something familiar, consistent and crisp to offset the 100-degree heat of the day.  I immediately spotted the L’Ecole Nº 41 Semillon in half-bottle that fit the bill.  My wife and I have had this wine many times at Vintage Tavern restaurant in our area and always enjoy it – versatile, straightforward, and always good across vintages.

This may not have been the ideal accompaniment to pizza in terms of classic food/wine pairings, but pizza and this Semillon is a great wine to relax with after a very stressful and hot day.

L’Ecole was started in the early 80’s, and at the time, was the 3rd winery in the Walla Walla Valley and just the 20th in Washington State.  L’Ecole operates from a schoolhouse built in 1915 and produces ~30,000 cases annually.

L’Ecole Nº 41 2007 Semillon – A blend of 90% Semillon and 10% Sauvignon Blanc.  $10.50 for the half-bottle.  14.3% alcohol.  4,680 cases of this wine produced.  Bright gold in color, this wine has a pleasant nose of floral aromas, honey, apple, with hints of pear and melon that carries through the (lengthy) finish.  I love the acidity of this wine and how everything works so well together.  L’Ecole has been making Semillon since 1983 and it shows – a consistent and excellent wine.

Having just recently had the 2008 as well, I find the 2007 a tad richer – although both are excellent.  I do wonder if L’Ecole has considered a 50/50 Semillon/Sauvignon Blanc blend – would be interesting.

If you’re on Twitter, you can follow L’Ecole Winery at @LEcole41

As of Monday morning, Nathan is still at the vet hospital recovering.  Although he has yet to regain use of his hind legs, he is now eating solid food and the doctor is optimistic about his recovery.

Nathan and our other dachshund, Lucy, napping on the couch.