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I will never forget the day I met Stephanie Caslot. It was 2011, the first time I accompanied my father on the annual French salon circuit. We approached the Chevalerie table and Stephanie was immediately engaged, happy to see my father, bouncing around like a pinball, ecstatic. She reminded me of Pierre Frick, someone completely in love with life, living in wonderment and endlessly energetic. We were tasting the first wine and she explained it as "sportif" with a big leap, as she put up her fists like a cartoon character mimicking a boxer. I laughed because she was truly hilarious but also because it was the first time I felt that wine could be fun. It goes without saying that the wine really was sportif! Stephanie's energy and intensity was limitless.
It has been hard to accept that she has passed. The phrase: "the candle that burns twice as bright, burns half as long" immediately comes to mind, except that I can only imagine Stephanie as a brilliantly shining star. Likening her to a candle is an understatement.
The pictures we share are from a visit to Domaine de la Chevalerie in the summer of 2015. There are sadly very few still lives of Stephanie, because she never stood still, but it was a beautiful moment in time. When we rolled up, she poured us a glass of Melon from Marc Pesnot, and I made the mistake of remarking on how nice it was to have a white wine after two days in a row of Cab Franc. NOT a good idea! Stephanie launched into an act... "Oh Cabernet Franc is not good enough for you??" She was horrified, and depleted, sad and betrayed. I almost fell for it, but then she flashed her incredible smile and told me it was ok. I never badmouthed Cab Franc again!
I can't begin to explain how remarkable this human being was. No picture or video or story will suffice. All I can say is that I have been trying to remember her every day. Every time I talk about wine, I try to channel Stephanie and keep her memory alive. How could I ever approach someone without unbounded positivity if I am remembering her? Stephanie clearly passed away too young, but the enthusiasm and love (and pure unadulterated slapstick) that she shared has left a ripple that will be felt for ages to come. I can't believe that I won't see her again. I can't accept that I won't become an old wine curmudgeon and have her as a lifelong friend and contemporary. It's truly sad, but I will try as hard as I can to give my best Stephanie impression, right down to that magnanimous smile.
Love and respect to the Caslot family. Stephanie was an angel. A person one felt blessed to know. I know her memory will live on through her friends, family, and through the people she touched.
In memoriam, Stephanie Caslot.
-Eben Lillie / photos: Isaac Rosenthal