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GC: Cigars & Family: Grandfather sparks love of Arturo Fuente Brevas cigars

By By Thomas Rendon - SPECIAL TO GC
June 16, 2011 at 1:16 a.m.


Cigar recommendations

This is a short compilation of three of Rendon's favorite cigars paired with a wine that compliments the flavor profile.

Man O' War Toro with Bottega Vinaia Pinot Grigio '09

The tart and spicy sweetness of the cigar pairs well with the fresh citrus bite of this Pinot Grigio.

Alec Bradley Family Blend with Volver La Mancha Tempranillo '08

The dark and hearty fruit notes of this cigar compliments the smoky character and notes of plums and cherries you find is this Tempranillo.

Padron 1964 Anniversary Exclusivo with Robert Mondavi Cabernet Sauvignon

Quite possibly the perfect pairing. The notes of semi sweet chocolate, vanilla and earth couples nicely with the hearty fruit notes of berries and currant fund in the Cabernet Sauvignon.

I remember growing up in South Texas - Port Lavaca to be precise - and spending most of my summers with my grandparents. My grandpa, Lupe Cantu, worked at Alcoa in the boiler room and would typically be home around 4:30 every afternoon, although he would often take several days off to spend with me.

We'd drive all over the place in his 1963 step-side Chevy pickup - going fishing, hunting, visit his friends, or just go shopping at the local Bottom Dollar. I would sit right there eating my potato chips and drinking my Frostie Root Beer, while Grandpa would have his cigar and Dr. Pepper.

Those are probably the earliest memories of my grandfather and his cigars. It was certainly one of the biggest influences I had as an adolescent and I frequently find myself revisiting those joyous times.

To the best of my recollection, he always appeared to be in a rather good mood, certainly the cigar was responsible for at least part of that. Those fond memories, coupled with the delightfully sweet fragrance of the cigar were very appealing to me. It's probably why I now have such an affinity for cigar smoking and all the camaraderie that it encompasses.

Looking back at spending countless hours with my grandpa, it never fails to bring joy to my heart and a smile on my face. Cigars brought my grandpa a lot of pleasure - I could see it in his gestures and his countenance. Anticipation was written all over his face as we would prepare to go on another ride.

I was his oldest grandchild and always by his side. I mean, what grandpa doesn't dream about spending quality time with his very first grandson? Now that I'm older and more mature, I reminisce about the days past and I have to wonder ... was he really excited about having me around, or was I just a great excuse to go for a ride and light up one of his favorite cigars?

I'll never really know for sure, but I will always think the former. He loved me without a doubt and we always had fun when we were together. And that the air was almost always filled with the delicious aroma of burning, aged tobacco. To this very day, every time I light up an Arturo Fuente Brevas, the fragrant aroma quickly stirs up memories of my childhood. I find it very difficult to separate the redolence of cigar smoke and the elation that would overcome me when I would recall the times we spent together doing a lot of nothing in particular.

Now in my 40s, I have four wonderful boys, and I find myself hoping to create joyful memories of hanging out with my kids, taking them for rides and enjoying a delicious cigar while we do a lot of nothing. I'm not too certain that my older ones share the same interests for cigar smoking as I do, but maybe one day, if they decide to get married and give me a grandson, I can work on the finer details then. Of course, they're still teenagers and I'm in no hurry for them to give me grandchildren just yet. So going for a ride with them will have to do for now.

In the meantime, I encourage others to explore the different nuances that a Connecticut Broadleaf, a Dark Corojo, or a Spicy Ligero leaf will offer in terms of tastes and aroma.

Once you choose a cigar you truly enjoy, then find someone you cherish to share the experience with. I can honestly say that every time I relish in a delicious cigar, I am at peace with myself and at peace with God.

I think British preacher Charles Spurgeon said it best: "Smoke with good Christian friends, laughing a lot and talking about things that matter (and don't), and thank God for fellowship. As someone who does this regularly, I can say there is almost nothing more comforting to my soul than smoking stogies long into the night and just enjoying the camaraderie of good Christian friendship."

Thomas Rendon, along with other prominent Victorians, is a member of a local cigar and fellowship club. He is also the Internet sales director at Victory Auto Group.

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