Sunday, January 24, 2021

One old wino to another

100 years of corked wine

Vestiges of late midlife in the age of COVID 19

You’ve been wondering how I survived the dark and dread of 2020. These still lifes tell you all you need to know. These jars of corks represent the hard work of staying above ground between November 20, 2020 and January 6.

The images are a by-product of patching and painting our water damaged master bedroom. Which is to say Peggy patched and painted and I inventoried our wine. In the process of emptying the bedroom to patch and paint, I had to remove a hundred or so bottles of wine from the rack so it could be moved. During that task I was forced to confront a dozen or so bottles that I knew were long past their drink date. And, though hope springs eternal, the wine in each of the blighted vessels had turned into brown sluice and the corks into muesli. I posted the three-bottle image above on Instagram and Facebook Saturday. In the post I declared that the trio of bottles represent 100 years of bad wine that I had just washed down the drain along with my tears. Thanks for your sympathies. I am disconsolate but not yet suicidal.

Much like getting rid of books you haven’t read and never will or discarding potboilers you’ve kept for no good reason, pouring out wine you’ve known to be dead for 20 years is somehow therapeutic. The books you can still read. The wine can water the basil plant.

The second oldest of the wines that I threw out was a 1975 Chateau Gruaud Larose, a Grand Cru Classé or a classified Bordeaux from St. Julian. I had already dumped a 1967 Lynch-Bages, a favorite which we first bought at the original Trader Joe’s in Pasadena in 1969. We drank the blessed elixir out of sterling silver goblets on New Years Eve of that year before going to the Rose Bowl Parade. Our ride was a 1927 Rolls Royce Woodie. True story. You cannot make this stuff up.

If you have the impression that wine has been our stalwart companion these fifty odd years, I will not disabuse you of the notion. The Lynch Bages and it's fellow Fifth Growth Pauillac, Grand Puy Lacoste, cost $5.00 in those heady days of discovery and promise. Every day was a revelation. First Boeuf Bourguignon. First Steak Tartar. First cilantro. First fresh squeezed margarita. When you're young there are too many firsts to remember.

When we moved to Minneapolis in 1971, we fell in with the wine crowd. We soon joined the local chapter of Les Amis du Vin and found ourselves on the committee that selected wines for our quarterly wine tastings. We had 300 members. That was in the days of the stringent 20-point rating scale not today’s liberally measured 100-point scale in which almost every wine seems to earn a 90 and plonk gets an 88. Our pre-tastings degenerated into boozy affairs capped by comedic efforts to craft our own blends; One third Mayacamas cabernet, two thirds Heitz sauvignon blanc and, voila, a sprightly rosé. The things we did to award winning wines were tragic. I still laugh about it.

Saturday I was at an appropriately distanced and double masked get-together with the erudite and cultured Carol and David Farmer in their living room overlooking the Sangre de Cristos. We were pondering late stage cabin fever and how we were craving travel and new experiences. The following nugget for which I take complete credit relates in an obscure way to that topic and the great Bordeaux revelation of 1969. And the Rolls Woodie.

As we were winding down after 90 minutes of snappy repartee I mused that, “I don’t want all of my adventures to be in the past.” David’s ears pricked up and he responded, “I may have to use that.” To which I answered, “Knock yourself out. I expect attribution."

Here’s to making new memories, my friends.


Blacks Crossing said...

You have written many a memorable line during the past couple of years, but today's blog I am going to print and add to my file of your writing, Amigo. It is some of your best to date. "In the post I declared that the trio of bottles represent 100 years of bad wine that I just washed down the drain with my tears" is stunning! And to summarize with "Thanks for your sympathies. I am disconsolate but not yet suicidal" was a moment of rare brilliance that probably describes a good many around the world in the year 2020. The photographs are old world evocative. So simple and so incredibly complex in their design and tone. Thank you for continuing to blog on your way to 800, and helping us all create new moments to remember, for being a fellow wino!

Steve Immel said...

You are too too kind, chica. Though there were a few phrases like the ones you mention that made me smile. Sometimes it flows as you well know.