Memory Lane

Last week I helped my parents move from the house where I grew up. They lived there 35 years, and they discarded very few scraps of history. Let me put it this way: they still had my second grade softball glove and my last set of dried-out Crayola markers. (They managed to ditch the latter but kept the former.)

Amidst the tangles of two different chock-full closets, I found empties of wines enjoyed with Mom. (Dad is a tea-totaler.) I should have known that I’d not found all the Labeloff candidates when I started her wine scrapbook last year! Flutes were everywhere; Mom adores Mosel Riesling most of all, especially Kabinett and Spätlese. There was the J.J. Christoffel 2004 Riesling Ürziger Würzgarten Eiswein from when I surprised Mom by coming home for her birthday two years ago. In fact, there were many other Christoffel bottles, along with some from the other J.J. (Prüm, of course). All needed to join those already in the scrapbook, like the Dönnhoff 2006 Riesling Spätlese Niederhäuser Hermannshöhle and the Wegeler 1998 Riesling Spätlese Wehlener Sonnenhur.

There were also Champagne and Burgundy bottles. The cork on the André Clouet NV Champagne Brut Nature Silver was popped on Christmas Eve 2010. We savored the Château de Puligny-Montrachet 2004 Chevalier-Montrachet on Christmas Day 2008. Last August I brought a bottle of Arnaud Ente’s stunning 2009 Aligoté to refresh us while we painted my old bedroom for the upcoming house sale. Then there was the surprising Pope Valley 2007 Chenin Blanc Meyer Camp that Mom loved at Dad’s birthday this year.

However, not one red bottle was found in the bunch. Mom finds every tannin she meets to be bitter, so she drinks little red. When she does, it’s only old red and it’s often Pinot Noir. Among the few in the album is a Leroy 1998 Bourgogne Rouge.

Way in the back of the utility room cupboard stood a bottle from my pre-wine days. I don’t recall imbibing that “Christmas Wine,” but I do remember visiting the Biltmore Estate & Winery during Thanksgiving 1999. I had just moved back from France, where my interest in wine had vaulted up several notches. In just one more year, I'd launch into the wine business.

The night after the move, we sat down to dinner in new surroundings with a genuinely, shockingly delicious Selbach-Oster 2004 Kabinett. It was drier than I expected, partially explained by the higher than usual 9.5% alcohol. Vague petrol notes wafted from our glasses along with dried apricot, white peaches and verbena. The thrusting acidity ignited the flavors of the wine; it was truly scintillating. Dad teased us by finding notes of citrus and hay in his iced tea.

I was out of Labeloff for the scrapbook, so after dinner I put the bottle in the recycling bin. I won’t be surprised if Mom fishes out, and I find it on a newly designated wine memory shelf.