Sunday, August 16, 2009
YE OLE PEAR TREE AND L'ECOLE SEMILLON
As a kid, I grew up in a small suburban neighborhood just east of Dayton, Ohio. My childhood wasn’t too terrible. My parents both worked, and my sister and I fought over the dumbest of reasons. I never understood it because later in life, my sister would one day save my very ass from self-destruction. Yet in the home of my youth, our yard was adorned with various fruit trees and one precious, ancient grape vine out back that was the custodian of prepubescent secrets and innocent daydreams.
Outside my bedroom window, on the southside of our house, stood a beautiful pear tree, that unfortunately succumbed to a blight just before my 11th birthday. I remember stealing its fruits during the autumn months before its demise, as the leaves turned their panoramic colors, from green to red, to gold, to brown. Something akin to Bartlett pears they were, always ripe and juicy, giving off hints of baking spice and instilling a joy that blanked away the storms that hovered just out of the periphery.
In my present life, I have become a professional wine taster, for the sake of analyzing them and determining whether or not they may have an audience in our stores. As a retail wine buyer, I taste a great many wines, and while some prove pedestrian, there are those that transport me back to my youth, and remind me of aromas and flavors I experienced at a more innocent, and much less jaded time of life.
One wine in particular that has always taken me back there is the L’Ecole #41 Semillion Columbia Valley. With the 2007 vintage, it is a bit less like the pears from my youth, yet I still see that tree through the window, sitting on the edge of my bed, as the sound of fighter jets streaking overhead (lived just south of Wright-Patterson AFB), and the voice of our neighbors playing catch with their collie. I can still hear the wind blowing through that pear tree, and every so often, the thud of its fruit hitting the side of the house as the wind too tried to steal a bit.
The nuttiness of the wine is reminiscent of the walnut tree out back, and the floral notes rising up were that of the neighbor’s yard across the street, whose finely manicured flower beds send their aromas as far as the next block over, scents that were intoxicating as I threw my baseball against my pitchback out or as I rode my bike to the park and back.
Wine has become something of a conduit to all the good things of my youth, and maybe a few of the bad. But as I have often heard, it’s not the destination, it’s the ride that matters most. Here’s to the creation of sensory time-travel.