Cull Party #1

Gotta clear the dogs out of my cellar before I move. So the game is this… I keep opening questionable bottles until I hit a winner.

1. ’89 Gour du Challe Gigondas: My grandma must have had her share of digestive distress, probably brought on by a steady diet of Jewish cuisine, badly prepared. I remember standing in her kitchen as a small child while she cooked stewed prunes. They HAD to be for medicinal purposes, because no human being would put something that smelled that bad into her mouth.

2. ’71 Pichon-Baron (Pauillac): The bus was my only means of medium-distance transport when I was a student. I stood waiting one day, next to an elderly woman – the kind of woman who had all her worldly possessions in a cluster of garbage bags and muttered incessantly about the CIA, laser beams, and mind control. It was a moment of reflection for me about our policy of letting the insane wander the streets. The bus arrived, I gestured for her to board first. As she started up the steps, me close behind, the bus suddenly lurched. Falling backward, she knocked me over and landed on me, butt to face. I’ll never forget that smell.

3. ’85 Girard Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon: Love those ticket dispensers on the New Jersey Turnpike. Headin’ me North now, past the oil refineries. Hmmm, let’s roll down the window. Hey, is my car on fire or something?

4. ’89 Pagor Pinot Noir Santa Barbara (Sierra Madre/Bien Nacido): “Is this Napa Animal Hospital? Hi, this is Stuart Yaniger calling. Sure, I’ll hold…. Hi, yes, I wanted the doc to take a look at my dog… Well, best I can tell from the symptoms, she must have eaten some Olestra potato chips…”

5. ’84 Chateau de Lamarque (Haut-Medoc): A very famous scene. Martin Balsam sneaks up the steps to the room of Norman Bates’ mom. He opens the door. The sweet old lady can be seen from behind, sitting in her chair. Balsam turns the chair and we see… Damn, that scene gave me nightmares!

6. ’91 Caparone “Brunello” (Paso Robles): Valjean is pursued by Javert. As they go running through the Parisian sewers, they pass under the broccoli cannery. The perfume of the rotting broccoli mixes with the delightful scent of the stagnant sewer. Valjean pauses to take it in, then moves on.

7. ’88 Santa Rita Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva (Maipo Valley): We open my mom’s cedar chest. And unaccountably, someone has left in it a bagful of wet, rusty nails. Oh, jeez, how long have those mentholyptus drops been in there? Well, the package has a date code of 10/73.

8. ’77 Torres Vina Santa Digna Pinot Noir (Penedes): “Hey, doc, my dog doesn’t seem to be any better. Can I give her Kaopectate or something?”

9. ’91 La Jota Viognier (Napa): Love these cool winter evenings. We light a nice fire and cozy up. The smell as the wood crackles is at once reminiscent of caramel and vanilla, not just smoke. I ask my sweetheart to pass me the fruit bowl. She looks somewhat abashed and hands it to me silently. It is empty, totally empty.

10. ’92 Le Reyssac (Bergerac Blanc): Reclining on the beach, a beach with impossibly white sand. The breeze shifts, bringing me the subtle scents of the nearby pineapple plantation. Pushing aside the comical little paper umbrella, I suck some pina colada through the straw, then stretch in the warm sun.

Game over.