Eugene Weekly : Wine : 9.3.2009


Love in a Bottle
A toast to the passage of time
By Lance Sparks

I lean against the window sill, staring down at sweet Bluegene as summer turns to autumn; a September song playing through my mind: “When an early autumn walks the land and chills the breeze … ” I want to dash out and buy the Big Box of Crayolas, fresh backpack, stack of new books. Mostly I want to slow the passage of time.

This summer I attended a reunion, my first ever. I never went back to high school, never to my alma mater (Reno), 10-year, 20-year, none. I’ve spent my life and career looking ahead, not back. Might have something to do with growing up a Navy brat, moving constantly (23 schools before college, four high schools, two of them twice); made it hard to have long-lasting friendships, nostalgia for place.

But I felt compelled to join this particular reunion, the return of grad students from  UO during the Vietnam War years, 1965-75, ominous times, now wrapped in myths (and not a few lies), times of protests, marches, sit-ins and sleep-ins, assassinations (Martin Luther King Jr., Robert Kennedy, Malcolm X, Fred Hampton and the Panthers), COINTELPRO, Rolling Thunder, My Lai, 50,000 American soldiers killed and over a million Vietnamese dead, and behind it all the Cold War, the specter of nuclear annihilation. Lately, that period is being re-packaged as the Summer of Love, Beatlemania, the flowering of the “Counter Culture,” Woodstock Nation.

Suddenly, Woodstock is 40 years gone, and Altamont almost forgotten. Suddenly, those of us who lived those times in our 20s come back in our 60s. I looked around the reunion at a gaggle of unrecognizable OFs; in fact, I’d become an OF myself, grayed and krinkled. And where had the time gone? What changes had we made? 

Most shocking, of course, was that we had so quickly grown old. Most had “normal” careers in academia and are now approaching retirement. Shocking, too, was the fact that we lived long enough to see Barack Obama as president — but only after Nixon, Reagan, both Bushes, new wars, new rounds of death and destruction, the near collapse of the American economy, more barrages of lies and unrelenting pressure from Right Wingnuts, including, lately, death threats aimed at Obama. And how are we, now fully grown, responding?

We’re trying to stay alive, trying to leverage a little good wherever we live. Some of us are writing about wine. Summer lingers, autumn’s in the wings; still time for a picnic or two before hard rains must fall. Raise some glasses:

Try Cooper Mountain 2007 Pinot Gris 20th Anniversary Reserve ($15), a superb and versatile wine from growers who’ve been organic since long before organic had caché; in fact, these folks practice biodynamic growing, which is organic to the third power. And their wines reflect their commitment. This pinot gris plays all over the palate, with flavors of pears, apples, tropical fruits, mineral notes — super stuff.

Once again for this fine winemaker: Brandborg 2008 Scarlet Cuvée Rosé of Pinot Noir ($14) is just lovely, deeply colored, richly flavored, friendly wine, flavors topped by what seems the essence of roses, summer love in a bottle.

So good, so affordable, it’s silly: Castillo de Molina 2008 Sauvignon Blanc ($8). From Chile, this white wine is crisp, clean, with notes of grapefruit and flowers; one nip calls for another.

A lesson: We can’t slow time, but we can savor it and still do some good.


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