Novermber 27, 2008

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Recession, anti-recession
Economic roller coaster? Hang on to your friends.

By Tim Protzman food@hippopress.com

Everywhere I went this week I encountered the anti-recession.

Bowling was so crowded I had to listen to two bowliophiles in the next lane talk about traveling all over the Northeast playing in tournaments. As I eavesdropped on their conversation I learned that some bowling lanes are made of wood — maple for the first 12 feet, pine for the rest of the way, or composite. Tournaments are played in “wood houses” or on synthetic surfaces. Wood needs to be oiled between games to keep the surface fast. Most lanes are now synthetic, but bowlers will travel a long way to play on wood lanes. And that night, even the lounge was packed.

The next day at Target, when I went to return a pair of pants, the place was empty. Clearly the recession. Once I finished the return and had found a $34.99 pair of pants marked down to $16, the cashier lines were packed. My friend was near the front, five people away from the cashier, if I got in line there would have been a good 12 people between me and my friend. So I left without the pants. Clearly the anti-recession.

After, we had a late lunch at a sushi restaurant. It was anti-recession packed. Even at 2:30 p.m. The lunch was nice. I ordered a dry, chilled sake but made a cardinal wine mistake. I forgot to write down the name or even save the bottle, probably because I didn’t finish it. It was chilled and a little like a fino sherry one would have as an aperitif before tapas.

Even the wine clerk was bitten by the anti-recession bug. He wouldn’t haggle at all. And I was buying a pricey champagne, a medium-priced Gevrey-Chambertin and a cordial. Maybe it’s because gasoline is getting so cheap or there’s so much gloom and doom talk, that I was expecting most businesses to be affected. In my favorite wine shops I’ve noticed less inventory displayed. Not less selection, just maybe two or three bottles of the same wine on the shelf as opposed to the de rigueur seven or eight of boom times. We’ll get through it, though. I can assure you of that. Because this is my fourth or fifth one.

The worst thing I ever lost in a recession was a friend. It was in the early 1970s. Gas was expensive and hard to get. My friend and I were going skiing. We were neighbors, although he lived in a different town and went to a different high school. The town boundary ran right through our neighborhood. There was a big-time basketball rivalry. His sister was a cheerleader who would later have her marriage announcement place in the New York Times (old money family). Our school was hosting their school. The tension was thick. The game was close, but we lost. And we threw some water balloons, hitting the cheerleaders as they waited for the bus. Her brother was angry. Real angry. Didn’t friendship mean more than some crosstown rivalry? I pleaded ignorance but was really guilty. We cancelled our ski trip. He wouldn’t let us siphon gas out of his Maverick.

We never spoke again. He disappeared into the mists, only to turn up 15 years later as an usher at his sister’s wedding. I wasn’t invited. I read about it in the New York Times.So when I read there was a winery bearing his surname I thought it might be him.

The funny part about the Storrs Winery is that they are connected to the same old New England money as Ted was, but it wasn’t him. They probably are related to the same Storrs ancestor who arrived in the colonies in 1665. Part of the family settled in Connecticut and donated land and money to found the University of Connecticut in Storrs, Conn. Part of the family went to Hanover, N.H., and donated money and land to help found Dartmouth College. Storrs Winery is in Santa Cruz, Calif.

They’re a little operation that buys some grapes and owns more than 50 acres of vineyards. They make pinot noir, zinfandel, chardonnay and petit syrah and riesling. I’ve never tasted their wines but I recently tried to order a case of pinot noir. I left a few messages. My friend who works in Santa Rosa said their stuff is very nice, but allocated to many of the Monterey-Santa Cruz area restaurants that cater to the wine tourists. The reason I’m fixated on the winery — apart from the small slice of hope that I’ll visit the place and there will be Ted, not as a vintner but as a tourist, and I’ll say, “Hello, Ted,” and he’ll say, “Hello, Tim” — is that this is exactly the kind of winery you should visit once in your life. It could be in Napa or Tuscany or Barossa. The family does most of the work. They eat lunch together. They know every inch of the soil. They’ll let you taste (if they like you) the old cellared vintages they’re saving for special occasions. It’s truly like going back to your home town. Here are this week’s wines.

• 2006 Gevrey-Chambertin, Clos Prieur, Frederic Esmonin — $29.99. This was surprisingly good. Usually Esmonin does justice to the lower-echelon Burgundies, but he nailed this one. Cherry, strawberry, violet, pencil lead and unsweetened grape jelly flavors with a very understated body and little structure, but fantastic, genuine taste that has now unearthly flavors so present in  manipulated bottles.

• 2003 Trefethen Family Winery Dry Riesling — $17.99 A slight disappointment as the wine was harmonious and true but lacked the big opening number. And the showstopper. And the big finish.


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10/23/2008 An epitaph of good wine10/16/2008 A wine crime
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9/25/2008 Where fantasy meets reality9/18/2008 The mojito cure
9/11/2008 Spend Fall in Spain
9/04/2008 Making a break for it
8/28/2008 Achieving the impossible
8/21/2008 AVA in search of a movie
8/14/2008 Return to seller?
8/7/2008 Wine at the game
7/24/2008 Reviving a star
7/17/2008 Champagne staycation
7/10/2008 Pair vintage with vintage
6/26/2008 Leftover wine
6/19/2008 Fortune favors Opus One
6/12/2008 In the year 2048
6/5/2008 Tea, the original infusion
5/29/2008 Hello old friends
5/22/2008 Ancient in the new world
5/15/2008 You are the expert
5/8/2008 The must-drink list
5/1/2008 Gaming wine futures
4/24/2008 Chronos and me
4/17/2008 Getting lucky
4/3/2008 The daquiri's of spring
3/27/2008 Germans play well with others
3/13/2008 Complain yourself happy
3/6/2008 Operatic wine tasting
2/28/2008 Everything must go!
2/21/2008 His & hers bottles
2/7/2008 Friends in spam
1/31/2008 Warm up the wine
1/24/2008 A drink to them
1/17/2008 Stalking the barking dingo
1/10/2008 Wishes and predictions
1/3/2008 Bit of bubbly
12/27/2007 Drinking blind
12/20/2007 Not fighting for the right
12/13/2007 The liquor store suite
11/29/2007 World of drinkin'
11/22/2007 Thanks for the Napa cabs
11/15/2007 Drinks with Diwali
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11/1/2007 Drinks with History Channel
10/25/2007 Schooled in Shiraz
10/18/2007 Spooky wines
10/11/2007 Location, location, location
10/04/2007 Shiraz history
9/27/2007 Ingenious appellation
9/20/2007 Small world of wines
9/13/2007 How not to get screwed
9/6/2007 Wine lover's shopping trip
8/30/2007 Bottle surfing
8/23/2007 Lobster goes red
8/16/2007 Emotional tasting notes
8/9/2007 Stop, wine thief
8/2/2007 Be your own sommelier
7/26/2007 You do know your wine
7/19/2007 Booze free association
7/12/2007 Raiders of the sidewalk
7/5/2007 A sustainable buzz
6/28/2007 We are the merlot
6/21/2007 Forgot Dad? Bring booze.
6/14/2007 Jack & Jill and a pail of wine
6/7/2007 Our lady of the Rioja
5/24/2007 Breaking the fast
5/17/2007 What the best bears drink
5/10/2007It's OK to be pink
5/3/2007 In praise of tastings
4/26/2007 Invention-tini
4/19/2007 More 'Mas'
4/12/2007 Futures in a bottle
3/29/2007 Uneasy glass of spring
3/22/2007 Chateau de blech
3/8/2007 Finding new beauties
3/1/2007 Infatuation or addiction
2/15/2007 The extraordinary ordinary
2/8/2007 A glass of sweetness
2/1/2007 A glass of sweetness
1/25/2007 Ham it up
1/18/2007 Cheating on wine
1/11/2007 Burning down the tree
1/4/2007 New Year's hangover
12/28/2006 Sins of the vine
12/21/2006 Kissing frogs
12/14/2006 Wine for horrible friends
12/07/2006 Like dregs in the wine glass
11/30/2006 Gift of calmer shopping
11/23/2006 YouTube for YouWine
11/16/2006 Welcome to wine
11/9/2006 Fine art, supermarket wine
11/2/2006 The geography of grapes
10/26/2006 Please continue to hold
10/19/2006 The trouble with reds
10/12/2006 Making new friends
10/05/2006 TiVo-ing the wine
09/28/2006 From an unknown battle
09/21/2006 Toast to turkey
09/14/2006 Wine for life
09/07/2006 What are Malpeques, Alex?
08/31/2006 Hanging out wines
08/24/2006 Falling into new wine season
08/17/2006 Where has that wine been?
08/10/2006 Bringing out the dead
08/03/2006 The birth of a wine fop
07/27/2006 Slow process of maturation
07/20/2006 The pain of adolescent wines
07/13/2006 Nice day for a white wedding
07/06/2006 Scoring goals with booze
06/29/2006 Beer, it's what's for dinner
06/22/2006 A drink fit for a czar
06/15/2006 A summer of beer and fried clams
06/08/2006 Keep your cool, fool
06/01/2006 The social lubricant
05/25/2006 Water, water everywhere
05/18/2006 Big fat greek wine tasting
05/11/2006 Drinking to the end
05/04/2006 Schooled in the art of wine
04/27/2006 Make a wish
04/20/2006 Immigrant wines
04/13/2006 A pain in the glass
04/06/2006 Got milk?
03/30/2006 Throw a dart and there's wine
03/23/2006 A life of good wine
03/16/2006 Honoring the dead soldiers
03/09/2006 What once was old i new again
03/02/2006 The taste of sibling rivalry
02/23/2006 Wine travels, doesn’t sing
From grape, to barrel to red-tape jungle

02/16/2006 Love and vine
02/09/2006 A dog-drink-dog world
02/02/2006 The winos' mecca
01/26/2006 Date-nite drinks
01/19/2006 Touring eastern wine country
01/12/2006 Wine, Cheese and Granny Smith
01/05/2006 Resolve to try new wines
10 Wines To Get Lucky With

Adventures in and past the Euro-Cave
A Do-It-Yourself Wine Tasting
A Red For Everything
A Red Wth Your Leftovers?
A Tasty Way To Put Wine To The Test
A Year Of Wine
An Around-The-World Holiday
A wine for every holiday

Basking In The Mondavi Light
Behind One Door Is Great Wine
Beware The Hot Bottle
Brandy and the nude beach
Champagne, The Other White Wine
Cheers And Whines Of The Vine
Days of wine and jelly beans
Deep in the heart of Texas
Drinking for your health
Drinking like a newspaperman

Drinking Whites After Labor Day
Finding A Great Medium-Weight Drink (I)
Finding A Great Medium Weight Drink (II)
Gifts for blood, love or money
Gin
Grill and sip, sip and sip. Finding the perfect wine for barbecue
Hey baby, stay cool
How The Corleones Saved Wine

In Praise Of An American Wine
In search of the girl next door
Keeping it in the family
Keeping up appearances
Looking back at the heyday of cheap wine
Mondovino
My Big Fat Greek Wine Tasting
The Best Drinks On A Budget
The Highly Drinkable (Mostly) Merlot
The Long, Strange Journey Of Wine
Old French grape in the New World
Olé! to a week in wine
Opening the Parker book

Our French friends — really
Our Northern Neighbor
Poker faces and wine

Presenting A New England Vodka
Presenting The Wines Of Spring
Rewarding Your Support Staff
Schooled In The Art Of Wine
Shopping for Wine Bargains

Sitting By The Fire And Dreaming Of Wine
Slipping A Little Sideways
Spending the holidays in NYC
Spirit World Tales
Springtime calls for wine and ice cream
Sudden ugly mood swings
The new face of fine wines
The wines of fall
Thinking ahead to the holidays
Time To Stay Frosty
Tipples for turkey day
TV worth drinking
What it means to miss N.O.
What To Drink When You Eat Wild
What's Your Wine Sign
White’s OK after Labor Day
Wine Between The Season
Wine for the NASCAR set
Wine is in at the Inn
Wine’ll make you crazy
Wine Works With Red Sauce