Economic roller coaster? Hang on to your friends.
By Tim Protzman email@example.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.