Schloss Vollrads

Schloss Vollrads Pynchon Gravity's RainbowDoes anyone have a time machine handy? Some of these drinks are getting tricky to pull off stuck in 2014. Peach brandy, for example, seems to be the liquor of the moment in the 18th century of Mason & Dixon, but it’s a lot harder to come across now. The Mt Vernon estate made a special batch of the stuff a couple of years ago, which would of course have been ridiculously appropriate for M&D, but that was only 400 bottles (and if anyone has one sitting around they want to get off their hands, please do get in contact). V. mentions a few whiskeys no longer in production.

But I’ll manage all those sooner or later. They aren’t the worst of it. Gravity’s Rainbow gets into a few specific wine vintages, and unsurprisingly, the sort of vintages that were knocking around Europe at the end of WWII tend to be a bit on the scarce side now. From page 163:

They arrive at Peter Sachsa’s well after dark. She finds a séance just about to begin. She is immediately aware of her drab coat and cotton dress (hemline too high), her scuffed and city-dusted shoes, her lack of jewelry. More middle-class reflexes… vestiges, she hopes. But most of the women are old. The others are too dazzling. Hmm. The men look more affluent than usual. Leni spots a silver lapel-swastika here and there. Wines on the tables are the great ’20s and ’21s. Schloss Vollrads, Zeltinger, Piesporter–it is an Occasion.

So if a 1920/21 Schloss Vollrads signified an “Occasion” even back then, what’s it going to cost me to get hold of the stuff now? (This particular episode jumps back to pre-Hitler Berlin, circa 1929/30 according to Weisenburger.) There appear to be a few 1934 bottles available, going for five- to eight-hundred euros. But nothing from ’20/’21. Those years were, as Pynchon says, apparently very good. No doubt a few still linger in European cellars…

Schloss Vollrads Pynchon glass corkI’ve conceded partial defeat and opted not for the 1920, but a 2012 qualitätswein semi-dry riesling. The first thing that must be said about it is that it has a very fancy green fluted bottle, with a glass stopper instead of a cork. The second is that it does taste like riesling. I just have no idea how to talk about white wine. Does anyone? Some professional reviews online described this one as having “lovely quartz [and] slatey nuances,” “flinty aromas,” and “subtle minerality.” My palette just can’t distinguish the different types of rock in this one, I’m afraid. I like it though! The alcohol’s pleasantly low (after last time) at 11.5%, and I do appreciate the slightly sweet, slightly fruity/spicy sharpness.

Now I just need need someone to help me out with the 1911 Hochheimer from page 652…

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