Around here, we’re pretty religiously devoted to the Drinks as they are laid down in the Books. (Nevermind that business a few weeks back drinking water from the wrong creek). If it weren’t for one loophole in this strict originalist dedication to Pynchon’s word though, not much of anything would get drank at all. That loophole is, of course, vintage — those 1896 Champagnes from Against the Day would be about as obtainable as the wine grown inside Mason & Dixon‘s hollow earth.
I went ahead and ignored vintage on this Brunello Di Montalcino from Vineland. But when I consulted the passage it shows up in, age turned out to be a pretty central concern:
But young Wayvone’s anxious face was now smoothed by the sight of a dusty bottle of wine, a 1961 Brunello di Montalcino, put away the year he as born to be drunk this day of transition to adulthood, though his own share of it was to meet the same porcelain fate as the cheaper stuff he went on to drink too much of.Vineland, p. 94
Ralph Wayvone Jr’s bottle is eighteen years old. My own is from 2009, making it the oldest thing that’s been drunk around here since some Montrachet a few years back, but it still falls eight years short. (I could have just held on to the bottle! No way this blog’ll finish up before 2040 or so…) To make matters worse, I didn’t even vomit any of it up. Ah well.
Brunello di Montalcino is a DOGC region in Tuscany, growing only Sangiovese. My bottle is from the Villa al Cortile estate. As befitting a fancy wine pulled for a special occasion from the cellar of a wealthy mob boss, this is moody, complex, enjoyable stuff. On the nose, it’s blackberry, black olives, and a sort of vaguely balsamic sharpness. It tastes like tobacco, mulberries, blackberries, dried figs. It’s lightly tannic, with a bit of vanilla oak and some cinnamon spice. Lots going on. The cheaper stuff young Wayvone moved onto must have tasted like sugar water in comparison. He may not have minded.