Like probably everyone, I’ve been finding reading lately involves a constant underlying outrage that characters are going about pursuing such extravagances as associating in groups of more than two, coming within 1.5 m of each other, leaving their houses, and washing their hands for less than forty-five seconds… I’ve been putting the extra quiet time to work reading Ulysses, and Leopold Bloom’s day is just a compendium of non-essential activities!

I avoided any such behaviour while drinking this wine. I opened it, zeitgeistily, on a Zoom call, alone together. It’s the Markus Molitor 2016 Zeltinger Sonnenuhr Spätlese. In Gravity’s Rainbow, it appears at a capital O Occasion, a phenomenon some of you may recall from the era before our present hibernation. The particular occasion in question is a séance at Peter Sachsa’s house:

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.

Gravity’s Rainbow, p. 163.

(Can one hold a séance alone? Communing with the dead could be a good way for some of us to get a little extra social contact at the moment.)

This wine, or something like it, gets another mention later in GR, where “a gang of American newspapermen comes through … clutching onto bottles of liberated Moselle,” (p. 381), the Moselle being the river by which these grapes are grown.

This bottle of Zeltinger marks the conclusion of our time with the trilogy of great German rieslings found at the séance, the Schloss Vollrads and Piesporter lying already uncorked. Both those previous two were stunners, and this one is not letting the side down. It’s moderately sweet with enough acidity to keep things tight, great fruity apricot flavours with a hint of citrus and a touch of creaminess. Pretty delightful — Peter Sachsa may not have great taste in séance guests, but he does recommend a damn nice wine.

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