Like the Pages of Old Book in which Flowers Had Been Pressed-Dried

Notes Ex-cellar 1


 Now that I’ve finally gotten around to it, I realize that the my own anticipation of writing up the Loyau anecdote,  or rather the one on the 1921 Vouvray, may have spoiled its effect. Held for too long.

The 1921 Vouvray became available in the early 80s because René Loyau literally stumbled on it.

 I’m not sure how much of a Gauliste  he was. I never learned to parse out the nuances of rightwing post-WW2 political affiliations in France, which themselves go back. But I know know that when the Nazis arrived in the Loire valley the first thing they sought out was stocks of fine wine (a point which made me think twice about them). Loyau’s grandfather, at least, was anti-Nazi and built a hidden annex in their warren of cellars which he then walled off and made look like it was just … a wall.

The old man passed during the war and everyone forgot until the late 70s what he had done. When the annex was finally discovered, they couldn’t be sure which wines were which until they also finally discovered the coded instructions Grandpa had left.

 One day René was working there and stubbed his toe on a pile of wooden cases which he was able to identify and re-label as 21 Vouvray. He let Kermit market several cases of it. It was something cheap, like $100 a bottle.

 It was early on in my stage with Kermit, who used the occasion to teach me to make cold calls to a known list of aficionados, one of whom was an Iranian brain surgeon in LA. 

When I called his number, I got his secretary, who told me he was not available. But after I told her he could get his hands on a allotment of three bottles (the normal limit), she said she would call into the operating room and let him know. And that I should hold the line.

A minute or two later the surgeon himself y came on the line himself, having left surgery to talk to me. He tried to beg two or three allotments but to no avail. I had my instructions. Poor guy had to make do with three bottles.

It was a bargain. In 1982, sixty years later, this semi-sweet Vouvray had digested most of its sweetness, had plenty of balance and fruit and a bouquet reminescent of an old manuscript into which flowers had been press-dried. It was a delight.