When my parents moved from New Jersey to Florida, after many decades living in their modest NJ split-level, I spent a weekend at the old house helping with junk, boxes of giveaways, sorting tools, rare and otherwise old books, and many cases of wine that were being stored in the basement (a crawl-space). My father loved wine and he intuitively collected varieties of red that he came to like. He began buying cases of French wine in the mid-1960s, long before suburbanites in the U.S. cared much about wine or made discerning distinctions between and among the options. The age of ‘50s high balls had given way to Gallo, Cold Duck, Blue Nun, Meteus, and Lancers. But my dad was locating outlets in NYC who set aside for him cases of Petite Syrah whenever they arrived from France.
Anyway, when my parents moved to Florida my father made sure that three or four cases were shipped along with all their things. Before he died a few years later, he was able to enjoy some samples from his beloved collection. But he took with him only a few cases, and that left many there for the taking. I don’t know where all the others went, but during that weekend of sorting through stuff I packed up seven cases in my car and brought them to my house in Philly. I eventually gave some to my son and daughter, and over the years have brought special bottles to friends on visits, but otherwise they’re been here at our house—we’ve been slowly consuming my dad’s wine, savoring each. Last night we pulled out the very last bottle. It’s dated 2000. The cork was a bit dry and the wine is somewhat bitter, but it has a clean look for 22-year old Spanish Alicante and I’m drinking it this afternoon with a great deal of nostalgia. The late and much-missed Sam Filreis taught me everything I know about wine, and much else. End of an era.