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The Long and Winding Pinot Road, Part II

1970 was a great year for me. I was living humbly in a studio apartment close to the hospital where I was interning. My girlfriend was a flight attendant (they called them stewardesses back then) for TWA. I was working my tail off, but when our busy schedules allowed, I would pick her up at Los Angeles International Airport after a long flight. We would stop at the market and buy some food as well as a jug of Spanada. Spanada was one of a long line of wines blended with fruit introduced by Gallo. It was the original Spanish sounding wine. Spanada was first introduced in 1970 at a time when the country was changing tastes from dessert to table wines. We spent many marvelous evenings together at a tiny two-seat kitchen table, eating simply and drinking Spanada. The Spanada inevitably led to romance and I thanked Gallo many times for that.

That same year I traveled to Northern California to visit some friends, including a doctor who collected wine. He actually had a cellar in his home stocked with fine Bordeaux and Burgundy. I had never seen anything like it in my life. He could tell I was awestruck and generously gave me a bottle of Burgundy (I spelled it Burgandy at the time) to take home.

One night my girlfriend and I decided to skip the Spanada and open the Burgundy. I did not have a corkscrew and had to borrow one from a neighbor. Needless to say, it was like no wine that had every passed across my lips. The label was strange and foreign, and I remember the words Cote de Nuits, but regretfully, not any other details. It was seductive, delicate, beguiling, alluring, complex and aromatic. It was an epiphany. We polished off that bottle in no time and so began my love affair with Pinot Noir. I kept that empty bottle on my kitchen table until I moved out after internship without a remembrance of the exact producer, vintage or vineyard. I was beginning a residency in ophthalmology that offered an increase in salary and the prospects for further wine indulgences were dancing through my head. My girlfriend and I parted ways, but I discovered the wonders of well-stocked liquor stores and began to look for that elusive bottle of Burgandy. To be continued… … … .

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