Immich-Batterieberg C. A. I.
"This is good," Renee said, a little surprised. Her eyebrows arched and her lips puckered at their corners. She was savoring the wine clinging to the insides of her cheeks. "Tell me about it."
We were sitting on my porch looking east where the light faded.
I took a sip. The wine was cold, bracing, and it perked up my senses. I got a whiff of apple blossom. In a nearby tree a cardinal sang. Birdie birdie birdie birdie. Cheer. Cheer.
"Dry riesling," I said. Then I described the Mosel River in Germany, how the the hillsides rise vertically from the river's deep bends, how the soil there is made of slate and quartz. In other words rocky, steep. The vines suffer from a lack of water and nutrients on the surface, so they tap deeper, drinking from layers of earth far below. The result is more minerals, greater density in the fruit.
I looked up to see if she was rolling her eyes yet, afraid I was being tedious, but instead she rolled the glass in her hands, letting the light fracture and turn in her lap.
The Immich-Batterieberg winery, in particular, had a story I thought she would enjoy. In 1841, Carl August Immich got an idea to expand his operation by transforming his steepest hillside, formerly unplowed, into yet another vineyard. He wanted to build terraces, flat shallow steppes on which he could walk and tend and harvest without fear of slipping to his death. Over the next four years, Carl August dynamited lines into the side of the mountain and thus established modernity at his family's thousand-year-old winery. The site rose to prominence and was named Batterieberg, the "battered mountain." Today it's what the winery is most known for, revered internationally for the intensity and concentration of its fruit.
Renee laughed. She likes stories of crazy people who turn out to be heroes. "Sounds like my kind of guy," she said.
By now we had drunk the first glass empty. We had plans to go to the grand opening weekend show at The Basement East. But suddenly the fading light and the lingering heat and the cool wet glass against my palms seemed like enough. I got the sense she felt the same way I did.
I asked if she wanted another and she said, "Yes please!" I went inside and grabbed the bottle and brought it back out, poured two tall glasses and set the bottle on the floorboards of the porch.
She hunkered a little in her seat and put her feet up, held her glass in her two woven hands like a chalice, and smiled. "I like it," she said. "This is good."
I didn't tell her how the Immich family got bought out by greedy investors in the 1980s, how they nearly ruined the place, how the only reason we were sitting there drinking that bottle and talking about that winery was because this guy Kollman had snatched it up a few years back and started reviving the place to its former glory. Kollman is a hero, too, but he's not crazy, and I didn't think any of that would make Renee laugh.
Besides, sometimes I can go on. Instead I kept my mouth shut so we could just listen to the songbirds and enjoy our drinks. Because when the wine's as good as this, I don't need to talk all about it. Mostly it just speaks for itself.