I received the wine pictured above in trade for a Vespa.
My brief hold on a cream-colored 2003 Italian scooter with orange racing stripes was accidental, a white elephant item that rolled into my life through happenstance and filial devotion. Last year I was trying to help my parents through a rough patch, while still keeping my own self housed and fed. Paying their late utility bills, doing home repairs, and then reconciling weird things like having a fancy scooter when your lights were about to be turned off.
Their credit card bounced at the mechanic where the scooter was being stored, so I took the vehicle back to my place. But it owed years of back registration that I was never going to pay, had no pink slip or papers. I was trying to make a go of it back in my newly expensive hometown, and it felt like a gaudy bauble. Also, I had no plans to get a license and the thing was terrifying to ride.
There is an undeniable appeal to hurtling through the fresh Sonoma summer air, but while you’re idling in the exhaust of city streets no cars see you, and when you’re topping out at 40 mph on a country road you are a traffic nuisance. Along with white-knuckle terror I felt self-consciously exposed riding it. I was acutely aware that bopping around on a motor-scooter–becoming a “scooter person,” even–could easily be some kind of midlife crisis activity for a man like me.
I knew I had to shake off this luxury item before it extracted its pound of flesh, literal or otherwise. The paperless bike felt a bit like the “Bottle Imp” of Robert Louis Stevenson; getting rid of it would take some care or it would come back to me.
My main thought was I wanted to hand it off to a working person who could put it some practical use, and not to one of the idle rich who are expelling working Sonomans from their homes. Like worms through a cat, Sonoma County is riddled with incognito trust fundees, usually with some fake business that serves as alibi in case they are asked what they do all day. I didn’t want one of these people to take it and go do some stupid shit with it at Burning Man. My emotional bond to the scooter was limited to not being humiliated by it like that.
I found a friend who worked at a winery and needed it to get to work because her car was dying. A few days after she picked it up she left a case of this 2017 Martorana Sauvignon Blanc on my porch.
I like the wine, which has a sort of glassy, transparent quality that’s hard to hold onto. It is in the area of tart but not quite, not the warm sour of a lemon, more the cool tang of lime. It’s frankly heartbreakingly summery, like the flavor of tequila and lime that clings in the ice of your glass as you linger at the edge of a barbecue.
Unless I go to a lot of parties, I am going to be drinking this wine a long time, much longer than I had the scooter. As autumn devours the past, the taste will now be associated with the time before, when I rode through a warm midlife summer, when I had this thing that I enjoyed but could not want, that was tenuous, hazardous, and destined to leave me.
Trevor Alixopulos, drinks, wine, Martorana, Sauvignon Blanc, Vespa, Motorscooter, Scooter