Monday, April 28, 2014

The Wine Buyer


Red-haired Kendall,
Medic and don
Blessed the dale
Where he was born.

Irishman jovial,
Clever from a lad,
A sixth sense oenological –
Which since mere youth he’d had –

Like sediment alluvial
Allowed the flow – quite easily –
Of sentiments he gleefully
Imparted rather ceaselessly

With the help of Queen Mab
To gustatory dreamers,
And with the gift of gab
To mercantile schemers
Eager to bring
The very best to King’s;

He regaled you too
With secrets for the chosen few
Knowledge he gave to you –
To brother and to friend,
And then sometimes again
To sundry unschooled men
Who found the five-housed Zen
Of fine red wine,
Of green and purple
Grapes refined,
Beyond their ken.

His left eye roved right.
His right eye roved left.
Cross-eyed? Well, yes!
But of insight
Re: vintage,
Of second sight –
Predicting boon,
Foretelling blight –
Of expert knowledge
On behalf of College:
Far from bereft.

With inspiration all on fire
He was King’s most esteemèd buyer.

With tastebuds all agog.
Eschewing glug, despising grog,
Giving short notice –
For a nighttime
Rare – exceedingly!
Compelling as reading the
Golden Lotus:

If you could spare the time,
If you would be so kind,
Right after dinner –
(“No rest for the sinner–”)
You were expected
(You’d just recollected)
In his suite
Of rooms –
Tout de suite!
(Or doom)
To taste a suite
Of whites,
And then before bedtime
Happenstance sublime!
A suite of reds to test:
French Claret – and the very best!

Your presence – requested –
His invite – accepted –
You sipped and tasted
Without getting wasted;
Taste-Testing ended,
You homeward wended.

Only to find
In the ripeness of time
That this little party
This brief education –
Was just preparation –
For a trip to the Marché
Of the numero uno
Wine-producing nation.

A hop across the Channel
Before there was a tunnel
To the quintessence:
Darkling Dionysian presence;
Your fabulous foray,
To the Primo
Place for a soirée:
To the pays formidable!
A La Table!
To a meal
Graced by a Bel Ange,
In the land of la vendange.
And the Buyer’s master-stroke?
You travel back in time
With a deep dark wine
To La Belle Epoque,
Then forward to Les Temps Modernes:
Dejeuner sur l’herbe with a dry sauterne.

Once in Calais
You check into the hotel Grand Palais.
There you rub shoulders
With men much older:
With professionals, with private buyers:
Sensate, earthy men serving their kin,
And commercial men: high flyers;

There you meet men with extra-ordinary
Sensory perception;
There you declaim in English glottals.
There you lay in fine French bottles
For a grand reception.
There you're well able
To provide for High Table,
And every other table, vino:
Bordeaux and Pinot
And ruddy Claret:
Vine of Bacchus,
Sign of prowess, 
Poured on shrine of god and goddess,
The god-man's ego-syntonic spirit:
Silken wine of matchless merit.

There you learned
Tricks of the trade:
How the elixir
Was marketed,
How the ambrosia
Was made.
How to read a vintage
And now, a useful adage:
No need to grapple,
If you please:
“Buy on apples,
Sell on cheese.”

Glorious sentimental
Red-headed Kendall
Of the wandering eyes,
Perhaps of proclivities
But for his sincerity

A kindly elder,
Friend and mentor,
He prepared you for a lifetime
Of apprehending the bottle divine

(La dive bouteille
According to Rabelais)

A lifetime, then,
Of intelligent pleasure,
Of knowing how to take the measure
Of the science and the culture
Of the grape;
Of recognizing
The shape
Of expectation:
Even, God help us –

Experts’ quarrels,
Metal barrels,
Dry whites, bubblies
Hybrids, rosés.

And the contribution
Of geography
And topography
To every nation’s
In vino veritas:
In vino caritas
To the cultivation
Of a refined
Of craft and time:
To making a living lyric
Of rhythm and rhyme:
Gods’ panegyric,
Drink divine:
Mixture flawless:
Mankind’s solace,
Premier cru grand
Wrought by hand
And mind:
Fine wine.


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