Geoffrey and Gillian Ku Remember Family Dinners: Exploring the Mysteries, Truths and Memories Within Each Bottle of Wine
On behalf of our parents, Dr. Gordon Ku and Dr. Gloria Loke, it’s our distinct pleasure and special privilege to offer up their wine collection for auction.
Our parents began to collect wine modestly when they were training as physicians in London in the early 1970s. A bottle of plonk with a roast capon on a dreary English weekend as an amusing diversion became an enduring hobby when they returned to Singapore. Some of our earliest and fondest memories involve large and boisterous family meals, with the adults sipping wine. Bottles of Green Label and Blue Nun gradually gave way to bottles with fancy French names that were not colour-coded.
Fast forward several years and their interest and appreciation for wine grew along with their collection. In the 1980s, we built our first temperature- and humidity-controlled cellar in the open space under a staircase in our two-story house by walling off the space with glass. The burgeoning collection, bought at auctions such as this, led successively to the creation of two other cellars in the house, one by the pool and the other through a discreet door off of the living room, by the garden. Each of these cellars contained open cases of red and white wines from the Old and New World and points in-between, carefully stacked boxes of champagne slumbering and bubbling and the occasional half-bottle of unctuous, syrupy Sauternes. The air smelled like wet oak and chalky loam.
As an enduring memory, our father would go into the cellars each time before we went out for a family dinner. He would spend an indeterminate time in there and return triumphant, eyeglasses misted in the transition from cellar-chill to tropical-heat, with a bottle (or more usually) of wine. We would take the wines to whatever restaurant we were eating at to be served along with the meal. French and Italian meals were easy but the sequence of champagne to white Burgundy to red Bourdeaux at a Cantonese dinner required a decades-long dialog with the maître d’ or owner so that each dish came course by course, with a progression from chilled appetizer to seafood to red meat and to the final rice or noodle dish.
At many of these meals, our father, waxing poetic and inspired by the wine, frequently offered solemnly that to open a bottle to share at the dinner table is a profound act. It is an expression of love, generosity and conviviality. Unlike a painting or a sculpture which stands aloof to be admired at a distance, wines can be shared tangibly with friends and family. In each bottle lies mysteries, truths and memories, which weave together to form a long, unbroken thread of goodwill that runs through our lives.
To our father’s sentiment, we would add that every bottle of wine represents the intersection of past, present, and future. The history and provenance of each chateau is indisputable. The future holds the promise of that brief moment, when fruit and tannin, colour and body are in perfect balance. But the present happens in an instant, when each bottle is uncorked, poured into a glass, swirled, inhaled and then savoured on the palate. The life of a bottle once it is opened is evanescent, magical and ephemeral. What took decades to make and to cellar disappears in a matter of hours. We will never pass that way again.
This collection represents a lifetime of passion and memories for our parents and for us. We know that whoever these bottles pass to will derive the same pleasure that we have had from holding onto them. More than anything else, we wish that they will drink these wines surrounded by the people in the world they care the most about.