Reflections over a bottle of wine

June 27, 2014

To most people their definition of fine cellared wine is probably a beverage that just goes exceptionally well with a serving of steak or halibut. I understand. Nothing wrong with that. After all ignorance is supposed to be bliss…wot!

Only for me there’s always much much more to a fine bottle of wine that usually goes beyond flavor, color, marque, lineage etc – in my book, it doesn’t even have to be expensive or rare….I just need to know under what conditions it was grown in to truly appreciate the full range of experience to give it the respect that it deserves.

I guess it’s a very peculiar way of appreciating wine. A tradesman’s way …a planters way… Just as probably how only another watchmaker can truly appreciate the élan, verve and panache of another watchmaker’s complication, it’s probably such a specialized field of interest that only a very few people would get worked out about it….or even bother to drill deeper to discover the many hidden nuances in a thing.

Whenever I am drinking wine. It’s almost automatic for me to put myself in the shoes of the grape planter and try to imagine what growing conditions he had to work with…..what kind of soil conditions were the grapes grown in? Was it very frosty that year? Or did it just rain cats and dogs the whole time. All these questions float around my mind along with endless other questions as I try my best to peer into the darkened interiors of that wines history with my palate – along with what it has to offer and the whole usual litany of questions like did the mythical wine grower manage to tease out the various nuances of flavor under a given set of growing conditions – at times the suspense is so great that I even find myself hunting down that specific grower… e-mailing him and having a profound conversation for hours over farming.

Unfortunately in the heady world of wine – most wineries these days are run very much like factories mass producing toasters. I have a term to describe these industrial wineries…jam makers…liquid jam laced with alcohol to be specific. These are your ‘always in your face’ genre Paul Mason’s and endless Californians new world wines such as Mondavi, Carlo Rino et all – I have nothing against per se, if your goal is just to get to the station of 13% proof alcohol land – in fact I think they’re rather good at getting you to the station – if I harbor any gripes, they all seem to taste exactly the same every season – they all seem to even be able to produce the same kitsch full bodied bloom of reds, that’s because most of the flavors are really formulated in a lab by men dressed in white coats busying themselves over testubes. There is no mystery there….no art…no beauty…no Da Vinci code…no chutzpah just the run of the mill pop soda Chardonnays, Merlots, Shiraz and many other forgettable new world whites ranging from a sharp Reisling to Preseco…all seem to be able to deliver the full range of notes without too much difficulty, like a Yamaha size 32 violin… only they all seem to suffer from one common failing – they’re all counterfeits.

But the Pinot Noire is very different – the undisputed jewel in the crown…the aqua vitae. As only the aristocrats of growers will attempt to run a season with such a finicky breed of grapa – firstly it’s skin is wafer thin and since it bruises easily, it requires nothing less than the utmost skill in handling and care.

It’s not very productive either as the grape bunches of the Noire are usually very modest, unlike the voluptuous Dolly Parton sized Merlots and Sauvignons that’s much prefered by volume wine growers and since it only grows in tiny nooks and corners around the world where the temperature, sunlight and rainfall is just right, it ranks as the king of grapes. Above all to successful grow a Pinot only a certain ilk of farmer dares to take on such a risky enterprise – a master grower.

One day I would like to try my hand at growing the Pinot. The very idea of a man pitting his skills against mother nature to produce a masterpiece is a very challenging idea to me. Just me and her…no one else. I just want to see whether I can pull it off,

In my minds eye, I can see it right now. A small vineyard maybe in Tuscany or the South of France and next to it maybe an abandoned Chateau that’s seen better days. I will probably work at restoring the Chateau when I am not in the field. I am good with my hands. A sort of place where there’s less than a hundred people in the village. A quiet place where no one ever bothers to stop over. Where the breeze is always scented with hints of Extramadura and Seville oranges in June and during winter the morning frost doesn’t quite bite so hard that grape growing is grief. I don’t need a big hectarage, just a veggie plot will do very nicely with a small cottage winery to produce maybe less than a thousand bottles per season…that’s what I really want to do with in the second half of my life.

But it’s so faraway….nonetheless….I can dream on and from where I standing it’s sweet and clear….the wine that’s called Pinot Noire that is.

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