Posts Tagged With: Cabernet Sauvignon

Barrel and Narrate

The half-marathon done, and I just scraped some time together to post– or write then post, a piece for client 1.  Now I wait for the day to further evolve and progress, the week to start, have to wake early tomorrow if I can, feeling quite tired from the half and not enough time I feel to get anything done.  Lectures to write, blog posts to finalize.. only way to stay ahead I feel and fear is to wake at 5AM, every morning.


Alice leaves for school, to get some work done before her week lifts off and my son still asleep upstairs, very much with Time’s invitation to finish projects and brainstorm, and consider reality.. I’m creating all this content for other people, which I’m more than happy to do, but what if I dumped all gathered content, written and visual, and short videos, to one spot.. my site.. and the purpose?  Wine education?  Not so much.. just a telling of wine life, then maybe sell, I don’t know, ads or ad space, or whatever.  Truly get it monetized and have WILD wine-woven startup.. consumers and DTC and advertising, and blogging and letters and reviews.. everything that wine is and is meant to be, fun and Human and inviting.. if I’m sipping wine, what are the first words that me accost?  The other day I was thinking of odd or obscure words to describe the Arista Zin, that 2012 they’re pouring in the TR, and I wrote “Roman”.  I had to laugh at what I wrote, and I wasn’t sipping anything, it just made me laugh, but there was purpose and pertinence to the words.  Like a Roman soldier, something grandly-themed, something historic and history-shifting/making.

I need to move and write with everything as I ran the half this morning.  My best time ever for a half-marathon.  Not by much, but I did well.  That needs to be my momentum with this site, this startup.. and what to call the idea?  Not sure, but I need to think about it.  One thought was “enoguistix” but I hate that ‘ix’ sound.  And I’ve used ‘eno’, or ‘oeno’ too many times already.

Think I hear Jack upstairs stirring a bit.  Good.  Need to shower before Mom and Dad’s and decide what wines I’m bringing up there, or wine, singular.  Have to drive back, remember, and I don’t want to be slowed or with wandering attention as wine and beer seem to do now with my thinking and scribbled conceptions.  Must be a mark of aging, I don’t know.  But even if it’s not, it still reminds me that so much has to be done and there’s not much allowance for idleness, or even a mere moment of still.  M2’s arrival approaches and everything has to be set, scenic, empyrean.

‘fermentopia’.. no, don’t like the ‘topia’.  UGH!  Then what?  How about…  Don’t want to write it here.  Or at all.  Not now.  Going to let the ideas bounce around with each other till something adheres.

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One in Front of the Other

     This Cabernet that I’m sipping is absurdly enchanting.  And I’m in a relaxed rouse, with my draft of the newsletter off to the publisher, owner…  I’m building this mmc business, but it’s not moving quick enough– I know that’s the wrong attitude, so I refocus on the wine, and tomorrow, and how I have to wake up early to  get certain things written, like the lecture for the Solano section and notes for Mendo–  My SR lectures went along with hilarious brilliance today, if I must say, especially the 3PM section.  There’s something about this semester, I’ll say, I don’t know what, just something.

     Full from dinner, so I’m not sure I’ll be headed upstairs soon, but who knows.  Would love another glass of this Cab but I need to finally rise at the hour I keep writing about.  The wine tells me to taste again, find out what about it has me so held in its hue, and how it harnesses itself to my makeup and vision, this prose and sitting, the universal session of my ambitions and actions…  The writer the professor the wine writer and love, and maybe one day ‘maker’.  Who knows, who knows, I don’t know.

     Thinking about wine and my relationship with Art and how to develop everything further.. being this full slows me but I won’t let myself be slowed no, not for anything or anyone so I keep writing with this bizarre rhythm and hope it sticks.  Sticks to what, to readers and the wine world, someone saying something, something different that what’s in those flimsy publications..


     In Solano library.  All paper work done and–  I should be writing this in my semester Comp Book.. writing in too many places I know but somehow it’ll all get consolidated.  Have to send an email.  Then look over wine notes from yesterday, last night, on the vineyard treatments before harvests and the varietals that are being picked, someone recently, just this morning actually telling me that the Chardonnay appears ravishing on the Napa side.  Haven’t heard much about Chard in our quarter.

     Have some in-class pieces to grade already, from the Solano 370 section, examining tendencies and the dimensions of the students’ writings; tonality, paragraphing, punctuation.  Then, imagery.  Not so comfortable in this little cube, here in the library with students around me.  Funny as I don’t so feel at SRJC– so I move, find different suggestion for my pages in a more enclosed scene for my prose.

     In an adjunct collaborative, or joint office, or lounge area.  I don’t know what this is but there are two other adjuncts in here now, was three.  I feel like a winery competing with other labels for some sought-after fruit, some vineyard block.  I get vile glares from these other instructors but my head’s down to this keyboard.  And it’s not quiet in here, as the library area is just outside the door to my 12 and 3, and 6.  I can only think of this semester’s end, the last chapter, already, when I’m fully into my writing practice (mmc), teaching two sections at SRJC, and my daughter’s here, I’ll speed home ignoring the laws of 12, 29, then back onto 12 to Santa Rosa.  She’ll be in my arm’s crook and I’ll read to her from some of Jackie’s old books, or my journal.  Or just talk to her.  She’ll look up at me and associate my face with story telling, with the day of work, with comfort, with love and art and Life.


11:42AM–  Can’t get to room early as someone’s teaching in it.  I’ll leave this adjunct cooperative or shared cell at 12, so I have a tall glass of time to myself, like that Cabernet last night, which I’m surprised was so vocal.  Last time I opened a bottle, on the first night it was a bit coy, or shut, or diffident on the first night.  The second night it was expository and narrative, telling and beatific.  But last night, right when I poured it, layers were boasted.  There was this expressionist angularity to the palate movement and varietal voracity.  It taught me again to give wine more time, to give it space to evolve and read itself for oration.  And that’s what again draws me to the winemaker and grower, how they provoke and evoke and emote all the suggestions and dimension of a grape, the vines and “terroir” as so many now boast.  What I tasted last night was more than the recently commoditized “terroir”, but personification, oenological syncopation between grower and varietal and winemaker.  And me, the one reacting, the scribbling sipper.  Have to get this out of my head before class, the wine’s always a distracter, a puller from pusher out of any linear attention.  Wine causes the adjunct to dream, of days where I don’t have to freeway fly, where I don’t have to look, where I don’t have to apply.  I’ll only apply Self to wine and telling its stories, sharing my reactions and attraction, and glass-tilted actions with readers, others following wine.  And that chapter just landed, finally.  But I don’t relax, I don’t become even the least complacent.

     Lecture prepared, for the most part, but the most integral element of the day is that they turn in their work and go get the book.  The work, true scholastic gymnastics can initiate.  And I out of steam run.  My optimism is qualified, and the writer’s visions of wine become a bit blocked, by a mental catalogue of other pulls and pushes.  Need to gather standalone pieces for printed project, and need to go through stills and footage in camera.  Andy talking about the vines and me shooting closeups of Pinot clusters only days before they get picked– although I’m not sure the particular RRV block I’m thinking of has been pulled.  Yet.  Or maybe it has.  We put together a pool, at Arista, when will the first estate block be swarmed?  I had first guess, and I scribbled ‘8/22/15’.  Two days.  A Saturday.  Will they pull it on a Saturday, or wait till Monday?  I win a magnum of something should I be right, a certain oenological Nostradamus.  And then not a thing should I even a day off be.  So we’ll see.  And anymore that’s what wine and the vineyards represent to the writer, something at which he’s not at all excelled.  Waiting.  Patience.  Temperament of temper.  But I have to learn.  I have to be taught.  And the wine’s instruction, especially last night, materializes most poignantly.

     My favorite glass–  I mean ‘class’.


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MOCK SOMM: GReedy Wines, a reaction

IMG_7978Already in love with small producers, I was sure this was to be a label that would contribute to me and my story and transcending wine character in some new encompassing way.  The wines are one facet with me, certainly an important one, but not the be-all of the new presence, whatever I’m sipping and whatever new label I involve myself with.  GReedy Wines, an amalgamation of talents and visions of Greg Urmini and Ross Reedy, shows the approachable more story-told side of wine and the narrative that I’ve always found more inviting about wine.  These two oeno-elevated chaps have travelled and studied impressively, as well as formally studied, and only from a true adoration of and envelopment in wine itself.

The next morning I go to my office, open my Composition Book and look through my notes, which as always I have an arduous and incensing time surveying.. but I started with the Sauvignon Blanc jots.  A ’14, fruit from Alexander Valley, does see a bit of an oak’d motion, but not much, not enough to interfere with varietal integrity or regional translation–  I scribbled (if I’m reading it accurately): “Poetic pulse from intro to conclusion of sip; melon and cream, light herb and pineapple; a jazzed tap of white Bordeaux–” And there are more scribbles from there, but I remember now the revolution of the palate-feel and how the wine itself took to oxygen, developed and peculiar and impressively characterized sensibility to its “palate traffic”, I wrote.  I’m again thinking of their story, Greg and Ross’, and how they merely want to share, display what they can do, yes, but offer something different to the wine lover and translate varietal and region, and vintage in their own way.  I read down in my SB sentences, and see verses, that’s what this bottle made me do, there in my home office; a wine with influence and persuasion, rhetoric, I wrote “…expository, effusive, dactylic…” And this isn’t just one of those sip-before-dinner Blancs.  It’s with the momentum that can walk and recite alongside dishes.  Lighter creamy pasta, or chicken with light pepper and lemon, or a caesar salad, or for lunch with a chicken salad.  It beckons something with flavor punctuation and charisma to match its won.  Another note, “a letter to Sauvignon Blanc as a genre, as a story and song…” Now, I’m not certain what I was inferring or asserting with that scribble, precisely anyway, but the bottle had me encased in thought, a bright awe, and stricken with impression.

Then Cabernet, also from AV.  A 2012.  And Cabernet is that one varietal that I’ll always moniker IMG_7965my own.  But this bottle taught me, contrasted with other bottles out there and ways the grape is handled and then bottled.  Greg and Ross illuminate a more melodic palate beat and presence with this ’12, singing through suggestions of plum, chocolate, light espresso, light and atmospheric oak, or cedar, theses– adored “all minutes and measures of this Cab”, as I have the Comp Book.  Between the two wines, this project catapults the GReedy boys’ story the most prominently– that wine fervor and going our there and living it, the travels and education, the self-education and writing your own story, everything that the small label should embody, PRACTICE, and share.

So is ‘love’ a strong word, when addressing me and my affinity for small production houses?  Not a strong word, but an inaccurate one, surely.  Small producers are my theology, as a wine writer, drinker, chaser and storyteller.  This story can only grow for them and the bottles they produce, are not only inviting and communicative now with their flavor arrangements and ambient textures, but would as well enjoy residency in a cellar.  And wines that visually and immediately demonstrate that degree of agility and proverbial availability, openness, “diplomacy” as I wrote at the page’s lower sector, should be written about, brought home, shared, studied, explored over months, years.

Researching them more, the GReedy assembly, I find they met while in travel, where from a literary disposition can only encourage character growth and provide that story the consumer wants to read– hence my theology in the small producer.  There’s more sincerity, more candor in the narrative, and in what’s bottled.  More pervading intimacy, for sure, and like I scribbled at some point last night, I think while tasting the Cabernet: “Traveling in ideas and interpretations, transformative properties for wine’s character and me as the sipper, scribbler.” Am I lost in the wines, yes but no, more like metaphysically prompted.  And not many wines do so to this writer.  In fact, less than very few do.

IMG_7977So, here this morning with my coffee, I return to my SB notes, on how the first olfactory impression was rich, “beaming” as I wrote, and entirely believable.  Not contrived or conveniently morphed with oak or inappropriate alcohol content.  “More music in this SB than the others, much more sway and swagger.. general sensory magnetism…” And I kept on noting and writing what I encountered.  Wrote more on the SB than its Cab cousin, but I still puzzle and de-puzzle what I sip and what I wrote, being put in the palatable maelstrom of GReedy Wines, its two-bottle and wildly coercing portfolio– in fact, no, they deserve better than such a clinical noun, ‘portfolio’, ugh… a short story, or novelette, one which will keep in its scribe bass and highhat taps; its own song and Art, travel and education, the Road and the growth and the ambrosial madness of wine and its world.  These two produce the same as I in this Comp Book, on these keys, with fervor and tireless reflective urgency.

And quickly back to the Cabernet deconstructions, and one word cages me, “hymn’.  Connection to the theological lean, yes, but beyond that I’m lost.  And I don’t mind.  Consider this morning’s thousand an appreciative epistle to the two.  To travelers, the wine-minded, the urgent artists, to the ever-written story.  Stories.

Link to Their Website:  GReedy Wines

Direct Link to Get on the Mailing List, to Purchase GReedy Wines:  GET ON THE LIST


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MOCK SOMM: Stewart Cellars, Napa Valley, Cabernet Sauvignon, 2012

IMG_7293Enclosed in this new Cabernet translation, one from Napa which I don’t explore enough and I don’t know how more I need to go over there now, I can simply flurry and fly to a computer and order.  But I slow in my sips and remember what it was like with the first sensory landing; the chocolate and toasted oak, blackberry and cherry and whatever spice that is, nose; then the palate is irrevocably kaleidoscopic in its current and webbed ebb.  Just charming and musical, jazzed from first measure to last.  I look for jazz in wines, as you might know and here I have it, a newly voiced Cabernet beat and snare sound; soft but not passive, assertive with no encroach.  Just a bedazzled figure, me, speechless and only writing what notes I’m capable; the coma-coding charm of this bottle, texture and rhythm, me thinking and writing something down that I check later only to laugh as it doesn’t make sense.  And why don’t I be more technical, why not go more into those descriptors and what wine publications would publish, what a half-faced clack-dish sommelier would say, in that low all-knowing octave.  Because I can’t, no pulse of that angle; what this is, candid adoration of a wine, this Stewart Cabernet, Napa.. Napa and I reconnecting and I have this to thank, but I’m afraid to try others.  And I don’t think I will for a while– need to order more– and the recalls of the jazz I sipped the other night and right now again grip me, have me bobbing my head, not knowing where the wine’s profile and note syncopation will next go.  I don’t need to know.  Just years ago, I was just discovering Cabernet, and I’ve learned a bit since then, but this bottle, as Ginsberg said, “doesn’t hide the madness”.  It teaches me more than I could have called.  It shares its “inner moonlight”.  And this madness, make me mad to keep sipping, in want of more notes, more music from its nuclei, more discoveries and answers but I don’t want it to answer them all; I love its dark mystery, from visual to texture how the sip summarizes itself.  I need another.  Sip.  Bottle.  Case.  So I’m in scribble till the night’s over, till the jazz arrests.


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MY Winery Story…..


A run earlier produced a few ideas as to what I call my wines, the projects themselves; both Literary and running references. And as the writer walked back to the Autumn Walk base–only walking as the heat stopped me right at mile 4–I thought of the balance of wine and Wellness, and how yes people should sip wine, mine or any others, but as well know what they’re sipping; not overthink it of course but just listen to their senses and what those receptors are telling them, and what the wine itself is telling them; what i instructs and confesses and casts….
Didn’t have much chance at work to research as I did on day 1, but I did notice as Kevin and I did inventory that inventory itself as an act can be made so lovingly and comfortably simple, simplified– no surprise drop-offs or organizations or re-organizations. And tonight for the winemaker, or writing winemaker, no wine; only water and a little leftover birthday cake as I need my thoughts atmospherically clear this eve; and to wake early in morrow’s wee-est of times to finish a short story I started. Yes about a winemaker. Yes based on both Blair and my sister. And yes, a vision of what I hope to be– no, what I HAVE to be– with my wines. Tasted a little at work today, just a little and this I tally as a winemaking study act: the ’13 RRV Pinot, the texture and how that transitions into the “finish”. And then I thought how much I bloody loathe that word, “finish”. Why would you ever want a sip and its echo to end? I mean, okay.. I know it HAS to end in tangibility. But what about thought? What about the reflection? The idea that was presented to you, like a short story, or novel, or memoir? Why can’t someone sip a wine and keep thinking about it, or discuss and if they wish deconstruct what they just tasted? Not bludgeon it with excess analysis, but simply communicate. Where is the “finish” there if the words continue, if the thought gallops on? And that’s what I want my SB & Cab, and in later vintages a couple projects in each type, to execute and birth; dialogue, a story, thought.
I’ll open something tomorrow night, but I’m not sure what, doesn’t have to be SB or Cab. Just a wine to study; its functionality and Literary qualities; the “palate narrative” as I thought today with that ’13 RRV PN. And with the narrative, I have to see intent of the wine, what it aims to state and the thesis it demands to deliver. And does it? Yes, I’m speaking of wine as a cognitive and interactive entity. The wine should have some form of rhetoric, and a certain shape and sequence to that rhetoric, revealing its truest of collusions.
A bit after 10, and I think of my tasting room, and the inventory and where it’s kept. Do I do ‘appointment only’ or open Room for the world to come sip? Or do I not do a TR at all? Over-thought… sure I’m not the only winemaker to do this…..


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MY Winery Story…..


Till what? Till I’m making my wine and selling it. today, rough for the writer and not just with the pacing with all elements, nothing optimistic about me today– but then I realized what I want, when I received my gift from Blair, two bottles, one of each from his label; the Chard and Petite Sirah. So yes.. the winemaker’s path.. me.. but I need funding, and all has to happen within a year, 365 days exactly, and I’ll write the whole thing, so that emboldens more consistency in a writing project, a novel, Mike Massamen, and Madigan, doing something that establishes that Zen, that Equilibrium.
I’ve made proclamations and promises before, but this one’s different, far contrasting what before took place. So.. enough of this declaring, now doing. And my budget, ZERO. I’ll start on ZERO and fund the winery, ‘whoso cellars’, with the writing.. so the ‘yrownjoy’ project is heightened in terms of urgency. Tonight, I study the Arista ’12 Banfield Zin. Interesting but it lacks that stage presence that I look for in a wine, that lasting quality, yes it has a story and the visual is captivating and charming, but the sensory dimension once on tongue, on “palate” is coy and rushed, like it doesn’t want to be analyzed. Of course I wouldn’t say that in the TR, but that’s what I’m writing here. And what 2 wines will I master? Sauv Blanc… Cabernet. And from there I build. I’m looking for a way to get the Cab from Cloverdale to SFW, where my sister said she’d watch it. What I’m doing with this day and after this day where I inventoried everything in my professional life is decide, render my path; wine, making it, traveling with it and pouring it for people and writing along the way. Like Dad said, “You can always write.” True. So why not with a profession and stationing which only magnetizes material and more pages– wine, WINE, and making it, writing my tasting notes and my story and what I want people to see, and that voice is the sipper’s, what they want to see; this is about them and them enjoying the wine as they want, not as I want, not as I hope they do, even though I have that idealized construction. My thoughts entangle now and overlap and confuse me and I’m sure you, as I’m nearly done with the Zin I took home– just know I end the day with the yay, no more nay. And with wine, and my label, the winemaker, having an understanding of everything from the vineyard; rootstock and soil type and drainage to the varietals; clone, skin to pulp ratio, brix, maturation… Ah like I told my students, SELF-EDUCATION. And watch, readers.. WATCH! My label close, as is my fruit for this vintage, my last training vintage. And the wine, the wine that tells me to bring it to LIFE. And write it.

Didn’t think I’d write tonight, but I just realized it and what I have to do after the day’s deliberation and trying to shake myself out of a mood. So now.. no more distractions.. only this, only this project.. and I will only write of this, this chase and the wine and my obsession with the stories associated with wine..


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All in the Bottle and All for the Ox

5/31/16, 6:28, and I’m up. I don’t want to think of anything specific this morning but I IMG_4857am. The novel. And money. And bills. And writing. This point in my life, supremely singularizing, putting all in the bottle, this OX and all his interests, curiosities, and affairs. Andy from work, from the winemaking team actually but works time-to-time in TR with me, gifted me a Paso Cab yesterday that was just bottled last week. Can’t forget to make a note somewhere– And the other wines I want to open, in my “cellar” which is really just the back of the closet in this Autumn Walk, or “A Walk” as dad writes in his calendar notes that he sends by email to Alice and I, base.
Running today. Will take an Aleve today. Maybe two, and bring the knee brace Katie bought me for my birthday, get back into it. And no eating anything till after 12, at least. Had a lion’s plate last night with all the leftovers from birthday dinner, Mom’s enchiladas and the rice & beans Alice made, was making as the writer came home and when I finally arrived home the 29th after work.

All in the bottle, I tell myself. This blog and the wine and the writing, stories and IMG_4869running and Wellness, ZEN.. Literature, teaching (which hopefully I won’t be doing as much of when Fall lands on my pedagogy plate). Just keep an inventory, I tell myself. I made a ‘hashtag’ list in my phone, and I hate that I put so much emphasis on something so seemingly juvenile as technology, that phone, and social media, I mean there’s nothing Literary to hashtags and the like AT ALL. But… it does help me center my writings and consistencies, and a swell way for me to properly market myself, my writings, and this blog– Mike Madigan, as a brand. I know just where I’m running.. 3 miles left out driveway, toward MacCrostie & VML, then turn around. 6 miles, think that’s a swell aim. Then home to help with Jackie.. ‘parenting’, another of my bottled topics…..

Was looking up everything wine and winemaking while at work yesterday, before moving to event/wedding mode. And again, that’s not going to be a focus, or even an option, when I have my wine story and tasting room, but I still want the awareness, the knowledge and experience. And, I’m sorry to again mention it, driving those hummer go-carts, or golf carts, such a thrill for the writing with the wind and zooming down the hill looking at Mt. Saint Helena in the natural frame left. But the wine, and winemaking.. everything IMG_4875dominating my sight and visions and hoped-for foreshadowing yesterday and plainly lately for the writer; the fruit coming in and the punchdowns and the feel and thrill and pressure of harvest. Fruition! Everyday has to be harvest for me and these pages and the marketing of my work. I see that now! I have to be a true OX! One always moving, always carrying one story from page one to final and then selling the work no matter the project size. Have to fill in the income gaps and be serious about it like that comic book writer I saw speak on the Paris Review site. Either you do it or you don’t, I tell myself, AM telling myself on this couch right now. And the quiet, the driving down the hill in that Hummer, hearing the wind against me and the trees and imagining writing from Mt. Saint Helena, somewhere up there, about something, like Kerouac from Sur, alone and only noting, no tech, a penman disconnected. All in the bottle. And from a renewed OX. Did the even do something to me yesterday without the writer knowing it? Was it the pages I scribbled agains the Hummer, waiting for the call to come back up and file those chairs–fold then file–then drive the people to the pavilion for dinner and more cocktails? This energy is not common, what I feel and my quaking eagerness for more story, for my run today, and for Life; the Zen it’ll bring, TOTAL Wellness.

Coffee.. another tally in the bottle of this Ox. And an Ox, a being of strength and duty and completion, the ox will always carry his cargo or people or accumulated items from destination 1 to 2. A consistency of devotion, follow-through, sincerity. And as it happens, 2015 is the year of the Ox! And I find more in the Chinese calendar. That the Ox is of enormous significance, truly impacting the story. And I, this writer and lover of wine and all tellings wine-riled and connected will follow my motifs and prowesses. And that’s how I want to be seen and read, as I’ve so many times paginated; an obsessed writer, one never stopping and always journaling and typing and keeping my story in motion, carrying the pages from 1 to finish, like an ox, maybe slow-moving but inconceivably strong and set on fruition.

Almost at a thousand words so I may well keep with my assignment, trudge up the hill like an Ox with more cargo than it probably needs. Waiting to hear Jackie upstairs.. went in an got him around… hear noise, probably malfunctioning smoke alarm.. shit.

And it was, the alarm in J’s room, losing battery power. But the stepstool not big enough, not tall enough I should say. And the day’s off and running and this Ox has to catch it somehow.
7:42 and I’m downstairs with the little Beat, as he plays with his monster trucks I rush toward the morning thousand marker. Washed dishes and wiped down counters, a homeowner of me yet made… Nearly forgot, over $30 in tips yesterday, putting in my winemaking envelope, and forgetting about it, not touching it for anything. Coffee cup one in motion, and I know today will be great for the Ox.

My personal pages vended. IDEA: 20pp for $6.


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Open Flight

Mike thought there was something to his wine, his first couple releases, three bottles total, and he gave up and riled in victory, and here they corralled, his first visitors. 10:59, and 11. Open. 2.
“Hi, what are you pouring? Our B&B told us today was your first day, is that true?” the lady, sounding somewhere southern, said, looking around at the still shots on the wall then down at the tasting menu; SB, Merlot, Cab.
“Just those three on the menu there, and tastings are complementary, our first day..” Mike said, sipping his last little bit of espresso, from the machine he bought from the last crumb of budget.
“Oh.. that’s it? Just three?” she said.
“Yeah.. that’s all I got today, just those three. What kind of wines do you drink at home?”
“Well… I don’t really like Sauvignon Blanc.. do you have a Chardonnay?”
“No.. Just the SB and the two reds. Where are you from?”
“Oh well.. do you have a bathroom?”
Mike breathed, thought, then stopped his eyes in their bulbous roll. “Just past the painting of the cat, then right.”
She away walked, shaking her head.
“So what else do you have?” the man Mike assumed was her husband charged.
“Two reds, a Merlot and a Cabernet after the Blanc. You want to try them?”
“Sure. So today’s the first day, huh?”
“And how did you get hooked up with this winery?”
“I’m the winemaker and.. I guess owner. Yeah…..”
“Oh good for you. You know what, I will try some wine. How much is the tasting?”
“Nothing. Nothing… I’ll take care of it.”
“Oh well then let’s try some wine.. so Sauvignon Blanc, eh?”
“Yes,” Mike said, pouring, “this one I did in all oak, neutral oak, and just left it there to see what it’d do, what it’d soak up and here you have a white with a little more texture and pull but still quite clean……..”
The man sipped. Thought and looked at the glass, then at Mike. “Not that much in the jolt, eh?”
“I’m sorry?”
“It doesn’t jolt, ya know… ‘the jolt’. It doesn’t have a good JOLT.”
“But I’d drink it! It’s wine!”
Mike smiled and poured himself a little to sip with the man. Then she came back. “Why don’t we go somewhere where there’s Chardonnay, or wine we like there Harry?” she said.
The man put down his glass, empty, “Sorry buddy, you heard the boss. She still looks at me like her little brother, mama would have to laugh.” They strolled to the door, he looking back and raising his hand like he was saying goodbye to an old war buddy or something. Mike poured more of the SB.. he liked it.. soft but bright, light but luminous and with conviction you might get from a red, he thought. Then the Merlot… “How could anyone not like this?” he thought. What he enjoyed about its touch.. the blueberry and dark chocolate, it reminded him of dessert. Then the Cabernet, from Alexander Valley, some fruit he remembered getting dibs on at the last minute, the very last minute. He thought it could be bigger but maybe the wine didn’t want that, didn’t want to be seen that way. Maybe that’s not what the wine wanted to do. So he sipped it, respected it, more than the Merlot and SB for standing its ground and going against that Cab stereotype of hyper-aggression and offense; it was that dark musical syncopation; its own jargon and jolt of joy.. “Jolt,” Mike thought, “this has jolt.” He was tempted to close his room, run out to the plaza and look for the man, to show him what wine is when it has that jolt he wanted.. when it has true life.. when it’s truthful and not contrived.. what Mike wanted he understood now was always what the customer or sipper wanted. And here it was. But he was gone. So Mike poured for himself. Room empty. Glass kept full.


Categories: interim stratum (collected writings by mike madigan) | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Deciding to Attend

Attend what? This session. I told myself that I wouldn’t write anymore today, to just relax this evening, but the ’09 Cab I opened told me to write, and to dive again into Baldwin’s essays. And how he views the world, America, himself. In the Paris Review chat with the interviewer he said he needed isolation to come to terms with who and what he was. And now with this second glass I think about who, truly, I am. And what, the ‘what’. WHAT, am I?! Nearing 36, and I have no idea I know, and I know the ideas will provide some sense but I need more, more sense and vision of what Mike Madigan is. I love Baldwin’s confidence in the face of oppression, in the white man’s world. In all the pieces I read I not only sense and read but taste a sense of fearlessness… That’s what I want in my ‘what’. But as well, in the PR interview, Mr. Baldwin asserts that first-person narrative is ‘terrifying’. And he also says the reader has no reason to trust first-person. I don’t agree.. if anything, the reader doesn’t need to preoccupy with “trusting” the narrator but rather consider their experience, or the tale. Being open. I mean, if it’s fiction, it’s fiction, it’s contrived by the denotative delivery. But what I thought was encouraging, just a couple words later: “…why should you need this I? How is this person real by dint of that bar blaring across the page?” It’s not a matter of needing the ‘I’, but rather considering the ‘I’ for what its ingredients are, conducting a character analysis as you move through the manuscript, and not to determine if that narrator is trustworthy or reliable or even worthy of readership, but just to process the professing prose. To completely write-off the first-person, the ‘I’, is unjust, unfair and too sweeping.
Maybe this is the Cab talking, this bold and vampiric ’09, that dares me to take on Baldwin, to readdress Joyce and his swirly swampy and granulated paragraph streamings… I don’t know, but I’m in a Literary tumble this evening, and the wine and its lecture and story and ‘I‘ only push me further, and I can’t stop, I couldn’t even if I wanted to. This is more than a blog post but a realization of what I’m to do, and that only ‘I’, this writer, can build the career he wants. Everything’s a piece in the novel, everything, and with us about to move to Autumn Walk I need take this prose with more precision and dogma, practice.. tomorrow, the meeting with the winemaker in RRV, finally, asking him questions and responding to his wines– yes I will try to stump or moreso challenge him and find what his views are while at the same time putting mySelf in the student’s seat, learning from his winemaking philosophies and his facundity. We’ll see. I’m not going there to one-up him or show a writer-versus-winemaker form, but to learn. Remember, I want to make wine too!
Last sips of the Cab, and I’m full from dinner, the tacos this ‘Cinco de’. Can’t understand how quickly the semester has past me flown, raced, like it doesn’t care how sensitive I am to Time and its duty. I need another sip… All I can say is “DARK”. Not the most expressive fruit fold on this wine, nor olfactory leaps, but there’s incredible texture and the most anomalous clasp to the tactile reception.. wooing and musical, yes, but I feel there’s more to be told, in a few more years. I don’t want to say “after aging” like some do, but there’s more to be said from this bottle.. don’t rush! And that’s what the wine’s telling me, with the novel and with the semester and my career as a writer: DON’T. FUCKING. RUSH!!! Okay, okay, I say. I’m understanding now, I get it. I’ll slow down, but not in this session, and not with today. I sent writings to 2 locations, 2 publishers, and I’ve posted to the blog a couple times as well– today’s a victory, I’m writing like a dominant penman, very much I feel. And yes I could be prepping for the next classes, but I’m very much of the thought I deserve this time in the nook, yes? The wine, again, telling me to decrease my Literary BPM. BEATS…

With nothing more to mold in this sitting, at this nook table, in my punctuality, I retire, resign for day, night and look forward to morrow, my morrow, the interview with the winemaker, yes, but more, more and more for the novel– remember, I’m a writer, not a bumbling blogger or “wine writer”– I’m thinking about my ‘I’, my story, and MY book. Not the expected– ‘oh, you’re in the wine industry, you have to write about that, and watch what you say…’ No, I’m without lid, and what’s the wine world going to do if I freely speak, and quills are summoned?


Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Oeno-Caesura Narrative (inventory)

Sometimes I break, pause from the sips, to collect Self and know precisely what it is aboutIMG_5916 wine that captures the writer and why so often I write about it. In this most recent hiatus, if you will, I think of the varietal that brought me into consistency of sips and bottle-chasing. Merlot. The varietal that’s only popular to deplore from a less-than-quality movie and what now has me kerfuffle’d is how I’m returning to this grape type, after years of flying around from Zin to Syrah, to Malbecs and Pinots.. and now back, back to Merlot, the first bottle magnetizing my character in ’02, when I lived in an apartment in San Ramon and I called my mother to ask what I should serve for guests soon arriving. And she recommended a Blackstone Merlot, think the vintage was ’00 (yeah, it’d have to be, right?). Anyway, here I am, pensive and reflective and scribbling in my Composition Book a lecture to myself to extend this break, don’t sip for a couple days, build the anticipation for the next Merlot cork removed. Pride? Duckhorn? Trefethen? St. Francis? Kaz? What? What should I next meet? What kind of character do I want to greet me? And why do people hate Merlot? Oh yeah I forgot, letting some flimsy-brained film think for you is much easier and painless opposed to actually going to a store buying a bottle and thinking for yourself. Okay.. I’m corrected.
And, in this break from sipping, a curt and coherence cleanse if you might, I wonder what I’ll learn next about wine, its world and the many business models and sizes of wineries, and why winemakers go that way with a varietal interpretation while so many choose another path and practice, or some derivation thereof. The lessons compile, and for the English Professor parcel of Mike Madigan, I can only see more and more to absorb. And I’m overwhelmed, unannoucedly. Maybe I need a glass of wine before dinner– NO, wait, wait.. anticipate, deliberate. And so collecting my senses I hear the dialogue of a tasting room, tourists new to Sonoma/Napa, asking questions and discovering.. discovery.. expansion of knowledge and perspective and.. I should pause like this more often, and do just what I’m doing, listen. To myself and others, and wine’s story will enrich everything about me as a mere sipper.

And the other province about Mike Madigan’s character? One just in love with the translation of grape to bottled content. Professing so much love and curious exponential myriads that loudly envelope senses all. Notably olfactory, gustatory. Spellbinding swirls with the darkly tinted chroma. And just like that.. the glass tilting halt ends. Sipping an ’09 Cabernet from– Doesn’t matter. I’m peace’d, safe in my composing. Logical structuring re-structured in some useful cubism code, one I’m writing not yet. The ’09 tells me to wait, don’t write for a minute, “Just enjoy me,” it orders. I let the strings be pulled. No moving of pen, no typing, just a sip, another.. another.


Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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