Stopping for a second while parked, looking at a vineyard along Highway 12. And it hits me– here’s where I start.
Finally home after a taxing tasting room day, after my 7-miler morning. First run of that length in some time. Thinking of wine, where to go with it next… sipping the remainder of the Dry Creek Vineyards ’14 Zin I last night brandished. Somehow lost the cork so I wrapped the neck in saran wrap. I took it off expecting instant evidence of oxygen contamination, or at least some oxidized something. But nothing. It withheld. It stood its ground, showing it’s more than an ‘it’. This bottle shows unyielding intention, some derelict drive that’s admirably curious. So I’m here writing my article or reaction to the day and night and wine, simply confounded. Then I stall. I need another glass. Before siting to write I was tempted to turn on CNN, see what the new chief’s done now. But why when I have this wine, when I had the day I had, literally rolling out of bed and running. The wine tells me not to stop… time is like my oxygen, and not in a beneficial manner. Like oxygen can be to wine, time is to the writer. So I speed on.
One lady who came in today, absolutely obsessed with magnums. Had a question about every one, and the vintage. Each vintage, she’d ask, “So what about this one?” Not asking if I like it or not, but I knew that was her tonal subtlety. “Well,” I returned, “if you’re asking me if I like the ’12, yes, I love it.” Then she did the same with the ’13, the ’14, and the ’11. “Wasn’t 2011 a bad year?” She asked. Ugh, I thought, the question. Why always people and 2011? (See why I began this piece with ‘finally home’?). I told her my defense of 2011, a little about ’13 and ’14, and then slid away. No more, I couldn’t do it. People should find out for themselves, about any wine or vintage, winery or region. Wine, like literature, art, or your own writing, is about discovery, and risk. You heard 2011 is a “bad’ vintage? That’s more than bountiful warrant to go out there and try some. See if they’re right. And if they are, then you learn from it, what makes a less-than-towering vintage. And if they’re wrong, you know now that going out and seeing for yourself is the most instruction and informed way to live wine.
Second glass at left, and I’m standing my ground— or sitting my seat. Babies asleep upstairs, and I revisit the conversations from the tasting room in head. Everything from those with co-workers toward shift-close, to the ones hours earlier with the larger group that walked in, many of whom were “industry”, telling me about the releases at their wineries and what they like to drink at home, to one of them whom makes his own wine and sells it online while working production at a larger Russian River producer. There’s more than enough wine out there, in the world, for me to explore and write about, and beyond those simplistic descriptors and expected-to-be-mentioned fruits. The personality of the wine.. this Zin, in instance— wild in its behavior but everything it speaks is poetic.. nothing foul about it, and unusually organized and dedicated to its palate narrative… a wine understanding the sipper more than the sipper conceives what’s in glass, eventually washing over senses. It welcomes me home, congratulates me at the end of my day, orders me to relax. This wine type you remember, you seek, you learn from.
On lunch, and I can’t get the thought of wine in other countries out of my head. So much out there, the terrestrial extensiveness. And I don’t fixate on the wine so much as I do the locations and the histories, the families, everything that’s out there. I’m in the office now, quiet today, a Saturday, snacking on the crackers and cheese I brought for myself and can’t wait to be in the vineyard, go for my daily saunter, tilt my head back in the quiet of the Rhône block, listen to the creek. Set my character on a dash of pleasurable scrutiny and surveying of wine, everywhere. The world, total… As a journalist and diarist of wine, I don’t want one set beat. I want everything. All AVA’s and sub-AVA’s… regions and highways, streets and hillsides. Today’s lunch feeds me with visions and promise, new pages and insights to my wined character. When home tonight, Bordeaux will be my research station. Being what some would call a ‘Merlot guy’, this is only sensible. Didn’t expect this degree of meditation paired with the mozzarella and Wheat Thins. Wine’s story again surprised me.
“Wine, History […] So much I haven’t seen. Dedicated to a literary exploration of wine, of the world, of wine’s world in the world. There’s too much out there and this is the only way to do it.” I wrote in my makeshift notebook, pieces of scratch paper from the tasting room stapled together as I left my little, mini-composition book at home, atop home-office desk. Where do I start? With me, my wine notes, and notes about me that may have nothing to do with wine, or directly. But wine itself skips in bursts of life so everything is wine… my typing now in the office on my lunch break, with a stack of cases for one of the winemakers to my right, is wine. This all is wine. When I’m not drinking wine I’m drinking wine. When I’m not doing anything to do materially with wine, I’m more ‘wine’ than I am otherwise.
Difficult to type in the office, all the conversation around me but the conversations entail wine business ingredients and mentions, specifics. Should go walk the vineyard, just a second, just to take a picture and keep with my consistency of being a vineyard vagabond (even though I am very much employed, and with domicile). Staring at a bottle now, on this desk, never heard of it before, and that’s just what wine is—
Interesting sense and bravado to this wine… decided, somewhat codified and shy, but that’s just what makes it a gem… full narrative and composition, poetic intro and conclusion, affirming its identity repeatedly to the sipper, making you take your time with it so you miss nothing. Soft texture with pronounced drum rolls of cherry and blackberry, spice and herb, dusty olfactory and palate rally the wine into more engaging and unique sensory rhetoric. I’d lay it down for a few years, as to let the more wooing and symphonious qualities appear. Right now, though, its assertiveness isn’t any kind of interference or intrusion. The current language of this bottle is cinematic and entrapping. A highlight in my month, my year. Certainly.
I learned a long time past— take your time smelling wine. Don’t inhale too hard or too fast. Inhale like squirrels you see, or groundhogs, that stand upright and take in atmosphere in those staccato’d pulses. “It’s wine smelling, not wine tasting,” somebody once suggested to me. At first I was like ‘Yeah, okay bro…’. But now I realize he was entirely right. And don’t overthink what you smell, the “nose” of your wine. Just see what you see. It’s an encounter, like anything else. Hear so many say “wine is alive”, but don’t treat it like a living thing, or being, person. They use the first contact, the smelling or ‘nosing’ act as a means to show how much they know about wine or how sophisticated they are. Take your time, smell what you will, and taste. This is your tasting. No one else’s.