As wine connoisseurship evolves, I look toward developing ways to express the aspects of wine I love the most. I recognize that wine is a product of nature and science; my goal is as natural as can be: to help make the connection between joy of taste and the bountiful pleasures of life.”

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Manipulation of Vision and the Vision to Manipulate

For the longest time, I thought that natural wines – wines without much man-handling or supervision - were the best. I thought it was all about the natural action of fermentation and letting that process be as it should be - as natural as possible. Over time, I’ve come to understand that while unmodified wines can be lovely and, more often than not, the mentality that supports this winemaking style garners my fancy they, too, like super-contrived, uber-processed wines can end up spiritless and absent of that almost ethereal core that makes the bottle truly special. I began to think about the power of the wish and how wishes backed by passion turn to vision and how clear visions with conviction are the core and qualification of the dream manifested. This combination is the essential spirit of expression. What you believe and love can become your goals. Seeing the finished product is the key. The spirit is what both drives this to completion and in the end saturates the expression with all that was envisioned.

Sometimes that Ansel Adams/Edward Weston mentality yields way for the Henri Cartier Bresson hip-side tactics. The first two guys would tell you they knew what the print looked like long before the paper hit the developing tray and perhaps before sapping the shutter. They may even tell you they could envision the frame that would eventually surround the photo and maybe even the color of the wall where the image would hang. On the flip side, at first glance Henri managed to gather a sense of the unexpected in a way that suggests whimsy. He shot candid images that stood out as magical, fleeting and momentary. Perhaps more natural and endearing via relativity, perhaps not. In this comparative, the sharp contrast of the subject matter implies that while one is absolute, contemplated and evolved, the other, is based in all that is circumstantial and carefree happenstance. Either way, I think the sense of imagery and foresight of that imagery as personal expression is the key. Alike wine, regardless of origin, varietal or approach, what makes the juice come alive is the same energy that makes an orchid bloom or gives a photo universal meaning.

I'd like to say that pure expression is a one shot deal. That regardless of topic, medium or means to the end, the most honorable are created with a certainty and resolve to the finished product long before the product actually exists. Sort of like the “build it and they will come” bit from that Costner movie, humble poise in tandem with focus and passion creates great things. In this way, the winemaking process is no more or less technical, no more or less scientific than photography. The differentiating factor arrives when you meet the winemakers and you either get the sense or you don’t set the sense that he or she knows what the final product tastes like standing in the vineyard in late august. Get down on your hands and knees, I say! Eat one of the berries, take a breath and create the vision. Whether you have the vision to manipulate or the sense to know when and how to manipulate the vision. In my mind, the best things come from the ability to see it done and know what it’s like before you do it.

So go ahead, drink what you like, but if you ever find a wine that somehow, someway, just talks to you, or just seems special, hop in the car or get on the phone. Call the winemaker see for yourself.

1 comment:

Amy said...

Varja, Hi - It's Amy from here... thanks for popping on my little local LA blog :)

I always find this idea about manipulation an interesting subject. I simply don't believe there's any such thing as an unmanipulated wine. Decisions are made all along they way - starting with WHERE and WHAT to plant.. especially in the new world we can't help but manipulate circumstances because we don't have a 1200 year old tradition like or appellation control laws like most places in the Old World... I mean, even in Burgundy it's not like chaptalization isn't everywhere, rotorfermetors in Piedmont (Rivetti / Altare)- it's crazy! But look at how easy it s to find a good wine these days - people complain about homogenous flavor profiles - but we are all learning from each other and simply learned to make better wines. I had an old Chave - '89 Hermitage - the other night and it was so bretty - and I thought TOO BAD - is this what Jean-Louis intended? Wish He could have cleaned this up a little bit :) I know, I'm lame, but I like clean wines... (Incidentally everyone at the party was saying. "It's not BRETT it's CHAVE and I thought what a freaking cop out!) A little manipulation and lab analysis will provide us with wine to drink down the road that tastes the way the winemaker intended it to taste when it was bottled. But, again, just my unsolicited opinion!

Can't wait to read your next post!!

All the best, AMY