Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Pick it up, if you feel like it.

Hey Everybody!

I'm reading a killer book right now and feel compelled to drop an excerpt from it. I'm only halfway through, but it's one of the better books I have read in a while. It may not suit your interests, but I want to encourage you to pick it up, if you feel like it. It's called The Accidental Connoisseur—An Irreverent Journey Through the Wine World, by writer extraordinaire Lawrence Osborne. This excerpt explores the relationship of taste and memory. Osborne writes about a wine critic, Gerald Asher, and a wine that has haunted him (in a good way!) for years:

At that time Asher was a young man visiting producers all over Europe for a London importer. He was on his way to Verona and had just drunk a flowery white Fendant, a local wine of the Swiss Valais. At the Simpleton Pass he had the kind of mystical experience available only on roads (Saul of Tarsus being the model). First of all, the experience was a place: snow, wildflowers, the road to Domodossola, a midday sun, the inn. There was lunch, veal scallops, buttered noodles, and then the wine, a "light red wine poured from a pitcher." He tried to finger the Alpine grape varietal—Bonarda? Ruche? Brachetto?

"The wine was sweetly exotic: lively on the tongue, perfectly balanced, and with a long, glossy finish. It was the sort of wine that Omar Khayyam might have had in mind for his desert tryst. The young woman who had poured it for me was amused when I asked what it was. She said it was vino rosso."

Asher says that he has searched for that wine for thirty years and never found anything remotely like it, before admitting that perhaps it was he who "created" it in the first place. "But the pleasure in any wine is subjective: we each bring something to what is there in the glass and interpret the result differently."

Asher seems to be suggesting that place itself is twofold: on the one hand, it is terroir; on the other, it is what is going on around you as you are drinking. The first is geological, the second psychological. And taste was presumably a high-wire act balancing itself precariously between the two.

I wanted to find the geological spirit of place. Accordingly, I decided to travel to the remote Central Valley estate of Chalone, perched in the mountains called the Pinnacles above the hamlet of Soledad. It was reputed to be a "special place." A place where place was alive and mysteriously well. Did its wine, I wondered to myself, match its location?

2 Comments:

Blogger Kellie Klintworth said...

It is really sexy that you like to read.

9:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your papa and I have been to the region of Chalone and the Pinnacles perched abouve Soledad....we should all go there sometime... and enjoy a glass of wine...
love, mom

11:37 AM  

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