Thursday, June 28, 2012

shed, shed, shed it off


Among the infinite reasons why I love old wines is the simple fact that only old wines hammer home the truth that wines are products of agriculture that come from a very, very real place. Wine isn't sterile . . . it isn't supposed to be. It's not supposed to be made clean; at least not the interesting ones. I'm no winemaker, nothing close, but aiming for technically precise wines is a cop-out. That kind of middle-of-the-road, "pure" fruit, low acid, softly structured style is nothing more than a chemistry experiment. Naw, it takes a bit more to make real wine.

If you claim to be expressing the land, you have to truly express the goddamn land. The vineyard, the soil, the climate . . . it's all a living thing, so of course the wines have to express that. So you want to see change as the wine develops, as it sheds off its youthful baby fat and develops complexity, nuance, character. Sometimes it's not all clean, and the development isn't smooth. But so what. It is what it is.

So maybe seeing a lot of sediment when I was decanting a 10 year old wine was a good thing. Maybe I'm making it out to be a bigger deal than it really is. But when we taste, we really need to ask (and answer) a very simple, fundamental question: regardless of personal preference, and whether we personally enjoy it or not . . . is the wine a true expression of where it's from, when it was made, and how it came into being?


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