From the There I go, there I go, there I go, there I go department:
Has this ever happened to you? You are visiting a winery and the guide takes you through the stainless steel tank room, and then a barrel room or two and maybe the bottling room or even the board room. Have you ever been in that situation and someone said,” You’ve seen one stainless steel tank room, you’ve seem them all?” And then as you go into the tasting room as the first wine is poured all those tanks and barrels and executive tables and chairs didn’t seem as important as that tiny little precious liquid that you were getting ready to taste?
Somewhere between the spirit of wine and the soul of humankind there is a connection. It is different for some people and maybe others just don’t get that sense. But with a little imagination those little tastes can take one on amazing trips in time. Think back to the oldest wine you ever had. If it was 30 or more years old, most likely someone involved with the wine has passed on. For one brief moment we can connect with the work and life of a soul who is on the other side. Isn’t that a wonderful benefit of immortality? At least for those of us who remain. I think this often, whenever I open an older bottle of wine.
Sometimes one needn’t wait that long, unfortunately. The wines of Gravner have the touch of the young son who perished this year.
I think of the time I was in Pio Cesare’s cellar. Way down below the ancient Roman wall we came to the end. There, staring at me was a wine as old as I was. This winemaker, someone my father’s age, was long gone. But we met, for that brief moment, in front of the wine he had given birth to. How can one not love this business?
In truth, we descend the staircase daily, looking to bring up wines from the past. Wine is really all about a moment in time, frozen and preserved for people in the future to enjoy. It is a confluence of the ancient with the modern, the dead with the living. It is a mystical connection to souls beyond life.
I have a friend who passed away four years ago. In a linen closet I found a bottle he must have left when he was staying here. It was a simple Sangiovese from the Marche and it was marked in his handwriting as a sample to try. That is probably one of the most precious wines I have in the house. It is a connection to the life and work of a soul who gave everything to wine and the business of wine. Just like those ancient Chaldean winemakers 4500 years ago. These are markers in the life of the spirit of wine that renew my joy for this calling.
Aside from the deep belief that we must bring forth the vital energy of the fields to the new lands, it goes into an even deeper section of the cellar. It is because when you do have those beyond time and grave experiences with wine you really do get signed up to an ancient army of the wine god. And then there is no turning back. From the ancient winemakers in 2500BC all the way to the importer in the 21st century, we have burned the boats. There is no alternative to anything short of carrying out the wishes of the spirit of wine and the souls who have gone before. There is no direction home. You have arrived to the Promised Land.