Thursday, November 11, 2010

A Long Life, As Expected?

I was passed a message. “He’s gone.” Just like that. Too young. Too much life left in him. But that was it. The End. Life over for Morro.

Another note, in a text. “She’s here!” Brand new. Just born. Ready for the world. Novella. A fresh beginning.

Non c'è due senza tre. A letter arrives. Old school. “ One year before she turns 100, if she’d only made it a little longer.” And a long life, as expected, still missed, because she was so loved. My Gaglioppa.

You really never know. It could be one long life for a wine, it could be the beginning of a life not yet unfolding, or it could be an abrupt end to a life lost too soon. How many times has it happened, corkscrew at hand, early evening, anticipation, but never really knowing until the moment of truth?

So it has been this week, for lives and wine. On one hand we celebrate the new baby, Novella. Young and fresh and exciting. Moving around, cooing, we hand her from one proud family member to another. She fusses, sputters, cries, calms down, sleeps, wakes up. And then next day it happens all over again.

Gaglioppa, we sit and reminisce about her. She went so well with her region, she was so old, so precious, so rare. How rare? So extraordinary she wouldn’t be recognized by her own family if we took her back and opened her, on the spot, with those that made her. They might be shamed by her longevity, her authenticity, her strength, her dedication to her true self. Sure, she is old, her skin sags, her legs aren’t as pretty, but her smile, the sparkle in her eyes, they tell of a soul in wine that the folks back home have long forgotten. I wish I had taken her back, just once, to remind them of their legacy, their patrimony, their duty to the truth of their land, their life. But it’s too late, we drank her up, used her all, emptied her. She is now a memory, words scrawled on a formless scroll running down a screen illuminated from behind. Empty, but not forgotten. A life lived long, lived well. Loved and remembered. Missed.

And our young Morro, what happened? Did we miss something? Wasn’t he set for a longer life? Is that it, just pull the cork and the lights went out? No note? No sign? No rolling back the clock and starting over? Unfortunately, no. Just as it happened many years ago, with Novella’s ancestors, sometimes they all didn’t make it. Sometimes the fermentation stuck, the sulfur was too overpowering. There wasn’t as much to know, generations ago. Still, those losses, how we would agonize over them. How could it be? It was too precious. We couldn’t afford this loss. What would we do for Thanksgiving? Christmas. Birthdays? Weddings?

No one likes to drink Champagne at funerals like they do at weddings, or christenings. But maybe, we should change that. Maybe a glass of Franciacorta would be a good way to send them off as well as to welcome them in. What’s done is done. Birth. Life. Death. Maybe, just maybe, we should toast them, even if we are unable to explain the unexplainable.

To Gaglioppa, a life long lived and loved long, a nice dry Rosé, one with that onionskin color. Mellow, rich, smooth. Full of life, but in a quiet way.

To Novella, what else? A frothy Freisa or a simple Lambrusco, from Sorbara, which I have been afflicted to love from afar.

And to Morro, a Lacryma, for we lost you to the other side too soon. Too soon. We must open a bottle, but it must be a lamentation for the opportunity that you never got to age and develop into the vintage your parents dreamt you would become.

Salute to all of you, three stages of the life of wine. Happiness, sadness, shock, relief. Peace to all of you.

Happy "Almost 99" Zia Amelia

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