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Wine,Wine Business,Wine Making,Wine tasting,Winemaker

Age is a beautiful thing ~ Most especially in wine

The concept that age is a beautiful thing doesn’t always play out well in our Western Culture. In one of my psyche classes, we learned that there are two cultures that make up the world; although, I would argue that I fit into a third one. It would be an evolving Melting Pot culture, which takes a bit from each:

  • Collectivism
    • Focus: Emphasizes interdependence of every human being
      • Example: In a bed of nails, if one sticks up above the others, it must be hammered to be the exact same height as all of the others
    • Classes: A social outlook, political, philosophical, religious, economic
    • Cultures: France, Japan, India, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Palestine
    • Communications: High context, equivocal language
    • Reverence: Elders
  • Individualism
    • Focus: emphasizes independent thinking, oriented around oneself; if one rises above others, this is way cool and groovy
    • Classes: A social outlook, political, philosophical, religious, economic
    • Cultures: US, Canada, Great Britain, Italy, Australia, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Israel
    • Communications: Low context, forthcoming
    • Reverence: Youth

 

Notice that in the cultures above, France is listed with the collective society, and the US is listed as an individualistic one. Also notice that communications are very different. This explains why the French culture (generally speaking) sees Americans as rude and crude, when we travel into their country. Our communications with them are too short and lacking in the social graces of equivocal language, whether or not we want to hear and/or know that. And finally, notice which cultures respect age and which one respect youth…

Now, put that into the context of wine. Although the early Romans brought grape vines into France, in their early movings around Europe, it’s the French who have collectively (collective culture) nurtured their vines in specific regions, as the rest of the world has seen those vines as the wines that are the most revered varieties. What’s happened along the way to make these grape vines so special is yet another story. The point I want to make is that it was the French who began to revere the age of a wine, rather than have it be for immediate consumption. It became more than an everyday beverage. It became a monetary bargaining chip, like gold was for the Romans. As a result… Age is a beautiful thing. (Think about the expense of a prominent Bordeaux.)

I was just reminded of this as I had opened and tasted a newly released wine by winemaker Joe Freeman. The ability that I have to study winemakers for the every day long haul is a fantastic privilege, and an honor. With each new winemaker for whom I work, I have to taste their wines repeatedly. As a result, I taste their wines in many incarnations, and become very familiar with what they’re crafting.

We all know that wine is alive and evolving each and every day, but unless you’re working with a winemaker and tasting his or her wines each and every day, it’s not as easy to recognize.

My example and reminder came two weeks ago, when I was tasting through a group of Joe Freeman’s wines, in order to create tasting notes. I had opened four bottles of Joe’s wine. Three of them were red and one was white. The rest of the Chardonnay became the house wine for me, because I eat lighter foods and it just fits with what I prefer to eat. Meanwhile, each day I had just a tiny bit of the soon to be released 2013 River Road Family Vineyards and Winery Stephanie’s Cuvée Pinot Noir. And, each day it began to taste more of where it was evolving, as it gained some age.

  • The color remained garnet, with no signs of oxidation. This would be shown as a browning around the edges, to eventually changing from garnet to a brown color in entirety.
  • Each day the tannins softened. This was allowing more of the plum fruit to push forward, into a silky mouthfeel.
  • Each Day this wine became more elegant than the day before.
  • By the sixth day, when the last drop was drained from the bottle, I thought to myself, “This is a classic example of how age is a beautiful thing,” and so the concept for this story was born, I created the title for this story, and the story is now realized.

This is why some people love storing wine, and taking it from an everyday beverage to a stored one.

It’s also a reminder of how fortunate wine publicists are. It’s our sole responsibility to study our winemakers, in order to create the inspiration for writers to attach the alchemist face to the bottle of wine… Joe Freeman with Ed Morris (his assistant winemaker, who is also a cooper) continue to amaze me. They’re well on their way… Most especially in wine.

 

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