In December of 2019, I went to Lake Garda in Italy, near Verona in the north, to learn more about the wines there...
If you've been curious how ancient Rome continues to influence the wines there today, check out this podcast that looks deep into the history and culture of Lake Garda wines:
When I first moved to Virginia, I was blown away by the great selection of Oregon wines in the state. It didn't seem to make sense until I did some digging and discovered that Oregon wines have a long history in Virginia....
In 2016 I was researching for an article about passito wine. At the suggestion of a winemaker friend, I took up a tiny project to learn more by going through the process and making a small amount of it. I thought I could gain more insights into the production side if I watched a wine through from harvest to bottling. With the help of some friends, I harvested about 10 small lugs of grapes, dried them by fan, pressed them in a tiny basket press, and fermented the juice in a glass demijohn. I held back a small beaker of inoculated juice to add to the demijohn of must-- but only as a last resort if I couldn't get a ferment started with the native yeasts.
I lost the demijohn of wine to a bad fermentation. But I did make about eight tiny bottles of tasty passito dessert wine from the beaker-- meager gains from a small experiment. Though the amount of wine is insignificant in the grand scheme of things, I learned much about winemaking in the process. The palpable, tactile joys of handling the grapes, the smells and sounds of a fermentation-- all these things brought me closer to wine.
Hearing the satisfying "glug" as a gas bubble first made its way through the air-lock and signaled fermentation had begun, watching CO2 bubbles churn during the fermentation as tiny universes of yeast worked through their micro-life-cycles, and performing mundane tasks like siphoning without disturbing lees-- all the small decisions-- increased my appreciation for the motions and quotidian labors of winemaking. I always knew these things happened, but by performing them, I saw them in a new light.
Outside of educational experiments for professional growth, I still approach 'sommelier winemaking' with extreme caution. And yet, just yesterday I found myself bottling some experimental PetNat to see what happens... There's a certain gravitational force that pulls a wine lover to make wine. I already relish the day when I can pop the first bottle of PetNat, irregardless of what quality it might embody. I'm now viscerally connected to that wine and to this vintage. I can only imagine that this fierce connection to the casual wines I've "made" must be much more intense for the great winemakers of the world.
A splendid chameleon, the 1980 Musar white presents differently every time you stick your nose into the glass, and just when you think you can finally nail down what it is, it changes yet again. This is a wine to sit down with over the course of a day or two, and revisit every few hours.
I opened this up by myself, in a new house, with belongings in boxes that made cardboard skylines against a wall in each room. The 1980 Musar was a good choice to commemorate the experience. As I drank it, I had fleeting thoughts of insightful comments from the late Serge Hochar. I came for sips between the newly-freed contents of each settled box, and the wine slowly unpacked on me. It became a bottle inexplicably linked with the christening of my new home.
Once again, the phenomenology of wine emerged from a bottle whose producer had been intent to create such experiences.
In Serge's own words, (circa May 2013), "My white wine is for your brain. My white wine is way more complex than you could ever think. These whites mature long after the reds."
I'm frequently re-amazed at the nascent power of communication locked inside of wine bottles. The elemental expression of the producer-- or lack thereof-- can't help but be obvious.
A few months later, looking for that same bottled charm, I splurged and opened another 1980 Musar white, but it wasn't the same. How could it be? That's not what these wines were made for.
I’m Erin, and this is my wine blog. Here, you'll find information about wines from around the world, and Virginia.