Old Vines, New Tricks

Wednesdays are a great day to drink some good wine. So swirl, smell, sip and join me for the first ever Wino Wednesdays! (Check out “About Me” for the method behind the madness).

No matter where your allegiance in the world of wine may lie, it’s hard to deny the significant influence of France, both as a wine-producing and wine-consuming nation. The establishment of French winemaking is inundated with history and tradition …so much so in fact, that two of the past three Sommelier Certification classes have been dedicated solely to France (and we’ve only covered two regions). To be honest, I didn’t know a whole lot about wine before the Sommelier classes; at least not anything technical…although drinking it in large quantities seems to be one of my natural talents. 😉  A couple of things that I’ve learned so far have really surprised me. For one, there are tons of government rules and regulations pertaining to viticulture (process of growing grapes) and vinification (process of actually making wine). The other thing that caught me off guard was how technologically advanced everything is. For instance, they used to plant rose bushes at the end of every row because they would often show signs of disease before it affected the grape vine. This heads-up provided the opportunity to harvest before disaster hit.  Nowadays they have thermal satellite imagery that measures soil quality and labs that create disease resistant vines. And that’s barely scratching the surface. To me, though, probably the greatest part of it all is that amidst all of these scientific advances and strict laws, the constant undercurrent of wine making still remains a devoted passion for the craft.  Which brings me, naturally, back to France.

When it comes to passion, the French have it down. When it comes to wine, the French are masters. So what do you get when you mix the two? An absolutely fantastic word: terroir (pronounced ter-wa). If you look for the exact translation, you’ll find that it doesn’t exist. That’s because it seems to be more an idea or belief than anything else. According to the French, terroir is everything. It is the wind that rushes through the leaves on the vine; the soil that clings on to the roots of the plant. It is the sunshine that ripens the grapes in the summer, the fog that rolls through the vineyard on cool dark mornings, and the rain that drips slowly from the unripened buds. All of this, all of these elements, combine to become the smell and taste…the essence of the final product in the bottle. I love this word, and I love this belief. I think it is poetic, whimsical, proud and zealous. And the craziest thing is that it actually exists. Don’t believe me? Next time you’re in the mood to experiment, pick up a bottle of French wine; I promise you won’t be disappointed. As you drink it, close you’re eyes and let your senses take you to a sprawling Chateau nestled somewhere in the beautiful Bordeaux countryside. Now that’s terroir.

What I’m drinking:

Tonight’s a red night. Gnarly Head Old Vine Zin Vintage 2008. Nice smooth, full- bodied wine; plum, pepper and vanilla are prominent in nose and taste. To my developing palate, this wine is a really nice mix of old and new world. Prost!

What’s in your glass tonight? 


2 responses to “Old Vines, New Tricks

  1. Superbly written – descriptive and informative! Your new Sommelier knowledge is very impressive! My favorite entry so far. Can’t wait to read more!!!

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