Thanks to the drunken cyclist, I’ve recently found out about the #MWWC18, or rather, the Monthly Wine Writing Challenge and this being the 18th installment. From the website: “A few of us started the Monthly Wine Writing Challenge over a year ago with the desire to promote more creative wine writing. The thought was that we get caught up in tasting notes, winery visits, and the occasional food porn and we soon forget that part of the reason we put in all the hours that we do on these silly blogs is that we love to write!” And so this month I join the ranks writing about this month’s theme, Crisis.
I’ve never paid too much attention to the news. I can’t stand television network news as it rarely leaves me feeling anything other than disappointment in humanity. And cable news might as well be called advertising. The little news I do get mostly comes from the radio on my way to and from work. This month, it doesn’t take long for any news program to start a discussion on the crisis in Greece. And every time I hear any economist or world financial expert weigh in on the conversation, I feel sympathy for the Greek people. After all, no one wants someone else deciding what their future should be.
The best wines I’ve ever tasted, and I would argue all of the best wines ever made, are made from grapevines in
However, I am comforted--and sincerely hope the Greek people are as well--when I remember that greatness can emerge from crisis. Case in point: wine. The best wines I’ve ever tasted, and I would argue all of the best wines ever made, are made from grapevines that have had a rough life. In fact, the Greeks can attest to this as well. Take, for example, the vineyards on Santorini. Instead of a typical vineyard with rows of grapevines, producers there must create vine “nests” that are low to the ground and engineered to resist the constant, high-intensity winds that dominate the island. Yet these wines, mostly white made from Assyrtiko, are some of the best that make it out of Greece. They can be ethereal and gossamer, with citrusy, lemony flavors and just the faintest hint of that salt sea air. They are always high in acid and beautiful paired with seafood, not to mention hot, summer days.
Now I’m not so hubristic to equate winemaking with the situation of any group of people, but I do take a couple things from this analogy.
- Don’t be so quick to dismiss wines from vintages that people describe as challenging or drought-ridden. California is a great point of reference for this. They are in what, their fourth year of drought?, and are producing some of their best wines ever. The last winemaker I spoke to about it told me that he’s rarely seen a string of vintages as good as 2012, 2013 and 2014. And 2015 may be shaping up quite nicely for them as well. Sure no one can water their “ornamental grasses”, but who cares if you get to drink great wine?
- We should all drink more Greek wine. Well, ok, maybe not Greek wine specifically, but wine we’re not familiar with for sure, as in “It’s all Greek…”, well you get the idea. I mean, absolutely go out and buy a bottle of Greek wine, especially if you’ve never tried a Greek wine before. And yeah you won’t be single-handedly turning around their economy, but it’ll be a good experience and be a small, tiny show of support for the Greek people. But also, check out some other wines from regions whose vineyards are almost constantly in crisis; regions like La Geria where vines are grown in volcanic craters or Wuhai, China where they bury their vines to protect them from the cold. And while those might be a little difficult to find, you can still pick up a bottle of eiswein, made from grapes that have been completely frozen. Or find something from the Northern Rhône where vines have to contend with the Mistral, a wind that can blow 20 mph for 65 hours straight and gust up to 60 mph or more. Or try a malbec from Cafayate where producers like Colomé are growing grapes up to 3,111 m (that’s over 10,000 ft!).