Writing to you now from my new ontological status as a published author, I have to say that I don’t really feel orders of magnitude different from my earlier state of being. Yes, one item can be crossed off the so-called “bucket list,” but neither does that make me any more ready to kick the aforesaid. The writing and re-writing, and editing and proofing has all been just fantastically rewarding – I don’t know about you, but there is a real frisson, when a word or phrase just suddenly comes into focus, rather like putting together a jigsaw puzzle1. The book is indeed lovely, funny, sincere and generally not too pious. It still continues to crack me up, but that may well be a feature of my unique neurology. Further, there is no doubt that the book will delight far more readers than it will infuriate, but at the end of the day, it is all just words.2.
Now, a vineyard on the other hand… If we can miraculously avert global warming and not otherwise irrevocably despoil the planet for just a little while, a great vineyard, La Tache, say, for example, will enjoy the sort of immortality that Homer bestowed on Odysseus, Shakespeare on the Dark Lady, the National Inquirer on Britney Sp… Yes, I know, I was instructed to fill this space with lively discussion about the book – all in good time, my pretty – but I’m on a roll here. The words of a book enter through our eyes, lighter than the gentlest caress, but as we drink the wine down, we quite literally incorporate it – make it part of ourselves, in a way that will never quite occur with mere language. I’m with Brillat-Savarin on this: The discovery of a new terroir confers more happiness on humanity than the discovery of a new star.
I will be very happy if this book does anything to alert readers to the vastly complex and multi-foliate universe that is wine.
- Yes, there are certain people who really get off on this sort of thing, and we know who we are, even have a secret handshake. What? [↩]
- One extremely important subtext of the book, if not the most important subtext is that at one point in the wine business, people made wines to please themselves, not the Other. With the enormous pressure that now exists in the wine business to succeed at all costs, there is a much greater tendency now to want to play it safe, make wines that are in some sense guaranteed to please the important constituencies, and this is a great loss for the world. Certainly as a young winemaker, finding my way, I wanted so much to be a success that I really did try to do whatever it took to make wines that I imagined would please others. The problem with this strategy of course is that it does tend to take one rather far from any possible expression of terroir. At a certain point, if one has had the wit to have planted a superb vineyard, one should be willing to turn the greatest part of the driving over to Nature herself [↩]