One thing I’m hoping to do with this blog is to use it as something of a catch-all for what I’ve done, experienced, and learned. This series, Archive Data Errata, will track my path through life (and, to be melodramatic, a quest for meaning) through the books I’m reading, the wines I’m tasting, and other interesting things I’ve experienced and learned along the way. There might or might not be some heavy emphasis on notions of archives, data, and errata along the way…
My reading the past few months is quite different than what’s “normal” for me. My reading lists have always been centered around literature of various sorts, with any divergence generally being in the realm of art theory, neuroscience, or cultural criticism.
That’s changed lately as my interest in wine has grown beyond simply “enjoying a good glass” into “wanting to learn as much as I can.” Adding to that is that reading a book about wine is much more conducive to the constant up-and-down of baby care than a challenging novel.
What I read:
- Tasting the Past by Kevin Begos
- Exploration and search for rare grapes and for what makes wines unique and interesting through the lens of finding “ground zero” of the original wine grape. Begos’s journey leads him to wines outside of the industrial complex, that not only show “terroir” in the classic French sense but that also reflect the culture of the region and the overall history of winemaking as a human pursuit. This ends up leading him to both regionally native grapes as well as less-interventionist (natural) modes of winemaking.
- The New California Wine by Jon Bonne
- Bonne seems to take an approach that mimics some of my thoughts on the literary world: a feeling of disillusionment, but wanting to find a path and product that illuminates and shows a way forward. He discusses the insularity of California wines as the region grew in prominence, and how the wines became disengaged from so much that he believes makes wines great and interesting. For CA wines, Bonne sees that as the focus on big flavor and the use of technology to manipulate the chemistry of the wine without thinking about the grape or wine itself. He also talks about the separation between grower/farmer and winemaker, which he positions as unique to American wine sensibilities. In the end, he is interested in finding winemakers who prioritize their own beliefs about wine and what the land tells them they should do rather than catering to mass consumer whims and forcing a product to fit the market.
What I tasted:
- Wind Gap Sonoma Coast Syrah 2014
- Got this at Last Bottle as part of the great Wind Gap selloff of 2019. I should do a post rounding up my interest in this little winery’s story (hint: Tim Duncan is an important person in the story). During the selloff, I’ve also picked up a soif blend and nebbiolo. Interestingly, I’ve taken to those more than this syrah, even though Pax Mahle is more known for his syrahs.
- Tasting notes: Smoky lavender on the nose. Maybe cedar as well. There’s fruit there but seems secondary to the secondary aromas. Gentle tannins, pepper, and macerated mulberry. Much more delicate than I expected, a tender syrah that leans toward interesting rather than obvious notes.
- Lutum Rita’s Crown Vineyard Pinot Noir 2014
- Tasting notes: On the open, strawberry on the nose with a floral background. One glass in and the fruit has opened into a red cherry. A bright but tender cherry on the taste with a finish of grey crushed gravel.
- Sleeper Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 Reserve
- Big alcohol on the nose and taste right after I opened it that almost overwhelmed everything else. Once things settled in 20 min later, blackberries fully ripe with hints of violet and vanilla on the nose. Fruit forward flavor that is slowly balancing the alcohol as it opens. Tannins are active but reasonably soft on the mid palate. Finish lingers for longer than expected. I’ve read descriptions that highlight baking spices, which I might be getting, but I’m not sure if I’m reaching for that sensation.
I tried a few days ago to remember how many times I’ve read W.G. Sebald’s Rings of Saturn. That attempt failed. But while I tried to remember the origins of my reading ritual with that book, I thought of another way of tracking my interest.
Each rereading surfaced new realizations about the themes in the book. Sebald’s writing, while expansive, is also taut. There are specific themes or threads that wind their way through the book, surfacing in nuanced and unexpected ways. Some themes I only noticed after multiple readings. And even moreso, I’ve noticed new moments that are those themes resurfacing.
So for this year’s re-read, I decided I’m going to start logging these, beginning with the threads of sugar and silk. To date, I’ve never made notes in my copy of the book. I know I have a notebook with notes from my first reading somewhere in my papers, and I have the resulting essay I wrote. But so far all these readings have only existed in an ephemeral way: in my memories and in my conversations. I’m going to change that.
In addition to being a book nerd and starting to become a wine nerd, I’m a basketball nerd. And last night was the NBA draft. I could write some incredibly uninformed thoughts on who the best picks were and why I’m frustrated with my Rockets.
Instead, I’ll share this strange object I came across on the ground a few blocks from my home. It doesn’t really have anything to do with the draft itself. And I’m not sure it’s about basketball at all. But it seems relevant to the unknowns of the draft and the future of each player, as well as my overall interest in finding meaning somwhere, and somehow. Maybe it’ll come with 53 minutes of basketball.