Occhipinti Il Frappato 2007

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Brightness. This wine is all about extreme clarity, illuminated by fruit. I recently read a piece by Clark Smith (thanks Rasoul) that talked of biodynamic wine making as a kind of postmodern exercise. There is that which we can know with our current understanding, that which remains shrouded until we develop a language sufficient to express it and, despite all our efforts, that which we will never explain. Biodynamics lies somewhere between revealing a new perspective and reverence for the inexplicable.

In a past life I was an academic who specialized in the German philosopher Theodor Adorno who once said “Perspectives must be fashioned that displace and estrange the world, reveal it to be, with its rifts and crevices, as indigent and distorted as it will appear one day in the messianic light”. As esoteric as these words may seem, they are also fundamentally concrete: it is imperative that we see the world not just as we want to see it, not just as how it is, but also how it ought to be, even though we can never really know what ought to be. Is biodynamics and natural wine an attempt to break free from what is in the world of wine and to discover what ought to be? The Smith article made me realize that some of the most exciting wine making is taking place by those who retain the ethos of the dreamer. Science helps to snap the dreamers back from ideological obscurity, but it is the dreamers who push science to places it would otherwise never encounter.

Occhipinti seems like a dreamer to me. The wines aren’t quite like wine as we now understand it. They cast a light on current wine making practices in Sicily by being so radically different from the norm. Yet there is a common underlying desire that unites these wines with others in the so-called ‘natural wine’ movement. There is also a common uniting flavour that many of these ‘natural wines’ possess that is yet not present in all wines that are part of this disparate movement. I have not yet discovered how to describe this or why that might be so – but it is more than simply texture or lightness; it is something deeper but also something decidedly sensual and not in the mind.

Nonetheless, this dreamer’s wine is delicious and easy to drink while also being subtly intellectual. It doesn’t have to be perfect, it only has to shed a new light on what we know and accept and make us question the future. That it is possible for wine to do this still baffles me. But, regardless of my confusion, that’s precisely what great wines keep doing.

Very Good+ to Excellent
$40 at Pike & Western in Seattle

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