Put the book down for second. Lift your head from the pages and breathe. The intellectualization of wine amongst its elite gives it depth and the capacity for devotion. But it can also elide greater truth. Think for a moment of a sound, an image, that has the power to rend you back in time to a moment of youth, of passion, hope, uncertainty. You know those times that emotion overwhelms your rational brain with its sheer viscerality. And it doesn’t even have to be contemporary to be present. Well, then, if these suggestions at least give you pause to reflect, you can understand the visceral quality of wine. It is the same as a great piece of music, a film, a sentence you remember from a beloved novel. And let’s not pretend, alcohol matters.
Wine: The Visceral
It is pelting rain, the smell of earthworms on concrete; a grey, muddled landscape. Youth. It’s the delay of that first truly melancholic moment – its extension in time through years to meet you in a brief distraction while you tap away on a keyboard.
I firmly believe that, despite its expense, its origins in the elite, its preponderance amongst classed members of society, and its appearance of exclusivity, wine is visceral. It can’t be caught entirely by its history of exclusivity. Its power resides in its ability to make us recall, to reflect on time.
Wine: Cultural Contradictions
German Riesling was meant for southeast asian cuisine. In particular, the beauty of dry Pflaz Riesling accompanies Vietnamese Bún, Bánh cuốn and nước mắm as though it had grown up with it for centuries. Why is one of the beauties of wine.
As with many asian cultures, food is of fundamental importance to the Vietnamese. The round tables found in asian restaurants (and not in Western) remind us of the deep connection between food and family, between communal dining and cultural memory.
I feel astonished by the harmony between German wine and Vietnamese food. Two cultures that never really met, but whose cultural products come together in apotheosis. How is this possible? (And don’t give me explanations involving acidity and sugar levels). It’s one of those cultural mysteries that gives truth to the deep visceral connection between humanity.
And here I am, engaged to a woman whose family traversed the waters of the Pacific to find Canada. A destination whose purpose is only now, after 34 years, revealing itself.
As for wine? Muller Catoir, a top producer from the Pfalz, has produced a marvel with this 2008 Spatlese Trocken. Its power and mid-palate intensity stood up perfectly to the anchovy laced fish sauce in the nước mắm I poured over my dinner. My only wish is that we would see more of German Riesling’s true diversity in this province.
German Riesling exemplifies BC’s (and, in fact, Canada’s) truncated wine culture. There is little available outside of Mosel-Saar-Ruwer. It takes the efforts of obsessive collecting and the search for intellectual stimulation to find examples of the great dry Rieslings found in regions like the Rheinhessen, Pfalz, Nahe and Franken.
Why does such limitation persist in this province, which is filled with myriad cultures and should embrace open minded expansion of passion and ideas, not closed minded and misconceived pursuit of the status quo? I’ll leave you, reader, to ponder the answer.
Wine: This One
Pfalz does not necessarily mean quality: 1 in 3 bottles of German wine come from its temperate climes. The range of grapes includes Riesling, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer, Chardonnay, Scheurebe and Muscat (amongst numerous other minor grapes). But, as in most of Germany, it is Riesling that makes the greatest wines.
With Muller Catoir, quality persists. This wine, at 13% ABV, exemplifies great dry Pfalz Riesling. An initially reticent nose of clay/petrol and lime (how many times have you read that description of Riesling?) became unique with a little air and a few sips. The palate is stunning: unripe guava, green mango, lime, with a long, clean savory dry finish. The mid-palate weight carries the wine into a long, extremely complex finish. Persistent, complete, and expressive of the deepest, greatest connections between cultures. A wine for humanists.
$58 at BCLDB