Blustery winter mornings and the elusive concept of “somewhereness”

It took more than a little bit of convincing this morning to drag myself out from under my warm covers, but luckily for technological luxuries, I can still be productive without feet even touching ground! Steve Jobs, to you (or all of those poor, underpaid souls who worked for you) I send utmost appreciation and thank-you for so skillfully marketing and convincing me that the iPad would change my life–I hate to admit it, but it has.

With so many areas of interest in the world of oenology, and after reading an article by journalist Bill Zacharkiw, wine critic for the Montreal Gazette (Wine reflects culture, place, and time), I have been paying much needed attention to the illustrious concept of place, or as termed by Wine Spectator’s Matt Kramer, somewhereness. By this, one is referring to more than simply the country, region or even terroir of any given wine, but to all of those elements applied in combination with the winemaker’s viticultural techniques– from grape harvest to fermentation, the time and methods of aging, etc– and all of the other interminable, undefinable factors that bring the wine to life. Sometimes, the best wines may have been the result of a poor harvest, wherein the winemaker was forced to employ their very best imagination, and think “outside-the-box”, improvising the way to a wine with bold character and nuances that cannot be pinpointed other than to say it has a certain Joie de vivre like no other. This is what I would call somewhereness.

We have all heard that “sometimes the greatest discoveries are simply results of the biggest mishaps.” I would boldly venture to suggest that the same can be said for wine production. That sometimes, the best, most notable wine may stray from textbook perfection, however in doing so, may exhibit unique characteristics that makes it such a gem…. Cue, once again, a wine’s place and its somewhereness. Better yet, its living soul. Just as one would describe a technically proficient, yet masterfully expressive musician’s performance– although, arguably deficient to some, exquisite to others. This intangible quality is one that speaks more to our hearts than our technically structured minds. Somehow, it just connects and resounds…

In the end, we should not lose sight of the fact that wine tasting, though a meticulous, skillful practice and art that takes years to cultivate and decades to master, is subjective to each individual taster. What I may love, another may forgo and so on. Everyone has a certain tasting profile, and preference, and in the end, we know best what makes our senses sing and hearts happy. The best wine may be one that is highly revered by a Master Sommelier (we have two Canadian superstars, fyi, who will be competing in Tokyo in March: Canadian Sommelier Olympics), one which I rave and recommend or simply one that sits in your collection, picked up on an impromptu trip to a small, out-of-the-way winery, and boasts memories galore. So often, the wines that make the biggest impression in my memory, are the wines that have stories to go with them. Whatever it may be, find it–search for it– and be passionate about it. Share it with others, take time to savour it in your glass: its aromatics qualities, its hue, and then, how it feels and awakens your taste buds. Let the wine come to life.

I am not sure what is on my tasting menu for the day, but whatever it may be, I can’t wait to savour the adventure….


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