“Wine and mortality” and the last bottle of 2004 Produttori del Barbaresco

Above: One of the first times I tasted the 2004 Produttori del Barbaresco was in February of 2008 with my good friend John Yelenosky at a pizzeria in San Diego. Tracie B and I drank our last bottle of 2004 Produttori del Barbaresco last night… and so did a Good Friend…

“Wine and mortality” was the subject line of an email I received today from a Good Friend. As I write this, One of the Good Friend’s loved ones is leaving this world for the nec plus ultra of the beyond. The One’s transfiguration is being observed in their home, with friends gathering to tell the One how much they love the One and to hold the One’s hands and massage the One’s feet.

The Good Friend wrote that two bottles of wine were opened last night to toast the One. Of those, one was “my last bottle of 2004 Produttori.”

As it so happens, Tracie B and I decided unknowingly to open our last bottle of 2004 Produttori del Barbaresco last night — not for any particular reason other than the fact that it seemed to have found its way to the front of the refrigerator that we use as a wine cellar.

Unwittingly, we discovered, we shared the same wine as the Good Friend and the One.

Wine and our perceptions of wine are a visceral experience by which we share our humanity and our humanness — and ultimately, our mortality. The miracle of wine (and until modern times, wine was considered a divine miracle) is a mystery of life that some of us (the ones and the others) often contemplate more or less profoundly on a nearly daily basis, a riddle of the Sphinx that more often than not leaves us speechless, unable to describe it.

I’ve often thought of the winemaker as a medical doctor who captures the “life” of the grape in its liquid form and preserves it for years and even decades longer with a cork. When the liquid is released again, the grapes’s life begins to transpire, and we often experience a sense of awe and ecstasy as this takes place (consider, here, the word ecstasy in its etymologic sense).

Last night, the Good Friend and the One and Tracie B and I all tasted the same Nebbiolo grapes from the same vintage, bottled at the hand of the same Other.

“Do not know what we will drink tonight,” the Good Friend concluded the email, “but do know to whom our glasses will be raised.”

This post is devoted to the Good Friend and the One. Tracie B and I will raise a glass to you both tonight.

You are in our hearts and our thoughts.

5 thoughts on ““Wine and mortality” and the last bottle of 2004 Produttori del Barbaresco

  1. Thank you, brother Jeremy. I am moved and heartened by your words. They mean much.

    When all was said and done, we were in need of something mournful, elegiac, with notes of poignance and regret. What filled the bill was a bottle of Andrea Occhipinti’s Nero d’Avola. The friends with whom I shared it were not oenophiles by any stretch, but the volcanic aching melancholy–again, the sheer mortality of the wine–came through for all.

    • Dear Howard, Tracie B and I are very sorry for you loss and want you to know that you and family are in our hearts and our thoughts — as you have been for the last months.The black earth in the Occhipinti Nero d’Avola comes from one of the oldest places in world, a place where volcanoes remind us of our fragility and our transience in the natural world. The people who make that wine could have stepped right off the page of a Verga novella and they would remind us, no doubt, that we are all part of the history of the world and the history of humankind, a greater story that is retold and told again with every generation in an epic history that began before anyone can remember on an island after the flood. Dear Howard, know that we are with you and that we are here for you when you need us. In faith, Jeremy and Tracie B

  2. Produttori del Barbaresco make outstanding Barbarescos. Their 2005, even the basic “Normale” bottling, is wonderful and one of the best Barbaresco values out there. Tying it to a solemn event of a friend’s passing is a gracious sentiment.

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