One of the things that has always amazed me about wine is how it can expand the horizons in our minds and our hearts.
In our minds because every wine is a glimpse of the past, a moment in time captured in a bottle, the universe in a glass.
In our hearts because despite all our science, wine remains a mystery and miracle, the same that gave life, succor, and faith to the ancients and the women and men who came before us in nearer times.
A bottle of 1985 Morellino di Scansano reminded me of our shared humanity last night when a group of wine writers sat down for dinner and a flight of Fattoria Le Pupille wines with the farm’s current generation, Clara Gentili. (I’ve been consulting with her U.S. importer, Ethica, and they brought me to Florida this week to meet her and taste together.)
The wine, harvested a month or so after a kid from southern California started college and Ronald Reagan was roughly halfway through his presidency, was fresh and lithe in the glass, with moreish savory notes of macchia (the distinctive Italian garrigue) and supple red and berry fruit that danced atop its still very vibrant acidity.
A 35-year-old wine that’s abided patiently through world crises — bellic, pecuniary, and epidemical — that have convulsed human discourse and self-awareness. A more than three-decades-old expression of a rational contortion of nature, the effort resulting by women and men (some of whom are no longer here to know the fruits of their toil) who worked the vineyards and transformed the must.
The wine — utterly delicious and immaculate in its clarity and focus — lifted me up and brightened my spirit. It reminded me of a line from Boccaccio’s afterword, where he advocates for the entertainments and medicaments of the young Tuscan nobles who have fled Florence for the countryside.
“Who will deny that wine is an excellent thing for the living?” he asks.
Clara, thank you for coming to America during these trying times and sharing these extraordinary bottles with us! Thank you for not letting trepidation in the face of the uncertainty impede your travels in wine! Thank you for reminding us of the miracle of wine and its life-giving properties!
Thank you, most of all, for affirming that we, too, will weather the current crises the world faces, just like a 35-year-old bottle of wine harvested on the Tuscan coast nearly a lifetime ago.
I’ll be tasting with Clara and other Italian producers tonight at the Suckling event in Miami and on Sunday and Monday I’ll be attending the Florida Wine Academy’s Vino Summit conference. I’m looking forward to sharing notes from both…