Last week we got off the grid. Back to nature. No phones, no email, no blogging. Took hikes, cooked, read three books (analog), shot pictures, cooked, drank wine and looked at the United States from the other side of the Juan de Fuca Strait. And did a mess of thinking.
And while I did a lot of thinking about the country I was born and live in, my thoughts also were in Piedmont. In fact when I came back I posted that little one about the Cannubi matter.
In my research, I read and pored over maps, old catalogs, pictures, all kinds of ephemera I have saved over the decades.
In fact, my head went straight from Canada right to Piemonte and that’s the space I have been in pretty much since I got back. There’s a reason for that and it isn’t what one might imagine. Nothing to do with work or the oppressive heat of Texas. More of a space I got in from doing a post I really didn’t think I was going to do. You see I had written a post in Canada and was going to lay it all out. And then I realized it was just more beating of the same old drums. And I just wasn’t into it. Maybe save it for another time when I might be. But I don’t know if I will be. After all, life isn’t so bad. We have nothing to gripe about, really.
And Piemonte, reading that marvelous book, the Slow Food book, “A Wine Atlas of the Langhe”. There are stories about people who were seminal in the 19th and 20th century development and advancement of the wines of Piemonte. One or two page vignettes, told in an oral tradition style. And reading these I came to realize there were a lot of those people I have met, shared a meal and a bottle of wine, and done business with. And right then, while I was thinking how much I was learning and how much more I had to learn, I felt so grateful to have been exposed to these people. They enrich our lives, these bigger trees.
One time I was at Vinitaly, or maybe many times, I would look out over the forest of people whose vocation is wine of Italy. There are thousands of folk; many of them toiling with never a shred of recognition. There are others who seek the limelight, or fame or wealth, power, control. The forest crowds them in as well. I got to thinking how unfathomable this whole thing was. Not the appellations or the constantly changing DOC/DOCG opera. Or the styles. Or the prices. None of that. Just the sheer energy of the affair. And then I realized, I wasn’t working in the Italian wine business. I was a tree in the forest, among many, growing and doing what trees do. I was not any more important than the other guy or gal. Oh yeah, I thought I was, with my “buying power.” But that was subterfuge, a distraction from the essence of the whole thing. Here I was in an old growth forest and was standing in the wind, the snow, the rain, the blazing sun, with some of the great pioneers of wine in Italy in a time when it just didn’t get any more historic and heraldic than what we have witnessed since the end of WWII. Atom bombs and pop rocks, espresso in every town in America and a bottle of red wine as well. Heady stuff. And there I was at the party. So damn lucky. Not smart – lucky.
If you are in the wine business or just like wine and are drawn to Italy, get over there and get in front of some of these big trees. They’re very accessible. I don’t recall where I recently read this, but some wise soul mentioned that one pretty much had to be “in the trade” to get in front of the important producers in Burgundy and Bordeaux. At the very least, one has to have an “introduction.” And in Italy, as this person remarked, one doesn’t need that. Piedmont is crawling with great people in the cellars, the fields, the wineries, all over. And they are there, willing to taste a little wine and talk with you. It’s one of the great wine producing regions of the world and it is accessible. Like going to Sequoia National Park and gazing at the giant trees, Piemonte is a land of giants.
We are living in an amazing time. Get thee to the forest – soon.