Notes from the Cellar: Let’s get lost

Sound Consumer January 2011 | by Jeff Cox, Wine and Beer Merchandiser

Graciano. Say it. Graciano. Delicious, no? Mellifluous at a minimum and when pronounced with the proper accent, an instance par excellence of onomatopoeia. These ears hear grace, depth, boldness, bright, racy rhythms, accents of sultry spice and a hard-to-categorize wildness. It’s a lovely word and an even lovelier grape, rich in color, exuberantly fragrant, spicy and magnificently structured, with great aging potential.

Fittingly, such character is seldom expressed in bountiful harvests, and Graciano is anything but prolific, as legendary for its low yields as for its perfume and focus. Meaning, of course, that Graciano is rapidly disappearing, as growers focused on the bottom line graft their vines over to far less precocious Garnacha or Tempranillo.

GPS takes you directly where you want to go. No maps, no directions, no uncertainty, no thinking required. You can’t get lost!

Marcel Proust’s “In Search of Lost Time” is among the most remarkable novels of the 20th century, a virtual literary cosmos in seven volumes. Reading it is a project, requiring attention and intellectual commitment to unravel the incredible detail in its prose. A favorite professor once referred to the work as “3,000 pages of absolutely nothing – but it’s the nothing that means everything.”

These days, however, literary merit is measured in numbers of units sold. Such projects are the province of literature majors and eccentrics, while the novel passes into artistic obscurity. Cut to the chase, please. Entertain us, give us action.

A great bottle of wine can take hours to drink. Revealing itself gradually, its tale unfolds with each swirl, hinting at new paths with every successive sniff and sip. Meanwhile, wines that win big scores from the critics generally come right to the point: Big. Ripe. Impressive. 90 plus. It’s all you need to know.

The point? You have options. Let someone else take care of the details, you have better, more productive things to do. Or, find your own way, get lost in the nuances, be part of the journey, take the less direct route, think for yourself, trust your palate.

As for me, the winter darkness invites brooding as I assess the topography of a fresh calendar. This year, I’ll dive into that stack of books, get lost more often, drink more Champagne and fine, old Riojas with plenty of Graciano in the blend.

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