Wine can indeed be a study in contrasts as emphasized by an article read and a podcast listened to on the same day this week.
The first, an article in the Napa Valley Register, contained these quotes about a wine in the Premier Napa Valley Auction, “Through the study of phenols, the wine is broken down into its key chemical components to determine the optimal levels of extraction while the grape skins are in contact with the freshly pressed grape juice. The science of phenols is used as a predictor of wine quality… (this wine) represented the highest recorded phenolic reading to date at 4,600 iron-reactive phenolics in parts per million. This high reading translates to a more complex wine featuring higher quality attributes, including taste, mouthfeel and body.”
Just a few hours later I was listening to the I’ll Drink to That! with Levi Dalton podcast interview with Jacques Lardière, formerly winemaker of Maison Louis Jadot in Burgundy and who is now making wine in Oregon at Jadot’s Résonance Oregon winery. First of all, if you are serious about wine, listening to Dalton’s interviews are a must. Secondly, if you’ve never listened to the podcast before, do not start with the Lardière interview as, as Dalton notes in his introduction, this interview needs to be listened to a few times before it sinks in. I assure you a few listens are well worth the effort.
The contrast between the article and the podcast could not have been more obvious. Lardière spoke of “vibrations” and wine as a spiritual component of the earth itself. The Napa wine was in a contest to achieve the highest rate ever of iron-reactive phenolics. If it’s hard to believe they’re making the same product it’s because they aren’t.
In his interview, Lardière refers to, “formatted wines.” Formatting is a technical term that makes me think of technology, not nature and wine. Formatting is important for your hard drive on your computer. But, personally, I’d prefer to think of the vibrations the wine and I exchange rather than the emotions I had last time I reformatted my hard drive.