Sunday, September 30, 2018

BRAMBLES: Nothing else Like It!

Vitis vinifera, a self-pollinating berry-fruit vine native to Europe and Asia Minor, with a domesticated history that goes back thousands of years, is once again in the Northern Hemisphere harvesting season news.  A venerable agri-industry, global wine is now on a grand international scale that continues to impact its growing consumer demands by testing those ever-changing market forces. From growers to producers to marketplace, today's wine meanders thru a complex, cosmopolitan web to get its products on the tables of thirsty consumers.

With a reported widespread French vineyards return to a  'new normal', and a locally declared "vintage year" sitting on one side of our current harvest; opposing local Lake & Mendocino county grape farmers who are having their vineyard contracts now cancelled by large, regional wine producers(corporations) that now reside on the weighted other.  We are a market driven industry; 'it was the best of times, it was the worst of times', to borrow drinking a phrase.

In production and marketing: That mysterious cork-taint problem was never in the Old World's natural corks, however, it was found to be the human process that followed; and a passed U.S.Senate resolution(HR766) that says uniqueness is defined by our AVA's, created legislation that now acknowledges distinctiveness and its considerable value for America from our growing national wine industry.  Our first AVA was defined way back in 1980 to ostensibly position the nation's wines for an international market, to regulate production and to advocate for consumers. Who knew it would take almost 40 years(my drinking years) for its inherent value to be recognized?
Vineyards of Columbia Gorge AVA
If you stick your nose in a glass, you may find that wine smells truly like nothing else(even with muting cork-taint).  Fruit and spice, pronounced or composed, it's a note here and there, perhaps even framed by toasted wet wood, or lingering dried fruits.  Prominent aromatics tend to originate from the namesake wine grape, as it carries personality from the vineyard to the consumer glass.  It has collected the characteristics of place and varietal; and even its gender can be considered an 'inherited' quality.  In this social equality era, it may be wine-reasonable to ask: Is it feminine or masculine that consistently engage with us in that glass?

For me the sauvignon(savage), either white or red(masculine, having an effective untamed leverage) reflects strongly where & how it is grown.  Conversely, grenache(feminine, but fiesty) presents less assertive amicability, but always willing to join in. When compared to cabernet sauvignon, the companion merlot grape has historically been seen as the more feminine of the two: approachable early, its tones softer, rounder. Minor whites, verdicchio and muscadelle and melon de Bourgogne, and even richly perfumed and queenly chenin blanc, express feminine virtues for me; where noble riesling and pinot gris/grigio suggest qualities that let them sit with the boys.  It is, of course, a personal relationship. Yep, male and female do exist in the world of grapes, but because it is nature- evolved there can even be a neuter or two.  It is something that for each of us remains an intimate and unique experience to savor.
Bulgaria harvests
Today's European Union has grown cooperatively to 28 member states, with wine-loving republics Bulgaria and Romania joining in 2007.  Once among the largest wine producing regions in the world, modernization supported by EU investment over the last decade has improved vineyard development, wine quality and has revitalized more than 6000 years of wine history across these Balkan States.  With growing production and exports, Old World regions here in the cradle of wine are now being globally promoted as 'symbols of quality wine' and 'modern wine destinations'.  What was once old is now new again.  In the composite, the ever-changing world news of wine, there is nothing else like it!


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