Friday, May 12, 2017

The Bottled Poetry of Hundred Suns Wine

If there's one thing I adore about social media, it's getting to take part in friends' foodie ventures far and wide. Years ago I connected with a school mate who had moved to Oahu to be a bean to bar chocolatier. And most recently I saw a post about another school mate who, along with her husband, is behind Hundred Suns Wine


I immediately ordered two bottles of Pinot Noir, pouring one for our Easter feast and one for a girls' day. And, then, I ordered another three bottles: two Pinot Noir and one Syrah. I brought one bottle of Pinot to a birthday party, plan to open one on Sunday for Mothers' Day, and - because Renee told me to wait for the Syrah - I squirreled away that bottle for a later date.


When I first uncorked the 2015 Sequitur Pinot Noir, a quotation from Robert Louis Stevenson popped into my head: "Wine is bottled poetry."  It's from The Silverado Squatters (1883) which was written during his honeymoon in the Napa Valley. But, he's not talking about Napa Valley wines; he's lamenting that Napa wines aren't French wines. Fast forward nearly a century to 1976's Judgement of Paris when Napa wines were cemented as a wine force with which to be reckoned.

In any case, I opened the 2015 Old Eight Cut Pinot Noir whose name references a style of diamond cutting that dates back to the 14th century. The cut used simple tools to enhance the natural stone without masking its natural beauty. When I uncorked the wine, I was stunned by the aromatics. At the forefront, it was largely fruity with notes of strawberries and dried cranberries. But, with that first swirl and sip, intriguing layers revealed themselves.

The wine brought to mind Edna St. Vincent Millay's 1934 poem "Wine from These Grapes."

Wine from these grapes I shall be treading surely
Morning and noon and night until I die.
Stained with these grapes I shall lie down to die.

If you would speak with me on any matter,
At any time, come where these grapes are grown;
And you will find me treading them to must.
Lean then above me sagely, lest I spatter
Drops of the wine I tread from grapes and dust.

Stained with these grapes I shall lie down to die.
Three women come to wash me clean
Shall not erase this stain.
Nor leave me lying purely,
Awaiting the black lover.
Death, fumbling to uncover
My body in his bed,
Shall know
There has been one
Before him.



If the 2015 Old Eight Cut is first love, the 2015 Sequitur Pinot Noir is a full-blown affair. Oh, my goodness that's a voluptuous, magnificent wine. Another thing that raises the cool factor: it's fermented in terracotta amphorae and aged for almost a year. While I drank it, I remembered the amphorae preserved in the ashes of Vesuvius' wake. It also brought to mind Pablo Neruda's "Ode to Wine."

Day-colored wine,
night-colored wine,
wine with purple feet
or wine with topaz blood,
wine,
starry child
of earth,
wine, smooth
as a golden sword,
soft
as lascivious velvet,
wine, spiral-seashelled
and full of wonder,
amorous,
marine;
never has one goblet contained you,
one song, one man,
you are choral, gregarious,
at the least, you must be shared.
At times
you feed on mortal
memories;
your wave carries us
from tomb to tomb,
stonecutter of icy sepulchers,
and we weep
transitory tears;
your
glorious
spring dress
is different,
blood rises through the shoots,
wind incites the day,
nothing is left
of your immutable soul.
Wine
stirs the spring, happiness
bursts through the earth like a plant,
walls crumble,
and rocky cliffs,
chasms close,
as song is born.
A jug of wine, and thou beside me
in the wilderness,
sang the ancient poet.
Let the wine pitcher
add to the kiss of love its own.

My darling, suddenly
the line of your hip
becomes the brimming curve
of the wine goblet,
your breast is the grape cluster,
your nipples are the grapes,
the gleam of spirits lights your hair,
and your navel is a chaste seal
stamped on the vessel of your belly,
your love an inexhaustible
cascade of wine,
light that illuminates my senses,
the earthly splendor of life.

But you are more than love,
the fiery kiss,
the heat of fire,
more than the wine of life;
you are
the community of man,
translucency,
chorus of discipline,
abundance of flowers.
I like on the table,
when we're speaking,
the light of a bottle
of intelligent wine.
Drink it,
and remember in every
drop of gold,
in every topaz glass,
in every purple ladle,
that autumn labored
to fill the vessel with wine;
and in the ritual of his office,
let the simple man remember
to think of the soil and of his duty,
to propagate the canticle of the wine.


I can't wait to uncork the Syrah. I need to check with Renee and find out how long she recommends I hide it from myself! And I wonder, too, what poem will come to mind when I finally drink it.

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