A message in a bottle; It’s how I view every vessel of wine. Each carries its own story, and no two are fully alike. Each is a treasure, waiting to be discovered.
I had no idea the reverence I would pay wine, when we first set out to create Syndicate. Modest passions aside, we were admittedly naive about the impacts this venture would carry for us and the community beyond. Months of running a wine bar in a town parched for such, to which I can now add formal WSET training, have solidified quiet intuitions I’d made over the years.
Wine is neither a science, nor art, nor trade; It is simultaneously all of those things and more. It is a vehicle of context that reveals itself through one’s senses. To be fully appreciated, it must be understood as an experience, not a commodity. Even professional wine “scores” miss the mark. One cannot truly quantify the qualitative.
In my previous post, I mentioned signage dating to the period in which the Outlander show is set. I admire the historical accounting of the wine industry as it was managed in the day, not to mention the role wine played in many communal dinners. Its prevalence throughout European society of the time is one detail I’d not considered; It was not limited to the upper class. Stepping back from fantasy, I recently came upon a real-life reference to wine from the same period.
Throughout the written past, great wines have been personified, written about as if a good friend, and adulated in poetry. In 1816, U.S. President Thomas Jefferson wrote, “For the present I confine myself to the physical want of some good Montepulciano, this being a very favorite wine, and habit having rendered the light and high flavored wines a necessary of life with me.”
Jefferson was writing about a wine made from Sangiovese: A particular clone used in winemaking around the city of Montepulciano. 50 years before Italy would be established as a country, Jefferson had found a style of wine from the region that is to me every bit as dear. Vino Nobile di Montepulciano is made from a Sangiovese clone called Prugnolo Gentile. It is a luscious, lower-acid version of the same grape that has been used to make Chianti for more than 500 years. I’m quite excited about this grape, possibly as much as Jefferson was.
Jefferson’s written words made me consider my own fascination with wine. I wasn’t aware of it at first, but as my palate has become more seasoned, I’m recognizing traits in specific wines and styles that appeal to me. Wines I never thought I’d like, are now there on our wall. I’ve learned to appreciate varietals and regional styles that I never imagined I would seek. More importantly, the subtleties are preoccupying my mind. I’ll stop mid-thought about something else, and realize a new connection between two winegrowing regions, or two winemaking styles, that otherwise would have never occurred to me
The past six months have challenged me to expand my knowledge and appreciate for wine further than I’d ever dreamed. Along with that knowledge, has evolved a sense of respect and deep-rooted passion, for what we do and present at Syndicate. The intentionality of our wine selection has grown ever more intentional.
Last night, as business was drawing to a close, a couple came in for a glass. The gentleman asked if I was familiar with the city of Montepulciano. I sat quietly as he told me of his experiences there. The look in his eyes showed me he shares in a similar passion, possibly rivaling that of Jefferson himself.
Love for wine is something you have to experience. It comes with time, and many samplings of wines you may both like and dislike. In the conditioning of one’s senses, the palate becomes attenuated to subtle nuances, and just like a favorite flavor of ice cream or smell of a particular bread, the experience of a good wine becomes intertwined with an emotional response. It is no longer something you consume; It is now something you feel at your core. This is how I define one’s passion for wine.
The next time you’re at Syndicate, look for a bottle on our wall a small hanging tag that reads, “D.A.’s Fave”, and ask me about it. We just might have a wine that could stoke your own passions.