In cooking school I studied oenology under no less an authority than Master of Wine Sandy Block. Since then, I’ve taken course after wine-tasting course; spent hours shooting the shit with sommeliers; and lost many a poker round for caring less about whether I had a full house than whether Pinotage really offers hints of both lava & roasted marshmallow (mmm…I’m getting the slightest suggestion of S’mores assembled in the pit of a volcano…you?) or a Petit Verdot blend is in fact the ideal accompaniment to sauteed backstrap of venison with red molé (or was that star-nosed mole sauteed with blackstrap molasses? It’s all so confoundedly specific…).
The upshot: it’s entirely possible I know a thing or two about a vinous thing or two.
And yet I’ll never be able to couch a description of something made from grapes in terms of another fruit without thinking of the guy in Delillo’s Ratner’s Star calling a Cadillac the Rolls Royce of automobiles.
That said, it hit me last night, as the Director & I were sucking down yet another bottle of Emilio Bulfon’s Forgiarìn—I don’t know why we don’t just stick two straws in & make like ducktailed teenyboppers down at the 5 & dime—
that if it doesn’t taste like sour-cherry cola, I don’t know what does. (Oh, except cherry cola. See what I mean? Don’t get me wrong, I’m totally down with descriptors that function according to the logic of Hobbesian wit; there’s revelation in uncanny allusions to, say, the dash of black pepper in a Côtes du Rhône or the waft of pine needles from a Pinot Noir. But to say that grapes remind me of cherries is to pretty much shoot an air ball from metaphor’s own free throw line, no?)
That I should be launching into this monoblogue about the efficacy of the standard oenolexicon (or at least my grasp thereon) right now makes sense, I suppose, given that the most salient feature of Forgiarìn is that it was unheard of until about firthy years ago (per the English translation on the Bulfon website). While those buttery Chards go rancid & that jammy Cab reminds you to scrub between your toes, the gross clichés for a wine made from a grape that hasn’t been cultivated since the time of Pliny the Elder have yet to be established. That goes for all the varietals Bulfon makes from the vines he rescued—with the help of ampelographic experts who traced their roots (no pun intended—what a weird thing for me to say) back to the Roman Empire—from ancient obscurity. As I understand it, he was until very recently the only winemaker in the world to be growing the likes of Sciaglìn, Ucelùt and another favorite of mine, the exquisitely balanced Piculìt Neri;
as I also understand it, Colorado’s one of the only states in the nation currently importing them. I stock up at Divino; I humbly suggest you do likewise, & then we can have ourselves a description-off. Winner gets a bottle on me.
***We’ll return with our special guest after this brief intermission***
So there we were, knocking back our wine & noshing on a slapdash deli platter—slices of black pepper–coated salami, wedges of morbier & aged gouda, mixed nuts, crackers—when we heard a sort of scrabbling coming from behind the magazine rack. We pushed it aside & saw this:
No wonder the mouse in our house hadn’t touched the peanut butter we put in its trap—he was waiting for something to spread it on.