Human beings love certainty and stability. That’s why most cultures have held religious beliefs that assert that behind the contingencies of life there is something eternal and unchanging to supply meaning. And although science doesn’t traffic in certainties, it aspires to something certainty-adjacent. For a hypothesis to receive confirmation, the experimental data must show that there is less than a 5% probability that the results are due to chance. We like predictable results; they make life easy.
Then there are wine lovers.
Here is Talk-A-Vino recounting his experience of a half case of 2007 François Cazin Le Petit Chambord Cour-Cheverny AOC, which he purchased in order to replicate the amazing experience he had with the 1998 vintage tasted in 2008.
2 or 3 years after purchase, it’s mediocre. In 2014, still mediocre. 2015 amazing. 2019, underwhelming, 2021, just strange, and clearly over the hill. The last bottle opened in 2022—“The wine was alive, the wine was fresh, the wine was perfect.”
Anyone cares to explain this to me? I stored all 6 bottles the same way. Maybe the wine was strangely not ready in 2019 (sleeping stage), and last year’s bottle simply had an issue of cork? Maybe what I tasted in 2015 was actually a peak, and so this vintage needed only 8 years and not 10? Why 1998 was amazing at 10 years of age, and 2007 was amazing at 8 and 15? Vintage variations? Change in winemaking between 1998 and 2007? Wine Spectator vintage charts consider 2007 Loire wines past prime. Wine Enthusiast’s vintage rating for 1998 is 86, and 2007 is 92. And none of it helps.
Most consumers would be pissed. We find this fascinating.
Then James Lawrence at Wine Searcher writes about “Winemaking At The Margins.”
It’s harvest time, and your neighbor’s 150-year old tractor has, surprisingly, broken down. There’s a real shortage of grape pickers this year, which means getting up at 4am to traipse across your muddy field of two hectares. Frost in March wiped out a third of your crop, and there’s a hurricane forecast to hit any day now. Can things get worse? Yes, yes they can.
He goes on to describe the precarious life of winemaking in cold, rainy England and drought-parched Swartland in South Africa, on the active volcano of Mt. Etna, and the battlegrounds of Lebanon and Syria. Owners of the Syrian brand Bargylus report:
“About three years ago, every six to eight months we had mortar shelling on the estate. We had some damages but it’s part of life in this area of the world,” Saadé said in 2017. He told journalists that the grapes were often packed in ice and driven by taxi to their offices in Lebanon, so a judgment about the harvest date could be made. It was simply too dangerous for the brothers to venture across the border.
Lawrence sums it up:
It puts our everyday problems into perspective, doesn’t it?
Well yes, yes it does. It also highlights the fact that we’re nuts, seriously off. But if you’re reading this you probably knew that already.