I've spent most of my life in cities: Napoli, Albany, New York City, and Genova. As an urbanite, I developed a city-dweller's sense of superiority. Cities, I thought, were where it's at. In cities, you find sophisticated people doing sophisticated things, wearing sophisticated clothes, and working at sophisticated jobs. I thought little of country folk, and there was no one I looked down on more than farmers. Growing up, I heard the word "farmer" and the word connoted "hick." It was a negative thing. I saw a bumpkin, a less capable person. When I wanted to insult someone, I'd say things like "you must have fell off a turnip truck" -to me turnips were synonymous with farming. I didn't know much about farmers or farming, but I did know that I felt a righteous contempt.
These derogatory feelings started to change when I began to be seriously interested in wine. At some point, I made the connection that a person actually had to grow the grapes that made the wine in my glass. As I grew more knowledgeable about wine, I became more aware that wine producers, at a very basic level, were farmers. The choices they made in growing their grapes had a direct effect on the quality of their wine. In fact, the more I learned about wine, the more I realized that the quality of wine depended more on grape cultivation than on vinification methods. My respect for farming grew with my understanding and my love of wine.
All good winemakers spend time with their vines. All great winemakers know their vines up and down, inside and out. They understand how the slant of the sun in August means something different than the amount of snow in January, and they get that every year changes their relationship with their growing vines, with their ripening grapes, and with their aging wines. Today's offer celebrates one vintage--2013--in the life of three winemakers through the lens of three specific wines: Le Macchiole's Paleo Rosso, the estate's outstanding mono-varietal Cabernet Franc; Le Mortelle's Super-Tuscan Botrosecco Maremma Toscana IGT, an affordable and delicious red from the Antinori family; and Guigal's outrageous Ermitage Ex Voto Blanc, a wine that might drink for decades.
When you share these wines with your friends, be sure to toast to the farmers who make your life--and your wine--possible!