*Please take a moment to read the page pictured above*
The excerpt pictured embodies why I was drawn to wine about a decade ago. I know it sounds cliché to say that “these words moved me”, so I won’t. They help to evoke a memory of where I’ve been.
Back in the summer of 2003, I was in a dark place. I just graduated from college, but had no clue what I wanted to do, had no real job leads, didn’t want to return to Ohio, was broke with tons of debt, and worse, I was completely directionless. During those times of doubt, there was something that gave me hope…I found wine. No, I did not become a lush, but rather I got to know wine, its history, its communal nature, its ethereal ability to inspire action, and the aspirational qualities that allow a couple friends sharing a bottle of good wine to dream that things can be better.
Fast forward to the tail-end of 2013. I reached out to my friend Olivier Magny for a couple signed copies of his book Into Wine, as I was looking for a thoughtful gift for a few higher-ups at work. In the book, Olivier recalls much of what he learned and has taught his students through the years regarding wine, business, society, the environment, and having fun with the company you’re in. At the end, he looks back fondly at the realization that he’s remained true to himself through those years, even with everything that’s been thrown at him.
When ordering the books, I couldn’t help but get one for myself. I’m glad I did, because it helped me recall some fond memories of my own wine journey. In particular, I recalled a seminal moment that took place during my honeymoon. During our first full day in Paris, Christine and I were to attend a wine tasting class at O-Chateau (sounds pretty swanky huh?!). We decided to walk to the venue, so we departed from our hotel near the Arc de Triomphe and more than 4 miles later we reached our destination a few blocks north of the Bastille Opera (looked way closer on the map!). Regardless, we were there, completely freaked out by the location (very sketchy little neighborhood), but when we walked through the door, we were greeted by a smiling Olivier and sat down amongst the other guests. The “Wine Loft” as it was affectionately called (Olivier’s apartment) was charming. I can still distinctly remember how much fun we had and the impression he left on us. In all honesty, our first impressions of Olivier helped form our perception of Parisians from that moment forward (they’re really not that terrible…just kidding, they kinda are, he’s just the shit). As I mentioned earlier, this was a seminal moment, as it was the official beginning of Christine and my wine journey together (prior to this trip, her favorite wine was Asti…my how far we all come in our journeys!).
Thanks for letting me ramble, I will not pretend that listing off the other recollections will impress or interest you; however they did serve as a reminder of something significant: the purity of one’s desire to aspire and grow, and the role wine has played in it.
That leads us to terroir. At its core, the French term terroir is the quality that some wines possess that allow them to project their origins. As Olivier says in the excerpt I asked you to read, there’s something intrinsically noble in the pursuit of terroir, not only in wine, but in life. These recollections led me to recall my own personal terroir and I think it illustrates how, in a rather deep way, we’re tied to the Earth and wine.
Terroir in a wine is about a wine’s ability to convey its origins, stay true to them, and aspire to convey their “somewhereness” to you. It’s about the soil (and sub-soil), the development of the vine, the budding and development of the grapes, and the respect shown by the winemaker, all in the quest to tell the story of this evolution through the vessel that is wine. Terroir is something that the best wines seek to convey.
Terroir in life is about where you’re from, staying true to it, and aspiring to project your own “somewhereness” in the layers you develop throughout your life. It’s your ability to see the purity that is your core that lies beneath distractions (and faults) that truly tells your story.
Although I’m not sure it was his intent, Olivier assisted me in recalling a lot of goodness while reading Into Wine. The summer of 2003 was dark, but it has ended in light. Our honeymoon in 2007 marked another layer of development, but throughout it all, wine has helped me to aspire to be a better person, to bring people together, to open up and welcome experiences I may have shied away from, and to create memories and experiences that are unique and rich not only for myself, but for others as well. I’m only thirty-four now and I look back at the decade since I found wine and, like Olivier, I do so fondly and I’m proud that my terroir still shines through.
Merci mon ami.