Monday, October 12, 2015

Plate smears

I was delighted to run into
a Mourvèdre from the Domaine
Tempier, last Sunday after-
noon outdoors, on what would
best have been a shaded park
bench, but happened to be a
typical iron perch at a side-
walk bistro, not far from my
local bookseller. The Robert-
son translation of The Bac-
chae had come in, but on im-
pulse I thought the day was
one for doing, more than say-
ing, so I paused to enjoy a
wine so identified with the
essence of Provence that my
objections to restaurants
might have been surmounted.

 To be fair, they were at least
 circumscribed, by the translu-
 cent warmth of the wine we 
 love so well for imparting 
 the gnarly, sunshocked vigor 
 of the vines it rides in on.
 Nothing is more plain than
 that this almost baked fruit
 of dark and thick-skinned ber-
 ries is evolved by rigid thin-
 ning of the clusters, to con-
 centrate such depth of earthy
 flavors and scorched herb ar-
 omatics, to saturate its am-
 ple tannins in one of the
 more opulent palates of   
 France. With the decanter
 resting in shade and one's
 chair exposed to the Autumn
 light, one tends not to speak
 as the palate's slaked by rus-
 tic veils, dissolving.

I would try this on the road, or at home, before submitting to the artifices that I endured, of commerce. From the title of this entry, it's already anticipated that the food one allowed to be prepared for the wine arrived with cliché at all four corners - the affected toppling disarray of elements, the witty cascade of mutually cancel-ing conceits - superfluous acids offered to correct extraneous lav-ishness - and of course, the telltale daubs and smears and rivulets of neo-aïoli unguents out of Ralph Steadman's latest poster. All of this, mind you, to update the flawlessly congealed pair of eggs. But the vines speak for themselves. If they can take exposure on the slopes of Bandol, they can weather the taunts of our professions.

Richard Olney
Lulu's Provençal Table
Alice Waters, foreword
Ten Speed Press, 1994©

Kermit Lynch
Adventures on the Wine Route
North Point Press, 1990©

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