Thursday, July 10, 2008


Shannon reports back on a trade event in Louisville with Jed Steele, legendary winemaker:

“I’ve replaced the hope for contentment with an intent on hard living to rival that of Ernest Hemingway’s.” So says the back label of Writer’s Block Grenache Lake County 2006.

The entire Writer’s Block series includes a Pinot Noir (a favorite of our store), a Malbec, Roussane, Petite Sirah, Syrah, Cabernet Franc and Zinfandel. These wines are produced by Steele Wineries, whose owner and winemaker I had the pleasure of meeting a few weeks ago in Louisville, Jed Steele.

As we got to talking, I told him how appreciative I was of his wines, (I also love the Steele Pinot Noir Carneros 2006, which is a smoky but balanced pinot noir), and how much I loved reading the backs of the labels of the Writer’s Block series. He informed me the idea was his son's, who is an up-and-coming wine maker in his own right, and who studied English Literature in school and thus designed the Writer’s Block series. Each varietal has a different anecdote written on the back, a literati treat for the mind, as the wine in the bottle is a treat for the palate.

I also have a Bachelor’s Degree in English Lit, so I loved hearing the connection of this wine to the written word. Or, more specifically, the combination of two of my passions in one: wine with a witty homage to writing.

A few people have asked me since I’ve started working with wine if I can draw any parallels to the two worlds (wine and writing, that is), and the immediate parallel that comes to mind is the trademark quality that most really great writers throughout history share: they were incessant drinkers.

Take, for example, Hemingway on the left bank of Paris, sipping on wine and watching the Seine, writing “The Sun Also Rises”, where the protagonist is so drunk for most of the narrative, drinking from wine skins in Pamplona, that the reader can hardly decipher the course of events.

Thus, the parallel that is made on the Writer’s Block Grenache. Wine is “Love’s Liquid Shadow”, “The Soul’s Lubricant”. By drinking the grape’s mysterious juices, it fuels our own creative juices. By loving wine, we are loving life, and all the subtle nuances it brings. And that is exactly what really great writers accomplish. They capture life, emotion, reality, darkness, mystery. Instead of flowing forth from a bottle, it flows from their pen."

No comments: