We have this place, this planet, that means so much to us. In the old days, we thought we belonged to the planet. These days, we think the planet belongs to us. That's how far we've come as a species. We used to think of the planet as our mother. Now we think of her as our property.
If you ask people how they feel about our planet, most of them will say,
"I love the earth." But if you ask them if they think the earth loves them, most people will say, "I don't know" or "I'm really not sure."
Evidently, the idea that we could love our planet is easy to grasp but the idea of our planet loving us is not. People seem to have a hard time thinking of our planet as a living entity, which is odd, because the earth is alive and, at some level, we all know it. So why do we deny it?
I think our problem is psychological. I think we are possessed by a good, old-fashioned case of human guilt. As a species, we have done such horrible things to the earth we can't believe that the earth still loves us. We are like the man who beats his wife and his kids, gets up each morning, looks at himself in the mirror, and says, "I wonder if they still love me?" He knows they do, but he also knows he can't stop beating them. After a while, more out of shame than guilt, the man talks himself into believing that his family hates him. The alternative-to believe that they love him in spite of the beatings-is too difficult to contemplate.
Personally, I think the earth loves us. When I drink wine I taste the blood of the earth. When I drink a great wine-and by "a great wine" I mean a wine that tastes like the love that went into making it-I taste mystery. I taste uncertainty. I taste paradox. I taste the partnership between humanity and nature. Like the love of a good woman, the taste of a good wine is simultaneously natural and unnatural. On one level, it makes no sense. After all, it's fermented grape juice. On another level, it makes all the sense in the world.
Domaine du Gros'Noré is a winery in Provence, six miles inland from the village of Bandol. (Gros'Noré is pronounced "Grow Nor-RAY.") Gros'Noré's wines are made by Alain Pascal, a former boxer who inherited the vineyards from his father, Honoré Pascal, a man who was known in and around the village of Bandol as "Gros'Noré," or "Fat Honoré." According to Kermit Lynch, Gros'Noré's importer, Alain Pascal is on a mission. He is determined to make the best wine in Provence. In 2006, when I first tasted Gros'Noré's 2003 Bandol Rouge, I thought it was one of the best red wines I had ever tasted, but as great as that wine was, it did not prepare me for the quality of Gros'Noré's 2007 Bandol Rosé.
In the glass, the 2007 Gros'Noré Rosé is a bright, clear, translucent copper. The bouquet is rich, almost to the point of being exotic. It resembles the bouquet of a twelve-year-old Puligny-Montrachet more than the bouquet of a twelve-month-old Provencal rosé. In five years the bouquet will be magnificent. In ten years it will be staggering.
On the palate, the wine is pure finesse-except that it's not. Behind the finesse is the unspoken core, the latent strength all great wines have in common. You never taste that strength but you do feel its presence. The wine's finesse owes its style to that strength. The finish is quick, emphatic, and painfully beautiful. It makes you miss the sip you just took. Anyone who has the discipline to cellar this wine is going to be very happy in 2013. During the next five years the wine may lose some of its immediacy, but what it loses in immediacy it will gain in depth and grace. The 2007 Gros'Noré Rosé costs $30 a bottle and $325 by the case. I cannot think of a better way to spend $325. This wine is a pure, unadulterated delight right now. It will age into a pure, unadulterated classic.
We know we have a future. We plan for it. We look forward to it. We fear it. We know our future is going to be a challenge but we also know we have the skills to survive any challenge, maybe not as individuals but definitely as a species. We have lived through the hell on earth known in polite company as "human history." Our choice is whether or not we want to import hell from our past and export it to our future or leave hell in the past where, God willing, it might actually do us some good.
We know what we want. We want to survive. The question is, what does our planet want? I think the answer to that question lies in our planet's generosity. Each time I taste a great wine, I am reminded of the fact that the earth does not make wine. People make wine out of what the earth gives us. The earth is powerful. If she wanted to make wine, she could do it. Instead, she offers us the raw materials: dirt, gravel, vines, grapes, rain, sun, and our own ingenuity. She offers us these gifts, then she stands back and lets us make the wine.
She gives us a chance. When we blow that chance, she gives us another. That is the kind of generosity that can only come from love.
One Bottle is dedicated to the appreciation of good wine and good times, one bottle at a time. The name One Bottle, and the contents of this column, are © 2008 by onebottle.com. If you need help finding a wine or building a cellar, write to Joshua Baer at firstname.lastname@example.org.