Notes from Assemblage Monte Bello: The 1999 Monte Bello

Those of us of a certain age lived through the Clinton-era PC years, and digested our requisite dose of political correctness accordingly.

The wine industry did so as well, and one of the conventions to largely go the way of the dinosaur was gender’d analysis of wine; you rarely see wines described as “masculine” or “feminine” any longer.

As far as I am concerned, I am not too bothered by this, as I have to confess, the deployment of these terms was never an approach I was particularly fond of to begin with. There are far more imaginative and poetic ways to linguistically wrestle the intangible into coherence.

All of which makes it all the more strange that I should find myself thinking about gender when contemplating the 1999 Monte Bello. I can’t possibly say why, but for some reason, I have always had the sense that this wine is male. But no longer.

What follows is a completely true  “I woke up in the middle of the night and wrote this on a scrap of paper by my bedside before immediately falling asleep again” story …

Which is to say, I woke up in the middle of the night last night, and wrote the following:


And if you don’t believe me, here is the paper (I scribbled my note, oddly enough, around a poem entitled “Snails”, by John Witte, in The New Yorker!):

Anyhow, the point is, for some reason, it occurred to me that the 1999 Monte Bello is very much like the young Bulgarian woman trying to procure exit visas for herself and her new husband in Casablanca! Duh!

Meaning; as Annina Brandel (as played by the then 17-year-old Joy Page) is both so very young and yet so possessed of a certain gravitas, so too is the 1999 Monte Bello.

The 1999 Monte Bello ...

In the movie, Annina is asking advice of Rick (played by Humphrey Bogart) about whether or not she should do a “bad thing” in order to receive said exit visas from Captain Renault, the prefect of police (played by Claude Rains). She then speaks of her husband Jan, “He is such a boy. In many ways I am so much older than he is.”

And that is the 1999 Monte Bello! Young, beautiful, exotic, passionate and desperate in equal measures, and yet somehow, wise beyond its years.

Casablanca ...

Categories: Monte Bello

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