I lived in New York once, and then left, and then moved back and lived there again. That should tell you something about my feelings for New York.
That said, I lived in Northern California once, and then left, and then moved back, and I am now here to stay. That should also tell you something about my feelings for New York.
That said, my missus and I have maintained our subscriptions to The New York Times and The New Yorker.
Meaning, I read Eric Asimov.
Because, as the great and wise Tom Hill says, he has original thoughts. And because, as I say, his heart and his palate are in the right place.
So when Eric wants to talk Zinfandel, I want to listen.
Particularly because Eric doesn’t normally much like Zinfandel.
Fortunately, it turns out he likes ours.
It was an odd quest Mr. Asimov recently set out on; a search for Zinfandels evidencing restraint.
Zinfandels that exhibited freshness, energy, and balance.
Fish in a barrel, or Nessie in the Loch?
They searched, they selected, they tasted. The results?
You could say we were mildly disappointed by our tasting. Certainly, lower alcohol levels by themselves are no guarantee that a wine will be lively and energetic. Yet we hope that more zinfandel producers will embrace the notion that wines can be both agile and intense rather than aiming simply for blockbuster power.
Ok, sounds like it didn’t go very well, right?
They did indeed find the wines they were hoping for, just not a great many of them. But the ones they did love, they really loved. And they weren’t even surprised to be loving them. Dig this:
Our No. 1 wine was no surprise. For decades, Ridge has been making great zinfandels from its old-vine vineyards in Sonoma County, and the 2010 from Lytton Springs in Dry Creek Valley was yet another. It was hefty enough at 14.4 percent but beautifully structured, nuanced and refreshing.
I knew I admired Eric for a reason!
In all seriousness, I do indeed admire what he’s done here, because he is raising vital questions relevant not just to the world of wine, but to the world in general. Inadvertently perhaps, but he is raising them just the same.
What he is really doing, is asking us to face our definition of power.
What is power?
As a species, we’re pretty feeble in many ways. We cannot fly like birds fly. We cannot “breathe” under water as fish can. Our eyes are weak, and we cannot see in the dark. Our ears are weak, and we cannot hear long distances or wide pitches. We cannot hibernate like bears, nor run as fast as cheetahs. Our skin is fragile; it protects us from neither heat nor sun. We do not live as long as turtles.
What we can do, or should I say, what we do have, is brains. Big brains, with big thoughts in them. And by virtue of our brains, we have achieved a unique sort of power in the world.
But what is important, what is so very important to remember, is the origin of this singular power. It is not a power rooted in physical strength. It is not a power rooted in size, or velocity, or scale. It is not a power of oppression, or violence. It is a power of nuance, and complexity. It is a power of responsivity; compensational in nature, conciliatory in spirit. It is a power of compromise, humility, and respect.
It is a power of observation, a power born from the act of seeing the world, and striving to find a place in it. It is an integrative power.
Misused, it becomes all the things it is, in fact, not. It becomes violent. It becomes oppressive. It becomes ugly. It becomes destructive. Eventually, it ceases even to be power. It becomes merely a weapon.
There is power in a haiku. There is violence in a gun.
Drink freshness, energy, and balance.
Before the white chrysanthemum
the scissors hesitate
(Yosa Buson, translated by Robert Hass)
To read Eric’s full article, please click here: