The Bottle’s Grimoire
The Bottle’s Grimoire
When I started to get interested about the wine world I was under eighteen, and like many, I matured my beliefs as a reflex to those I felt expressed by my father and the other people I trusted.
The ideas to become your must mature as grapes: everyone needs a mentor, and all for developing critical thinking must start somewhere.
At the beginning I knew the names of the wines that they knew, drank the wines almost always they offered me, and when I was doing my own thing still chasing an ideal that was their.
In those early years my curiosity was held back by the need to develop a method and so in the wine cards I looked for consoling names that I knew I knew and could trust.
But this was partly good, gave me a method and refined my thinking.
My father had handwritten a book for his friends: the “400 wines of my privilege”
five copies of that handmade book
The Bottle’s Grimoire
Four months of work for the pleasure of cataloging the 400 wines that he thought a good private Italian winery had to have.
Four hundred wines, three bottles of each: total 1200 bottles of wine … if it seems a megalomaniac exaggeration, trust that it is not: if you really love wine, this investment forces you to make choices and form you as a passionate and as a person.
This book was my first library; the intent was palpable, immediate use and its simple consultation.
A list of Italian wineries of which he had selected wines: zero explanations or cards (the fact of not loving them as you see is family) the only rule at least one company per region (so as to have at least one Molise wine in the cellar as a Apparently Molise exists.)
On this manuscript one could reason and even disagree, because, unlike today’s guides, he gave you a snapshot of a given moment: in 1997, this snapshot became your school desk.
This written amanuensis brought with it two consequences: the first was that some of his friends decided to really make this winery and the second was that my father took me with him when he went to look for these bottles around the Roman and Campania wine bars.
How I enjoyed to form the bottle’s Grimoire.
You have no idea of the beautiful moments that I experienced in that magical 1997, I visited all the major wine shops in Campania and Lazio, in a historic moment where the internet was not there yet and the only plausible comparison was the direct one.
they seemed to me cathedrals, run by monks and I felt like an explorer of worlds to strangers.
I listened to conversations about exhibitors, sommeliers, enthusiasts, customers, taxi drivers, and every time I saw this wall of 1200 bottles at home too.
At the time I did not know but at that time I started to develop my own critical idea about the wine world, because you see dear readers sometimes you have to confront their ideas and then dispel the indecision and change what does not convince us or strengthen what convinces us.
Thanks to my father today I think in a totally different way from him and this is a gift that has the value of a moral heritage.
The second thing I learned was to buy wine to move into a wine shop.
Buying 1200 bottles of wine is not a simple thing, you simply need capital to do it, with this statement we are all on the same wavelength; but when you decide to look for a given wine X that almost no one has, the traders (it is also my job so I speak with knowledge of the case) will do anything to sell you another bottle and honestly do well! But if at the beginning about four hundred references it was easy to find something, in the end if there was nothing there was nothing and remaining focused became difficult.
I remember perfectly that while they were looking and tribulating, I watched the bottles.
I was observing the Bottle’s Grimoire.
Already visually I began to put in line of thoughts: the Brunello is in Montalcino and it is, Piedmont instead is the largest area and is from that other side and slowly in my head began to create a macro map of the Italian areas and of their arrangement in a shop.
France remained an unknown world of which I understood nothing except that the chapagne is expensive and has bubbles: walking through those shelves I began to choose things that I wanted to taste, wines that intrigued me for some reason and timidly memorized things that in the years to I would have used them to do my experiences.
All this buying wine was giving rise to a problem of no secondary importance: where to store it? How to store it? How to set up a cellar? Especially how to make 1200 bottles of wine last, because you can not consume 1200 bottles of wine in a month.
The winery must become the place where time is experimented, it is observed how the wine changes in its evolution and it is the magic place where when one bottle is extracted 20 years ago one is still in health and gets excited as if at that moment everything became still and only the wine spoke.
Fortunately for us, we have a small cellar that is valid for the purpose, others have built it, others have decided that those wines would become the corpus of their research.
But everyone started from those famous 400 wines of my privilege: from that Bottle’s Grimoire.
Well today an infinity of interesting things have happened that if you have the patience to listen to me I will tell you with great pleasure.
Let’s just say that like all the heroic things that had to continue in the years to come, building incredible cellars that the whole world wanted to have … none of this happened.
My dad never wrote “his wines of the volume 2 privilege the rest of the world”
and I after studying that first tome very carefully I have discussed in the last twenty-one years on every single choice, on some are of his own opinion but on others not.
I developped my critical mind.
Today, of the initial 1,200 bottles, there are still 36, thirty-six bottles of 1997 (some younger, some older ones) that in the last twenty years have accompanied me to become the enthusiast I am; I can say that I am aware of the evolution of more than 400 Italian wines over 20 years, which, taken as a single, does not mean anything but taken in its complexity, I can say that in Italy the mechanics of wine have led to very questionable choices.
Wines that made twenty thousand bottles in ninety-seven today make it three times as much, how is it possible?
Wines of which we drank tankers (in the last twenty years I will have drunk at least a hundred of some famous Umbrian and Sicilian Chardonays), being able to relate them to those of twenty years ago we see that very much has changed and honestly not for the best.
In many famous wines today I feel the signature, I see a way of making wine that is no longer the territory, the vintage, the unknown factor of a good result rather than a result Poor; today I see in the wines the signatures, the brands: they must be in a certain way, whatever the cost.
Since 1997, many Brunello di Montalcino have aged amazingly (even a little American-style brunelli) today those bottles are in a state of maturation that really excites: the Sangiovese has reached the degree of evolution that makes it vibrate.
The Sangiovese sings an ancient song made of inevitable decay, but now it is now; now it will not be tomorrow, but now it is now and in this hour it is a wine with one foot still in the freshness of youth with its tannins and its exuberance of young girl in the evening and the other has a mature smile with the nuances of mushroom forest and November rain …. The old millennium still sings.
Today I do not even know many wines if they will reach twenty years, either because we might have drunk them, but because less and fewer people put on a cellar.
Nobody wants to wait, nobody wants to go around looking for bottles, no one wants to make a tour each year to understand how it is changing enology and climate.
No one want create a new Bottle’s Gimoire.
The bottles enter the market and we will buy and drink, consumerism! almost no one sets aside to get excited! Almost no one is organizing with friends to build a cellar! Maybe shared with a few close friends, but they and only them.
A little hole that reflects their point of view, that being them is always to be taken into consideration, a place that teaches the value of time.
Today all with smartphones, with these fucking websites, all stoned, including me! just become a horde of zombies stoned! We stagger in our existence without loving a fucking nothing anymore.
Well I love that cellar.
I love the 1997 not sadly, to be honest in 97 I was a loser passionate about horror and comics: a nerd! With very few friends and too many passions … fuck I have not changed a bit in this. I became less lovable (to say no more asshole).
I love being able to say I am there and fortunately for the last twenty years I have refined my ideas.
Today there is a world that makes wine in a new (or ancient) way people who do amazing things and who make wine to drink it, age it, talk about it, socialize! Italy is reborn, and if we are strong of many fans, maybe it is being reborn for the better.
We are the only unknown factor: if we return to be the House Runners who gathered to drink a glass of wine as the good Italy of greasy foods and spells evenings teaches; or we will end up being lobotomized by the gray world and porn that surrounds us; we are the ones who should take refuge in our Grimoire of Bottles.
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