Wine & Biophilia


Brian Britigan

Biophilia is a frequent topic here; wine, only a fraction as much. An article touching on both is a rare treat:

From Good Wine, a Direct Path to the Wonders of Nature

For this city dweller, wine provided the opening to a greater understanding of food and agriculture, and their precarious balance.

Last year a friend asked me a question I had never considered before: Over the many years I had been writing about wine, what was the greatest thing this job had given me?

I answered almost reflexively. As a New Yorker who has spent most of my life living in Manhattan, wine had provided me a connection to nature that I most likely would never have experienced otherwise.

I’ve thought about this a lot over the last few weeks, as the pandemic has now been with us for more than four months. Most of that time, I’ve been in my apartment, far away from vineyards, much less anything that might reasonably be construed as wild and natural, like a forest or ocean. I feel the difference, physically and emotionally.

My friend professed surprise at my answer. He’d assumed that I would cite the wonderful, otherwise inaccessible wines I had been able to drink, or maybe the many intriguing personalities in the wine world with whom I’ve spent time.

These, of course, have been wonderful benefits as well. If I were not representing readers of The New York Times, I would never have had an opportunity, to drink, say, great old wine made from grapes harvested in 1846, or to try 16 vintages of Château Lafite-Rothschild going all the way back to 1868.

I also know that my understanding of wine would not be nearly as rich without having had the opportunity to spend time with people as diverse as Jean-François Fillastre, a little-known Bordeaux vigneron; Paul Draper, the longtime guiding force of Ridge Vineyards; Bartolo Mascarello, a tireless defender of ancestral Barolo practices; María José López de Heredia, an equally stalwart proponent of traditional Rioja, and so many others.

But nothing in wine has affected me so profoundly as observing the intimate relationship that enlightened farmers have with the land that they tend. What I’ve learned from them has shaped my outlook in many important facets of my life, from the foods and wines I buy to the clothes I wear to how I think about climate change and political issues.

It’s also made clear to me how little we know about the natural world, particularly the complex and intricate links that govern the well-being of a healthy ecosystem, from the network of microbial life in the soil to the diversity of plant life to the importance of animal life all the way up to the apex predator…

Read the whole article here.

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