Wednesday, August 19, 2009


T. is a former car mechanic who moved to southern France fourteen years ago to up his quality of life. With nothing much else to do, he became absorbed by what the local “patrimoine” had to offer, and that is winemaking.

Winemaking in France is a strictly regulated business: to be official, a “Marianne,” equivalent in many ways to the medallion on New York taxis, must bestow a recognized product. But for small producers, driven more by passion than profit, taxes and other nuisances are too great to make the endeavor worth it. So they go illegal. T., for example, makes wine in his garage.

Our conversation during the tasting revolved around the effect the wind has on bottling; around how wine is alive and how, once bottled, it will change as the grapes in the vineyard miles away change (unless of course it is “pasteurized” and killed as mass market wines are); around how some taste figs, while others taste crystal clearness at the back of their tongue.

But as New York stress seeps back into my bones, this experience is already fading, just like the sound of that undeniably European moped speeding by the window and around the bend.

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