April 7, 2010

In Praise of Faraway Friends

I have been long away from the Lab. For that, gentle readers, I offer my sincere apologies. I have been in faraway lands. Called away in the middle of the night by a desperate call. Chinskirin Boktani, one-time intrepid guide and devoted Man Friday, had been injured in a climbing accident.

I made hasty arrangements and left immediately to travel the many miles to be at his side.

As it turns out, he wasn't hurt all that bad. A twisted ankle and a scrape on his knee. But as is usually the case with Boktani, several adventures ensued, and none with any internet access.

I hope to recount some of our escapades in the coming weeks.

In the meantime, I returned home to find in my in-box some well deserved praise for a dear friend of the Lab -- which I will reprint here. The source is Jon Rimmerman, who runs the single most interesting wine mailing-list in the known universe.

Dear Friends,

Let’s get this out of the way:

Pyramid Valley is currently New Zealand’s finest winery.
There are others that produce a single entrant of equal stature (such as Rippon) but no one produces a line-up from A-to-Z like Mike and Claudia Weersing. In fact, few wineries in the world do so. With multiple climates, soil structures, elevations, islands, ferry crossings and general mayhem to deal with on a daily basis, this winery takes us on a high-level tour of New Zealand equaled by no one else.

From Spatlese to Pinot Blanc, to Cabernet Franc to Pinot Noir (not not mention a new Sauternes-like wine that is going to re-define what can be done with Semillon), Pyramid Valley is a serious candidate for the most diverse winery in the world – all while playing at the top register. They expose us to one of the richest landscapes of terroir anyone could hope to imagine and, if “understanding” is your goal with wine, the often limpid and reflective examples delicately placed into bottle by Mike and Claudia will go a long way toward anyone’s study of life, relationships and all things vinous. Circa 2010, the top of the pyramid is in sight and they’ve only just begun.

I’ve waxed poetic on this winery in the past and taken many punches from numerous pundits that accuse me of over-hyping wine that is no better than, say, Felton Road. To you I say phooey. That is missing the point. This is about the people, the places, their dedication to an interconnected system of the world – one that includes an eco-sensitive realization that we are all, indeed, in this together. This is about Mike driving 12 hours in an old old Airstream so he could sleep by the side of Hwy 1 near Blenheim while he sat, watched and waited for each of your grapes to ripen perfectly - precisely as nature intended. This is about an abstinence of chemicals, additions, yeast, intervention or the unwanted hand of man altering the course of vinous events. In the end, this is about your few moments with the Weersings and their children of each vintage. If you ask them, this is about you.

If you met Mike and Claudia everything above would be obvious and endearing at the same time. They care about every detail and let’s just leave it at that. Call them friends, partners in crime, lovers, wanderers – whatever you wish – these are people of life and its reflective direction. These are people many of us wish we could be...

As the young folks at the Lab like to say:


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