Fine times in McLaren Vale


Figure 1: Relationship of wine posts to thesis writing.

An independent study recently found a long-suspected negative correlation between the writing of a thesis and the writing of wine posts (figure 1). A thesis, these authors concluded, takes an inordinate amount of time and, as such, prevents the writing of other, more enjoyable things.

That being said, I have no idea why it's relevant here. Even, hypothetically, if I had just completed a thesis, why would I feel compelled to bring it up here? Surely I would put it behind myself as soon as possible and return to the fun task of reliving tasty wine times. I certainly wouldn't be so crude as to bring it up as some awkward excuse for my being so remiss in my duties to the second pancake. And, God forbid, if I did such a thing there's no chance at all that I would then spend a paragraph pretending that I didn't. I think we can all agree that we're above such unnecessary hand-wringing.

In other news, going wine tasting is a remarkable thing. Imagine if you could drive for half an hour and chat to the farmer who grew your tomatoes, and discuss the soil, the weather, the techniques he uses, and his suggestions for the best way to use them. And imagine that, down the road, the dairy farmer welcomes you to her house where she delights in showing you her best cheeses and the new batch of butter she has just freshly churned. Next door, an old Italian couple lead you through their herb garden where you can compare notes about the best way to make pesto or how soon to pick mint and the best time of year to plant sage. This couple then recommend that you visit their friends over the hill, who bake fresh bread every day with their own grain. Now imagine heading home with bulging bags and creating a meal with everything you'd picked up. A meal that is enjoyable for not just its taste, but it's history. You know the name of the person who grew these beans, you've shared a joke with the people who dug these potatoes, you've shared stories with the friend who collected these eggs.

This is the beauty of wine tasting. Not because you get to try a wonderful new range of wine each time (though this is wonderful), but because you get to meet the people behind the products that you love. On Friday I was in McLaren Vale, less than an hour south of Adelaide. I started at Geoff Merrill, who really ought to be charging double for every one of their bottles. As we left, our host insisted that we take a free corkscrew, just in case it was needed on the road. We motor on to Shottesbrooke, where a simple tasting extends into over an hour of easy and unaffected conversation that ranged from wine to university to travel to love to loss, and back to wine again.

I'm back home now, but I've brought them with me. When I open the Geoff Merrill 2000 cab sav (for $12.50! Unbelievable!), I'll remember the soft morning under the vines there. When the time comes for the divine Eliza Shiraz from Shottesbrooke to be liberated, it wont be without the memory of Mary's laugh on that wonderful afternoon in McLaren Vale. And it'll be all the better for it.

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