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JULY 2023/ FLEETING MOMENTS

INTRO

Youth is a fleeting moment in the context of a full life span.  Not just the youth of a growing child, but more specifically the period of being a newly formed adult.  We covet this time of life, write songs and countless stories, celebrate the sixteenth year the most of all years, and do good and bad things to our bodies to maintain youth.  This time is thought of as happiness, unencumbered by experience, and limitations.  A happiness so powerful that it creates an illusion of immortality so that you can propel yourself through scary, challenging, and sometimes heartbreaking situations without fear.  And then, in what seems to be an instant, it is over!  And you find yourself matured, not better, not worse, but different.
Rosé wine can be seen as a metaphor for this time period; stopped, bottled, and mostly enjoyed in the fleeting moments of summer.  While rosé is one of the most versatile wines that should be consumed always and in all ways, it is also the most seasonal.  Released in late spring and consumed throughout the hot summer, rosé is an experience that everyone should have.  It is an expression of a red grape when it first reaches adulthood and is crushed, removing all the skins, stems, and seeds so that it cannot become jaded by its past.  What you are left with is pure energy, luscious enthusiasm, and bright- eyed hopefulness of the start of life.  This result allows for aromas and flavors to be present that cannot exist in a red wine.  The delicate, fruity, floral, citrusy, and herbaceous notes that are captured are why we are drawn to rosé.  It’s these notes that capture the fleeting moments of youth, of being outside, the smell of the sun soaked sidewalk with the neighbor’s garden bursting next door, and the summer grass swelling in the yard.  It is about not thinking, and just being.
As we enter the heart of summer, what better time to sit down with rosé and reflect on youth?  We have a bottle from France and a bottle from Italy to inspire our senses, both from the most recent vintage of 2022.  Along with these bottles, we have folk stories from each country that we will use to examine how youth has been characterized and sought after in one of our most ancient forms of storytelling.  Youth seems to have maintained a certain magic about it that still cannot be explained by science and must be left as experiential.  Through these two folktales accompanied by these two rosés, we aim to swim in the waters of youth as long as possible.  

THE ISLAND OF HAPPINESS

“L’Ile de la Félicité”

A fairy tale within the novel The Story of Hyppolytus, Earl of Douglas (Historie d’ Hypolite, Comte de Duglas)
By Marie- Catherine le Jumel de Barneville, comtess d’Aulnoy (1690)
This fairy tale comes to us from the one who coined the term “fairy tale”, Madame D’Aulnoy.  She is lesser known than the more famous collector of fairy tales Charles Perrault, however, her work in collecting, writing, and establishing fairy tales as legitimate literature predates him by four years.  Her fairy tales are unique in that they often switch gender roles, eliminate societal roles, and she uses the form to criticize aristocracy (of which she is a part of) while also illustrating hope for a better world.  She deserves special recognition for taking an oral tradition, mostly developed between women telling stories as they worked in the kitchens or gathering in salons, and archiving it to paper, making it a member of the greater world.  With The Island of Happiness,  she achieved this by interpolating a fairy tale amongst her novel The Story of Hyppolytus, Earl of Douglas (Historie d’ Hypolite, Comte de Duglas).  
The story of The Island of Happiness begins with the Russian prince Adolphe being taken in his boat by the wind (Zéphire) to the enchanted Island of Happiness.  Here he meets the princess Félicité who rules a castle and land of women.  Adophe and Félicité live together on this island for 300 years in loving bliss of each others’ company.  After a while, Adolphe begins to feel an itch to leave the island.  He tires of love and becomes hungry for reputation once again.  He tells Félicité “ I am ashamed to see my virtue without occupation, and my name without glory” and sets out to return to his kingdom.  En route, he is murdered by Father Time.  When Félicité learns of her lover's death, she closes her palace and the island becomes a place of grief and despair.
It is common for Madame D’Aulnoy to champion love in her stories. In The Island of Happiness, we see youth lasting because of happiness derived from love.  It lasted so long that it surpassed the standard length of a mortal life.  There is something curious about Adolphe being carried to the Island of Happiness by Zephyr, the Greek God of the West wind.  This wind in particular is thought of as the gentlest of the winds and in mythology is associated with springtime and fertility.  It is not a threatening wind or storm that blows him there against his will, but a happy gentle breeze.  Perhaps this choice of winds is showing us that Adolphe was led by intuition and by a motivation to seek happiness. However, once Adolphe refuses to be content with love alone, he leaves happiness and therefore youth, and his time has then run out.  This example shows youth not as the fleeting moment, but because of happiness, as an eternity.  It is living without happiness that makes youth fleeting. While tragic, the message feels uplifting and encouraging.  The solution to youth is so simple; do what makes you happy.  Perhaps this rosé will help…



WINE 1

OLGA RAFFAULT
Chinon Rose 2022
FRANCE, Loire Valley, Chinon
Grape: Cabernet Franc
24 hectares
Organic Farming
Cabernet Franc is known for producing spicy and somewhat leafy & berry-scented red wines. This is true especially when coming from the Chinon region in the Loire Valley of France. Growing along the southern right bank of the Loire River in the center of the Loire Valley, Cabernet Franc has been the signature varietal of this region for a couple hundred years. In this region, all of their red wines produced must be predominantly Cabernet Franc, with up to 10% Cabernet Sauvignon being allowed as well. If you tend to be more familiar with the latter of the two Cabernets mentioned, you could look for some comparisons between them by knowing that Cabernet Franc is the parent grape of Cab Sauv.
There is another type of soil that predominates in the region and it is known as Tuffeau Jaune. Tuffeau is a yellowish, sedimentary rock that is highly porous. It is able to soak up water during rainfall, but then release that water slowly over time. This is good for grape growing as it draws excess moisture away from the vine roots during the rainy season, and then releases it when dry spells come.
Olga Raffault, along with her husband Pierre, were the founders and owners of the winery from the 1930s up until her recent death. They both started out as asparagus farmers and combined their family vineyards for a grand total of just 3 hectares. Her husband was the winemaker until his early death in 1947. Afterwards, Olga continued to run the winery and Ernest Zeinninger, a German prisoner from World War II, who had worked at the vineyard as a prisoner and then stayed on once hostilities ended, was the primary winemaker. The current proprietors are Olga's granddaughter Sylvie Raffault, her husband Eric de la Vigerie and their son Arnaud. The wines of Raffault have been a standout cult favorite for the past few decades.

THE LAND WHERE ONE NEVER DIES

“La Terra Dove Non Si Muore Mai”
From “Italian Folktales” selected and retold by Italo Calvino (1956)
The great Italian novelist Italo Calvino spent two years collecting, archiving, translating from dialects, and rewriting Italian folktales in an effort to save them from extinction.  Seeing other countries with definitive collections of these oral classics that have lasted centuries, he felt a need to do the same for his own country.  He grew up studying agriculture and floriculture, perhaps leading to an affinity for the people who shared the land.  A natural interest in history led to him becoming an architect of magical yet realistic worlds as in his books Cosmicomics (1965) and Invisible Cities (1972).  It is a mind that can stay firmly planted on the earth and simultaneously swim in fantasy that can see the importance of the fairy/ folk tale in understanding human history.
The Land Where One Never Dies hails from Verona, Italy and starts with a young boy deciding to leave his hometown in search of a land where one never dies.  His travels take months and cover distant lands.  After much exploration he encounters an old man who is hammering boulders into stones.  The young man asks him if he knows of a place where no one dies.  The old man tells him that if the youth sticks with him he will live for a long time.  As long as the old man is turning this mountain into small stones, the youth will stay alive.  “How long will that take?” asks the youth.  The old man replies, “at least 100 years”.  “Then I will die?” asks the youth? The old man confirms and the youth moves on.  He is not looking to live 100 years, he is looking to live forever!  These encounters happen two more times with old men working at tasks that will take them centuries to complete.  But no one is able to offer him eternal life.  He finally reaches a palace and asks an old nobleman if he knows of a place where one never dies.  The nobleman lets him know that he has reached the place and they live together in riches and harmony for centuries.  After a while, the youth begins to miss his family and asks the nobleman if he can return to visit them.  The nobleman lets him know that they have been dead for a long time and there is no one left to see.  He offers his white horse to the youth to go visit his hometown, but warns him that if he dismounts the horse even for a second, he will suddenly die.  On his travels to his hometown, the youth encounters an old cobbler whose wheel is stuck in some mud.  The cobbler begs for help and the youth takes pity.  As soon as he steps on the earth, the cobbler reveals himself to be Death and shows the youth a wagon full of shoes that have been worn down while searching for him.  Now that he has finally found him, his life is over.
Here is a story of 2 classic mistakes: wanting something good to last forever, and not listening when someone tells you if you do this, you will die.  But what it reminds us is that something like youth, life, happiness, is special because of its limits.  As we see with the youth, when life lasts forever, it gives you the chance to miss things, and feel the endless boredom of security.  Are you really living?  For the rest of us, knowing that youth has a determined end is what keeps us motivated to make the most of it.  Additionally, not knowing when our lives will end can lend even more urgency to exploring the big questions of “who am I, why am I here, what do I do, how do I do it?”  


WINE 2

CALABRETTA
Terre Siciliane Rosato 2022
ITALY, Sicily
Grape: Nerello Mascalese
Organic Farming
Aged in steel
Established in 1900
Volcanic, Rocky soil
Nerello Mascalese has its home in Sicily and near Mount Etna, one of the active volcanoes in the region. Sicily is a wine grape paradise. There is just enough rainfall throughout the year, plenty of sunshine, dry enough to prevent mildew and rot from happening, which means no sprays are needed so that most wines can easily be made with organic and natural practices. The Nerello Mascalese varietal produces wines with plenty of fresh acidity, red-fruit flavors and some gentle tannins. This rosato has enough structure to make it versatile in food pairing. 
The soil of this region near Mount Etna is quite distinct. Volcanic soil, while nutrient rich, is also incredibly porous and does not retain water the same way that clay soils do. This stresses the vine, causing it to dig and spread in its effort to find water. The vine then produces grapes that are more concentrated across the board: more tannins, more minerality, and more intense fruit flavors. This can all be felt in this rosato in the most beautiful way. Without the wine being heavy, the wine is still powerful.
Established in 1900, the family winery sold its wares to restaurants and private customers in sfuso, or in barrel. It wasn't until 1997 that third and fourth -generation father and son Massimo and Massimilliano decided to bottle their wines as a way of sharing the traditions of their family and growing area with a wider audience. They farm around 7 hectares of vineyards and work in a traditionally hands-off way, with no sprays, always hand harvesting so they select only the best and perfectly ripe grapes.
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Our aim is to give a glimpse into the many roles wine has played throughout history.  All subjects mentioned deserve more attention and research and we encourage you to keep exploring.  We are only here to pop the cork.
Many Thanks, Caravan Wine Shop
* All artwork by Lenora Howl

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