Mark Symczak, Barbecue Bottom's Dream, 1992
This year, the northern hemisphere will finish tilting toward the sun creating the shortest distance between our planet and the center of our solar system on June 21 at 4:13 AM. And at 4:14 AM we will officially be in the season of summer. This day, the day of the most sunlight, is called the Summer Solstice and it has been celebrated with rituals, dances, bonfires, and sacrifices since the beginning of humanity (and perhaps before?). We have determined our seasons based on the summer and winter solstice. And now, we are celebrating this fantastic moment of celestial alignment with two bottles of wine. With one, we salute the sun, our life sustaining star, by considering its daytime color of yellow and how that color has been interpreted and defined in history as well as in wine. With the other, we explore the feeling of magic that comes with the start of summer through a bottle that transports us to William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM
The summer solstice annually takes place between June 20-22 marking the sun’s proximity to the earth. However, in Elizabethan England, Midsummer was always celebrated on June 24, or St. John’s Day. This day was celebrated much like May Day, the celebration of spring, with pagan rituals of late night merrimaking, dancing around fires, and feasts that had begun to be associated with debauchery by the time Shakespeare was writing this play in 1595- 96. The Protestant adversity to these holidays led to their disappearance in rural England where Shakespeare hailed. People were more likely to see this type of revelry take place on stage than in person. However, during the summer season there was still an understanding, even an encouragement of disorderly conduct because of the heat and comfort of being outdoors (as long as there was a return to normalcy at the end of the season). This creates a kind of wild magic we only feel in the summer. These days, we are more familiar with this type of disorder in the form of fashion, where we allow more of our bodies to be seen to acknowledge the heat outside as well as inside.
The title of the play pairs the holiday of Midsummer with Dream allowing for a blur between reality and fantasy and admitting the enchantment and magic of the forest to be accepted. It is in this forest during the summer haze that subplots of mistaken identity and misjudgement allow the comedies of errors that drive the plot conflicts. Written between Romeo and Juliet and The Merchant of Venice, this play demonstrates the height of his period dedicated to lyricism. That feeling comes through in this interweaving of multiple plots involving a moonlight wedding in Fairyland, escaped lovers, and a play rehearsal. While weddings and plays can certainly happen any time of year, it is haziness and lusting between characters that feels quintessentially summer.
Mark Symczak, Acrobat, 1992
Ca Dei Frati, I Frati Lugana 2020
The varietal Turbiana may be most recognizable under its common name, Verdicchio Bianco. Initially called Trebulano in the Lombardy region, then through DNA profiling recognized as Verdicchio, winemakers called the grape Turbiana, believing the grape produces distinct wines in their region. When ripe, the grapes turn a golden color like clusters of tiny suns, and create a delicate pale yellow wine.
The Ca Dei Frati (Friar’s House) winery was founded in 1939 and has accumulated select vineyards over the years to currently manage 200 hectares. They work with several different varieties and make numerous styles of wine. A larger producer than what we usually include in Club Caravan, we picked Ca Dei Frati not only for their quality, but for the regional distinction represented in their wines.
Lake Garda is the largest lake in Italy and borders Lombardy, Veneto, and Trentino Alto- Adige. It was created during the Eocene 35 million years ago from a melting glacier. As the melting ice flowed south it brought glacial detritus along with it creating the morainic soils of the area today. This specific type of soil provides excellent drainage, leading to more vigorous grape production as the vines dig for the water table. In addition to excellent grape growing soil, the cooling influence of Lake Garda allows the grapes to mature slowly and retain excellent acidity to produce high quality white wines, both still and sparkling. Turbiana (aka Verdicchio) can produce wines with sweet-peach aromas and a lemon-like zing of acidity on the palate. This wine is aged on the lees (dead yeast) for 6 months in stainless steel, which helps add to a somewhat oily texture in the mouth. This is a fantastic wine to serve as an aperitif, alongside salty crunchy things, cured meats and savory pastries.
Mark Symczak, Hyppolita Arrives, 1992
Domaine Karydas, Naoussa 2015
\GREECE, Macedonia, Naoussa, Ano Gastra
This bottle of Naoussa helps set the scene by placing us in Greece, where the wedding of Theseus and Hippolyta takes place, the reason for us all gathering in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. A red wine this dynamic sometimes feels more appropriate in the cooler season. When the world is asleep under snow it can feel comforting to slowly sip and savor a deep, complex red wine. Well, we are happy to go out-of -season to demonstrate the versatility of a bottle such as the Naoussa from Domaine Karydas. If anything, this wine can fit right in with your summer grill routine.
Domaine Karydas grows one grape variety, Xinomavro, on a small 6 acre vineyard. The winery was founded in 1994 and is a father & son operation. (They do everything between the two of them, with some additional help only during harvest!). Xinomavro is a common Greek variety that produces high acid wine worthy of aging due to the good presence of tannins. Domaine Karydas hand harvests all the grapes, ferments in stainless steel and then ages the wine for 2 years in used French oak barrels. The oak aging helps to soften the tannins and bring overall balance to the wine.
The finished wine is comparable to red Burgundy or Nebbiolo from Barolo: there can be some fruit elements, but you can expect more earthy & savory flavors. The complexity of this wine can often lead to puzzlement, thought, opinions, satisfaction, passion, intrigue, nostalgia, delight and overlapping combinations of everything. When gathering at the wedding of Theseus and Hoppolyta, or any wedding, one can hope for good conversation, but one should demand good wine.
Mark Symczak, Bottom's Dream, 1992
To start this celebration of the summer solstice, we must look at the star of the show- the Sun. And when we think of the sun, we think of the golden yellow light that warms our planet and our bodies, that gives life, that awakens, that is essential. Every culture creates a meaning for color; a celebration of the electromagnetic spectrum that occurs on every surface before us. The thread between all cultures’ interpretations of color is the dance or battle between light and darkness, good and evil, and the dominance of one of these sides. Yellow being a color of brightness, of light, and for our purposes this month, of the sun, often holds meaning of intellect, spiritual wealth, and therefore power. The Mayan’s of ancient Mexico used the name Kan for their god who held up the sun, which was also their word for yellow. Yellow also holds hands with time and represents aging. The yellowing of paper, of teeth, of the green leaves of spring and summer to yellow/ orange/ brown of fall before disappearing entirely during winter. The Indian philosophy of the chakras or “energy wheels” that are located in seven places throughout our bodies associate yellow with the third chakra located just above your navel. This chakra brings action to your desires and wishes. To strengthen your third chakra is to “... gradually transform the yellow light of intellectual understanding into the golden light of wisdom and abundance” (The Chakra Handbook, p 87). During the Ch’ing Dynasty (1644- 1911) Chinese emperors were the only ones allowed to wear yellow as it placed them at the center of the universe like the sun.
To celebrate the sun, and the day of its greatest abundance, we will celebrate its yellow color during daytime, as it has the ability to provide the full spectrum of the rainbow before night falls.
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