C.W. Eckersberg, Kvinde Foran et Spejl, 1841
Is a reflection simply an affirmation of what is known to be true, or an opportunity to discover anew. ? When we gaze at a reflection, we might expect resemblance, but could also find difference and distinction. Through reflection we find identity. This month we use two wines that each share a single varietal, Cabernet Sauvignon. Cabernet is the most widely planted grape variety grown on the planet (over 840,000 acres!). There are many likenesses of Cabernet Sauvignon all over the world and throughout history. Focusing on Cabernet Sauvignon made in California and Slovenia, we have the opportunity to challenge its typical descriptors and understand more about how the location and producer can bring out different character traits of the same grape. In this way, we think of the mirror as a tool to view different versions of ourselves throughout time and place. And we ask ourselves, while savoring a sip, “What do I already know about Cabernet Sauvignon, and what am I learning right now?”
Jan van Eyck, Arnolfini Portrait, 1434
THE MIRROR IS A WITNESS
In 1434, the Early Netherlandish painter Jan Van Eyck created the Arnolfini Portrait, thought to be the Italian merchant Giovanni di Nicolao Arnolfini and his wife (there is debate on which wife!) in their home in Bruges. For the time, and even for today, this portrait is astonishing in how it has captured their presence and their home with such realistic integrity. It has been mentioned to have felt like the Arnolfini’s were magically plucked out of time and placed on an oak panel for all eternity.
The scene before us appears to be a marriage; vows given and taken with the seriousness of the future. Taking in the dress and the room, the Arnolfini’s seem to live comfortably and in fashion. There are a pile of peaches behind the signore and fur on all collars and cuffs. And in the back of the room, there is a mirror. A common tool in paintings, mirrors have been used to show the subject’s self adoration, or the painter’s skill at recreating distortion. Remarkably, the mirror in the Arnolfini Portrait hangs behind the subjects, reflecting their backs rather than their faces. With a deeper look, you faintly make out the reflections of a man and a woman standing right where we as the viewer might be. Above the painting, scrawled largely and ornately, the painter has written “Johannes Van Eyck was here”. Suddenly this is no longer an important moment captured for posterity, but it has become a legal document of a marriage. The two required witnesses and the signature makes their marriage official.
The seemingly small detail of the mirror introduces the idea that our urge to capture moments through painting, photography, and video, was first captured by reflection. If we could not see ourselves, how might we understand our own existence? The mirror reflects reality, and does not discern. A glance as you walk by a window, or a session of scrutinizing yourself in a mirror creates a second person to look back, to witness, who you are and what you are doing at this moment. It adds importance to impermanence. It turns a piece of art into a historical record.
Salvador Dalí, Dalí Seen from the Back Painting Gala from the Back Eternalised by Six Virtual Corneas Provisionally Reflected by Six Real Mirrors, 1972-73
Batič, Rosé 2020
GRAPE: Cabernet Sauvignon
When you are drinking Batič wines, there is a strong connection between what’s in the glass, and the specific place that it came from. The Batič vineyards and estate, located in the Vipava Valley of Slovenia, date back to 1592. For more than 400 years there has been extreme care given to the land, vineyards and the terroir. The Batic family has always chosen to work without chemicals or fertilizers on the land, accepting only what occurs naturally. They believe in the power of biodiversity and let their animals mingle in the vineyards as it will benefit the plants and the soil. All Batič wines are fermented in open-top wooden casks with native yeast and no temperature control. All oak used comes from nearby forests, and the distinctive bottle is designed by Slovenian glassmaker, Oskar Kogoj.
This Rosé is from 100% Cabernet Sauvignon and is bottled off-dry. There may be some slight effervescence and a wonderfully rich nose of raspberry, cherry & wild strawberry. Due to minimal manipulation and additives from the hands of the winemakers, this is a Rosé that can be cellared for at least 5-10 years (which is very unusual for rosé!). While it is certainly a Cabernet Sauvignon with notes of dark fruit and some vegetal spice on the palate, let’s look for what surprises us about this wine: What else do you smell or taste? How does the wine linger on the palate? What is the finish like? Is it long lasting? Does it change? How is your second sip different from your first? These are the things that can transport us to the Vipava Valley and into the Batič Vineyards through the Cabernet Sauvignon.
*Sometimes rosés can be served too cold. We suggest taking it out of the fridge 20 minutes before serving.
Rene Magritte, Not to be Reproduced, 1937
Oracle, Cabernet Sauvignon 2018
USA, California, Mendocino
GRAPE: Cabernet Sauvignon
Oracle’s Cabernet Sauvignon is sustainably farmed and hand harvested. A portion of the finished wine is aged in new oak barrels for 12 months. The original vineyards were planted in 1943 by a family who immigrated from Italy. The same family still owns the vineyards today and are helped by fourth generation winemaker Hoss Milone.
Generally speaking, Cabernet Sauvignon produces a full-bodied red wine with flavors of dark fruit and savory spice. If we expand on this just a little bit we can identify two schools of “Classic” Cabernet: Old World and New World. To start with the former, we head to France where Cabernet Sauvignon is a signature variety used in the making of Bordeaux. Here, Cabernet Sauvignon shows less fruit flavors and stronger notes of tobacco and violets. The wines are generally lighter in body but retain a good presence of tannins. Now, with the wine in your hands, we head to the New World school of Cabernet Sauvignon: California. Here, Cabernet often has more notes of licorice, black cherry and vanilla. The fruit from California has a bit of a ripe feel to it due to more hours in the sun, and in the winery there is often the use of new oak as part of the aging process which brings some of that smooth vanilla quality to the wine.
Between these two wines, the Batič and the Oracle, we see distinct profiles of the Cabernet Sauvignon grape. If these are only two expressions of thousands upon thousands, then we are left to wonder what exactly defines Cabernet Sauvignon? Maybe, due to its international popularity, all one can do is find unifying standout qualities from one region to another, from one wine to another. Like people, grapes can be complex; holding lots of personality inside its skin. Depending on the day, the place, and the people, the wine will react differently and reveal its different faces in an infinity of reflections.
Vivian Maier, Self Portrait with a Series of Mirrors, 1956
THE MIRROR AS SELF- PORTRAIT
Self-Portrait In Praise
Things aren’t other than they are.
I am today whoever I was long ago,
and if I can be described, it’s as this
perfect likeness of all these things.
-Wang An-Shih (1021-1086)
When a mirror is held parallel to another mirror, the object reflects infinitely. This issue places Cabernet Sauvignon between the mirrors of Time and Space and watches it replicate itself back to 400 years ago. Cabernet Sauvignon is the product of an unintentional natural crossing of two different grapes that occured in the 1600s. DNA profiling has discovered that those parent grapes are Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Franc. For the last 400 years, Cabernet Sauvignon has been grown and made into wine around the world. Millions of bottles have been made, many more millions of glasses have been consumed by millions upon millions of different people. Cabernet Sauvignon is not only as we know it today in one of these bottles, but it is also its past. If we let the moment of one sip now expand into a 400 year span of human experience, we can broaden our understanding of the wine's true character.
In our own lives, as we grow and age and move and change interests, we meet different people who could potentially “know” us. We are who we are, at any given moment. And that must be looked at as a composite of our many selves that have walked and talked and lived in the world.
Pablo Picasso, Girl in Front of Mirror, 1932
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