I recently enjoyed the Blog Post by Alphonso Cevola (On the Wine Trail in Italy) titled What a Jesuit priest, a Zen monk and a Yaqui shaman taught me about life, wine and Italy. It reminded me of one of the (many) reasons I love Italy - the incredible juxtaposition of old and new nearly everywhere you look. In places like Florence, Siena and Rome, you can travel through centuries by walking blocks, and experience history with every meal, hotel room or bottle of wine. These are places for self-discovery and also perspective. In a similar way, discovering wine leads us all on a path that has more questions than answers. As Cevola says about the wines he enjoys, "Sometimes it is the Hollywood version. And more and more, it is the simple one, if at all."
Wine is a journey. It is constantly changing and evolving, sometimes recalling history, and other times breaking through barriers. In this way, the concept of the 100 point wine becomes flawed, because that means we stop searching for perfection.
Cevola writes, "Italy is so much about tradition and history. Then, again, it is also about breaking rules and changing those accepted ways. It’s the dance of chiaroscuro, these two forces. Modern and Ancient." I share his sentiment, and I have developed a great appreciation for the ability of each of these forces to create the sense of place that all great wines share.
There are many wine producers in Italy that live in the crack between these two worlds. The greatness of Giacosa, for instance, is undisputed, but that is not the only path. In Piedmont, producers such as Roagna and La Spinetta (in recent years) are walking the line between modern and traditional in a way that it is difficult to categorize them as either. It never is as simple as the difference between barrique or botti, or whether "modern wine making techniques" are being used. The crack between two worlds is much deeper than that, yet a winemaker should always strive to touch both, even if it is only fleetingly.
In many ways, and literally, wine should always be recalling the past and reaching for the future. Maybe there is a true destination, but I love the journey and hope it never ends.