A breathtaking lunch in Barolo hosted by Eugenio and Cinzia Bocchino last week. Wines were pulled back to the 2002 vintage. Many have reported a tough vintage in 2002 for Piedmont in general, but the Bocchino's 2002 La Perucca simply brought the house down at the end. As Kermit used to say: COMBAT VINTAGE CHART MENTALITY!
The first course of the lunch was veal tartare prepared in two ways. The first, on the left, was a modern expression. Perfect veal, finely chopped, seasoned with salt and pepper and finished with sea salt. The second, on the right, was the old Piedmontese preparation in which the veal is ground several times, and in the preparation a small amount of finely chopped garlic is added along with both lemon juice and olive oil.
There is no right way. I finished both preparations and was satisfied by both equally. Some slightly preferred the modernist version, some the more traditional. But, what everyone did discuss was the quality and the subtle but very obvious distinctions in both. I don't think I saw a single plate that wasn't empty.
I saw this picture yesterday and thought- there's a greater story here regarding wine and choice in general. There are many schools in wine these days. The Modernists. The Traditionalists. The Natural Wine School. The small grower school. Etc...Each of these distinctions and schools has little to do with identifying a wine's quality, and has everything to do with selling wine. Yes, even the natural wine folks...talk to winemakers who work naturally and the one's who've been doing it for a long timesimply talk about their farming techniques; they rarely if ever mention natural farming or winemaking in order to qualify what they are doing. That's a sales / marketing thing.
Summer and I constantly look at our growers and our portfolio in the frame of how we tell the story. I think it's best told like the veal tartares. Taste! Taste! Taste! Just taste. You may find you prefer the more old school, traditional winemaking. You may find you like the modernista style. I think the more you taste the less you will try and categorize a grower's work, and the more you will fall in love with the grower themselves and their body of work. You will be excited to see how that grower fares when the next 2002 comes around.
No its not about modernists or traditionalists, natural or conventional here at Indie. It's only about one thing here at Indie- the quality of what's put in front of you.
Taste and enjoy, and decide for yourself.