I learned some lessons about wine and blogging in 2014. Part of the education involved joyous consumption of interesting and delicious wines with good people. Just as much learning came from never sharing anything about those wine experiences here at WineZag. I have not written since last winter following five years of steady WineZag content.
Our Boston tasting group took stock of the progression of a half dozen older vintages of Olga Raffault Chinon Les Picasses. Later that week, while sipping morning latte and daydreaming about the sensual and intellectual pleasure produced by the exquisite maturation of Olga Raffault’s 1985 and 1978 vintages, I was sadly perplexed. ‘Why don’t I drink more old wines from a cellar I’ve been building and tending since 1985?’ Why does it take a six-vintage tasting spanning twenty nine years of Cabernet Franc production by an individual producer from one of the finest Cabernet Franc vineyards in Chinon (maybe the entire Loire Valley) to frolic in the exquisite progressions of great old wines nurtured in cool, still darkness?
It’s all easy to explain now. No matter what else goes on, few things feel more rapturous than group wine experiences. I clung to a regular diet of them throughout the “year I did not write“. But, juxtaposing all this good drinking were family and business colleagues, heretofore wholly independent, facing crisis in unison. Disease, elder care, and even death consumed my time and emotions since last January. I am not sure which god I pissed off, but a disproportionate amount of family and friends’ wellness was suddenly compromised.
Compounding a tidal wave of failing health, in April I began a nine month process to sell off a bunch of media businesses for an ill equipped equity partner. The teams operating some of these businesses are extended families that needed one more good home. I launched Esteem Media, Inc. and New England Home Magazine Partners, LLC, for me and them, simply to acquire several of the properties in divestiture.
Enough of 2014, thank you.
Only now do I realize that turning away from WineZag last year had little to do with being too busy. I had always run intense schedules while managing to write. Instead, the sadness and anxiety around me corrupted all chances for creativity. It began as an indecipherable shift from inward selfishness to outward selflessness and carried on as failures to generate new ideas, connect separate thoughts in original ways, and make easy sense of complexities (which I am now convinced are three structural beams supporting creative thinking) that were anything short of life or death. Blogging, for me, required a healthy dose of self indulgence; my passion, my time, my creativity.
WineZag has been one of the most creatively fulfilling projects I have ever embarked on. It helped me decipher mysteries and ponder information gaps about different wines while introducing me to wonderfully interesting people that have filled out the kaleidoscope of my life in delicious ways. But like opposing magnets, a powerful force pushed me away each time I opened WineZag’s WordPress dashboard to share some thoughts on wine. The impasse was not about time; instead manufactured by emotions cloaked in sadness and moral concern for family and colleagues in need. An organic reorganization of personal energy was at play and blockades littered all roads to creative self indulgence.
The link between positive emotions and creativity is clear in hindsight, and the foreseeable path ahead seems less littered with last year’s potholes. So I figured I would start here. First, with my own lessons about wine blogging and creativity. Blogging is for me while wine is for us. I always recognized wine as a powerful lubricant for human connection. It is the reason I never stopped tasting or sharing wine with friends when I craved distracting elixirs most. It demanded little creative energy. But WineZag has always been primarily for me. I finally understood, or at least recognized, that WineZag is a deeply satisfying creative path to learning more about wine; wholly a project for me. But,
Collateral damage from hijacked emotions tucked creativity away on a high shelf
I have been dusting off that shelf over the past couple of months. During a tasting at the Cambridge Innovation Center this month, Terry Theise unknowingly helped me as he waxed eloquently about the ways Erich Berger pours his whole self into a passionate creation of such a simple wine like Zweigelt selling for $15 a liter. Terry was creatively connecting observations from his relationship with Berger to his experience with Austrian Zweigelt to contextualize the appreciable distinction of a wine. Tasting the wine with him as he produced his creative nugget was inspiring in a familiar way.
My friend Luiz helped when he poured me a white wine of perfect tension, weight, and balance that will undoubtedly sit as one of the finest white wines I will drink this year. He carried the sample of this 300 bottle production of otherworldly Domane Wachau Riesling Amphora back from the Austrian valley where it was made. My romantic imagination was unleashed by the craftiness of the wine, picture of the valley vineyard, and an appreciable gratitude for Luiz sharing this unique expression of Riesling with me.
And when we blind tasted, on the same night, a naturally made Jean Pierre Robinot Chenin Blanc from the Loire Valley that had laid around my cellar for a couple of years, an intellectual creative dissection was required by everyone to flush out some veiled but obvious varietal characteristics buried deep under a mysterious and delicious natural wine impression. I caught myself connecting thoughts again.
Discovering wine in these ways used to energize me to write about it here. I missed those opportunities to catalogue our Olga Raffault retrospective, these Austrian and French wines, and so many more. I am cautiously eager to embrace this reboot because, as I now understand, WineZag has always been for me and wine will always be for us.