NexT STOpS

Thirty years af­ter writ­ing his Baedeker, Lynch is still up­dat­ing it. pied­mont: “In truf­fle sea­son there is no more de­li­cious place. Look for old bot­tles of Barolo—the qual­ity is quite high.” Al­sace: “The old vil­lages are beau­ti­ful, and you’ll be wel­comed

Town & Country (Philippines) - - OUT&ABOUT WINE -

of façades” and a bas­tion of smug cor­po­rate wine­mak­ing. At the time that at­ti­tude was al­most shock­ing, but in this, as in many other mat­ters, Lynch seems to have been way ahead of the curve. The younger gen­er­a­tion of som­me­liers and wine blog­gers tend to think of Bordeaux as their grand­fa­ther’s wine. Bur­gundy, the Loire, and the north­ern Rhône have be­come much more fash­ion­able.

Lynch’s stated ob­jec­tive was di­ver­sity. He looked for wines that tasted specif­i­cally of a cer­tain place and de­plored the ten­dency to­ward ho­mog­e­niza­tion of taste. He was fight­ing on two fronts, try­ing to per­suade French wine­mak­ers to re­spect their tra­di­tions and bat­tling the ris­ing power of Amer­i­can crit­ics, who, he be­lieved, judged all wines on the ba­sis of their power and size. Dur­ing my visit to Le Beaus­set, he railed against the ten­dency of crit­ics like Robert parker to award scores that fa­vored power and ripeness over del­i­cacy and fi­nesse.

When he wrote Ad­ven­tures he seemed, like Or­well in Spain, to be fight­ing for a lost cause, but the case can be made that his side is win­ning. “I’m op­ti­mistic,” he told me re­cently. “There are a lot of good wines out there, and a part of the wine mar­ket de­mands wines with char­ac­ter. And the avail­abil­ity of ar­ti­sanal wines has never been greater, which makes me happy.” But his Celtic sense of gloom kicks in al­most im­me­di­ately: “Bil­lion­aire buy­ers of grand cru vine­yards in Bur­gundy, enol­o­gists tak­ing over the wine­mak­ing de­ci­sions, de­signer wines—trends like that, well, of course they don’t cheer my heart.”

Lynch is spend­ing more time th­ese days on his mu­sic and a novel in progress, but he’s still search­ing for epipha­nies in the glass—euro­pean trea­sures for his Amer­i­can cus­tomers. (His novel is about…a wine im­porter.) Not long ago he e-mailed me to say that he had found yet an­other good one, in north­east­ern Italy: “I’ve been go­ing to Fri­uli since 1977, and dreamed of what those whites could be if only they were not so tech­no­log­i­cal. Re­cently I found an in­cred­i­ble pro­ducer, Vig­nai da Du­line, who breaks all the laws: na­tive yeasts, mal­o­lac­tic fer­men­ta­tion com­pleted, aged in wood but not new wood. The way all whites used to be made.”

He re­cently tasted an­other white made in sim­i­lar fash­ion that blew his mind, near his home in Ban­dol. “It was a lovely wine, easy to swal­low, no sign of ox­i­da­tion. It was a 1952. A 65-year-old Ban­dol blanc.” I like to pic­ture some lucky drinker en­coun­ter­ing the cur­rent vin­tage of that low-tech, old-school Vig­nai da Du­line 65 years from now and be­ing sim­i­larly im­pressed. Though it’s hard to imag­ine any sin­gle in­di­vid­ual, now or in that dis­tant fu­ture, hav­ing such an im­pact on the drink­ing habits of his gen­er­a­tion as Lynch has had on his.

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