Of all the ways we mark the passing of time the modern digital timepiece may be the crudest device of all. Compared to the elegance of the sundial it is the chronological equivalent of blunt force trauma. Mind you, the impracticalities of carrying a sundial around in your pocket are not lost on me; even more so in our regularly inclement weather.
Time as we know it once didn’t exist and as such isn’t universal. It’s simply a series of events we group together in a pattern to digest and create a narrative. Births, deaths, celebrations, seasons, rituals and goodbyes are all more meaningful indicators.
Boulder, rock, stone, pebble and sand all chronicle time’s flow
Is time travel possible? Yes. The light from that star over there, having taken so long to reach Earth, may represent a body that no longer exists. That sun you see in the sky is 8 minutes old. The past still shines bright upon us, even if it no longer exists.
While the vast majority of wine produced is made for early consumption, those that command the most attention are those deliberately built to last. Patience, a form of time control in itself, is the watchword here. Uncork a Barolo, Brunello or Pauillac in their infancy and you’ll wonder what all the fuss is about.
So what does the passing of time taste like?
Bottle or oak ageing will give you flavours of leather, cigar box, wet leaves, meat, the forest, honey, violets, roses, vanilla, ginger, musk and “nuttiness”. The list is endless. The inorganic starts to dominate the organic. A ripe lush fruit basket becomes stewed or dried, tannins resolve and structure softens. The petrol or kerosene profile that develops in an aged Riesling is a personal favourite. That quite a hard sell though to those who have never tasted it.
Wine is a living breathing thing. Birth, infancy, adolescence, maturity and eventual expiration are all there and planned for. It is time in slow motion.