There is an idea running through the landscape of our cultural imagination that humanity is somehow separate from Mother Nature. It is a questionable yet altogether understandable idea, that Nature left unattended will achieve some sort of equilibrium and harmony without mankind’s clumsy intervention. Over short periods of time this would certainly appear to be the case. But if we were to stretch our collective gazes over a millennia of seasons then a different picture emerges. It’s why gardeners never retire. Your back garden is a battlefield.
In the early 70s the scientist James Lovelock came up with the Gaia hypothesis; the theory that the planet itself can be considered as one living, self-regulating organism with all aspects of the natural order working in concert and unaided. It’s an idea with some merit and influenced scientific discourse for some time. As someone who sits firmly in the school of Nature being “red in tooth and claw” I’m ok with the fact that this utopian hypothesis is now consigned to history. Every living thing is in struggle for survival but within this struggle there is beauty. Witness the fact that the majority of the best wines of the world come from a combination of poor soil and stressed vines.
T.S Eliot observed that “Humankind cannot bear very much reality”, which may go in some way to explain why brute-force intrusion and flat-out denial of our current climatic situation somehow still persists. But there are those out there who work the land where intervention is not a dirty word but a necessity. To make wine is to tend a garden and by extension, both wine and garden reflect back the personal philosophy of both maker and beholder.
There are those who prefer the well-manicured lawns of Estate Houses, the equivalent of a Bordeaux classed growth. Some others prefer the untamed wilderness of Natural wine. Others still seek the wild restraint of national parks, a supreme expression of humanity’s co-existence with Creation.
The Garden of Eden must be one of the first Utopian-styled narratives. By way of analogy it could be comparable to the 100-point wine. This concept alone, that there can exist a perfect wine I find hard to swallow. To the idealist in me a wine can only be perfect in context, not as a standalone entity.
Wine critics take note, even the Garden of Eden itself had a flaw.
Is wine made in the field or the winery? This is the age old Nature versus Nurture debate. An argument for another day but wherever your beliefs lie, philosophy can be a beautiful thing to taste