The Edmond Sun

Features

May 6, 2013

Thinking while drinking

White's Wines — “Is a bottle of wine ever really worth $100?”

This is a question I’m regularly asked by friends who aren’t obsessed with wine. My answer is always the same.

“Of course,” I begin. “For starters, there’s supply and demand — bottles sell for what the market says they’re worth.

“But to your real question,” I continue, “no one is dropping that sort of money simply because a wine tastes so good. On those special occasions when you splurge — whether for a $25 bottle, a $50 bottle, or even something that costs $100 or more — you’re hoping for something beyond deliciousness. You're hoping for a wine that makes you think.”

Regardless of a wine’s price tag, this answer helps explain how wine enthusiasts approach wine. Those of us who obsess over what we drink aren’t just looking for something tasty; we’re looking for an experience. Whether a bottle costs $15 or $150, we’re hoping for something great. And a great wine makes you think.

This concept was made clearer last month while listening to Abe Schoener, an iconoclastic California winemaker, deliver a lecture in Washington, D.C.

Until 1998, Schoener was a professor of ancient Greek philosophy at St. John’s College in Maryland. That year, he headed to the Bay Area for a sabbatical and met John Kongsgaard, a Napa Valley vintner who was quickly gaining a reputation for making interesting wines. Kongsgaard’s children were interested in St. John’s, so the two men linked up. They quickly hit it off. Even though Schoener didn’t plan on staying in Northern California, he soon became Kongsgaard’s protégé.

Fast-forward 15 years, and Schoener is still in California. He makes wine as if he’s still a philosophy professor, now teaching students about the limits and possibilities of wine. Like a vinous Socrates, Schoener explores wine by constantly questioning established conventions.

Unsurprisingly, the results — bottled as the Scholium Project — are extremely unusual. The name is derived from the Greek word for “school” or “scholar,” so quite literally, the wines are a scholarly endeavor. Some are hits; some are misses. All make you think.

Thanks to the wines — and a captivating personality — Schoener has developed somewhat of a cult following. So he’s touring the country on a sold-out lecture series. In Washington, Schoener asked attendees to ponder several oil paintings from the National Gallery of Art as he discussed “precision and transparency in winemaking.”

That Schoener’s lecture would spark a dialogue about the purpose of wine isn’t surprising. Nor is such a dialogue unusual. Consider the wisdom of legendary winemaker Jacques Lardière, who recently retired after 42 years with Maison Louis Jadot in Burgundy.

“When you drink wine, you must realize you are drinking something more than wine,” Lardière explained to a recent gathering of oenophiles in New York City. “It’s a very meditative beverage.”

That meditative element is what inspires and fascinates wine enthusiasts.

Obviously, a delicious wine doesn’t have to make you think. Inexpensive New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, Provençal Rosé, and reasonably priced Argentine Malbec are just some examples of wines that are typically consumed thoughtlessly.

And there are many unappetizing wines that demand contemplation. For my palate, some skin-fermented whites and purposefully oxidized wines fit this bill. So do a few of Abe Schoener’s projects.

Great wines are both delicious and thought-provoking. That combination is what wine enthusiasts seek, regardless of price.

One might compare this pursuit to music. It’d be hard to contend that listening to a song is worth much more than a dollar — iTunes’ highest priced songs are $1.29. But virtually everyone is willing to pay a premium to see his favorite artist perform live. Bruce Springsteen’s newest album, “Wrecking Ball,” can be purchased for $13; tickets during his recent tour were priced at $98 each. At Springsteen concerts, attendees undoubtedly get their money’s worth.

Next time you pull a cork, think about what you’re drinking. Perhaps you’ll discover a great wine.

 

DAVID WHITE, a wine writer, is the founder and editor of Terroirist.com. His columns are housed at Palate Press: The Online Wine Magazine, PalatePress.com

1
Text Only
Features
  • Keep these tips in mind for May gardening

    Here are a few things to keep in mind as you head into your May gardening routine. Keep ahead of the weeds. We are always happy for the rain, but wet ground can keep us out of the garden and that allows weeds to grow by leaps and bounds. Now is the time to guard tender plants such as tomatoes, eggplant and peppers against sudden late frosts. During the first part of May you may be planting beans, early corn, okra and late potatoes. You also may be replacing tomato plants lost to late frosts. Finish setting out cabbage, lettuce, cauliflower, beets, etc.
    Here are some things to do:

    April 24, 2014

  • Cats outsmart the researchers

    I knew a lot had been written about dogs, and I assumed there must be at least a handful of studies on cats. But after weeks of scouring the scientific world for someone - anyone - who studied how cats think, all I was left with was this statement, laughed over the phone to me by one of the world's top animal cognition experts, a Hungarian scientist named Ádám Miklósi.

    April 23, 2014

  • clock edit.jpg Antique clock collection on display at Edmond Library

    In a world that’s often hurried and brief, the Sooner Time Collectors have nothing but time. Oklahoma chapter members of the National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors have provided antique pieces from personal collections to display at the Edmond Library until the end of April.
    Since the 1950s, Sooner Time Collectors have gathered to learn about the inner workings of clocks and to admire one-of-a-kind finds. Of interest to the community is their involvement with repairs for the Cowboy Hall of Fame clock and the UCO tower. They now have 35 members who meet monthly as a chapter of the 16,000-member NAWCC community across America and the world.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Be on the lookout for termites

    Warming temperatures and spring rainfall means swarming conditions for the homeowners’ nemesis in Oklahoma — the termite.
    Termites are Mother Nature’s way of recycling dead wood, as well as aerating the soil and increasing its fertility and water percolation. They are an important food source for other insects, spiders, reptiles, amphibians and birds within the food web, and they are essential for the wellbeing of the environment.

    April 23, 2014

  • McCain 1 House Republicans are more active on Twitter than Democrats

    Your representative in the House is almost certainly on Twitter. Your senator definitely is. But how are they using the social network? Are Democrats more active than Republicans, or vice versa? Who has the most followers on the Hill?

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Do your genes make you procrastinate?

    Procrastinators, in my experience, like nothing better than explaining away their procrastination: General busyness, fear of failure, and simple laziness are just a handful of the excuses and theories often tossed around. Now researchers from the University of Colorado Boulder have added another option to the list: genetics.

    April 22, 2014

  • VIDEO: Moose charges snowmobile, flees after warning shot

    While snowmobiling in New England, Bob and Janis Powell of Maine were charged by a moose and caught the entire attack on camera.

    April 22, 2014

  • 6th annual run event in Guthrie to benefit Free to Live

    The sixth annual “The See Spot Run” will take place at 9 a.m. May 10 in downtown Guthrie. This 5K, 10K and 1-mile run/walk event benefits Free to Live, a nonprofit animal sanctuary located Logan County. In the past five years of this event “The See Spot Run” has welcomed more than 3,000 runners and raised $30,000 for the Free to Live Animal Sanctuary.
    “The See Spot Run” will offer all participants the opportunity to compete in either the 5K or 10K event in addition to a 1-mile “Fun Run.” Walkers and runners (both two- and four-legged) are welcome and can register directly at www.theseespotrun.com. Visit www.freetoliveok.com. Donations also can be sent to “The See Spot Run,” P.O. Box 292, Guthrie, 73044.
     

    April 21, 2014

  • Touch-A-Truck event draws families to UCO

    Edmond Electric and Edmond Vehicle Maintenance are co-hosting the Edmond Touch-A-Truck from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. May 17 in the UCO parking lot off Second Street. Touch-A-Truck is a fundraising event that provides children of all ages with the opportunity to experience life-size vehicles and interact with community support leaders like police officers, firemen, construction workers and many more. Families will have the opportunity for a hands-on exploration of many vehicles such as Edmond’s own fire trucks and police cars, an Edmond Electric bucket truck and even a solid waste truck.
    Admission for the Touch-A-Truck event is a suggested $2 donation with the proceeds going to the Edmond HOPE Center. For more information, contact Edmond Electric at 216-7671 or email michelle.gumaer@edmondok.com.

    April 21, 2014

  • Why do wolves howl?

    Of all the myths that dog the wolf, none is more widely accepted than the idea that wolves howl at the moon. Images of wolves with their heads upturned, singing at the night sky, are as unquestioned as a goldfish's three-second memory or a dog's color-blindness (both also myths).

    April 20, 2014