Cindy’s Mole

Don’t ask me how…you don’t want to know, but I recently came across an old Vogue article titled, “Who Told Cindy to Remove Her Mole?” The provocative picture of a young Cindy Crawford circa, 1993 sauntering down the runway in Hervè Lèger obviously led me to the quick read. But, it was Cindy’s words that got me thinking about a few of my favorite things: wine, beauty, and truth.

According to Cindy, as a kid, her sister would tease Cindy about her now famous mole, calling it an “ugly mark.” For a period of time Cindy contemplated removing it. Her decision to live with her God given blemish was probably the best career decision she ever made. In a sea of ubiquitous beauty, it was this “ugly mark” that gave her “look” substance as well as elevated her natural allure. It was singularly hers, unforgettable and perfectly-imperfect. Above all else, I would argue, it made her authentic.

So what does this have to do with wine you ask? Well, Swigg is continually searching for Cindy Crawford’s mole, at least metaphorically. Adrift in a sea of ubiquitous, homogenous wine, beer and spirits that wash ashore at your local liquor and grocery store, polished up to look pretty and taste pretty (think lots of makeup), we are fishing for the authentic and the memorable, the beautiful and the profound…we are casting for Cindy, and the seas are, well… rough.

As the great twine writer Matt Kramer has stated:

Many of today’s shallowest, most facile wines are created by winegrowers—and sometimes celebrated by wine critics—who dismiss, disregard or are even contemptuous of authenticity.”

These wine growers, critics and ultimately consumers are the same men and woman who probably think Cindy Crawford’s beauty would be enhanced or even saved by the removal of her mole…her authenticity. Rubbish!

The reality is that the “contemptuous part of authenticity” stems from the fact that many wine drinkers – and wine critics for that matter – as in life, simply reject what they cannot understand. Instead of keeping an open mind and realizing that Cindy’s mole is not an imperfection, and “authentic wine is not an abstraction,” they find solitude in a preconceived, juvenile, “one size fits all” notion of wine, beauty and taste.

To quote my hero once again, “The fine-wine transformation of our time is rooted in seeking the authentic, from the vines to deferential winemaking to the glass. It’s a matter of recognizing that there is indeed a real deal—and getting it.”

One of the producers that captures the “Real Wine” spirit of Swigg is Walter Massa. Every time I pour one of his wines, whether they be his “signature” bottles or his more modest offerings, they resonate authenticity, conjure visions of Cindy and make me want to take another sip.

 

As his national importer has noted:

It’s hard not to get worked up about Walter Massa’s wines: He had a vision for a variety nobody wanted, worked in obscurity for years, rescued the grape (Timorassa), and doesn’t talk about himself but about the territory of Colli Tortonesi,” and after all these trials and tribulations has become the “Sound and fury of Italian sommeliers.”

Walter farms 22 hectares in 8 unique vineyard areas located in the forgotten Piedmontese appellation of Colli Tortonesi located in Northern Italy. If Walter is the beauty, the Timorasso grape is his “Mole.” Timorasso is an ancient Italian white grape varietal that hinged on the precipice of extinction until Walter resuscitated it. Though grown elsewhere in the appellation, Walter has made it his own. Timorasso is Walter’s letter of authenticity, a voluptuous expression of tropical fruit, Christmas spice, honey & bees wax with lip smacking minerality. There simply is nothing else like it. I sip Walter’s wines the same way my adolescent-self stared at pictures of Cindy, with passion and longing for more.

Like Cindy, Massa is not an unknown. Walter was Gambero Rosso’s viticulturist of the year in 2010, and his bottlings of Timorassa are considered some of the finest examples of white wine in Italy. Unfortunately, we live in Delaware, and there are limited bottles of Walter’s wines to drink, Hervè Lèger dresses to adorn, and there are certainly not many Cindy’s…but that’s ok, because I have Joanne, my own authentic beauty, and we always keep Walter Massa’s wine well stocked.

Rosé ALL DAY

Rosé ALL DAY

I like to read books about natural history. It’s sort of a hobby of mine. I don’t believe there’s anything more terrifying than being confronted with the vastness of the universe. The loneliness that ensues with the awareness that we are exceptionally insignificant is sort of a mental and mortal roundabout kick to the human ego. Though I do not proscribe to any religious ideology… I’m a philosophical masochist at heart.

I recently started rereading Bill Bryson’s book “A Short History of Everything,” which if you have just one curious sinew in your soul, I would encourage you to read. Sadly, curiosity is a commodity these days, as there are more convenient myths than inconvenient truths. The 1980s has always been known as the decade of, “Living in Oblivion,” but with the rise of such groups as the “Flat Earthers,” I think the moniker is more synonymous with this day and age.

Whilst delving through Bryson’s genius tome I often think back to the “Flat Earthers,” and think how decadent a time we must live in for people to believe in such nonsense, and carry about their lives. For example, even though Voyager 1, launched in 1977 is traveling through our solar system at 38,000 mph, billions of miles away from us, and you’re probably reading this on your cell phone, there are actually people who believe the world is flat.

Science…forgive them, for they do not know what they do.

As Bryson points out, the average distance between stars is “20 million million miles away” (The millions millions, is not a typo). There are an estimated 100 to 400 Billion stars in the Milky Way galaxy (who’s counting?) and don’t forget this little nugget, The Milky Way is just one of 140 Billion or so galaxies, even larger than ours.” I’m sure Senator Clay Davis, of The Wire, would end all of this with a classic… “Sheeeeit.”

It’s been said by quantum physicists that time does not exist (at least the way we humans perceive it), and I’ve been told “that every distance is not near.” I have often felt the more knowledge I gain the lonelier I become. Maybe that’s why we have Flat Earthers? They just don’t want to be existentially lonely… or basically just lonely in their case. As Voyager I, the Stars and the Universe expand out of our sight so ultimately do the people and things we love dilate out of our world… but, Just a little at a time (So little at a time, you don’t realize it until they’re gone). Maybe that’s all death is…order giving into entropy, giving way to unfathomable expansion, creating unimaginable possibilities. And then…back again.

I took a little vacation last week over the 4th of July. It’s the longest I’ve been away from Swigg in quite a while. Rehoboth has always been my ancestral place of recess, and the sandy stretch of beach at the end of Virginia Avenue, has always been our families perch. Every morning we sleepily saunter from car to sandy nest, curtained by Maxfield Parrish painted clouds, and cocooned by a milky morning marine mist. Sitting under open sky, marooned on white sand, one gains a whole new appreciation for nuclear fusion.

Why is it, in the audience of the sun, and within the proximity of large bodies of water, time begins to slow within my mammalian brain?
I watched my children play in the water and I played with them. My wife and I smiled at each other quite a bit. I read some Hemingway, and took many half-asleep naps and dreamt of sailing, fishing and drinking. We played silly games, games of chance, games of skill and took home many shoddily made stuffed animals. This is what we did each day, and we lived what seemed like many days inside of one. We did this every day! We took deep breaths of salty umami air intermingled with even saltier aromas from restaurant fryers that seem to festoon the boardwalk. We salivated over the drifting scent of caramelized sugar wafting from confections being made inside ancient seaside buildings and discarded melting cream and glucose on the planks of the splintering wooden avenue.

Every day I would return home, sun smothered, dazed from the Vitamin D. Feeling loopy, in love with life, and the innocent introspective of my children and my wife’s smile. In my post sun-drunk content I poured a drink.

The first “drink” after a long day at the beach, is an important one. It is a moment to capture and accentuate the “high” nature has already given you. I brought a cache of Rosé down with us from a varying number of European locals. Nothing cerebral, just simple delightful stuff I can afford. I opened and poured a finely chilled example of such inside the stillness of my in-law’s house. Dorthy and I put on some deep cuts of Otis Redding as we prepped dinner. I began to pour big glasses of Rosé for she and Joanne.

Later in the evening my son and I went out searching for amphibians of the night. We captured several toads, and held them up to the slivered moon. We laughed at their beauty and design. So “cute” Griffin says. We scurried about searching for more specimens. I looked up into the light polluted sky and wondered where Voyager I was. I thought about the ocean’s tide I had played in all day and the Flat Earthers (Explain tidal forces). I thought about the distances between stars. I thought about Richard Manuel’s voice singing “I Shall be Released,” I thought about Bill Bryson (Man…the guy can f@#king write). I thought about entropy and time. And, I thought about what to drink next.

Griffin and I collected our catch and wandered home. Company had congregated before we had left. When we returned, we released or bumpy moist loves, and Griffin retired to a screen somewhere.

I poured another glass of overly chilled Rosé and rejoined the party.