Inner-self aches over a couple of pinots

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I RECENTLY read an interview with a scientist who is an expert on our inner conversations, the talks we have with ourselves that are as important as the dialogue we have with others.

Richard Calver.

“We are all fragmented,” wrote Prof Charles Fernyhough.

“There is no unitary self. We are all in pieces, struggling to create the illusion of a coherent ‘me’ from moment to moment.”

Those inner conversations can be fuelled by what we are reading, by the events portrayed in the media and by the dilemmas that confront us where we aren’t quite sure that what we do has the slightest significance when weighed against the horrors that we have seen or the despair that is engendered.

There were two wines. One was a pinot noir from NZ that my sister had given me as a present when I was last there in December, 2018: the Last Shepherd 2017 from Central Otago. The other a local pinot noir, a 2017 Eden Road, The Long Road Pinot Noir.

My inner-self was saying that this is no contest; my Kiwi heritage (I grew up in the shaky isles) and my experience knew that Central Otago pinots are superlative and they cannot be beaten. And now NZ has suffered a tragedy that is so horrible that it makes me physically sick to think that someone could kill 50 innocent people in the name of some perverted ideology. Here again my inner-self is repulsed but knows that the event has nothing to do with wine or wine writing or comparisons of something as prosaic as what we drink for pleasure.

The NZ wine was nowhere near as pleasant as the local pinot. I looked it up and the NZ wine costs around $A19 a bottle. The finish is rough. It tasted awry, just the way I felt when I thought of the massacre.

We tried both wines on a Sunday night. The ritual was misconceived. I couldn’t bring myself to squeeze joy out of something that kept taking me back to the shock of what happened in Christchurch. How could anything I had thought about my adoptive country ever be the same? How could a glass of wine (even too many) make a jot of difference?

I called the winemaker at Eden Road Wines, Celine Rousseau. I went through the motions of asking her about the smooth finish and the way that this $28 wine is very satisfying at that price point.

She was charming and explained that any clag (my word) or poor finish is rounded out by 3 per cent Pinot Meunier, one of the less talked about grapes that go into the mix of grapes to produce traditional champagne. I thank her for the conversation and apologise if I seemed slightly disengaged.

Ms Rousseau told me that in the Halliday 2019 wine companion the Long Road was awarded 92 points. She had just finished harvest and was up for a chat. But I didn’t have the heart to tell her that my mind was not really on this battle.

The whole idea of being amusing or insouciant about a NZ and Australian wine comparison in fact left me feeling as if I was entirely missing the point.

The internal conversation that I had with myself was to try and get a perspective on the importance of continuing to do what we do as an everyday matter in the face of tragedy and in the face of the savagery that we have witnessed.

Another part of me says that the misanthropy that the shooter obviously possessed is something that it is necessary to eschew in order to gain perspective. I pray that my inner-voice will let me hear that message.


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Richard Calver
Richard Calver walks, talks, thinks, drinks and writes passionately about wine, especially the wines of the Canberra region.

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