by Danilo Nakamura
TransIation by: Hidemi Hamano

Fruit-bombs, clothing and Frank Sinatra

I don’t really get why people spent so much time digging into fruit-bomb wines. If we drew a parallel between wine and music, it would be as if we spent the last five years only talking about Mika: a catchy tune that pretty much adds nothing charming or new to your life, but is made up to conquer your taste.
In a certain way, it was a good deal for people who were already wine lovers before this, you know, “crisis”. Old-school and elegant wines became cheaper –even if less available –, and we could find ourselves facing a nice bottle of, say, sherry for unbelievable US$10,00 on a forgotten wineshop shelf. On the other hand, though, newcomers to the wine world were probably being miseducated and large companies took over boutique producers – who gave up growing grapes, either selling their farms or, in the Madeira Island’s case, replacing it for banana fields.

Since we started drinking wine scores, especially by Mr. Robert Parker (the million dollar nose-insured fellow who’s been considered the most influent wine critic since the 90’s), and have forgotten that good wine depends on personal taste, wineries were also compelled to begin producing wine scores, instead of wine, period – and since then, they came up with the least fitting term that could’ve ever existed: modern wine. Changing a style overnight with the one and only reason to please the crowd can be a very dangerous trip (or worse, a one-way). It’d be like Frank Sinatra, seeing his record sales drop, suddenly teamed up with The Strokes – which could be a fun thing. But then Bing Crosby gathered with The XX and Rough Trade Records invited Dizzy Gillespie to join The Libertines. You can’t add modernity like that – the same way you can’t add class to Susan Boyle, a highlander peasant-gone-soprano. So what happened is that we distanced ourselves from producing a genuine thing and started aiming together to the same target – therefore wines became so similar and predictable nowadays – when we should be looking for something that surprised us.

A “modern wine” isn’t automatically a bad wine, though. Some are actually really good. But then, when you check if these producers have always produced that way, the answer is most likely going to be yes. So you can figure out it doesn’t really depend on nomenclature only.

Two months ago I was having lunch with wine producer Michelangel Cerdá – this Mallorcan dude, who could be called a genius, especially if you dug into his personality… Cerdá ranges between very intelligent and very nuts (isn’t it a description of a genius?). For example, he truly believes his vines ‘talk’ to each other at night and that they crave for company, so he planted an orange tree and a couple of flowers throughout his vineyards. “The juices that flow in a lonely grape are never as tasty as in the accompanied ones”, he assures. A former sailor, he sold his boat to buy some oak barrels and plant awkward indigenous-grape Callet – which has always been considered an inferior variety to produce good wine around the island. One day, Mr. Parker showed up and scored his Son Negre 94 points. Cerdá started selling and exporting like hell – which is a very precise term, given his fondness for naming his wines some diabolic names. “We always name it when we’re drunk!” he said “it’s because we used to be huge sinners back in those days. Not anymore… it takes a lot of effort to be a professional sinner”. The names include Son Negre (“Black Son”, his top wine, only released on special vintages, with label designed by fellow Mallorcan famous artist and friend Miquel Barceló), Cava Tu Tumba (a wordplay with cava, the general spanish bubblies, meaning “dig your own tomb”, produced exclusively for in-the-winery consuming and friends) and Ànima Negra (“Black Soul”).

So you can think, yes, 94 points could possibly mean his wines were a dirty product of this induced commercial trend of oaky, fruit-bomb, over-alcoholic and lookalike wines. They are not. Ànima Negra expresses so much personality that calling it modern would lack modernity – maybe ‘cutting-edge’ could fit better. I’m not going into the “floral, spicy, mineral, plums and cherries” thing, even it does having all the mentioned aromas on the nose. But it’s tasty, flavourful, smooth and complex, yet very distinctive. Resembles some Cabernet Franc but with some bourguignone elegance. And it’s pointless to make comparisons, since it’s an exclusive material from Mallorca.

I strongly believe that wines dress up like their owners – or at least they sound like them. Get this guy, Michael Affatatto. A funny, fast talking New Yorker who moved to Bordeaux after marrying a French girl over a bottle of Dom Pérignon he strategically and painly opened to conquer her heart. A photographer graduated on the FIT (Fashion Institute of Technology / NYC), what else could he produce, if not a funky, international and honest wine? There’s even some childish (I mean the cute and happy side of it) thing to it – and don’t be surprised if you step into his château just to find his two little girls (Chloé and Pauline) helping with the grape selection. Is it modern? Definitely – like a New Yorker should be –, but again it’s got talent and sincerity. His Merlot-based Château La Gatte is round and delicate, with a fruitiness that should be taken as an example by many so-called modern producers: fresh and involving, without being ridiculously powerful. Besides, it’s more than affordable.

And then you go and google the name of a Chilean large scale ‘modern wine’ producer and it turns out that there is actually no owner, but it’s a wing of Pepsi company. What kind of clothing do they wear? Probably a suit that could either come from Armani or Ross (American chain, whose slogan states “dress for less”) – and in that second case, it would actually fit perfectly: drink for less… pleasure.



私たちが「ワイン・スコア」、特にロバート・パーカー氏(90年代から現在に至るまで世界で最も影響力のあるワイン評論家)によるスコア(評価点数)を中心に飲み始めてから、いいワインの基準が人々の個人的なテイスト差で変わるという事を忘れている。また、ワイナリー達もワイン・スコアに集中し、本当のワイン作りを忘れてしまった、その後、誕生したのが、最も相応しくない新しい名前のワイン類、「モダーンワイン」だ。一晩で皆のテイストを合わせる為にスタイルを変える事はとても危険なさまだ。それはまさにフランク・シナトラのレコードのセールが落ち、慌ててザ・ストロークス(The Strokes)とコラボをする様である、面白い事かも知れないが、その後はビング・クロスビー(Bing Crosby)とザ・XX(The XX)そしてラフ・トレード・レコーズ社がディジーガレスピー(Dizzy Gillespie)とザ・リバティーンズ(The Libertines)を合併する事になる。こういうやり方でモダーニティ(現代性)を求める事は大間違えだ。同じく、何かにクラスを付けるのも一緒だ、スザン・ボイル氏に例えると、スコットランドのいなか者が一瞬でソプラノになっても彼女のクラスに変わりはない。


2ヶ月前に僕はワイン製造者のミケランジェル・セルダ氏とランチをした。彼はマヨルカ島の人で、彼を知れば天才と言えるだろう。セルダは知性的でもしくは気が狂った程の天才なのかも知れない。例えば、彼は自分が育っているブドウの木達が毎晩会話をしていて、ついに仲間を欲しがっていると信じている。それで彼はブドウ木の農園にオレンジ木や花を植えた。そして彼はこう断言した、「寂しく育ったブドウの味は仲間と一緒に育ったブドウに比べると全然おいしさが違う!」。元セーラーだった彼は自分の船を売ってオークのたるを買い、原産のカレットというブドウ木を植えた。カレットはマヨルカ島でいいワインを造るには品質が低い植物と言われていた。ある日、評論家のパーカー氏が現れ、セルダのソン・ネグレを評価し、94点を取った。その後セルダはワインを死ぬ程売り始め輸出し始めた、彼が付けた不愉快な名前にはぴったりな表現であるだろう。「俺たちはいつも酔っ払っている時に名前を付けるんだ!」と彼は言った。「何故かというと、俺たちは昔、罪人達であった、今はもう違うけど。。。プロの罪人になるには大変な能力が必要だよ」。彼が造ったワイン達の名は Son Negre(ソン・ネグレ「黒い息子」の意味で、彼のトップワインである、スペシャル・ヴィンテージとしてしか販売してなく、そのラベルはマヨルカ島出身の有名アーティストで友達でもある、ミケル・バルセロ氏がデザインした)、Cava Tu Tumba(カバ・トゥ・トゥンバ「自分の墓を掘る」と言う意味で友達とワイナリーだけで販売する商品として作り上げられた)、そしてAnima Negra(アニマ・ネグラ「黒い魂」の意味がある)。