Language is an awkward and slippery thing. Words inform our thoughts, and divide the world into discrete bits, but these symbols have no intrinsic relationship to the concepts or objects they represent. According to Ferdinand de Saussure, words derive their meaning solely by their relationship to each other – that is, they are what the others are not. We think they will convey our message, but they often do more to confuse matters. See this and several of my previous newsletters as proof.
Pianist Eubie Blake once said, “As soon as you’ve got to explain it, then you don’t know what it is,” and Lao Tzu wrote that true words are not beautiful, and beautiful words are not true. Plato believed the art of poetry was the greatest danger to society, but that beauty in its pure form was the greatest good. In our line of work, we are faced with the impossible task of conveying the flavors and sensations of wine with the clumsy tools of language; a fool’s errand, similar to describing music, or visual art. Beyond the technical details, like color, form, or pitch, there is only a relative response, as varied as the nature of the beholder.
Wine importer Terry Theise wrote about the 2015 Muller Catoir Haardter Herzog Rieslaner Auslese “You can’t miss this! You don’t dare. It gets 13 out of 10 points on the priapism meter. Structure as firm as steel rod just leeches away the sweetness; the mutual orgasm of concentration and transparency is astonishing; the candied banana aromas are head-shaking, and the whole thing is a goddamn peyote high of power both seething and weirdly tender. An unfathomable masterpiece.” (Three half bottles of this mystical love potion currently available at OAKLAND YARD.)
Oxford don and godfather of Aestheticism, Walter Pater wrote: “While all melts under our feet, we may well grasp at any exquisite passion, or any contribution to knowledge that seems by a lifted horizon to set the spirit free for a moment, or any stirring of the senses, strange dyes, strange colours, and curious odours, or work of the artist's hands, or the face of one's friend.”
This weekend, and for the coming weeks, we’ll festoon the shop with the brightly colored paintings of distinguished visual artist, opera singer, and Oakland Yard Wine Club member, James Stahlman. I will not attempt to describe his work, but invite you to come and enjoy it in your own personal way. James will be here this SATURDAY from 2 to 5pm to drink rosé with you and appreciate your appreciation.
TONIGHT: Thursday Night Flights! Spanish Xarel-los & Italian Reds. Flights $12 from 4-8pm
SATURDAY: ‘Summer in Winter’: Opening Party with artist James Stahlman and Tasting Flights of newly released 2017 Rosé wines for $15 from 2-5pm
SUNDAY: Orange Wines: Skin-macerated white wines from Portugal, Italy, and the Republic of Georgia. Flights $15 from 2-6pm
See you soon,