Our Blog

Back to all posts
  • Sustainable Progress

    Sustainable Progress

    Kay Pfaltz

    it clicks, clicks with clocklike persistence that tolls progress, purpose, the passage of time. –Cormack McCarthy

    As we advance further into virtual worlds, do we gain wizardry over life or do we leave behind something invaluable? We have apps for more than the average mind can conjure, saving us time so we can spend it with our devices, gathering information, learning, maybe inventing more apps to save us time. The late Serge Hochar reminded us that, “the value of time is so important. Invest in time.” I invest in time every morning I walk to my Writing Room and in the cold air kneel and build a fire in the woodstove for heat. It’s time consuming and antithetical to high-tech society, but it brings me back to something essential. A slower pace of life. Progress is inevitable; there’s an evolutionary impulse to the universe, but I wonder if there comes a point when it ceases to serve, beginning to slide back onto self? The answers are as varied as the different humans and species inhabiting earth. I for one will not be buying a pair of self-tying shoes, but for the disabled person they spell godsend. And maybe those time-saving apps really are allowing more people to play ball with their kids or hike in the woods.

    Wine has always seemed a basic way of life. Tending the vines is 365 days of time and effort and, like all farming, one is subjected to nature. Yet, wine has become one of the most adulterated and manipulated food products of the modern era. From fungicides, herbicides and pesticides in the vineyard, to lab-bred industrial yeasts, tartaric acid, refined sugar, SO2, fining agents and chemical stabilizers in the cellar. And this is true for $4.99 grocery store bottles to the100-point Cabernets. This is one reason why, at Basics, we try to support winemakers who believe in biodiversity and use sustainable methods, those who see wine more as a product of time and nature and not of the laboratory. We favour small wineries over larger, mass production, even though the latter can offer better value.

    A shining example of this philosophy are the wines of Olivier Rivière, a young, dynamic Frenchman making wine in Rioja. Olivier Rivière, Rioja, ‘Ganko’ 2014 (biodynamic) – Ganko is a nickname Olivier acquired that means stubborn in Japanese—a useful trait for an outsider making wine his own way in Rioja. A blend of Garnacha and Mazuelo from 40-80-year vines. Open, decant and let breathe. Bright red fruit combines with a herby, balsamic character to further mellow, with time, into notes of tobacco, earth and fig. 94 pts. Wine Advocate. Olivier Rivière, Rioja, ‘Eusebio’ 2013 (biodynamic) – 100% Tempranillo, this one is a contradiction, at once explosive, and understated with elegant finesse. Cedar, vanilla, cocoa and dark cherry. 93 pts. Wine Advocate. When you taste wines like these of Olivier, you taste a complexity and aliveness not found in bottles mass-produced. You taste character.