Somewhere in that equilibrium lies the “unbearable lightness,” or should we say, “the un-Barbera-able lightness.”
I’m hoping that some of you remember the landmark 20th-century novel by the Czech-born French writer Milan Kundera: The Unbearable Lightness of Being. In the book, published in 1984, the novelist examines the fragile nature of our existence and fate. Borrowing a page from Nietzsche, he reminds us of the fickle nature of destiny (set against the backdrop of revolution in Central Europe).
The iconic, paradoxical title — a “lightness” so heavy that it is impossible to “bear” (to carry) — is one that wine professionals often borrow to describe the greatest red wines of the world. The wines are rich with aroma, flavor, and texture in this paradigm. But they are also lithe, supple, and “light” on the palate, a counterintuitive tasting profile that most would agree represents a hallmark of the world’s greatest red wines (or at least in the classic, old-world style).
I was reminded of this expression over the weekend when a Barbera d’Asti was part of flight that my wife Tracie and I served at a momentous family dinner (in accordance with Barbera d’Asti consortium blog protocols, I can’t reveal the name of the producer; let it suffice to say that most readers, even those not entirely versed in the spectrum of Barbera d’Asti, would recognize its provenance).
There were a number of highly prized wines opened that night. But the Barbera d’Asti, among the reds, was the wine that disappeared the fastest.
Some of the less experienced wine lovers at the table might have called this “drinkability.” The wine was just so “smooth,” they’d offer, it was just so “easy to drink.”
But the more seasoned oenophiles pointed to the nuance and complexity of the wine balanced by its freshness and vibrance. Somewhere in that equilibrium lies the “unbearable lightness,” or should we say, “the un-Barbera-able lightness.”
And in my next post I’ll take a lot at at some of the reasons why Barbera d’Asti is often worthy of that title.