By Gina Trippi
The Arts and Crafts movement began in European and American design during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, promoting handcraftsmanship over industrial mass production. Since then, the philosophy has spread to works that were not traditionally considered art. Wine has always been part of paintings; think Bacchus by Caravaggio. But some wine is art in and of itself. We herein submit our case that wine can be art!
Art is generally defined as the expression of creative skill and imagination producing works appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power. Architect Frank Lloyd Wright said, “Art is a discovery and development of elementary principles of nature into beautiful forms suitable for human use.” Painter Paul Cézanne said, “Art is a harmony parallel with nature.” And writer Émile Zola said, “A work of art is a corner of nature seen through a temperament.”
Wine comfortably fits under any definition. By claiming this mantle, we must separate, as did the early pioneers of the movement, handcrafted wines from mass-produced bottles sold at big-box retailers. Think of it as the difference between the original painting and the reprints.
Many winemakers still follow tradition and remain devoted to the hands-on approach from farming to bottle. Made in this way, the wine truly reflects the terroir—the complete environment surrounding the vineyard including soil, topography and climate—each year. Mass-produced wines are manipulated and polluted with additives to ensure that they have the same taste year after year. In a handmade wine, with no additives or manipulation, each bottle is unique. This is how wine becomes art.
Clos Marfisi, in Corsica, is a small winery doing just that: making art in a bottle. Corsica sits alone in the Mediterranean. One of the Corsican vineyard designations is Patrimonio and, because of its high elevation it is considered by many the best for growing grapes.
Patrimonio is where you will find Clos Marfisi. Brother and sister Mathieu and Julie are fifth-generation winemakers who returned home to Corsica, stepping into the boots of their father, Toussaint, and chose the vineyard life after both had successful careers in France.
The vineyards, with steep slopes almost white with limestone rising up from the Mediterranean, were planted nearly 50 years ago by Toussaint. Only local varietals are farmed at Clos Marfisi. The winery says, “You won’t find any Grenache here!” This estate has never been touched by pesticides or herbicides, and native yeasts are kept in the cellar.
We have two wines from Clos Marfisi at MetroWines to prove our point that handcrafted wines are indeed art. Grotta di Sole is a dry white made from 100 percent vermentino. The grapes are farmed in the limestone soil and fermented naturally in stainless steel before being racked into cement vats. And gritole, a translucent purple wine crafted from 100 percent Niellucciu, is fermented in stainless steel followed by 18 months in cement which allows the wine to breathe naturally. We rest our case that, at least, this wine, Clos Marfisi, is art!
Gina Trippi is the co-owner of Metro Wines, 169 Charlotte Street in Asheville. Metro Wines offers big shop selection with small shop service. Gina can be reached at email@example.com or 828.575.9525.