My theme today is "Understanding Excellence", which, some of us aspire to as PuristS. 'Excellence' was a buzz-word bandied about profusely in the 1980s and 1990s, especially by business 'gurus' and motivational speakers. At one point, I was almost ready to bitch-slap the next person who wanted to talk to me about the pursuit of excellence, or worse, its non-pursuit.
Yarra Yering, Pinot Noir, 1990, Victoria, Australia. (Exhibit A)
Ruby red has tipped over into rustiness. Very aromatic, with combination of earth, jam and damp grass. Old, fully evolved fruit flavours, with hint of jam and confected fruit; some would say a little 'tired' or faded. Good length.
Dr Bailey Carrodus has been noted as one of the great "characters" of the Yarra Valley, producing highly individual (some would say unique) wines. What is his secret? Some say that it is as much due to his high quality vineyards as to his winemaking theories. I was introduced to his wines when I lived in Singapore. Apparently, hundreds of enthusiasts flock to his cellar door to pick up a few precious bottles of No. 1 or No. 2 each year.
Carrodus established Yarra Yering in 1969, purchasing prime vineyard land in the Yarra Valley, Victoria, a former wine community during the late 1800s. He based his search for land on a simple theory – that it should be where vines had thrived before and had avoided the threat of spring frost damage. Using a contour map, he selected what is now regarded as one of the best vineyard sites in the region. Yarra Yering, now about 70 acres, is planted on a north-facing hillside on deep, broken-up secondary gravel soil with excellent drainage. His objective is to make wines of complexity, palate evenness and after taste.
All of Yarra Yering's wines have their enthusiastic fans, particularly the Yarra Yering Dry Red No 1. Tiny quantities of the Merlot, was once one of the most expensive Australian wines, but now looks more reasonable value.
Ghiṣ Silver Toothed Wheel Cufflinks. (Exhibit B)
This Milan-based design, manufacturing and distributing firm of luxury objects was launched in 2000 by Dolmen. Its product line-up is surprisingly varied. Leather notepads and telephone books, jewelry and a variety of cases for things as diverse as (Ghiṣ-designed) cufflinks, travel sets, champagne glasses to carry on the plane, a metal glove and other equipment for cleaning oysters, as well as tarot cards and other games are just some of the Ghiṣ signature pieces to bring old-world luxury into contemporary living.
The art deco aesthetic, reminiscences of luxury traveling on ocean liners and the taste for unusual materials, all recall the 1920s and ’30s, which is when Jean-Jacques Ghiṣ enjoyed his greatest success. Ghiṣ was a reputable jewelry and luxury designer whose custom-made designs were sought after by an exclusive Parisian clientele, especially during the ’20s. The son of an Italian father who specialized in metalwork and a French mother, he spent most of his cosmopolitan life in Argentina and Paris. Ghiṣ had no 'issue', which is why there were no heirs to claim the artistic rights to his name.
Luxurious finishing and the use of natural materials is an attribute of the line: Examples include different kinds of wood (ebony, Makassar ebony, zebrano, amaranth, maple, and cocobolo), mammoth fossil tusk ivory, buffalo bones and English calf leather processed to an ultra-soft, velvety finish. One of the objectives of the Ghiṣ products is to fill in a perceived lack in the market of specialized luxury products for men. The company says, “We mainly think of men when we project our new lines of products: Our opinion is that there are always the same ordinary things out there in the market of gift items for men." Until now, the line has met with success in Russia, Italy and Japan.
So, what is a WFEDder to do? How can we understand excellence? The once excellent wine in 2003 may now be a little 'tired'. Does that mean that we should disregard its former glory? Or do we appreciate the thoughtfulness, art and effort that went into its making but understand the ravages of time, en passant, that robbed it of its "excellence"?
I quote from the card which accompanied my cufflinks: "Owning a Ghiṣ product is a privilege. It implies being able to afford and understand absolute excellence." I believe that PuristS can understand excellence to be a pinnacle at a point in time. After that, it matters not if that pinnacle is surpassed or faded, for that is the very nature of Man; we have to move on with Time......