The Vintner

Deep into the ochre soil reach the rootstock rhizomes – they slurp in silence, imperceptible
Ingesting, consuming through narrow capillaries, the turgor suspended skyscraper fundament
Spread out splashing, the kiss of Phoebus, springing sunlight rays to blossom bask and bequeath
Exchanges of briny cool Adriatic mist, soft estuary breezes and ephemeral pluvial streams
Firework flowers of bulbous wild garlic, fuzzy spiked petals of Stella Alpina, tangles of wild asparagus
Bowed heads of dew drenched Anacamptis, stoic alpine Ibex cling tenaciously to frostbitten cliffsides
Mossy stones of ancient Roman roads, trounced by leathery boots battle worn and marching
The rain runs off in rivulets, collecting in the creases of concrete seams carrying tiny pebbles
Soaking deep into the rich russet earth, streaming down sedgy hillside glades
Amassing algae-streaked ponds where bulging throats of tree frogs croak from thickets of reeds
Taciturn truffles and scampering salamanders snuggle into blankets of lichens and litterfall
Little brown beetles, woodlice, worms and millipedes scurry and scratch beneath the humus
The faraway neigh of Camargue horses nibbling at grasses where geese glide with the moon on their wings
Twisting burls of vines, crimped corkscrew curls from the roots to the tiny tender tendril curtains
Bleeding spring sap as the bud scales wither at the spurs where cordons jut and squirt like wild green fountains
Friable ferrous mounds of buttage give way to clinging loess dusted with carbonate and chalk
Grafted scions melding, calluses crusting over careful cuttings springing vigorous vines
Fattened fruit hang from them in bunches, translucent globes draped like sparkling pearls
The star shaped leaves suspended from an overhead trellis shade and shelter embryonic eyes
Soon the soft padding feet of the pickers waddling will arrive when the sun whispers raisins
Snipping pedicel from peduncle, pulling away gently from the tangles and trellis clingers
Clipped and collected in stacks of stained wooden crates and worn and woven shoulder baskets
Vast heaps of stem and fruit, washed and separated while harvest meats smoke over crackling evening fires
Cheerful talk and laughter, hands and feet stained a vibrant royal plum, a swirling sea of sweet juices
The must amassed in the massive vats, mixed and sweetened, married to the hungry fungus
Covering cloths conceal in underground earthen chambers while the yeast bubbles and froths
Eleven days this way, phenols and tannins burst into the ripening air, pips sink and see-saw to the bottom
Scooping off the foamy froth and siphoning away the murky juice, leaving loosened sediment sitting
Now squeezed by massive rollers and crank presses, the sweetened juice dripping into cisterns
Sweet sugars souring with a bitter bite, racked and filtered, flowing through scarlet stained spigots
A sample held up to the sun, the light passing through the translucent amaranthine nectar
The coopers busy building barrels, sanding smooth of slivers, steaming and bending aged oak slats
Wrapped with bands of hammered iron strips and fastened with wide flattened rivets
The barrels are filled to the very brim and stopped with carved bark stripped from cork oaks
Back into the dusty musty darkness of underground earth lined chambers where it rests
The pickers padding steps across the soil where the vines begin drooping and dropping
Pruning away perennial remnants, pulling weeds and rebutting roots with shoveled soil
All the while, the carefully stowed and reticent Riesling ripening in reclusion
Until such a day, the Vintner taps the first barrel, a swirling crimson tempest in the glass
Aromas wafting, the fields, the frogs, the foxy wet fur, the tepid ponds and flowering hillsides
The asparagus and wild garlic, the rivulets of rain off ancient roman roads, the running horses
The mossy stones and slippery salamanders, the breath and hands of the pickers dusted with chalk
Shrikes and doves and stilts, Adriatic salts and cool river drafts, worms wriggling through wet soil
It is all there, the essence of the entire earth brought into being, ripened and fermented
Transformed into a tingling under the nose, a touch upon the tender palate, thinning blood rushing capillaries
The universe distilled