Monday, 2 June 2014

Liminal Zones

The question was, what are the main differences in style between Slovenian, Austrian and Hungarian expressions of Furmint? It got me thinking.

I’d spent a large part of the day tasting wines from the Easternmost parts of Slovenia, the North Western European part of Turkey and form both the Greek and Bulgarian sides of the Thracian lowlands. All wine regions where, I’d argue, the wine makers have more in common with their neighbour’s over the boarder than they do with the rest of the country.  This got me thinking about the Balkans and the way that a semi-homogenous group of people was broken up by the early 20th century mania for drawing boarders between nation states.

I guess that in Europe we did marginally better than in the near East where wars seem to ravage the region with a disturbing regularity (mind you I did taste quite a bit of Serbian and Croatian wines and there have certainly been wars in their part of the world in living memory). But still, growing up in the UK where for better or worse we’ve had a pretty firm set of boarders for most of our recent history it’s hard to really understand the mind sets of regions that only partly reflect the nation within which they’re located.

So how exactly do I think about and categorise these liminal zones? Do I keep them within my existing mental country maps or do I redraw my own map of Europe, boarder free with all the sensible wine regions existing as their own autonomous states within my mental geography?

I’ll be honest, it’s the latter, I’ve always based my geographical understanding of the world on where wine is grown and really countries have only ever been a small part of it. After all, anyone who’s ever been to the Sud Tyrol will know that it’s about the least Italian part of the world you’d ever expect to find within what we understand as Italy.