Describing what it means to live, in objective terms, is difficult. It is a given—we understand ourselves to be alive. Similarly we see the qualities of a living thing reflected in the grapevine and, on an even deeper metaphorical level, in wine itself.
There are, however, several shared biological attributes in which we and the grapevine are essentially the same, and by extension, the entire world of plants and animals. This fact should lead us to reflect and reposition our perception of the human being on a more modest scale.
Budding grapevine in l'Aranyó vineyard (DO Costers del Segre), a Familia Torres property
The entropic structure of both the grapevine and the human being is built from minute cells. Both share metabolic functions and interact with environmental stimuli to regulate internal functions that keep us/it alive.
We grow, reproduce, and as we age, certain functions decline in a progressive and inevitable process of oxidation that will lead to our natural end.
...and the metaphorical
Vine and Human, as one. Like a mirror rooted to the ground, it lets us see and know ourselves. Paying attention to the vegetative cycle is a form of self-contemplation: full, productive youth bursting with life and the kind of excessive vitality that needs respite and care to curb all that unwitting vigor.
Purgatori aging in the restored l'Aranyó winery (DO Costers del Segre), a Familia Torres property
After all, maturity is nothing but a path marked by time—the initial step of discovering our own potential, the path of learning to master our resources and energy in the face of greater limitations and infirmities, but with greater balance and deeper knowledge too.
Age is a filter, a funnel, a sieve, if you will—it eliminates mistakes and seeks balance. Our vigor may wane, but what we do and what we produce take on greater meaning and value.
And so, in their wise old age, their swan song, both grapevine and human stretch out the hours and days to offer up the absolute, concentrated and distilled essence of an entire lifetime.
Vine and Human, as one. One could argue that talking about living wines could be seen as a somewhat lofty, even pompous, axiom. But if we look closely at how wine is made, and how it evolves, we'll see that the interaction of its living components creates another, unique and unrepeatable, being. And that this being's own transformation will be determined by the potential of the aforementioned components: yeasts, bacteria, and plant-based cells.
This material geography finds expression in a new being, a new wine, which shares the mirror and the consummate entropic cycle with the Vine and the Human. First comes the brief but intense exuberance of youth, the indomitable and colorful implosion of life.
With maturity comes balance. Sharp edges soften, the way rivers carve out canyons; the spirit grows calmer, reaching a state of organoleptic serenity—the elegance of a well-defined personality. Every excess and defect is smoothed away to reveal a bare material version of what we call life. Life as it oxidizes and reaches its end. Vine, Human, and Wine are all subject to the same biological rules and regulations. A natural and inevitable epilogue. A cycle, a circle where the beginning meets the end. Where every departure marks a return.
Whatever “living” may be, we are destined to share the same path and fate as the vine and its fruit. An ancient understanding through which our lives become mirrors and our steps, a path.