Gwyneth Paltrow, actor turned lifestyle mogul, has created a candle called ‘This Smells Like My Vagina’. It’s for sale on her Goop website, or at least was, given that her more popular and practical items sell out quite quickly.
I mention this not to pass judgement, merely to express my fears for those in the Antipodean winemaking community who may find their heads (or other body parts) turned by just how much money Gwyneth’s products earn her.
In particular, I’m concerned that some might not be able to resist tweaking the aromas of this year’s vintage in a bodily direction. That’s you I’m looking at, producers of Dead Arm, Fifth Leg, Back Paddock, Willy Bay, Tuck’s Ridge and Rosie’s Patch.
Please consider the following: Gwyneth is a film star. I think we all agree that film stars are more exotic than the rest of us, including their pheromone notes. So I’d be leaving personal aroma profiles well out of the fermentation process unless you have at least one Academy Award nomination. Which means the only winemaker in these parts who should be treading grapes in his unwashed undies is Sam Neill.
Here’s how Gwyneth’s candle describes its aroma — “geranium, citrusy bergamot and cedar absolutes juxtaposed with Damask rose and ambrette seed”. A sobering thought, right? Even the sublime Sam would be pushing it to get his South Island yeast esters operating at those levels.
(An aside. If I’ve already convinced you to abandon any thought of using on your back label the phrase ‘this wine smells like my back label’, but you’d like to find out more about Gwyneth’s candle, I can’t recommend highly enough Hadley Freeman’s January column on the subject in The Guardian. Brilliant writing, and being a she, Freeman gets to say things about the whole concept I wouldn’t dare.)
Our wines already offer us a vast and glorious array of aromas, all emanating, as they should, from the personal bits of the grapes themselves. Every grape grows from a flower, which is, as Wikipedia tells us, the reproductive organ of the grapevine.
They’ve served us well up till now, these norisoprenoidal naughty bits, so please, don’t over-aspire and risk doing tragic damage. Our international wine community is the only one on the planet for whom the phrase ‘on the nose’ is not an insult. For now.
And I think that’s where I’ll leave it. I’ve just realised I googled ‘reproductive organ of the grapevine’, and if the metadata surveillance we’re currently subjected to is as misrepresented as I fear, I may be getting a knock on the door quite soon.
But please make my sacrifice worthwhile. Having gone out on this limb for you, I’ll be very disappointed if in future I see on a single back label the phrase, ‘this wine smells like Gwyneth Paltrow’s candle’.