It never ceases to amaze me how stupid human beings can get. The latest example of the nadir of our sense and sensitivity? Someone took an axe to one of the world's oldest grapevines, a singular vine thought to be at least 500 years-old and the likely ancestor of the grape variety we know as Gruner Veltliner.
This is the first I've heard of this vine, which was apparently discovered in 2000 outside the village of St. Georgen. As the news story which related it's destruction notes, it had survived several wars, the scourge of phylloxera, droughts, and who knows what else, only to fall victim to some asshole with an axe.
As an aside, I find it a little humorous that someone bothered to estimate the value of the vine at $136,000. Doesn't that imply that someone might have been willing to pay that much for it? Short of one of those silly "adopt-a-vine" programs that thankfully most people have realized aren't worth anyone's time or money, I have a hard time figuring out how you might put a price on what seems to me to be a priceless thing.
On the one hand, we shouldn't get too sentimental about a plant. On the other hand, this thing was definitely a piece of botanical and cultural history. Why anyone would want to destroy it is hard to fathom. It didn't seem to belong to anyone in particular, so the idea that this was the rural Austrian equivalent of slashing someone's tires seems unlikely. It will be interesting to see if they catch the perpetrator, and what the motivation ends up being.
Chances are, however, it was some young drunkard from the region who decided to take out his own personal problems on a symbolic piece of wood that could offer no resistance and the personal satisfaction of having appalled a lot of people.
I'll be drinking some Gruner Veltliner in solidarity shortly.
A wine book like no other. Photographs, essays, and wine recommendations. 2015 Roederer Award Winner.Learn more.
Wine News: What I'm Reading the Week of 5/1/16 I'll Drink to That: Charles Philipponnat of Champagne Philipponnat Vinography Images: White Wall I'll Drink to That: Author Ian D'Agata West of West Pinot Tasting: May 19, San Francisco Wine News: What I'm Reading the Week of 4/24/16 2016 Garagiste Wine Festival: May 19, Oakland Warm Up: Tannins I'll Drink to That: Winemaker Andy Erickson Vinography Unboxed: Week of April 17, 2016
Wine Will Never Smell the Same Again: Luca Turin and the Science of Scent Forlorn Hope: The Remarkable Wines of Matthew Rorick Debating Robert Parker At His Invitation Passopisciaro Winery, Etna, Sicily: Current Releases Should We Care What Winemakers Say? The Sweet Taste of Freedom: Austria's Ruster Ausbruch Wines 2009 Burgundy Vintage According to Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Charles Banks: The New Man Behind Mayacamas Wine from the Caldera: The Incredible Viticulture of Santorini Why Community Tasting Notes Sites Will Fail Chateau Rayas and the 2012 Vintage of Chateauneuf-du-Pape A Life Indomitable: The Wines of Casal Santa Maria, Portugal Bay Area Bordeaux: Tasting Santa Cruz Mountain Cabernets Forgotten Jewels: Reviving Chile's Old Vine Carignane The First-Timer's Guide to Les Trois Glorieuses of Hospices de Beaune