Ia€™m nursing three glasses of Marsala in La Sirena Ubriaca, a€?The Drunken Siren,a€? a wine bar in the port town of Marsala on Sicilya€™s western tip. My hata€™s off to wine-shop owner Salvatore Ruccione, whose enthusiasm for Marsala compelled him to create this chart (which really is quite helpful). Woodhouse suspected this complex wine would fit like a fine leather glove in the cultivated parlors of England where Port, Madeira, and Sherry were all the rage. Other Englishmen followed: Corlett, Wood, Payne, Hoppes, and most importantly, Benjamin Ingham and his nephew Joseph Whitaker, who began exporting Marsala beyond Europe. It was during this period that Marco De Bartoli entered the fray, an artisan David among industrial Goliaths determined to resurrect Marsalaa€™s tarnished reputation. John Woodhouse, a merchant from Liverpool, was sailing to Mazara del Vallo on Sicilya€™s southern shore when a sudden scirocco storm forced him to seek refuge in the port of Marsala. These fortified wines came from what the British called a€?the sun belta€?a€” the Mediterranean region extending from Portugal to Turkeya€”and Sicily was smack in the middle.
Vicenzo Florio outgrew them all, with a fleet of 99 ships exporting Marsala to points around the globe.
Old dusty bottles were occasionally brought out of kitchen cupboards to make chicken marsala or zabaglione, but Marsalaa€™s illustrious status as a meditation wine was gone with the wind.
Hea€™d spent the previous decade in the family business, growing grapes to sell to Marsala firms Pellegrino and Mirabella. Concentrated but dry, blended in soleras, and aged an average of 20 years, Vecchio Samperi is truly a meditation wine, a siren song that pulls you in deep through waves of nut, caramel, dried fruit, and sherry-like oxidative notes. Like its name implies, ita€™s virgin wine, with nothing added but neutral grape spirit, whose magic comes from long aging in wood. De Bartoli has taken the lead in privileging grillo, grown in Sicily since Phoenician times. Sweeter than a Vergine, with a luscious caramel, dried apricot, marmalade, and nut character, this wine has been fortified with mistella from insolia must and acquavite, then aged 10 years, versus the required 4. While Fine is fine for cooking, it takes years, even decades, to achieve a truly elegant meditation wine, one whose concentrated flavors come from slow evaporation and oxidation in casks, followed by further mellowing in barrique. Ita€™s reacting to a chart titled a€?29 Expressions of a Unique Wine,a€? which parses Marsala into its various categories. Look for De Bartolia€™s Vecchio Samperi, Pellegrinoa€™s Marsala Vergine Soleras Secco, or Florioa€™s Marsala Superiore VecchioFlorio Secco. While there, he and his men dined at an osteria that served up its best special-occasion wine. Like Vecchio Samperi, it uses the soleras system, as does another favorite of mine, Pellegrinoa€™s Marsala Vergine Soleras Secco.


Thata€™s right; 29 permutations, stacked in a multicolored pyramid, with age on the ascending side, color on the base, and sweetness levels wedged in between. Called il perpetuum, it was named after an aging process that involve a perpetual replenishing of wine in large wooden casks. When his father sent word that this Marsala was a smashing success, Woodhouse created a commercial operation, buying vineyards and farms in the countryside, anda€”like the British shippers of Port in Oportoa€”building an aging lodge near the Marsala port for easy shipping to England. Although boiled must was banished from most Marsalas, at least 1 percent is still required in the amber versions of Fine, Superiore, and Superiore Reservaa€”an industry shortcut to the rich hue and caramelized flavors that come with long cask aging. His first wine, called Vecchio Samperi, had more in common with the original perpetuum wine than Woodhousea€™s fortified Marsala, let alone the mass-produced Marsalas of the 1970s. Add the words a€?Reservaa€? and a€?Stravecchio,a€? and that doubles the aging minimum, from 5 years to 10. Unlike Vergine, which is always dry, Marsala Superiore can range in sweetness, so check the label for secco (dry), semisecco (off-dry), or dolce (sweet). In this special New Year’s Eve talk, we will explore a few simple, practical and inspiring things that we can do to create the positive changes we wish to see in our lives. He discarded all books and the opinions of others, carefully thought about it for himself day after day, until unexpectedly he felt an "insight" about it that created a surge of energy unlike anything he had ever experienced. Leta€™s repeat: Age (Fine = 1 year, Superiore = 2 years, Superiore Reserve = 4 years, Vergine = 5 years, Vergine Reserve = 10 years). That barrel is replenished with younger wine from the barrel above, and so on, with the brand-new vintage added to the top row. By 1900, 40 firms were supplying the world with what was then the most famous of all Italian wines.
He sensed enormous inner freedom, a new kind of intelligence, and a significance to life that he had never felt before. The cask is then topped off with new wine, and so it continues over the years, creating a blend of multiple vintages within one cask. But it also had no added alcohol, achieving 18% just through a combination of well-ripened grapes and evaporation in the soleras circle.
De Bartoli also pioneered grillo as a dry white table wine, kicking off a trend in Sicily with his crisp and lovely Grappoli del Grilloa€”a welcome trend, given the islanda€™s abundance of seafood. He began to talk about it with his friends, family, and coworkers, however it became quickly obvious that it was not something people could readily accept or understand. As a result, Vecchio Samperi falls outside the DOC rules, which require fortification, even for Vergine; thata€™s why you dona€™t see the word a€?Marsalaa€? on the Vecchio Samperi label. But as codified in the 1969 regulations, Marsala producers could also use mosto cotto, or unfermented grape must boiled down to a concentrate to increase potential alcohol, as well as sifone, or must from late-harvest grapes whose sweetness was fixed by the addition of alcohol.


Eventually Templeman kept it to himself, stopped talking about it, and did not explore it any further.
Both bolstered sweetness and color, but could also dilute the essential character of the wine. The energy he had once experienced began to fade until it seemed to disappear altogether.A  A In 1998 Templeman accepted work as a latent fingerprint examiner with the City of San Jose, became a senior fingerprint expert, taught classes, and, for fun, designed a mathematical model for fingerprints (T-Model). He studied the works of Frances Galton and Karl Popper, and in particular, he appreciated the work of Richard Feynman, a colleague of Bohm, who emphasized the need for careful and honest experiment to learn about things, the importance to approach life with doubt, and how he felt he knew nothing with absolute certainty. Templeman worked at San Jose for 15 years, and the energy he had experienced years earlier was a distant memory.A  A In 2013 Templeman retired from San Jose, and found himself with an abundance of free time. He initially began to focus on his physical health, and learn about diet and exercise from notable authors including Ray Kurzweil and Sanjay Gupta. He also started to take regular long walks, which renewed his love and appreciation for nature. He spent hours carefully thinking, reflecting, and contemplating everything that he observed and whatever ideas came to mind. Most importantly he spent long hours in meditation, which was a meditation that did not involve any system of thought, but instead was a way of looking at things without the filter of thought to distort the observation. It brought with it a similar energy he had experienced before, however it had greater depth and intensity.
Templeman described the energy as follows:A "The field of vast, immense energy comes and goes on its own without warning. The body was well rested, relaxed, and seated upright in a hard cushioned chair, comfortable, but not too much so. The whole movement of thought was finished and as a result the brain was free to watch and listen.
Outside there were the sounds of passing cars and a gentle breeze was blowing the tree branches and leaves.
The room was bathed in soft shadows and the morning sun slowly creeped into the East windows. It seemed to force all bodily senses, the eyes, muscles, breathing, to freeze in awe, wonder and unspeakable humility. The intimacy, the immense, infinite other, whatever it was, remained for an unknown period.



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