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What’s the Point? The Point is Poetry!

July 12, 2020

Team USA 2019 at the competition site Chateau Chambord; photo courtesy of the French US Consulate.

The point is not the point, the point is POETRY!
And we all know what Robert Louis Stevenson said about wine, right?
“Wine is bottled poetry!”

I became a bit obsessed with points there for a bit trying to figure out how they would be calculated to determine who would be on the 2020 US Wine Team (read more here).

Read more about Louis Roederer Champagne and its American cousin here.

Cheers and congratulations to the 2020 US Wine Team!
  • Kristen Shubert, Los Angeles County, CA
    2016 Team USA: 3rd place with 100 points at World Challenge (with Ulf Palmnas)
    2018 Team USA:  14th of 23 teams at World Challenge (with Lisa Stoll)
    2018 US Open: 1st with 124 points (partner Lisa Stoll)
    2019 US Open: 4th place
  • Taylor Robertson, Texas
    2019 Team USA: 30 points (with Sue Hill, Jacob Fergus, and I)
    2019 US Open: 1st with 101 points (with Jacob Fergus)
  • Ulf Palmnas, Sweden
    2016 Team USA: 3rd place with 100 points at World Challenge (with Kristen Schubert)
    2017 Team Sweden: World Champion with 115 points; read more here
  • Lisa Stoll, Ventura County, CA
    2018 Team USA: 14th of 23 teams at World Challenge
    2018 US Open: 1st with 124 points (partner Kristen Schubert)
    2019 US Open: 3rd place with 59 points
  • First Alternate:
    Jacob Fergus, Texas
    2019 Team USA Captain: 30 points at World Challenge
    2019 US Open: 1st with 101 points.
While I made the team, I’m an alternate– which means at this point, I’ve not been invited to compete in France., because Sue and I scored 91 points and placed second in the US Open in 2019 to be on the the four member team that went to France (and did terribly as a team).  Only previous first place finishers made the 2020 team. My disappointment brought me back to reflecting on one of the lessons of competing in Slam Poetry Competitions — the point is not the point, the point is poetry.
Or more accurately, bottled poetry, AKA wine!

Read about these two wines in an expanded version of this post here.

So instead of being bummed, I’m celebrating myself with sparkling wine from California and France (read about it here) and thinking about Walt Whitman’s “Song of Myself,” where Whitman writes in the first section:  
I celebrate myself, and sing myself,
And what I assume you shall assume,
For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.
I loafe and invite my soul,
I lean and loafe at my ease observing a spear of summer grass.
My tongue, every atom of my blood, form’d from this soil, this air,
Born here of parents born here from parents the same, and their parents the same,
I, now thirty-seven years old in perfect health begin,
Hoping to cease not till death.
Creeds and schools in abeyance,
Retiring back a while sufficed at what they are, but never forgotten,

I harbor for good or bad, I permit to speak at every hazard,
Nature without check with original energy.

It will definitely benefit the team to have advance notice and hopefully figure out how to practice together even though they are geographically distant and with social distancing a factor as well. You can learn more about the history of the competition and see how important practicing as a team is here in this 10 minute video:



For a little more food for thought, here’s the conclusion of Whitman’s poem:

Section 52 “Song of Myself” 

The spotted hawk swoops by and accuses me, he complains of my gab and my loitering.
I too am not a bit tamed, I too am untranslatable,
I sound my barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world.
The last scud of day holds back for me,
It flings my likeness after the rest and true as any on the shadow’d wilds,

It coaxes me to the vapor and the dusk.

I depart as air, I shake my white locks at the runaway sun,
I effuse my flesh in eddies, and drift it in lacy jags.
I bequeath myself to the dirt to grow from the grass I love,
If you want me again look for me under your boot-soles.
You will hardly know who I am or what I mean,
But I shall be good health to you nevertheless,
And filter and fibre your blood.
Failing to fetch me at first keep encouraged,
Missing me one place search another,
I stop somewhere waiting for you.
So while I may not be one of the four named to the team, I am the Art Predator on the prowl for that which engages the soul– and you just might find me in Bordeaux France in October 2020, Covid permitting! In the meantime, I’ll keep studying, researching, tasting, and writing about wine over on Wine Predator and sometimes here too. (If you’re into wine, go over there and subscribe!) 
Congratulations once again to the 2020 US Blind Wine Tasting Team!
Wishing you the best in the World Wine Tasting Challenge in October!
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