Conversations For Transformation: Essays Inspired By The Ideas Of Werner Erhard

Conversations For Transformation

Essays By Laurence Platt

Inspired By The Ideas Of Werner Erhard

And More


Incident:

Inspired Accident

Judd's Hill, Napa Valley, California, USA

July 30, 2010



This essay, Incident: Inspired Accident, was written at the same time as Two Of Me.



There are no accidents. There's only what happens.

If you speak with creative people, with artists, with musicians, with painters, with sculptors, with actors, with designers et al you'll find they'll say it's not simply that there are no accidents. It's more than that. You'll find they'll say what at first may seem like  an accident is really a fortuitous discontiguous shift  in the normal course of events which, if you're open to the possibility, inspires a breakthrough and without which a breakthrough may never occur.

I've experienced this myself in my own modest ventures into art. For example, when painting I've accidentally  spilled water onto my paint palette. The paint, now runnier than I intended, hasn't simply coated the bristol card on which I like to paint. It's actually dripped down  the bristol creating an effect I would never have pre-imagined. At first I consider it to be an accident - that is, until I look at it closer. That's when I get it. That's when, looking at it intently, I whistle softly, saying to myself "Wow! Now that's  interesting ...". That's when I realize it's not an accident!  There are no accidents. Rather it's simply a component (and a critical component  at that) of what happens during the creative process.

Recently I had the opportunity to be creative in an arena in which I've never created before. I've created with sight (painting), with hearing (music), with touch (massage), but never with smell nor with taste - while I maintain a nutritious and healthy diet, I'm certainly no gourmet chef. The opportunity to be creative with smell and taste came when a friend of mine, a famous Napa Valley wine maker, invited me to try my hand (perhaps that should be my nose  and my palate)  at blending wine.

We sat at a large table with glasses, calibrated measuring flasks, and pencils with which to make notes. The entire table "cloth" was plain white paper - plenty of room on which to write. And there were bottles of four 100% single varietal unblended wines, all of the 2008 vintage:

1)  Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
2)  Oakville Cabernet Sauvignon
3)  Napa Valley Merlot
4)  Napa Valley Cabernet Franc

The idea was pretty straight forward: taste the four wines, determine their dominant characteristics, imagine how best to blend them, blend them, select the best blend, bottle it.

Sipping each one carefully, then spitting out what remained in my mouth without swallowing, this is how each wine landed for me:

1)  Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon: "big floor"
2)  Oakville Cabernet Sauvignon: "rounded", "filled out"
3)  Napa Valley Merlot: "smooth", "no tannins", "edgy"
4)  Napa Valley Cabernet Franc: "base flavor", "tannic", "slightly sweet" 

The above descriptors  are from the notes I made as I tasted, surrounded by glasses, flasks, and bottles. It took a while to get to used to writing on the "table cloth" - it was the first time I've ever knowingly written on a table cloth.

The next step, like mixing teal with gold paint or the guitar with drums, was to imagine what taste these wines would produce when blended. This is completely new territory for me. I have a memory for sight ie for things I've seen, and for hearing ie for sounds and music I've heard. But I have no  memory for things I've smelled and tasted like food and wine, let alone determine how they would taste in combination. The process fascinated me.

Carefully pouring wines into a calibrated measuring flask to get the percentages exactly the way I imagined they would combine best together, the first blend I attempted was

60% Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
25% Oakville Cabernet Sauvignon
10% Napa Valley Cabernet Franc
05% Napa Valley Merlot


I liked this blend, my first attempt, a lot. It suggested to me I try blending the same wines but less dominated by the "bigness"  of the Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. So for my next experiment, I added to the calibrated measuring flask

50% Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
30% Oakville Cabernet Sauvignon
20% Napa Valley Cabernet Franc


at which point, having not yet added the Napa Valley Merlot, I stopped.

I realized I'd made an error in my calculations. The three wines I'd blended so far already  totaled one hundred percent! There was no more room  in the equation for the Napa Valley Merlot - at least, not in this blend. That's why my second attempt, an accident, blended only three wines rather than four:

50% Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
30% Oakville Cabernet Sauvignon
20% Napa Valley Cabernet Franc
?0% Napa Valley Merlot                     <--- the accident  ---<


I went on to my third blend - which was:

40% Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
25% Oakville Cabernet Sauvignon
30% Napa Valley Cabernet Franc
30% Napa Valley Merlot


and my fourth:

50% Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
30% Oakville Cabernet Sauvignon
10% Napa Valley Cabernet Franc
10% Napa Valley Merlot


Now I had four wines, and the game was on to determine which was the preferred blend, which was the blend worthy of bottling and labeling.

I tasted them - in sequence, out of sequence, over and over and over. And soon it became pretty clear the second blend, the accident, was simply marvelous. It was just so good!  The wine maker tasted it. Other people at the winery tasted it. There was no doubt  about it. The accident  (and it was  an accident) was simply inspired! It was an inspired accident.

And that's when I got  the label: it was an inspired accident ... an in-spired ac-cident ... "Incident":  inspired accident.



Winemaker's notes by Laurence Platt - Judd's Hill, Napa Valley, California, USA - 10:52pm Monday August 2, 2010
Winemaker's Notes
Label by Judd's Hill - Napa Valley, California, USA - 11:43pm Monday August 2, 2010
Label
Photography by Victoria Hamilton-Rivers - Judd's Hill, Napa Valley, California, USA - 12:23pm Monday August 2, 2010
Labeling
Photography by Victoria Hamilton-Rivers - Judd's Hill, Napa Valley, California, USA - 12:28pm Monday August 2, 2010
Finished Product
Photography by Victoria Hamilton-Rivers - Judd's Hill, Napa Valley, California, USA - 12:42pm Monday August 2, 2010
Ready To Serve
Incident: Inspired Accident

"Incident" is a really, really nice wine ie it's pretty good juice  as Napa Valley locals call it.

What at first may seem like  an accident is really a fortuitous discontiguous shift  in the normal course of events which, if you're open to the possibility, inspires a breakthrough and without which a breakthrough may never occur.



Communication Promise E-Mail | Home

© Laurence Platt - 2010 through 2014 Permission