Asunder, Chloe Aridjis & Rkatsiteli, Orgo
Asunder by Chloe Aridjis with Dry Amber Wine by Orgo
by Kim Kent
3 years ago
In the end we are all either gatekeepers or trespassers” declares Marie, the protagonist of Chloe Aridjis’ novel Asunder. Thankfully, this fiction doesn’t make you choose. Aridjis’ novel makes space for us to be both. To inhabit two worlds. Sometimes these worlds, the one we live and the one we create, align for a moment. We feel an experience as someone else might; we see something as if through someone else’s eyes. It’s a glorious but impermanent feeling, like holding a “bouquet of burnt sparklers,” or standing too close to a work of art. This novel is “a tiny, punctual omen.” An entire, internal topography unto itself. And to read it is like admiring a painting, stepping into it, and, after a time, being cast out. Our admittance is temporary, and what we take from our time there depends entirely on who we were, and how we care for what haunts us.
Drinking this “dry amber wine” from the Orgo winery in Kakheti, Georgia is like drinking something from the past. Like burrowing deep underground and staying there as the whole world rages around you. The Qvevri (“kway-vree”), a runic, urn-like beeswax-lined terra cotta vessel, has been used to make wine for over 8,000 years. The term ‘ancient technology’ comes to mind, which is the sort of enchanting phrase employed by the nostalgic types I love most: tincture makers, natty wine drinkers, record enthusiasts, and those who still like to read physical books. This month’s wine is 100% Rkatsiteli and sees six months of skin contact while fermenting underground. But unlike the taste of something that has lived too long inside something else, this wine is rich and balanced, with strokes of fresh stone fruit and a craquelure of gold. After all, what is wine if not “little more than stopped markers of time”?
Chloe Aridjis was born in New York and grew up in the Netherlands and Mexico City. Asunder is her second novel, and her latest novel, Sea Monsters, was a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner award. Basically, she seems very cool. She writes for many magazines, including a beautiful memoir/essay series that is totally worth reading on the Granta magazine website.
Orgo is the name of the stone that’s used to cover the closure of the Qvevri when making wine. The Orgo winery makes all their wine in this traditional method and from fruit that comes from fifty-year-old vines. They call their wines “eternity of the sun into the bottle,” which, though perhaps just the translation, is a perfect way to describe this skin-contact Rkatsiteli, or “dry amber wine.” The family’s wine making history is extensive, predating Soviet control of Georgia and continuing throughout World War II. While predominantly a male dominated family business there is one daughter—a doctor—who’s, thankfully, “a huge fan of wine.”