Elena Walch Chardonnay 2018

Elegant and feminine with delicate charm. Translucent straw yellow colour, ample yet refined aromas of wild rose, fresh flower petals, white peach, and lime with hints of tropical fruit and white pepper, on the palate soft and mineral, luxurious and well balanced with a fresh almond finish.

Food pairings: This wine is characterised by fragrant aromas and a light body, soft with more minerality than acidity, which makes it pleasant to drink on its own or with light, fragrant pasta dishes, fish, or vegetables. Some examples include: shrimp linguine, baked sea bass with lavender and lemon, lobster bisque.

The vineyards and estate in Alto Adige, Italy
The vineyards and estate in Alto Adige, Italy

Elena Walch is a native of Milan, Italy who studied architecture and built a career designing buildings in the city. When she was commissioned to renovate the family estate of one of the oldest wine producing dynasties in Alto Adige, she fell in love with and married Werner Walch. Since then, she has brought innovation and vision to the vineyards, alongside sustainable practices in farming, wine production, and packaging. She now manages her own label, Elena Walch, together with her two daughters, Julia and Karoline, and has become one of the most important producers in the region.

Elena Walch with her two daughters Julia and Karoline
Elena Walch with her two daughters Julia and Karoline

This wine is made from 100% Chardonnay from vineyards on the hillside which reach up to 600 meters above sea level. The grapes are handpicked and soft pressed, followed by a static clarification of the must. The must is then fermented in steel vats at a controlled temperature of 20 degrees centigrade. The wine then rests in contact with its lees for a few months before being bottled.

The barrel room at Elena Walch
The barrel room at Elena Walch

Now, I’ve said that this wine is feminine, and you may be thinking I said that because it was made by women, which frankly, I think is absurd. People don’t go around saying a wine is masculine because it was made by a man, because that would be absurd, and for the same reason.

Following the work of Simone de Beauvoir, Erving Goffman, Judith Butler, and many others, gender is a social construct determined by evolving social and cultural norms, passed down through tradition, and learned through socialisation. It is practiced and expressed in relation to class, race, ethnicity, age and sexuality. While it may overlap with biological sex, it is not a fixed concept acquired at birth nor strictly related to being either male or female. Even though femininity and masculinity are defined by a set of characteristics generally associated with women or men, it is relatively arbitrary given the fact that both women and men can display either at varying levels and what constitutes each is continually evolving and developing with society and culture.

A few examples of how gender associations have evolved throughout time:

portrait of King Louis XIV
In 16th century France, high-heeled shoes (and tights for that matter) were considered extremely masculine, as shown in this portrait of King Louis XIV,

 

photos of boys and girls wearing dresses in the early 1900's.
In the late 1800’s/early 1900’s it was not uncommmon for boys to wear dresses. All babies, boys and girls, wore white dresses. Towards the early 1900’s boys were dressed in pink while girls were dressed in blue.

 

img_7067
In the early 20th century, cheerleading originated as a “boy’s sport”, not becoming female dominated until the 1960’s.

And so, why do I think this wine is feminine? Because it is delicate yet complex without being overstated or aggressive, qualities that I associate with femininity (not necessarily with women).

Other qualities commonly associated with femininity include compassion, gentleness, humility, sensitivity, empathy, tolerance, and flexibility …all good qualities, whether your a man or woman, that nobody should be ashamed of.

On a final note, I commend Elena’s Walsh’s website for making no note of “wine made by women”, “women in wine”, or “the female touch”, because they are first and foremost people making excellent wine.

However, by the looks of it, they have not completely overlooked the power of pink:

cantina at Elena Walchsteel vats for fermentation at Elena Walchcantina at Elena Walch

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