The Colour Purple

Purple is the colour of royalty and piety, a neither blue nor red oxymoron. As contradictory as the tone of papal power and the hue of anemia. It is the colour equivalent of Churchill’s ironic enigma.

It has been the sole preserve of Rome’s Caligula, the right of Byzantium’s Justinian, and the favoured ceremonial colour of Charlemagne. For a thousand years it was the costliest cloak of cardinals and kings, of Mayan priests and Aztec emperors – a glowing ally of the status quo, and life eternal the world over. As Japan’s murasaki it is preserved as the colour of victory, and perhaps the first product of pan-Pacific trade, as the prized derivation of Mexico’s murex.

Purple waned during the renaissance. Its harmony lost to more exotic indigo and cochineal and madder. Prohibition in the form of extreme cost and near extinction of its sources had meant that Tyrian purple was, and may never be, made again. A transient copy could be fashioned by blending reds and blues, but guilded dyers of these tones were demarcated.

Working class East London is to be thanked for purple’s return to form during Victorian industrialism.  Aniline dyes were chemically synthesised, rather than biologically extracted, thus the path to commodius democratisation was laid. Though furiously fishy, anilines were potent enough to impregnate Levi’s cross-cultural Californian denim, and gestate in the 2oth century’s defining cultural cloth, blue jeans, to this very day.

Since labour has been valued, purple has come to represent the struggle for social change, draping the 20th century’s most important marches of feminism, gay liberation, anti-apartheidism, psycadlelicism and anti-establishmentarianism in general. Doth the proletariat ink the bourgeois face in purple?

Not that I condone anti-establishmentarianism, or any -ism for that matter. -Ism’s in my opinion are not good. A person should not believe in an -ism, they should believe in themselves.

I believe the purple hand is a magnificent symbol for the inherent irony of life, and a natural name for a winemaking project. Because a purple hand is what you earn from making wine. It’s what you smell when touching it. It’s what stains your mind when thinking about it.

A purple hand is defiant – it symbolises freedom of expression in a society with respect for individual rights, fisted from a time when it naught be easily granted.

It is an artistic weapon of Bohemian subversiveness, a floydy taunt at 60s pink, a marker for gay liberation, a sturdy chalice against the enthroned tyranny of dwarfs caught short of their potential, a potent foment on civil rights that foams with yeasty pain, and a respectful nod to the brave few who stab at brevity in a cloudy, verbose world – fighting as if an occult hand was guiding the media-military-industrial complex forward, indistinguishable and unerringly inaccurate. Icarus like, it could drone on.

I nourish these thoughts but we do not support these causes here. My aims are far less worldly.

In wine, purple is the complexion of youth and manhood. I cling to one while clambering for the other. Vibrancy, tang and deep ideas – ideal characteristics of a glass of wine and a conversation. I welcome both.

All I want to do is raise the purple standard, erstwhile lowering the tone.

Let’s see if we can live up to it.



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