Mindful(l) of Wine: Who Really Knows?

September 25, 2018

Sunrise Champagne

The movement against chemical farming has slowly begun to thaw my feelings about regions like Champagne, a region that without a canopy of leaves to hide its sins looks post-apocalyptic—much like the majority of the vineyards in Beaujolais and many other viticultural areas. (Though at least in Beaujolais the weather is nicer and the cuisine more rich in plant-based foods...[ read more ]

The drive between Sartène and Porto Vecchio is beautiful and the day’s sunny, cool, windy weather was perfect for this cinematic dreamscape. We drove by the famous natural sculpture, Lion de Rocapinne, a granite outcrop atop a hill shaped like a perched lion that faced south, like it was guarding the island. The lion’s mythological story is of an impossible...[ read more ]

Corsica landscape

After two exhausting days on the Corsican wine trail I passed on our first two visits of the third day to try to catch up with some work while I had good access to wifi. It was a tough decision because the first one was a tasting with Sebastien Poly, a young biodynamic vigneron, followed by another meeting with Abbatucci...[ read more ]

Domaine A Peraccia Prestige

We left the city center and went to the east about fifteen kilometers for our last stop of the day. The dirt in this part of Corsica is grainy and sandy granite. Our visit was with Laurent Costa, a bear of a man and the owner and vigneron of Domaine A Peraccia. Laurent came in from the cellar as we...[ read more ]

Emmanuel Gagnepain

We stopped on our way from Propriano to Ajaccio to visit the land that Manu and Jean-Charles intend to plant with vines next year. It sits up at around 550-600 meters, making it the highest site on the island. The soil is primarily granite and the slope is treacherous. It’s surrounded by forest on three sides and on the fourth,...[ read more ]

The fog lifted by the time we started back over the schist mountains toward the eastern side of the island to visit one of Manu’s most colorful clients, Josée Vanucci, from Clos Fornelli. We crested the ridge and as we wrapped around the last hill we were greeted by a stunning view of the Tyrrhenian Sea. Once we hit the...[ read more ]

Corsica

As we drove Manu’s truck off the ferry we began our ascent from the base of the mountains to the west of Bastia. A crooked road led us up and out of the town with high walls of deformed schist to our right, black from the previous night’s rain, bent in every direction. The fog was dense and flowed like...[ read more ]

Corsica landscape

I meant to write something about my experience in Corsica last year, but I was overwhelmed and couldn’t get it together. I went with my wife, Andrea, and Emmanuel (Manu) Gagnepain, a very well-respected enologist and viticulturist who quietly consults with a large helping of top clients in Corsica—Abbatucci, Vaccelli and Sebastian Poly are a few highlights. We made twelve...[ read more ]

Arnauld Lambert wines lineup

Our first visit with the Boys of Saumur started with the inseparable pair, Romain Guiberteau and Brendan Stater-West. As it turns out, Brendan (who spends his days working for Romain) hit a wall in his pursuit of trying to make something more of his work in Saumur. Late last year, he was eyeing a small parcel of vineyards for his...[ read more ]

Les Cailles

After four solid days of wine tasting, great hospitality and excesses (mostly with the Collets) in Chablis, we are off to the Loire Valley tomorrow to visit François Crochet and a new producer in Pouilly-Fumé. Chablis was as great as usual and the group we visited is optimistic about 2018. Why optimistic so early? Because it’s still cold! The last...[ read more ]

Olivier Lamy

Our morning started at Domaine Simon Bize with Chisa Bize. This domaine has always had one of my favorite labels in Burgundy and it would've been one of the last I'd ever hoped for a change. Chisa pulled out some bottles to taste and lo and behold a new label! Somehow she managed to improve what was already a timeless...[ read more ]

Denis Berthaut winery

It’s week two of our ten weeks in Europe visiting our producers and things are going well. Today we sampled the very promising 2016s from the Côte d'Or with Maxime Cheurlin, Amélie Berthaut and Bruno Clair. Bruno Clair is letting more and more whole cluster sneak into his wines these days. Every 2016 we tasted was singing from the first barrel to the...[ read more ]

Caroline Lestimé

After a great first week in France, we continue with another solid day in Burgundy. Anne Morey (of Pierre Morey) gave us a preview of the 2017 vintage. According to her father, the legendary Pierre, it could be one of the best white vintages of his lifetime. That sounds good to me! Plus, it was my first time setting foot...[ read more ]

Anthony Thevenet's vineyards

Greetings from Europe! J.D. Plotnick (my travel partner for the next three weeks) and I arrived in France and had a good first day back on the wine trail. First, we had two enlightening visits in Champagne, one with Sébastien Mouzon (Mouzon-Leroux) and another who shall remain nameless until we can get him to sell us some wine—fingers crossed! We...[ read more ]

Over the last couple of decades, despite the persistent churn of changing wine trends, some vignerons steadfastly affirmed their terroir vows.  No matter how unappealing their honestly crafted wines were to some, these vignerons resisted the temptation to cater to critics that awarded high scores to hulking wines and so were lost in the shuffle during those darker days of...[ read more ]

Stephan Rousset Books

  Remington Norman’s book, Rhone Renaissance, hit the shelves in 1995, at the apex of wine’s age of extraction—a time when bigger became better and subtlety was drowned out by the dark and unnaturally dense. I recently dusted it off and smiled as I thumbed through the names and pictures of producers whose legends have since skyrocketed. Then I came...[ read more ]

Crozes Hermitage Les Picaudieres

During the last Ice Age meltdown, the Rhône flowed torrentially through today’s Northern Rhône Valley.  It stripped chunks from the eastern edge of the Massif Central and left few remnants of its granite soils on the left bank, which are exposed in the northern part of Crozes-Hermitage as well as Hermitage’s western flank. Directly south of Hermitage, an expansive alluvial...[ read more ]

Brenna Quigley - Geologist

The Source is the first importing company (we know of) and perhaps the only one to have a staff geologist, Brenna Quigley. And now she’s off to Burgundy to put in a month of scratching and digging and surveying (or whatever geologists do) with the Wasserman family, who are bringing her over to get a worm’s eye view of some of...[ read more ]

Zucchini pasta

October 10, 2016

The two prevailing names for zucchini suggest a split personality. The Italian name, which we obviously employ in the U.S. too, Zucchini, is a sort of silly word that sounds a bit like a clown who performs at kids’ birthday parties. (Oh, yes, there it is: http://www.zucchinibrothers.com/ ) On the other hand, the name favored by the French and English,...[ read more ]

Beaune Vivant

September 16, 2016

If one of the world’s greatest vignerons, Jean-Marc Roulot, trusts him to guide the precious wines of Domaine Roulot, what can we expect from David Croix’s personal domaine? The answer was expressed most succinctly by Clive Coates eight years ago in his book The Wines of Burgundy: “I expect great things here,” he wrote of Domaine de Croix. And indeed,...[ read more ]

Nico’s Way

July 23, 2016

I had been looking forward to my day with Nicolas Rossignol and the opportunity to do another deep dive into Volnay and Pommard, the famous neighboring red-wine villages of the Côte de Beaune that are so close to one another but are so famously different. Rossignol is one of the best visits a Burgundy lover can make, as rare is...[ read more ]

Rad Pork

July 18, 2016

Years ago, one freezing February in Friuli I pulled into the town of Gorizia, near the Slovenian border. I was bundled up tightly, as the temperature hovered around forty degrees, which made me all the more surprised to find the town square packed with people, eating, drinking, and making merry. I approached, curious to find out what could be causing...[ read more ]

The Greatest Forgotten Hill

August 25, 2015

The first time I stood on the hill, I didn’t think much of it.  It’s a quiet place just outside of the famous French wine town, Saumur.  To tell you the truth, there wasn’t much to admire besides a quaint, but lifeless, chateau sitting on top of it. This insipid wonder attracts droves of tourists every year to snap photos...[ read more ]

Further into Pandora’s Box

July 25, 2015

For many years, I knew of this great geologist working her way through Burgundy. I saw her work for the first time when I received a disc, via Wasserman and Co., that Bruno Clair sent to help me with a Côte de Nuits educational seminar I was putting on. The disc, a dossier commissioned by the town of Marsannay, contains...[ read more ]