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Olif the Blogger to Make Guest Appearance in Angers on Tuesday!
Not only that, but rumors have it that Maureen Brennan from Seattle's Pike & Western wine shop and Jon-David Headrick the wine selector will also be in attendence.
All the big shots are converging here in Angers!
I wouldn't be surprised if we run into Peter Nolis there.
Paul Courtright to Open Angers Wine Fair This Morning!
Thousands of wine lovers from all over the world are gathering in Angers today to taste the beautiful wines of Fabrice Garnier.
Fabrice Garnier, the intrepid vigneron of Chinon, not only makes supple wines using the micro-boule machine, he is also able to pick before the rains by machine harvesting.
The doors open at 9 am and rumors have it that people are outside the Parc des Expositions in sleeping bags, waiting to get in first.
Andrew Tarlow and 37 Other Americans Taste 29 Vintages of Muscadet and Eat Over 334 Oysters
The highlights today at Domaine de la Pepiere were the over 334 consumed oysters, the 1990 and 1989 and 1996 and the 1973. The 2006s were stunning, considering the difficulties of that vintage in the Muscadet. Marc Olliver hired double the harvesters and did a severe trie in the vineyards, leaving over 20% of the crop on the ground.
We also got to taste the new Granit de Clisson. This is part of an initiative by the best Muscadet growers to bottle the best sites in the AOC under the supervision of a controlling committe which monitors sites, yields and vinfication. The idea is to do over 24 months of elevage sur lie of the wines to get extra complexity. The 2005 had great length and we are looking forward to its release in a year.
The other highlight was the Becasse Pate which was made by the Ollivier family. Seven of the birds were killed by Marc and the other seven birds were killed by his daughter Juliette.
The four cars with GPS systems reported that the woman giving directions was working tip-top on the way to and back from la Pepiere.
Michael Rhodes Finds Michael Wheeler's Luggage in the Perrieres Vineyards of Bourgueil!
Michael Rhodes, Executive Director of Triage Wines of Oregon/Washington, was speading homeopathic treatments today in the Breton vineyards of Bourgeuil, particularly in the 70-year-old vines of the Perrieres vineyards. Incredibly, Michael Wheeler's Moschino luggage was found in mid-slope.
This type of Moschino bag would normally retail for $800.00, but Wheeler claims that he bought it for $149.99 at New York's Century 21 discount shop.
There's a Flying Saucer in La Haye Fouassiere!
No one knows how it got there but a flying saucer has landed in a roundabout in this tiny Muscadet village and it is surrounded by three mummified cosmonauts.
One of the cosmonauts bears an uncanny resemblance to Peter Gibson, the freelance Portland wine journalist. It is hard to understand why, but this Peter Gibson look-a-like is holding a box of Lu cookies in his left hand.
The GPS Does Not Have the Hamlet of La Pepiere!
Although it does have Maisdon-sur-Sevre. So, according to the GPS we will be there in 22 minutes.
Today was an eventful morning. We had a surprise Rheingau tasting during breakfast and Mike Wheeler's baggage was lost. Peter Nolis had a pounding headache and David Lillie was pissed off that the Hotel Mercure no longer serves the Muesli he used to love but has replaced it with Kelloggs Choc-o-Pop.
Ken Rosati and 37 Other Americans Celebrate 21 Years of Domaine Catherine and Pierre Breton
We slept near Vertus in Champagne and got up early for the four to five drive to Bourgueil to celebrate the 21st anniversary of the Bretons.
We had some initial trouble with the GPS. I had programmed it the night before to go to Restigny, the part of Bourgueil where the Breton live. But when I turned the car on, I was unaware that the GPS had remained targeted to the hotel in Vertus where we had just spent the night. So, we drove out of the hotel's parking lot and the GPS Woman Voice told us to make a right. Then another right, then and another right and yet another. We found ourselves back in the hotel's parking lot. We did this for about 30 minutes and finally realized we had to adjust the settings and take it off the Vertus hotel and manually put it on Restigne. That done, we were off.
Four hours and 18 minutes later we were touring the Breton vineyards. Catherine talked about their pruning techniques and showed us how the neighbors do double the yields. It was a fascinating demonstration.
One of the cynical guys on the trip asked if she thought there was really an advantage in going from organic to biodynamique. Catherine answered that in a sense organic is not entirely instructive, that all organic tells you is what you can't do with your vines. You can't use chemicals, but it does not offer a range of natural vineyard treatments to keep your vines healthy and vital. She feels that biodynamie does just that and aids the vigneron to develop a positive regiment of treatments and rhythms in their vines.
Then, we were off for a gala dinner in one of their beautiful ancient caverns dugs into the hillside with wines ranging from their 21 years of existence. I found the 1989 and 1990 Perrieres stunning, but I also found the more recent vintages more complex and reflecting the advances Catherine and Pierre have made over the years in their vineyards and cellars.
Everyone left happy, drunk, well-fed and in great humor. We sleep tonight in the ultra-luxurious Hotel Mercure in Angers. The GPS not only got us here, but allowed us to navigate through the vineyard roads surrounding the Breton cellar. I thought this was truly exceptional.
I forgot to program the GPS tonight, but tomorrow we are off to our annual Muscadethon at Pepiere. I can't wait!
Jeff Vierra and 35 Other Americans Invade the French Vineyards!
Our group has all arrived in viticultural France and we're having a blast. As one participant put it: "it's a rage!"
Friday, the first stop was a day long extravaganza at Larmandier-Bernier in Champagne. I actually found them easily, because my car rental agency ran out of Renaut 105s and had no choice but to give me a large BMW station wagon with a GPS. I don't know how many of you readers have used a GPS, but it is an amazing invention. The only problem is that, at first, I understood that you no longer look out on the roadway but only follow the graphics on the GPS screen. As it turns out, the GPS does not have stop signs and red lights, and we narrowly avoided a major accident somewhere near Epernay when I went through a stop sign at 90 kilometers an hour.
We toured the Larmandier vineyards and tasted through God only knows how many vintages before having a delicious meal of charcuterie that is unavailable in the continental United States. We also had lentils that came from the Champagne region, which were distinctly different than lentils form Puy or elsewhere. They were delicious!
The Larmandier are doing exceptional work and even the wines with the heaviest dosage are technically extra-brut. There is an intense minerality and concentration here that comes form the vineyard work that sets this apart not only from the Grand Marques but the stampede of Grower Champagnes who have effectively marketed themselves in America as being intrically better because they are "small." But the truth is always concrete -- you see in the vineyards, in the cellar and finally in the bottle. And large yields, overdosage, industrial yeasts, large chaptalization and other Champagne tricks are no different if they are done by a guy with 10 hectares or if they are done by Moet.
Everyone had a great time and the trip began great.
Paris is a Great Town!
I spend almost four months of every years in France, but it has been years since I have been in Paris.
Usually, I spend my time divided between Louhans and Deceize.
Turns out, Paris is a fabulous city with much to do, hear, see, eat and drink. I haven't really explored the touch aspects of Parisian life, but this is just a short stay.
It turns out to be next to impossible to find a bottle of wine in this city which is not a natural wine. Today, I drank a delicious Nuits de Ivresse from the Bretons, a Brouilly from Georges Descombes, a Mauzac Natural Petillant from Plageoles and some crazy wine from Jean-Marc Brignot which was in autolyse, as they say in the natural wine mileiu.
And that was just the aperitifs!
Next, I ate a cochon meal which consisted of pig prepared 14 different ways, all served with different wines from Dard et Ribo from either Crozes-Hermitage, St-Joseph or Hermitage....with several vintages of each wine. I didn't realize until this trip that the beautifully pure wines from Dard et Ribo are the anti-Chave as Chave moves into greater and greater concentration.
How is it that all these wines are what sensible sommelliers in this town want to carry and in America everyone is worried about getting a citation in the The Wine Spectator? Maybe, the natural wine scene in Paris is a bit too predictable, as dozens if not hundreds of wine bars and restaurants serve Lapierre or Foillard or Thevenet or Guy Breton. The choices get to be repetitive and the buyers might take some more risks and put someone on their list they actally met by actually touring the vineyards on their own. But, it certainly beats the predictability of going to restaurants filled with Guigal and Gaja, a painful experience I had to go through a couple of weeks ago during an evening of terror (not terroir) at a hot Italian/French restaurant opposite Madison Square Park in New York City.
It is great to go to all these venues filled with wines I would actually like to drink, not wines I'm obligated to pick because I'd like a wine with my meal.
Paris is a great town and the Parisians are a warm, hospitalble people. Almost as nice as native New Yorkers!
Back in New York on February 23rd!
I'm off for a tour of the French Vineyards, from the Loire through the Languedoc.
See you soon!
Natalie Maclean, the Famous Wine Writer, Has Asked Me to Write A Promotional Blurb for Her New Book!
I just received a note from Natalie Maclean, whom I've never met, to write a blurb for her new book, which I've never read. Why not? To simplify matters, Ms. Maclean has also furnished the text of my personal blurb, saving me considerable time and the trouble of having to read her book and make an evaluation which Ms. Maclean might find disagreeable. I wonder if this is how The New York Times also reviews books? Below, is Ms. Maclean's suggested promotional blurb:
The picture above is a high resolution picture which Natalie Maclean suggested I use in the e-mail she sent me today.
Hot New Wine Book: Red, White, and Drunk All Over
In Red, White, and Drunk All Over: A Wine-Soaked Journey from Grape to Glass, writer Natalie MacLean takes her readers behind the scenes of the international wine world—exploring its history, visiting its most evocative places, and meeting its most charismatic personalities.
The book was just chosen as the Best Wine Literature Book in the English language at the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards and has been described as A Year in Provence meets Kitchen Confidential then goes Sideways. One chapter is devoted to California zinfandel and in another, Natalie works in wine shops in New York City and San Francisco. In one chapter discusses the phenomenal success of Australian wines in North America.
Several chapters are devoted to French wines. For more information on the book, and to sign up for Natalie's free wine e-newsletter, visit www.nataliemaclean.com
Obese Mice Live 31 Percent Longer When they Drink Red Wine!
A recent study in Nature Magazine reports that obese mice live longer when they drink red wines, particularly from France's Gaillac region.
Scientests are now hopeful that If humans respond the same way to resveratrol, the polyphenol found in Gaillac Rouge, humans would be able to both overcome obesity-related health problems and eat all they like and remain fat. Combine this with Lipitor, this could mean a whole acceptance of Gaillac Rouge as an everyday part of the American diet.
Research done by David Sinclair of the Harvard Medical School has led to these shocking conclusions. Sinclair's team worked with "middle-aged" mice organized into three groups. One group served as a control, and the other two groups were fed a high-calorie diet, with 60 percent of the energy coming from fat.
Of these two groups, one groups drank large quantities of Gaillac Rouge on a continuous basis. The quantities of Gaillac Rouge were high on mice standards, although seemingly low on human standards. For the mice, it was the equivalent of a human drinking 100 glasses of Gaillac Rouge every day.
Over the next 24 months, the high-calorie mice became obese. The mice that didn't drink Gaillac Rouge became lethargic and stopped exercising. The mice who drank Gaillac Rouge became chubby but remained active, excercising vigorously, socializing with each other and remaining both happy and alert.
This study has been hailed by the CIVG (Comité Interprofessional du Gaillac and by many members of the wine trade as important advance in the promotional marketing of Gaillac and red wines in general.
Aerate that Dard-Ribo
St-Joseph, Croze-Hermitage and Hermitage from Dard-Ribo are now back in America. We imported some.
I had the St-Joe the other night at 360 Restaurant in Brooklyn. The wine just got into our warehouse and needs some time to settle down, but it is already delicious stuff crying out for decanting and aeration.
Run to your local retailers to stock-up on these outstanding wines.
Writing this Blog on My New IPHONE While Taking a Bus Up First Avenue!
Believe me, the technology is even more amazing than what they claim in all the hype!
Unfortunately, I have nothing interesting to say.
You Can Lodge A Vigneron in New York City this March!
We will have about 20 or so vignerons coming into New York on March 19th for a week of trade and public tastings.
Most of them find the prices of New York hotels exhorbitant and beyond their means.
This is where you fit in....you can put up a famous French Vigneron for several days. In return you will have increased housekeeping responsibilities, fees and lots of awkward conversations where you pretend you understand their English and they pretend they understand your French.
Maybe, they'll also give you some free wine.
So, give me a call on my cell phone (347.723.1232) or send me an e-mail if you are interesting in this exciting offer.
Meet Joe Dressner at Fabulous Dinner at ICI Restaurant on Wednesday, January 24th at 7:30 PM
I just learned about this dinner by doing a Google search on my name.
Turns out that I will be hosting a wine dinner at ICI Restaurant with lots of fabulous dishes and beautiful wines. I plan on attending if I'm not felled by the various brain disorders I've been diagnosing lately (see below). I hope you can make it too, even if you are also suffering from brain disorders!
ICI Restaurant is centrally located in Brooklyn's Fort Greene. They can be reached by telephone at 718.789.2778. The whole thing costs only $55.00 all inclusive, which seems absurdly cheap to me.
According to the restaurant's web site:
Leading real wine importer and writer Joe Dressner will be hosting a special wine dinner @ iCi on Wednesday January 24th. He will be matching some of his carefully selected natural wines to a 3-course menu including some of iCi's signature dishes and share with the guests his encyclopedic knowledge with his legendary brio, enthusiasm and practiced native New York sarcasm.
3 course dinner with matching wines and tasting of several sparkling, white and red wines in iCi’s new private dining room. Wines will include Antoine Arena Carco 2004 Blanc from Corsica, Emmanuel Houillon Arbois Chardonnay from the Jura, Pierre Breton France de Pieds 2005, Quinta do Infantado Ruby Port et autres....
A lot of of people do Google searchs on themselves and their old lovers, friends and distant relatives. I was shocked recently to do a Google search of myself and find this blog. I hadn't seen a picture of myself in a good twenty years and I was not only shocked by how much I had aged but also by how badly I had aged.
I just received the results of my brain EEG. Everything is fine.
Although this might mean that what's wrong with my brain has yet to be detected.
In the hope that I am suffering from a major brain disease, despite my Brain MRI and my Brain EEG showing no noticeable brain damage, I will be doing an Ambulatory Brain EEG next week.
Lucky I drink lots of healthy wine! I just read several articles in The Wine Spectator about how wine and the wine lifestyle are good for your health!
I have to apologize to my many readers out of there, but I have been on a blogging lull.
I've planned several articles, but don't have the time and energy. This has been a difficult time for me, with various family problems. But the blog reader public is unforgiving, I know that well, and I have to get back to blog work.
I've also recently contracted some sort of contagious neurological disorder. Tomorrow, I am taking something called an EEG, which hopefully will be a useful diagnostic tool. Apparently, the doctors put on a shower cap laced with electrodes and can figure out not only what is wrong with your brain but also what is wrong with the way you interact with your loved ones. Last week, I took a brain MRI, which was also a very enjoyable experience.
I'm planning major coverage on fake "natural" wines as soon as I get the shower cap off and my brain waves corrected. See you then.