Best Wine Moments in 2016 (p.1)

I received an email from a friend who is ex-patrioted who said he was bored with wine, and he hopes to get it back. Sometimes when making a living at what we're good at, whether importing or writing, it can indeed kill the love. I too have been in this position, really? Another tasting note? Another story? How can I fire up the enthusiasm. Especially when working in a local fast food place is a better living than capitalizing on my two decades of experience playing pairing words and wine. 

But looking over the year at stories that I loved writing, about people worth writing about their soil, and tasting the rare wine that wasn't just drink-worthy but transformational, or ones that merely just give pleasure, and the people and the conversations..I think can indeed restore the love, and I am feeling it these days. The love.Yet when I look over the memories, sure I could pull the bottle shots, but mostly they were wine moments. I could tell you the wines, and the bottles are scattered throughout, but this year, I'm going with the pictorial.

So here's to my struggling, enervated colleagues. I hope these help inspire, and if I failed to give the stories, there's room in your own imagination to make them happen. 

Happy New Year to all, may there be miracles...  Alice  

 

The year started out with Pierre & Catherine's 30th anniversary birthday bash

DSC03128 

 

                  Pierre does his party trick. DSC03136

Last January I landed in Angers, went immediately to tastings and that night Pascaline and I went to a fabulous party at the Breton's to celebrate their 30 years making exquisite wine. It was packed. 

DSC03138                       DSC03142
Some of the very memorable guests...Fred Cossard, Jean Foillard, and David Lillie

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 Xavier Caillard, expressive, magical wines. Here is telling us of his battle with with vine virus esca and its tedious fix. 

 

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Meeting the remarkable Hacquet sisters. 

 

                                                                                                                                                  

                                                 BasculeLunch with Eric Texier and Pascaline at de la Bascule  (we drank Yohan Lardy)

 

IMG_7257          IMG_7290  the judging dream team, wine without walls

 

                                                        DSC03488book signing!

 

 

 


IMG_7349   A lunch in Vittoria with the Occhipintis, Arianna and her uncle Guisto

 

 

IMG_7463

Salvo Foti on Etna

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Faro Giuseppina, a great Etna discovery

and then there's Eduardo's wine

             IMG_7585

 

IMG_7294 

 

 

A beautiful Rosso from Etna's basalt

 

And the beautiful mess at Calabretto.. IMG_7597



in the morning we were in the sun, on the volcano, by night fall we were in Trentino. And in the morning after a restful night we took the gospel from Elisabetta Foradori. 

 

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                                                                                                IMG_7651

End Part 1

A Giveaway! An Unlikely Vineyard with the TFL

The NEXT two people who sign up for the newsletter, get it for a mere $50 (instead of $68) AND a copy of the new paper back release of Deirdre Heekin's fabulous book --(sorry, all gone!) 

 

4257

HOW? 

Sign up for the newsletter. Write me an email (hit the contact button above) and tell me, I want the book! I'll credit you back the $18 discount. Also send along your snail address so we can get it to you.                            

         THIS OFFER ENDED MONDAY, MAY 9th. 

But why should you trust me about the book (or my newsletter?). Here's what Eric Asimov has to say about both. 

I won’t mince words about An Unlikely Vineyard: The Education of a Farmer and Her Quest for Terroir (Chelsea Green, $35), Deirdre Heekin’s chronicle of establishing a farm and vineyard in Vermont. I love this book, which conveys beautifully why the best wine is, at heart, an agricultural expression.  ---Eric Asimov

and....

 

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I rest my case.

 

Wine Trend 2016

The EU has already dumbed down the organic wine market, making the way for organic additives. Now, they are headed for the natural. I offer you the next big wine thing.

Sulfite substitutions aimed at either reducing or eliminating the 'need' for the demonized element.  

 Since 2004 there's been EU bucks behind this research and the celebratory studies, products and eager additive salespeople are hitting the market.

Originally aimed at the rare customer with bona fide sulfite allergy, now there's another customer: the misguided who believes these products give them the path  to make a natural wine. 

Drink me

In 2012 the  French book, Les Grands Vin Sans Sulfites was published. Inside? Techniques for industrial non-sulfite wine. One of the products being flogged was a combination of 'beneficial' yeasts called Primaflora. Here's what a kid I know who worked on the research had to tell me about it a few years back.

Primaflora is the non sacharomices yeast/selected lactic bacteria/high on gluthanion yeast wall cells mix Mr Imelée advocates in his book Grand Vins Sans Sulfites. You prepare it like an LSA and you add it at the bin in the harvested grapes as soon as possible, then you encuve your grapes or press them and then you ferment. In theory the Primaflora (136€/500 grs) act as a biological fight on the grapes blocking brett and acetobacters. The thing works.

Pierre Sanchez, an enologist who consults with a lot of those working naturally, such as Patrick Meyer, had a different take on it. To him it's not so much snake oil as it is venom.

Primaflora is a mix of  friendly microorganisms supposed to colonize the wicked micro organisms.

Ill let you feel the deep anthropocentric bullshit.  

Maybe it works on grapes stunned and sterilized with napalm-like treatments, but in organic farming and healthy grapes? It is a complex bio protection monkey natural and effective complex ecosystem.

In other words, works? Perhaps. Expensive like the other options, yes. But ideologically, why add a mix of yeasts when the ethos of natural wine is native fermentation?

Because the natural world has been grossly confused with no-sulfite added. Towards the supposedly better, sulfur-free world, there's a tannin product derived from grape pips.

Epyca-classique-123

 Another company is making a soup of enzymes staring lysozyme (a fairly toxic enzyme derived from egg whites.)

 One California winery presenting their wines at the natural California winemaker tasting last November called Califermentation, has a 'natural' line extension of their more mainstream wine. Even though they make no mention of organic farming or no-additive winemaking they are happy to say they are the first to use a Swiss developed technology that's based on black radish--a heavy antioxidant (wait, isn't the grape a big antioxidant on its own?)

 Then he went to the other heavily researched product that goes by the name of Sulphree, made by the Swiss company, Biomas.

Obviously the Protos is an extract of black radish!" Wrote Pierre to me. "With anti-oxidant power! It seems strange to me that this is even permitted by the oenological codex. This kind of products are often very often oenological treatments very expensive compared to the use of sulfur.Vendors of this type of soup sell an alternative product, (their message is) "You can not make wine without SO2 without replacing it with something.

But you can. There are plenty who do it and do it well. You can work well in the vineyard, clean in the winery, leave it out or reduce it to its bare minimum. You can leave the Campden tabs alone and investigate volcanic sulfur and use that gently.But was this the result of all of this emphasis on what is a natural wine? 

 

Lower the sulfur or eliminate it, but make more conscious wine.

That should be the real #2016 wine trend. 

 

Sulfur_roll_04

 

 

 If you care about drinking real natural, then you will want to subscribe to The Feiring Line. Just do it. #winetrend2016

Wine Trend 2016

The EU has already dumbed down the organic wine market, making the way for organic additives. Now, they are headed for the natural. I offer you the next big wine thing.

Sulfite substitutions aimed at either reducing or eliminating the 'need' for the demonized element.  

 Since 2004 there's been EU bucks behind this research and the celebratory studies, products and eager additive salespeople are hitting the market.

Originally aimed at the rare customer with bona fide sulfite allergy, now there's another customer: the misguided who believes these products give them the path  to make a natural wine. 

Drink me

In 2012 the  French book, Les Grands Vin Sans Sulfites was published. Inside? Techniques for industrial non-sulfite wine. One of the products being flogged was a combination of 'beneficial' yeasts called Primaflora. Here's what a kid I know who worked on the research had to tell me about it a few years back.

Primaflora is the non sacharomices yeast/selected lactic bacteria/high on gluthanion yeast wall cells mix Mr Imelée advocates in his book Grand Vins Sans Sulfites. You prepare it like an LSA and you add it at the bin in the harvested grapes as soon as possible, then you encuve your grapes or press them and then you ferment. In theory the Primaflora (136€/500 grs) act as a biological fight on the grapes blocking brett and acetobacters. The thing works.

Pierre Sanchez, an enologist who consults with a lot of those working naturally, such as Patrick Meyer, had a different take on it. To him it's not so much snake oil as it is venom.

Primaflora is a mix of  friendly microorganisms supposed to colonize the wicked micro organisms.

Ill let you feel the deep anthropocentric bullshit.  

Maybe it works on grapes stunned and sterilized with napalm-like treatments, but in organic farming and healthy grapes? It is a complex bio protection monkey natural and effective complex ecosystem.

In other words, works? Perhaps. Expensive like the other options, yes. But ideologically, why add a mix of yeasts when the ethos of natural wine is native fermentation?

Because the natural world has been grossly confused with no-sulfite added. Towards the supposedly better, sulfur-free world, there's a tannin product derived from grape pips.

Epyca-classique-123

 Another company is making a soup of enzymes staring lysozyme (a fairly toxic enzyme derived from egg whites.)

 One California winery presenting their wines at the natural California winemaker tasting last November called Califermentation, has a 'natural' line extension of their more mainstream wine. Even though they make no mention of organic farming or no-additive winemaking they are happy to say they are the first to use a Swiss developed technology that's based on black radish--a heavy antioxidant (wait, isn't the grape a big antioxidant on its own?)

 Then he went to the other heavily researched product that goes by the name of Sulphree, made by the Swiss company, Biomas.

Obviously the Protos is an extract of black radish!" Wrote Pierre to me. "With anti-oxidant power! It seems strange to me that this is even permitted by the oenological codex. This kind of products are often very often oenological treatments very expensive compared to the use of sulfur.Vendors of this type of soup sell an alternative product, (their message is) "You can not make wine without SO2 without replacing it with something.

But you can. There are plenty who do it and do it well. You can work well in the vineyard, clean in the winery, leave it out or reduce it to its bare minimum. You can leave the Campden tabs alone and investigate volcanic sulfur and use that gently.But was this the result of all of this emphasis on what is a natural wine? 

 

Lower the sulfur or eliminate it, but make more conscious wine.

That should be the real #2016 wine trend. 

 

Sulfur_roll_04

 

 

 If you care about drinking real natural, then you will want to subscribe to The Feiring Line. Just do it. #winetrend2016

Lettie Teague’s Wine in Words

I first fell for Lettie' Teague's new book, Wine in Words: Notes for Better Drinking (Rizzoli Ex Libris. $29.95) because of its looks. Was I that shallow, I wondered.

Photo

With its vintage typeface, it's sturdy dust-jacket free, embossed cover in butter-yellow, the feel of the book in hand felt like a legacy. So, I started to fan through  this collection of essays, and then sat right down and started to read the 40+ short pieces. 

I am fond of my colleague, Lettie, the wine columnist for the Wall Street Journal. It's true that she and I often don't exactly see wine through the same lens. We often have agreed to disagree. This was reinforced several times over in the book, and I have come to understand that is just the way we are built. She is a natural ectomorf. I'm, to my dismay, an endo. 

Turns out her book is neither memoir nor wine guide, but a  selection of thoughts and whims Teague believes the wine drinker should know. 

The book is organized capriciously enough. With no particular arc,  it's sectioned off into three parts.  +Fun to Know. +Need to Know. +Who Knows. But even if I feel some fun to knows are need to knows and vice versa, the more I jumped into it, the more I appreciated how her prose  sat on the juncture of, let's say,  A.J. Liebling meets Judith Martin. It's when Lettie effortlessly steps into a Miss Manners role  she is most charming and even sage.

 Each entry is no longer than a blog post. For today's texting attention span these are measured spoonfuls for those who have not yet worked up to reading the full meal of wine encyclopedias for sport. I imagine that she really could guide reader and a drinker through blunders that no one wading into the wine swamp wants to make, especially the beginner who fears looking like one.

For example, in her discourse on the wine glass, she professes her love for the Zalto (check!) and artfully dismisses the notion that a glass is needed for every country and variety.  

We all have tried to fake it at one time or another, like the time I truly had no idea who Pierre Overnoy was and sensed I couldn't admit it. Likewise, Lettie confessed in the Pitfalls of Pretending, about the time she claimed to have tasting knowledge of a wine in a certain vintage. Turns out the wine was not made in that year. She also recounted the tale of  a misguided sommelier who when confronted with a customer request for the sold out gewürztraminer, offered a 'similar' wine. The replacement was an ill-advised sauvignon blanc. The grapes  bear no similarity to each other except perhaps they are both aromatic, even if they boast different aromas. Moral of the story, there's no humiliation factor in learning. Or as she penned, "Better to be an ignoramus than a fraud."  

It's these little stories, told with no artifice, with old-fashioned advice that I find fresh.

There are still the moments when I shake my head, "Oh, Lettie!" Such as her entry on orange wines, Orange is the Old Black. There she address skin contact wine as a fad ( of 8,000 years? That's more a rediscovery than a fad, methinks.) though I did learn from it that a few "oeniphiles" believe orange  mean that the wine has been infused with the citrus fruit. 

 But when reading one of her final pieces, Worst Wine Word, I had another revelationLettie, believes the worst wine descriptor to be 'smooth.' As it turns out smooth is a bit of a bête noire for me, and its use annoys me almost irrationally. And as she wrote,  "A wine--like a person--requires a bit of friction to be interesting."

It was then I understood that Lettie and I actually do agree more than I had ever given us credit for.