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Laureano!Mendall Tasting Notes: Part 2

Date: Wed, Aug 4, 2010

Laureano is a force of nature. Even though I still don't understand why he has some cabernet or merlot ( I think his brother had something to do with it) he has pure enthusiasm. Energy. Earnestness. AnI found myself taking notes on many Lareano-isms. I like this one in particular. ++Every plant has his own life form. You can't treat a vine like a human being but you have to respect each one just the same. "What do you want?" I ask the vine. "Harvest?" After that making wine is easy. His cave is on street level and it is quite warm, really warm. Tasting with Laureno is a roller coaster ride. The man makes more than 15 different cuvees, there are few similarities. Some are made in a reductive way, most are made in an oxidative, some have a flor. YESS He uses a solera system here and takes the ends from all of his wines, and in wartime fashion, nothing goes to waste. 09 has wine from 2007 & 2008 and has a distinct Jura like voile thing going on. Delicious. Great aperitif wine. 2008 Mendall L'Abeurador Macabeau Two days of maceration, lots of fennel and slite fizz....

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Mendall in Terra Alta

Date: Wed, Jul 28, 2010

I was feeling guilty about being late. But Chris was green and sick and we were...late. He was gracious. We zoomed to his vines, nearby. I let the boys ride in the big JPmobile. I hitched with Laureano. We needed to talk. I really wanted to know how he arrived to this place--ultra -extreme, hardcore in Terra Alta. Truly hardcore natural. Wound up Laureano has a nervous energy and completely endearing quality that infuses his bottles. You might not have tasted the wines, so you'll have to see for yourself, but you'll get the idea in this loosely edited transcript. ++ I started to make wine and for three years I made with sulfur. A friend made liquid for me. I don't like the sulfur. You add it and the wine changes. After, the wine recouperates and it works well. But at the beginning it goes Ouaaa. (hands go out like a bat wings for emphasis) First you have a live color...then it's not live anymore. You make sulfur the color is dead. It comes back. Yes. The wine comes back, but I don't like. One day I read an article that said it was possible to make wine...

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Laureano/ Mendall. Hardcore in Catalonia

Date: Fri, Jul 23, 2010

I've been trying to remember when I first met Laureano Serres..... .....Certainly before I took that scuzzy, blurred photo this winter at La Remise. Was it a Dive? Perhaps. We've emailed, met, tasted. I liked. But it was this winter when I really noticed his wines, his white wines in particular. They provoked double take. Personality? Sure. But then, Laureano is a bit of a mad genius man. Vision. Talent. At that crazy tasting, because it is always tasting, I reacquainted myself with his macabeau, the '08 Abeurador (licorice!, with two days of skin contact) the 09 is earthier, with a little radish and melon. Needed some time to settle. I said to him, I'll visit. Laureano is pure. A New Yorker would have thought. Sure, she's coming. Right. It was no surprise to him when I wrote to ask if he could see me in June. He just assumed I was going to keep my word. After he and JPJP a short pow wow, and my publisher in Spain agreed to get my book ready, Laureano hooked me up with a Barcelona book party with Benoit at Anima del Vi for the Spanish release. (pictures courtesy of Observatorio de...

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Leafroll Virus, pretty as a picture

Date: Thu, Jul 22, 2010

My articles are usually warehoused in the articles section, but I though this one on Leafroll Virus in the vineyards of California was worth taking up space here. New story in the San Francisco Chronicle Leafroll: A quiet threat in the vineyard. You can click on this link right over HERE, and see the photos, or you can just scroll down. Next post up, by the way, The Great Laureano Serres. >/a It's not imagined. The blood-red leaves in California's vineyards are appearing earlier and spreading more widely. While pleasing to the eye, the colors indicate a shutting down of photosynthesis, often dangerously close to harvest. They can also be a signal for a virus that's giving the wine industry a migraine. The grape leafroll virus has been around and causing trouble for at least a century. It has about 10 variations. But the newest, V3 and V5, are causing panic, with some vineyard owners ripping out vines or blasting them with chemicals. "If I'm going to believe what I hear, it's going to be the next phylloxera," says Stuart Smith, owner of Smith-Madrone in St. Helena. "Worried? You bet." The virus is also affecting vines on the East Coast...

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32 Days of Natural Wine/Letter to David

Date: Thu, Jul 22, 2010

Have you been reading Cory Cartright's series, 32 Days of Natural Wine? You can read my contribution Letter to David there instead of here. See you later, I'm under a rock pile....

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Disco for the Wild Boar & Vinya Sanfeliu

Date: Thu, Jul 15, 2010

We arrived in the D.O. Costers del Segre, after a harrowing ride where we lost one and almost lost me. I crawled out of Jose's vinomobile, leaving green Chris behind to sleep it off and with Jordi Sanfeliu, who was born and raised in this small hill top town, headed out into the hills, into astounding vineyards. Jordi has icy blue eyes and a warm, self-effacing way of being. Everything is felt deeply. "People farm with chemicals, it's a drug," he said in his vineyard, poppy flocked with huge shards, slabs really of limestone. "But people are becoming more aware of vinos naturalos." All around him are terraced wheat fields, deeply terraced. There are lentils in flower. Almonds waiting to fruit. He has always farmed without chemicals, no pesticides and the agrarian model is poly. His vines are soaking in the benefit of multi-culti and he even has a personal vegetable garden in the midst. And between the vine rows, are volunteer wild leeks. Poppies. Poppies. I wanted to lie down and roll. The dusk was coming slowly, like honey getting a chill. And then we ended up in a cherry orchard right next to the vines. Every tree a...

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Els Jelipins (part 2)

Date: Mon, Jul 12, 2010

In the beginning, Oriol who with his wife Gloria and wee daughter Berta make up the GOB of the Penedes wine bottled as Els Jelipins, met Rene Barbier who said to him, "You're crazy like me." The superstar winemaker (Clos Mogador, married to Sara Perez) invited him out to the winery and to learn. Through Rene, Oriol met the whole intense Priorat the -fatter -the- wine- the- better crew and he learned how to make those 92+ point wines. Oriol said, "At first I thought wine was poetry. I realized it often was just the recipe." Part of the recipe was cold soaking up to a week with quite a bit of sulfur. Then, adjust the temperature to about 30-degrees centigrade (pretty hot) for fermentation to kick in and extract. Remember to punch down or/and pumpover often. Give plenty of oxygen into the juice (MOX aka micro oxygenation), rack into new barrels, MOX each month. "That's the low-tech version of a recipe wine," he said. Add the tricks like yeasts and enzymes etc, for the high tech version. Yet, the man grew unhappy using the recipe geared towards the big critic. Until one day, and there is always that one...

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A Back Label To Be Proud Of

Date: Tue, Jul 6, 2010

I broke down. It's been a hell of a day writing a story I DO NOT WANT TO WRITE. In fact I tried to convince my editor, "Please, kill the story!" No such luck. So I gave in and pulled out the bottle in the fridge the ringletted wine importer Jenny Lefcourt brought over last night. La Boheme, a declassified muscadet from Marc Pesnot. 2008. Perfect for this weather. A hint of pineapple on the nose that melts to stone. Then I turned over the label. Who needs a definition for the category of wines so far known as Natural Wine when you have this? Brilliant. The story is still there. Staring at me like a put bull ready to tear my brain out, but at least there is melon, and hope. Maybe....

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Gloria, Oriol, Berta aka Els Jelipins (part 1)

Date: Tue, Jul 6, 2010

In the chapter, My Date With Bob, Mr. Parker and I had one or two rough spots. Oddly enough, Spain was an issue in both of them. Parker voiced his emphatic belief that Spain was the hot bed of originality because it was reclaiming many of lost vines and turning them into wines. He maintained that indiginous grapes were being celebrated all around the country. To me, most of Spain had lost it's soul. Now, to me, if something like Mencia is being tarted up to look like Syrah, that isn't saving much. Yes, it is so much better than grafting over to Merlot, if the right savior comes around to kiss the wood and make it blossom into its true self. But, I'm more interested in vine savers who are trying to delve into the mysteries of the grape, not to make it sing out of its range. I met an astrologer once (don't ask) who charmed me when he talked about the planets as if they were his best friends, when Pluto was squishing a Mars he felt the pain. The man transmorgophied planets, and I have come to see that the wines that I love the best...

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Spain! EcoSostenible Wine 2010

Date: Sun, Jul 4, 2010

I couldn't wait to get rid of my speech at the Ecosostenible Conference in the Penedes. I obsess about these things. I want to be perfect, to be funny, to have just the right touch of light and gravitas. In other words, until the presentation was over I was a basketcase. However, there were some very excellent speakers, such as Peter Hans Schmidt who has been researching biochar. His studies of how sprinkling the substance through the vineyard can impact water retention might have profound effect on lessening the dependence on irrigation. Then there was the stunningly slick presentation on Assessing Sustainability with Eco-Efficiency Analysis from one of the conference's sponsor's BASF, the company that brought us the new transgenic potato. Mr. Mario Manaresi, a slithering specimen of a media trained reptile, who put forth his thesis that an apple out of season was more eco-minded than an apple in season. Ooof--the manipulation of carbon footprint for the companies greater good. He had all of the power point available to him and hit tremendously false notes with the audience as the hands shot up in attack, tempered with some politesse, as, after all, the company is a major EcoSostenible contributor....

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The Nuits Kid

Date: Sat, Jul 3, 2010

On the train and off to Beaune. Pick up the car at Ada, une bonne addresse for a rental car in the area. I hopped into the cutest little red Fiat. Home to Bouilland! The white cliffs. The air. The cows. Becky and Russell! I crashed a White Burgundy symposium and after a class act Russell Cooked dinner and a kick ass assortment of whites, including two Batards, (Gagnard 2001 Batard and a Leflaive) I slept peacefully, dare I say almost happily. The next morning headed to the new kid in town Becky thought was an interesting story, Ray Walker. The young man was quietly cooling his heels on his first vintage, the 2009. So here's his short story. After doing winery grunt work in California in 2008, he was ready to plunge into the 2009. "I went looking for grapes. No one wanted to give me any. I found some petite sirah. My wife said, "We don't even drink petite sirah, are you sure? What do you really want to do" (already I LOVE his wife) She said, "If you really want to do this, do what you want. So where are those grapes? Santa Cruz Mountains? Come on,...

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In Praise of Jose Pastor

Date: Thu, Jul 1, 2010

Jose Pastor, a relocated to California Valencian madman, has developed an astounding and brave portfolio over the past year. In California, Jose Pastor Selectionsis distributed by Farm Imports, (the power team of Jeff Vierra and Keven Clancy) who also distribute the LDM wines. So you can see, the bar is high, and Jose's portfolio fits in like a perfect dovetail joint. When I arrived, the event was in full eswing. The place was packed with happy tasters. Few knew that Jose, Jeff and Keven had just barely, but eskillfully, averted a collective nervous breakdown. Imagine, coming into a place where you're expecting 200+ people to taste-but the venue (Bar Agricole) is a construction zone. The dream team did some fancy two-stepping, rented some umbrellas, aired the soccer game. eSpain won and so did the wines. Jose, who I must disclose is my friend, has assembled a collection of growers who have the power to open the door on freshness and excitement for eSpanish wines. I mean, think of it, ...an importer who has the balls to aim for wines that are terroir driven, uninoculated, no added biting acid and no forced deacidification. Acid freaks unite and celebrate. Not only that,...

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A Morgon Pictorial

Date: Mon, Jun 28, 2010

Any one who has read me knows that I've got a crush on Morgon. In fact, it's beyond affair and has blossomed into a relationship of depth and intensity. Some crushes are like that. On a brilliant morning in a rain soaked week, Eric Texier, the Rhonester who lives in Charnay, a 40 minute drive from where the Vin Nature movement touched down, headed off for a damned good triple header: Lapierre, Chanudet & Foillard. (sorry about the upside down pictures, I have no idea what's going on with my iphone) Seen in Lapierre's cellar In Lapierre's vines something the BATF won't allow us to do A dandy idea Chanudet, the anarchist Genevieve's dad, was the farmer who never succumbed to the chemicals and yeasts in the first place. On to dinner and tasting with Jean & Agnes Foillard. Agnes is a fantastic cook, and she sure knows how to pick cheese. The next morning I said goodbye to the device that Eric tests sulfur on. though Eric isn't really biodynamic, there is a dynamizer in use for his 'Fukuoko' vineyard, a communal do nothing (misnomer) way of farming. And of course I couldn't leave without stopping in to see...

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2009 Beaujolais

Date: Wed, Jun 23, 2010

Last week's visit to Morgon with Eric Texier seemed a long, long time ago when I walked into a 2009 tasting of the Beaujolais on Rue Rivoli yesterday afternoon. The promoters called it Fabuleux Beaujolais 2009, a tasting through all of the crus. A great opportunity, in theory. Beaujolais. There are so many good ones. The region complains that they cannot get a foothold amongst drinkers but can't they see that the ones that are acclaimed like those from Lapierre, Chanudet & Foillard, Breton, Thevenet, Lapalu, J-P Brun, Coquelet, L&C Desvignes, de la Roilette, G. Descombes, and Ducroux, have no trouble selling? Why instead do they follow the espoofers instead of the true? So I walked into the hotel, through the lobby, picked up a glass and gave a nod of hello to the elegant M. Dubouef (in a dove grey suit) I had a go at it. Now, the 2009 Beaujo is being as heralded as the 2009 Bordeaux and both have the same problem as most of the country did in that year: high pH and low acidity = unstability and plenty of adjustment. Not to say that there aren't a heck of a lot of lovely wines...

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