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Having Trouble Posting Comments?

Date: Wed, Mar 10, 2010

You are not alone in this communication breakdown. Even I have trouble posting comments and replies. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. But later or sooner, there will be a new improved blog. Watch this space for further details. I am told commenting is going to be in our future. Miss you all....

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Galicia. Ribeira Sacra(Part 5). Hijacked

Date: Tue, Mar 9, 2010

On Monday morning I, with the help of a local sommelier, headed out to see what I could see in Ribeira Sacra, about two hours from Santiago. Stunning. Steep. The hills have ghost vineyards underneath the brush. At one point before World War 11. the mountains were covered with terraces and now you can just feel the erosion. It's wet. The soil sags. And when you're talking about a potential 80 degree tilt to the land, disaster is around the corner. Even I began to think, perhaps it's time to retire this land. Of course you can't grown anything else on it. Vines can survive. It is not for wheat, not tomatoes nor potatoes. It is vineland. But I have to say I really was wondering if after centuries, as the Ribeira can claim wine back to Roman times, perhaps it's time to give the land and the farmer a break. I was happy to see this magical place, with rose quartz proudly strutting its prettiness in the vineyard. But ladies and gentlemen, I was hijacked. On the way up I asked my host, "Where are were going?" I admit, I asked because I was not trusting. He responded, "Where...

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And the final day...

Date: Tue, Mar 9, 2010

I was ultimately in the area to be part of a round table on wine homogenization. On the panel was a man often called the Michel Rolland of Spain. When our moderator, an adorable Cristina Alcala asked us, Ignacio as well as Cesar Cubillas, a rather simpatico wine importer, what are the components of great wine, Ignacio said, "Land is the least important." Then he went on to tell us about a viognier he made where the night temperature in growing season never goes below 70. A woman in the front row glared at me. She probably heard what I was thinking and hated me. That night, Cristina, Rosa and Marta, all friends from Madrid went out to dinner. Remember this address, it was one of the best meals I've had in ages. Talent. Big talent. Casa Marcelo Rue Hortas 1 Santiago de Copostela casamarcelo.net amuse was frozen rhubarb, looking like a slab of tuna on crushed ice, all bitter, sweet, limey, acidic. A lovely alvarinho. Loved it. From Marcial Dorado,, previously a Galcian mussel fisherman and now a Portuguese winemaker. Perfect, salty, angular. And even though there was a parade of dishes, as there is no menu and Marcelo...

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Galicia; Rias Baixas (Part 4)

Date: Sat, Mar 6, 2010

What's left of a home winemaker's 200 year old caino vine. He was wearing Sunday shoes and was wary of the muddy ground. As he tried to stay Sunday Clean he told us, "Albarino was never made in oak, it was always made in chestnut," he told us. The man's wine was terribly underripe, nice old vines, but still making wine for quantity not quality. It put the region's vinous history in context. Maybe as he suggested, they needed octopus. Honorio and Todd then ferried me to Forja del Salnes. The wines there are made by Raul Perez, the most famous winemaker in the area and farmed by Rodrigo Mendez, otherwise known as Rodri. Importer and all round fabulous man, Jose Pastor met me there, having flown up from Valencia earlier that morning. I was glad to see his cheery face. The best part of this visit was when Rodri took us to see a very special vineyard he started to rent. We piled into three cars, (these winemakers seem to travel in packs) and twenty minutes later we were at La Signora's who had always made wine purely for home use. Rodri seems to be the Tegan Passalacqua...

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A Commercial Break: Whole Foods and Australia

Date: Thu, Mar 4, 2010

I received a press release yesterday from Whole Foods about a promotion they're doing with Australia. Like many others in the wine world, I've been puzzled by Whole Food's lack of commitment to the natural wine world, as if what goes into wine is not as important as what goes into food. Okay, it's not. Food is nourishment of another kind, but if WF is going to get into the wine biz, shouldn't they have some principles? + 'In just the past few years, Australia has earned a solid reputation for producing some of the finest varietals in the world. Whole Foods Market will be taking shoppers on a wine 'walkabout' starting today and running through May 5th, highlighting the value and quality of Australian wines with selections from Australia's diverse wine-growing regions. From an organically grown Chardonnay and a spritzy, bright, aromatic Verdelho-Viognier blend to a dark chocolate cherry Pinot Noir and the continent's best Cabernet Sauvignon, we will have styles for everyone.' + So, I wrote a letter. It was strong, hard-nosed, I didn't sugar coat. Perhaps I should have but the gist was basically==shouldn't Whole Foods step up to the plate? I'll share the response I received....

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Galicia; Rias Baixas (Part 3)

Date: Wed, Mar 3, 2010

Pergola, is the traditional way of farming the albarino vines and when walking under old vines, with thick barks and long tentacles, I can't get the image out of my mind that I'm walking under the legs of tarantulas. Todd in the vines his friend Honorio farms for Veiga Serantes. I disappointed Honorio, he had beautiful hairy crabs for lunch, we moved on to the next step, Lagar de Pintos Located in Salnes, the family has been producing since 1887. Part of the Domaine is set up like a museum to show what it was like then, barrels of wine fermenting in the kitchen, that sort of thing. But Marta, an oatmeal colored girl,thin with large orbular eyes, blue and serious took us to taste the wines. She does quite a bit of cash cow wines, didn't taste them, so I can't comment, and then the Lagar de Pintos. Marta had been making wine, like Todd, since 2003. She doesn't yeast but she does feed the buggers, if the chemistry indicates the organisms needs a boost. She also cools the grapes down quite a bit to 3 degree c. for 36 hours, and then destems and presses. She fiddles with...

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Galicia (Part 2)

Date: Tue, Mar 2, 2010

Because I liked Todd's wine so much and because it seemed as if he was a lone ranger kind of guy, I was interested to know what his Galicia looked like. I knew the commercial face, a lot of wine I couldn't drink. Gallo is rules there with its brands like Martin Codax and Kendall-Jackson is buiding a big estate --plantations are underway. I had been warned by the marketing arm that organic is very difficult in Galicia,so wet, I was told. See the celery green part of the map north of Pontevedra? That's the region, the Val do Salnes. First to his vineyards. Todd wants very much to focus on single vineyard albarinos. This was in his organic one--the kind of organic they say is so hard to do ;) in back of a church. The spongy, healthy soil---with diviets from the massive amounts of rain--was filled with thyme and mint and chunks of remarkable red/pink granite. I never saw this kind of granite in soil, gorgeous stuff and they were all around. To see them in the sun might have been exquisite, like TinkerBells in the vineyard. But it was as green as Ireland and as soggy. Inside...

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From Millesime Bio to Galicia!

Date: Sun, Feb 28, 2010

When I was in MB, otherwise known as Millesime Bio, Frederik Kolderup, the energetic Norwegian wine importer, coffee fanatic who travels with his own grinder, and lover of the more nat'l the better, ordered me to check an American making albarino in Rias Biaxis. Hell, you know me, good 'ole skeptic. But it was Frederik, so I did. What I found was Albarino that wasn't: 1) sweet 2) tropical 3) sauvignon blancish 3) creamy. Not only that but the winemaker and part owner of Benito Santos--Todd Blomberg-- an American who fell in love with a Galician and has lived there for a decade--is working naturally, with a brain that keeps on ticking. He's intent on eliminating S02 usage. His method involved a butter churner. Blomberg only makes albarino and is working on single vineyards. Two elements that drew me to his wines were: a lovely bitterness and a fresh, attention grabbing acidity. You see, acidity is something that I've found lacking in albarino of late as trying to appeal to a mass palate, too many winemakers are deacidifying, capturing sweetness in the wine, and basically reconfiguring nature, reasons I stopped drinking the stuff. According to Todd, the Benito Santos vines...

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Belly Dancing in Angers

Date: Sun, Feb 28, 2010

After freezing our blood at the Dive tasting (coming up) and taking refuge at the Renaissance tasting in Angers, we headed to a party put together by Pat (of Domaine Griottes) where a woman was belly dancing up a storm. Blissfully grabbing recalcitrant winemakers to their feet. Annaick pulled the camera from my hands and trained it on me as Pascaline & Linda and I drank Clos Fantine at the time and tried to ham it up, failing miserably....

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The Paris Book Party, 2/18

Date: Tue, Feb 23, 2010

The day started with a lunch at Chez Casamir near the Gard du Nord. I was meeting with Jean Paul Gene, columnist with Le Monde magazine (out the last Friday in February). My publisher Jean Paul Rocher was joining, he was under the weather, with a cold. Never the less, the three of us knocked off two 2008s; Dard & Ribo Crozes blanc and Overnoy Plouss. Made the interview cheerier. Actually the interview was stimulating and it started with a joke ( I think.) "So, Alice, people might ask you if you've saved the world yet, but what we really want to know is if you've found love yet." I blushed, stammered and was relieved this was not captured on film. But I thought about that moment, as my spoon was in the vegetable soup, for days. I wasn't obsessing about the reality or my answer, but about the cultural differences between Americans and the French and I'm glad that love is still on their minds. The last question he asked was another that sat in my brain. 'You wrote that it is easier to have friends with different politics than different tastes about wine. Why?" I realized that wine...

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Millesime Bio Notes

Date: Tue, Feb 23, 2010

The tech sheet included full discloser of oak staves and micro ox. I can't say I got to taste what Egypt terroir is really like. Rather funny was in a google search I came across notes for the perfume Jardin du Nil 'Jardin du Nil opens with aldehydic floral notes and an odd “stinky” accord that's been described as “dirty socks” or “locker room.' This could have worked for the wine as well! I can't say I really enjoyed this but it wasn't that bad either. I do think that a cement elevage might be a smarter choice. For more on this wine, it seems as if Christian Callec did the leg work for me. Other standouts: I Clivi made gorgeous Fruilano wines. About the amphora craze Mario said, "Too much trouble keeping the green gunk out of them." He also mentioned that with the amphora there's too much focus on the cellar. Of particular joy were the 1999 Galea, honey and oxidation. In all no dogs. Each wine bringing new revelation. Try reading what Strappo has to say. Erbaluna! I tasted these years ago and thought, in time these winemakers will come around. And did they. The barolos...

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Dive Confrontation

Date: Tue, Feb 23, 2010

The chateau was gorgeous, the grounds breathtaking, the collection of winemakers inside promised to rock the place's foundation. At this point the tasting Chateau de Breze is legendary. Imagine this magnificence in the ice age. What a way for the Dive Bouteille to return to its roots, not as part of Omnivore in some god forsaken town up north but back in the heart of the Loire. Linda, Pascaline and Frederik, the coffee obsessed wine importer from Denmark , ( got to love him. He brings his own equipment, including beans and grinder on the TGV) drove up and enthusiastically stormed the gates. It was about 11am and already human icicles were greeting us at the door. I've been in Poland in February but never in my life have I had tasting conditions on the Tundra. But yet, we dove in, starting with Champagne (Larmandier-Bernier) to get into the mood. By the time I hit the Beaujolais and Marcel Lapierre's table, it was over for me. I was done. My hands were quaking, my toes were dead fish floating under the ice. I was done. But Marcel's wife was very complimentary about my book but she warned me something...

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Belly Dancing in Angers

Date: Tue, Feb 23, 2010

After freezing our blood at the Dive tasting (coming up) and taking refuge at the Renaissance tasting in Angers, we headed to a party put together by Pat (of Domaine Griottes) where a woman was belly dancing up a storm. Blissfully grabbing recalcitrant winemakers to their feet. Annaick pulled the camera from my hands and trained it on me as Pascaline & Linda and I drank Clos Fantine at the time and tried to ham it up, failing miserably....

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