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In-Flight Entertainment

Date: Tue, Feb 23, 2010

This time it's scotch. I think I deserve something better than Ardmore 30 (wish it was Arbeg) to bolster my courage for the Paris book signing on Thursday, but it will get me through--the flight. Tomorrow night should work though, @ Racines....

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Remise Flashback

Date: Tue, Feb 23, 2010

Before the organic wine tasting in Montpelier, I was headed to La Remise, a tasting which had a reputation as one of those wild and wooly bad boy tastings with mostly were unhealthy advertisements for unsulfured wine. If that had once been true, the tasting has matured. But don't worry, it hasn't matured that much. When La Gramiere Amy and I arrived, people were milking sea rocks--otherwise known as slurping back those mammoth Utah Beach oysters. We scrounged like rodents and came across the worlds most delicious short and dense cookies. Then off to work. Herve Souhaut's 2009. 'nuf said. Truly gorgeous vintage for him. I don't need tastings notes. It doesn't matter. But all around, the wines have a lushness worthy of lushes and those who are amongst the 'anti-flavor elite.' Nothing artificial in these flavors for sure. Podere Le Boncie Chianti with freshness Azienda Panevino Dressner scarfed this one up ( I think more accurately Kevin McKenna). My first sip was that this was Anthony Wilson wine. And the winemaker gets extra cute score as well. Conversation of the day: Had with Andrea Calek, who showed up with a new hacked at haircut and a twinkle in his...

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The Village Tart

Date: Tue, Feb 23, 2010

News Flash There's hardly any good food in my hood, so when I passed The Village Tart on Kenmare and Mulberry I was curious. It sits oddly on the corner--crossroads of Soho, Nolita, Chinatown and Little Italy on the way to the Holland Tunnel. It was night, and the cafe glowed golden and siren-like. Inside, kind of cafe, kind of take out, kind of lunch spot, kind of wine bar, kind of romantic dinner hang. You know the kind of place you always want to happen upon? It occurred to me this fit the agenda--for tourist or for me, a neighbor. Unable to resist, I bought a piece of orange marmalade cake. I ate it for breakfast. Wondered why it was so delicious. The next day I went back and Pichet Ong walked in. Mystery solved. Full disclosure. I've been a long time fan of Pichet ever since my friend Melissa Clark wrote about his Kabocha squash pieand then hung out with him at a conference in Madrid. His palate suits mine. He likes clean, simple and is not afraid of heat and bitter. A rare chef who can do sweet and savory. their website Went back the next day....

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On the way to La Remise

Date: Tue, Feb 23, 2010

The next day, I headed south and stayed the night with Matt Kling and Amy Lillard of La Gramiere, ex-pats who became accidental vigneron, because as Amy said, "We do everything on impulse." Amy laughed a particular kind of laugh, a good-natured, self-effacing laugh that seems to say, "The joke is on me!" Earlier that evening, close to sunset, she picked me up in a near by town next to the church. This being Sunday, the town was silent, except for the cats. At the cafe adjacent to the church a man stood in the window, picking his nose without apology. She arrive with husband Matt. Dogs barking in the car. Quick, to the vines before night fell. This is Lauzette, her favorite, "It makes such gorgeous grenache," she said. Then, onto their farmhouse in St. Quentin la Poterie where Matt stuffed the ravioli . Meanwhile, excellent hostess, she fetched a Cyril Bouchard Inflorescence Blanc de Noirs. She took that first sip with such glee I swear she was saying, "Oh goodie!" The champagne deserved the enthusiasm and Amy deserved applause for such graciousness. The wine is all pinot noir, not dosed up, sky meets earth. Too hard to talk...

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Spring Eternal

Date: Tue, Feb 23, 2010

On my only Saturday night in Paris I was going to hook up with my friend Magazino, Mr. TruffleTruck himself, who was i n town with his lovely wife. I waited for them while browsing at Spring Boutique on Rue L'Arbre Sec. Poking about, I was disappointed to see that the boutique was not this perfect little food find as advertised on blogs throughout France, but more of a caviste (decent) and also stocked some products, like common tapenade I can get around the corner from home, at the local Met supermarket. Given that the wine bar/caviste Le Garde-Robe is just across the street, their competition is fierce. "I want fries," Magazino said immediately upon arrival. "I don't care where we eat as long as we have fries." I repeat, this was Saturday night in Paris with no reservations and were on a mission to find good fries and great wine. As far as I could see, Mike Steinberger's Au Revoir to All of That, was true; food no longer existed in France. All of my wine bar standbys were booked. We were looking into the mouth of an epicurean disaster. We enlisted Josh to help brainstorm a restaurant. Josh...

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1999 Ploussard Perdu. (Lessons Learned)

Date: Tue, Feb 23, 2010

I knew this would be a life changing trip. I'm not willing to spend another ten years in therapy so I have to take those lessons where I get them. Of those I am currently working on? 1) Take the Money and Run 2) Ask for what you need. 3) Be More Positive! 4) Lose the Guilt The Ploussard Perdu was a classic illustration of how and why I need to integrate these life pointers with speed. Not a moment to lose. The Overnoy was a mere 21 euro. That very night would have been my only chance to drink it. Bringing it to dinner at the Cousin's would be perfect. Digging into my euro stash I purchased, I would have bought two if they had taken Amex. I thought of it all the way up to the Cousin's house. Olivier welcomed up with some fresh, snappy Pet Nat. I presented the wine, wrapped in tissue. That was the mistake. I presented it. It was a gift. In no way did I suggest a partager. I expected him to know. Now, you tell me, how many love affairs and marriages have fallen by the wayside because part of the couple...

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From 2 Anes to Toulouse

Date: Tue, Feb 23, 2010

I should start at the beginning, but I need to tell you about something that happened in the middle. The punishing wind, the sweet asses, Millesime Bio and Domaine des 2 Anes behind us we Jenny, Francois (of the selections) and Kate, the lasagna maker and crack sales chick, took the road for the seven -hour drive up north. One hour into it, I saw the Toulouse signs. "Hey! Anthony said there was a great wine bar around here." I quickly scanned my old texts, and sure enough there it was, Le Temps des Vendange. Francois' iPhone GPS guided us through the most visually unusual French city I'd ever been. I'm used to Frenchly white and yellow and bone tinted cities. Limestone cities. Cement cities. But this one could have been Lowell, Massachussets, with its landscape of oxidized red-colored brick buildings. "All the same labels," Jenny whispered to me. At first blush, yes, but then under more careful scrutiny others popped from the shelves. Neither one of use had seen or or ............ and I was delighted to see ... ....a wine Jenny had pointed out to me at the La Remise tasting a few days back, from the barbated,...

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GIVE YOUR VALENTINE A BUBBLE BATH IN NOLA

Date: Tue, Feb 23, 2010

We now take a commercial break As first in a series of shout outs about an April event in New Orleans, for an amazing debut. Meet the next generation of wine weekends. Never before has any one put together such celebration of bubbles. And if you can't figure out a sweet Valentine Day gift, get yourself a bottle and two tickets and head down to New Orleans on April 15th for an incredibly bubble bath. Yes, I'll be there. THE INDEPENDANT CHAMPAGNE AND SPARKLING WINE INVITATIONAL...

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La Bataille du Vin et de l'amour

Date: Wed, Jan 27, 2010

View image You won't find it on Amazon, either in French bookshops or through Jean Paul Rocher's website. If you have any idea how to get this book into the hands at someone in the mainstream French press, I'd be so grateful....

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La Remise; Cold and Sunny

Date: Tue, Jan 26, 2010

I have no idea how these guys do it . Vignerons working on their feet pouring wines on a marathon, La Remise, Millesime Bio, then the Dive. Renaissance, Salon, night time carousing and more drinking and on top of that usually crawling into bed at 5am only to start again--and some are even older than me! Welcome to tasting season in France, and there are plenty of Italians and Spanish here as well. I stayed with Amy Lillard (after tasting her wines, visiting her vines, eating her cooking--full disclosure all of you ethic cops out there!) and she drove me. Great fun. Stay tuned there will be more on her, but let me tell you, her 2008 blend La Gramiere is elegant and delicious and love the dash of dry wild forest honey. We bought our glass for 5 euro and then we were off. Discoveries? Yes, amongst the same old faces, but welcome ones, Stefano Belotti, Alsseandra Bera, Arianna, etc.etc. the winemaker for La Stoppa had two orange wines, tannic! (Dinavolo)but clear and musical. Andrea Calek, sporting a new coiffure Amy took this one, and it's so funny I'm braving my battle with vanity. .. and looking very...

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Leon Barral in Flight Entertainment

Date: Thu, Jan 21, 2010

Will report from the road! Be good. Drink well. Support random acts of kindness....

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Me and Grace

Date: Thu, Jan 21, 2010

Last Friday night I was lucky to be at Brooklyn Guy's house. A few of us were keeping his toddlers from proper sleep and not wanting to leave, when JR showed up with 2000 Grace Family Vineyards wine. Winemaker on that vintage? Heidi Peterson Barrett and only eleven barrels of wine were produced. "It's really good," said JR. And then, smoothed his silvery hair back from his forehead. Was that a dare? Was that a tell? DId he wink? The moment had to be documented. Okay. Let's go. This was one of the first Cult wines and what makes it lovely is that all proceeds go to charity. 'Hey, do they put a little brett in there for Parker?' I asked, kind of surprised to find a touch of barnyard. Mr. P. and I have that in common, we both like it. I thought, was this going to have something appealing for me? If you want to know my notes, you'll have to ask. Yes, it is from one little acre in Napa, but does that make it special? The wine is available for about $160. Newer vintages are up around $350....

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Into My Fifth Year as a Wine Blogger? From the Archives

Date: Thu, Jan 21, 2010

How did this happen without me seeing it? But out of nostalgia I thought I'd repost my very first before this grew into something else, bigger than myself. First posted December 12, 2004, and I refer to the cataclysmic summer that had just past. That's me this summer in Tain Hermitage. I was roasting in the Rhone, looking upward, wondering just how hot it was going to get in an hour. Or maybe I was thinking about the beautiful blushed apricots that grew all over the region, plump and firm at the same time, utterly sweet with just a dash of luscious tart. I'd come to France to work on several wine stories. The one in the Northern Rhone was about syrah. Later on that day, I would have lunch smack in the vineyard of Hermitage. Later I'd discuss native yeast fermentation with winemakers whom I deeply respected. I'd taste some remarkable older Hermitage and Cornas (which just doesn't get enough respect), get a huge crush on wine maker deity, Thierry Allemand, I'd walk across the river at sunset. I would end up across the street from my dive hotel- until the wee hours of the night with some friends...

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