Not Drinking Poison While Visiting Paris

Posted by | Posted in Grape Adventures | Posted on 07-23-2014

Aaron Ayscough at Aux Anges.

Aaron Ayscough at Aux Anges.

Earlier this month, I spent 10 days eating and drinking my way through France.

On July 4th, my trip began with a tour of Paris’ natural wine bars and retailers led by Aaron Ayscough of Not Drinking Poison in Paris. For wine geeks, I can’t imagine a better way to start a trip to France.

Our first stop was at Septime Cave, the wine bar from the team behind Septime and Clamato, two of Paris’ hottest dining spots. While there, we enjoyed two wines: Domaine Belluard’s 2010 Vin de Savoie “Mont Blanc” and Kenji & Mai Hodgson’s 2012 “Heart & Beat” rosé of Cabernet Franc.

Both were absolutely captivating. The sparkler came from Gringet, an obscure grape that’s native to the Savoie region — and barely exists. Aaron described the rosé — which saw 12 months in neutral oak — as “almost comically intellectual.”

Our second stop took us to Aux Anges, a small wine shop run by a young winemaker named Benoit Joussot. The shop’s selection was more conventional than expected — I recognized most of the labels — but we opened a fascinatingly interesting rosé-colored white wine.

DSC02015 - Copy

Septime Cave.

The Domaine Le Roc des Anges’ 2013 “Les Vignes Métissées” incorporated 15 local grape varieties (red, gray, and white) — all picked at once and co-fermented as a white wine. The acidity was electric, and if it weren’t for a hint of tart red fruit, it could have passed for a Sauvignon Blanc. It was delicious.

Next, we visited Cru et Découvertes, a gem-filled shop with overflowing shelves. There, we explored sulfur with two wines from La Ferme des 7 Lunes, a small, biodynamic winery in Saint Joseph. We compared the winery’s basic Saint Joseph bottling to its “Chemin Faisant,” which sees no addition of sulfur at bottling.

The differences were striking — and the opposite of what I expected. While the “normal” Saint Joseph showed tart, fresh fruits and focused aromas of meat, pepper, and black olive, the “Chemin Faisant” was darker and murkier, but somehow more compelling.

As Aaron put it, “the sulfured Saint Joseph is like seeing a painting on the clean white wall of a gallery – it’s curated and you know what qualities to look for – while the unsulfured version is like encountering the same painting in the home of collector, where it’s complemented by furniture, a piano, a bowl of fruit, etc.”

Finally, we visited Le Siffleur de Ballons, a popular wine bar and shop from Thierry Brumeau, the sommelier-restaurateur behind L’Ebauchoir, a neighborhood bistro. (Interestingly, Brumeau once worked for Michel Richard in Washington, DC.)

While there, we opened a 2011 Domaine Lise et Bertrand Jousset “Singulière,” a Chenin Blanc made from a small parcel of 100+-year-old in vines in Montlouis. The wine (and cheese we ate there) was awesome.

For those who aren’t familiar with Aaron’s blog, be sure to add it to your list of regular reads. It’s a great resource for discovering natural wines and keeping up with the Paris wine scene. And if you’re visiting Paris anytime soon, be sure to sign up for one of his tours!

Daily Wine News: Redeeming Zweigelt

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 07-23-2014


“The greatest compliment I can personally pay Umathum may be that he has single-handedly redeemed Zweigelt for me, producing not just a good rendition of the grape, but a great one.” Alder Yarrow visits “The King of Zweigelt.”

Lily Elaine Hawk Wakawaka visits Noel Family Vineyards in Oregon’s Chehalem Mountains.

Curt Dahl chats with Eric Asimov.

“Though the abbey has records mapping monastic vineyards from the Middle Ages, it wasn’t until 1992 that the monks decided to produce and market high-end wines.” In Wine Spectator, Robert Camuto visits Frère Marie, the monk-cellarmaster of the Abbaye de Lérins “on the tiny, idyllic island of Saint Honorat.”

“To prepare for the nearly two months of intense labor, the 60-year-old winemaker trains for triathlons.” In the Wall Street Journal, Jason Henry profiles Rob Davis of Jordan Winery.

Tom Wark offers some thoughts on how the Wine Blog Awards “might evolve for the better.”

Napa’s Quixote Winery has been purchased by a Chinese-owned firm for approximately $29 million.

“I’m not making an argument for lowering the drinking age; only one acknowledging that–in a controlled environment–exposure to the world of wine can be an enriching part of growing up.” In the Huffington Post, Sharon Sevrens explains why she teaches her kids about wine.

Mike Veseth details “The Five Pillars of Walla Walla’s Wine Success.”

In Snooth, Gregory Dal Piaz sits down with Jon Thorsen, the Reverse Wine Snob.

Aaron Nix-Gomez shares some fascinating photographs of a German vineyard being prepped in 1928.

In VinePair, Adam Teeter explores the origin of the “light, refreshing mix of soda water and wine” known as the spritzer.

Beaujolais: The Greatest Secret in Wine

Posted by | Posted in White's Wines | Posted on 07-22-2014

Bernard DiochonAs regular readers know, I write a free, twice monthly wine column that’s distributed to newspapers across the country.

These columns are hosted by Grape Collective. If you don’t see my column in your local newspaper, please send an email to your paper’s editor and CC me (David – at –

In my latest column, I explain why Beaujolais is the greatest secret in wine.

Beaujolais: The Greatest Secret in Wine

One hundred years ago, the Wine Society, a wine club in London, offered its members a Beaujolais from the appellation of Moulin à Vent for $29 per case. It offered cases of Burgundy from the appellations of Beaune and Pommard for around $36 each.

Today, a case of wine from Domaine Diochon, a top producer in Moulin à Vent, costs around $250. And it’s one of the most expensive wines in the region. In Burgundy, however, most Pommard and Beaune on offer from the Wine Society go for well over $1,000 per case.

So whereas consumers seeking compelling reds from Burgundy instead of Beaujolais once paid a premium of about 25 percent, today’s consumers can expect to pay a premium of 400 percent — or more.

Burgundy is quite different from Beaujolais, of course. But serious wines from both regions effortlessly combine vibrant acidity with depth and complexity. And wines from both regions can age for decades.

That’s why today’s price differential doesn’t make any sense. Had those 1914 prices tracked inflation, that case of Moulin à Vent would retail for $690. Without any question, the top wines of Beaujolais represent the greatest value in the wine world.

Consider the wines of Domaine Diochon.

Check out the rest of the piece on Grape Collective!


Daily Wine News: Unfashionable

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 07-22-2014

1982-bordeaux“But for a significant segment of the wine-drinking population in the United States, the raves heard around the world were not enough to elicit a response beyond, perhaps, a yawn.” Eric Asimov explains why, “for young Americans in particular, Bordeaux has become downright unfashionable.”

“The Álvarez family problems began around the time of the patriarch’s third wedding.” In the New York Times, Ian Mount explores the family feud at Vega Sicilia.

In Grape Collective, Jameson Fink chats with master sommelier Alpana Singh, Proprietor of The Boarding House in Chicago.

“I visited several wineries that will remain nameless, as the wines were far from thrilling—often quite salty and not terribly good, especially some unlikely combinations of grapes such as Cabernet and Grenache, and Nebbiolo and Cabernet.” In the Wall Street Journal, Lettie Teague visits the Valle de Guadalupe in Baja California, Mexico.

In Palate Press, W. Blake Gray concludes that lower yields don’t necessarily mean higher quality.

In Wine Spectator, James Molesworth visits Château Miraval.

“His lair was a hole in the ground, no larger than a shallow grave. Across the top a tarpaulin was pulled taught and camouflaged. The hole smelled like cheese.” In the New York Post, Michael Kane reviews Shadows in the Vineyard: The True Story of the Plot to Poison the World’s Greatest Wine by Maximillian Potter.

In the San Jose Mercury News, Laurie Daniel visits Washington’s Red Mountain AVA.

Daily Wine News: Riesling Hero

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 07-21-2014



CellarTracker has launched a mobile app!

“Most of the wine trade loves… but many wine drinkers dislike it.” Elsewhere, Jancis Robinson explains why her “hero” is Riesling.

“The name of the new Newton winemaker may not mean much to the California wine scene, but it means a great deal to Australians.” Jancis Robinson profiles Newton’s new winemaker, Rob Mann.

Last week, the Malibu Coast became an American Viticultural Area.

“We have a band, Private Reserve. Ed Sbragia is in it. I play lead guitar. We do cruise ships. We do wine lectures in the morning and then play at night.” In Wine-Searcher, W. Blake Gray chats with Mike Martini.

In Wine Enthusiast, Roger Morris profiles Clos de Vougeot.

In the San Francisco Chronicle, Jon Bonné explains why “brightly flavored, aromatic, low-tannin wines are what you want” this time of year.

“Plenty strive to deliver a creative beyond-the-glass experience, and it’s never been easier to find them, on Yelp and TripAdvisor, on the advice of your friends or even in your favorite wine-and-food lifestyle magazine.” Ben O’Donnell visits wine country as a tourist.

From Wine-Searcher, “10 Things Every Wine Lover Should Know about Château Clinet.”

In Decanter, Andrew Jefford visits Languedoc to spend some time in La Clape.

Grape Collective profiles Adam Strum.

Daily Wine News: Respect

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 07-18-2014

Flickr, rudynorff.

Flickr, rudynorff.

“While it may be sad for Soave producers and their fans that the wines have not achieved an appropriate level of respect, some do benefit from the situation. Seven of our 10 favorites were $20 or less, and the remaining three were $25 or less. Advantage consumer.” Eric Asimov finds lots to love in Soave.

Reuters reports: “Billionaire oenophile William Koch has settled a lawsuit worth millions of dollars against New York wine retailer Acker, Merrall & Condit.”

“Scores have always lacked rigor and carried a false sense of precision, but with inflation like this, the central bank of Zimbabwe looks like a model of restraint.” In Vineyard & Winery Management, Tyler Colman contends that the era of the super critic is over.

“Most tastings I go to merely confirm what I already know and give me a chance to identify the plums in any representation of a region, producer or new vintage. This collection really did confirm the existence of a whole new era in South Africa’s wine history.” Jancis Robinson is optimistic about South Africa.

W. Blake Gray doesn’t think we decant enough.

“The emergence of “natural wine” as a category for people who share a similar concern for how their beverages are manipulated is, well, perfectly natural. But, it only gains real weight if its integrity can be protected and guaranteed.” In Palate Press, Simon Woolf reflects on natural wine.

“If you’ve ever wondered what some of the top sommeliers in New York are drinking during their nonworking hours, or perhaps even while they’re still on the floor, there’s an app that will help you find out.” In the Wall Street Journal, Lettie Teague profiles Delectable.

In Grape Collective, Jameson Fink chats with Robert Dwyer of the Wellesley Wine Press.

Elsewhere in Grape Collective, Christopher Barnes chats with Fred Frank and Meaghan Frank, the grandson and great granddaughter of Finger Lakes wine pioneer Dr. Konstantin Frank.

In the Boston Globe, Tom Wark explains why Massachusetts’ direct shipping bill isn’t an unqualified victory.

According to Will Lyons, Robert Parker is “a glass-half-full kind of guy.”

Daily Wine News: What We Taste

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 07-17-2014

taste vin“Having spent a big part of his career as a critic in blind tastings, he now fully embraces context as one of the major parts of his enjoyment of and appreciation for wine.” In the New Yorker, Maria Konnikova explores “what we really taste when we drink wine.”

“For those of us on the sidelines, watching the crusaders on both sides saddle up for yet another joust leaves a bad aftertaste.” Matt Kramer wonders when wine became so partisan.

“An article in the International Herald Tribune in 1981… provided premature credibility, but there was no demand for Burgundy in the U.S. One knocked on doors.” In Wine-Searcher, Elin McCoy chats with legendary Burgundy personality Becky Wasserman-Hone.

Elsewhere in Wine-Searcher, Elin McCoy explains how different wineries are beating counterfeiters.

“At its root, Officer’s early love for seashells carries the same dedication now behind his work with old vine vineyards.” Lily Elaine Hawk Wakawaka spends a morning with Mike Officer of Carlisle Vineyards.

While visiting Champagne, Tom Natan finds himself “standing on land that was part of a decisive battle of World War I.”

Burgundy continues to become more and more expensive. Of the world’s 50 most expensive wines, 38 are from Burgundy. And land in the region now averages a whopping $5.4 million per hectare.

“In the mountains of the Tahoe National Forest,” Assyrtiko is now being planted.

Oregon Wine Press chat with Dorothy Gaiter.

“Will there continue to be consumers who buy and drink by the scales? Of course. The scales themselves are becoming more scientific and strangely personalized. But if there is any time in the last 35 years that Parker’s 100 point scale has looked its weakest, it is now.” So contends Michael Woodsmall in Grape Collective.

In Enotbytes, Pamela Heiligenthal profiles Alexandrine Roy, a fourth generation winemaker who is the owner and winemaker at Domaine Marc Roy in Burgundy and the winemaker at Phelps Creek Vineyards in Hood River, Oregon.

A Trip to France and a Brief Hiatus

Posted by | Posted in Terroirist | Posted on 07-05-2014

parisSince November 9, 2010, has been updated every single (business) day – and more. But after 1,708 posts, it’s time for a brief break. Plus, I’m in France!

Don’t worry. I’ll return to regular blogging on July 17. Until then, follow my travels on Instagram and Twitter.

On July 4th, my trip began with an awesome tour of Paris’ natural wine bars and retailers led by Aaron Ayscough of Not Drinking Poison in Paris. After the tour, I dined at Le Baratin.

Still to come? For food, I’ll be visiting Spring, Clamato, Maison Troisgros, Le Café des Fédérations, L’Atelier du Cuisinier, L’Assiette Champenoise, and Les Avisés.

In Beaujolais, I’ll be visiting Château Thivin, Domaine Diochon, Domaine Michel Chignard, and Domaine Jean Foillard. In Champagne, I’ll be visiting Krug, Frédéric Savart, Vilmart, Didier Gimonnet, Anselme Selosse, and Taittinger.

It should be epic. Be back soon!

Daily Wine News: Carrying Forward

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 07-03-2014

“The new team has spent extensive time discussing the hallmarks of Mayacamas style in an attempt to hone in on their role carrying it forward.” mayacamasLily-Elaine Hawk Wakawaka visits Mayacamas to explore what changes, if any, are ahead.

In Food & Wine, Charles Antin lists “10 Wine Superstars to Follow on Delectable.”

“Moments before I took this photo, the rack on my bike collapsed under the weight and the nearly two cases (22 bottles) of Mailly Grand Cru Champagne” In Grape Collective, Jameson Fink chats with Jeff Kralik, the Drunken Cyclist.

Elsewhere in Grape Collective, Kralik names his favorite places to wine and dine in Philadelphia.

In Winery & Vineyard Management, Christopher Sawyer chats with Helen Bacigalupi about “the past, present and future of her family’s legacy and the renaissance of the Bacigalupi wine brand.”

On Tuesday at the Wine Industry Technology Symposium, many industry leaders learned that social media can, indeed, offer a return on investment.

“Virginia wine has gotten some prominent loving recently from two of DC’s top toques.” According to Dave McIntyre, Robert Wiedmaier and Jose Andres have fallen for Virginia wine.

In Wine-Searcher, “10 Things Every Wine Lover Should Know about Marqués de Riscal.”

Daily Wine News: Hail & Fire

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 07-02-2014

FireFollowing Saturday’s devastating hailstorm, vintners in Burgundy have asked government officials for help. Panos Kakaviatos has the details.

And in Napa County’s Pope Valley, a 2,500+ acre wildfire continues to burn.

Terry Thiese shares his 2013 German vintage report.

“If Wong and Nick and the crew could work wonders with what was dealt them in 2011, this 2012 is a vinous walk in the park.” Dorothy Gaiter profiles one of my favorite wineries, Peay Vineyards.

When it comes to wine auction sales, Burgundy has “basically replaced Bordeaux.”

“If you want a cellar filled with fascinating wines,” then according to Matt Kramer, “there’s no substitute for seeking out the particular.”

“Most people with an interest in history will have heard of the first Battle of the Marne, but it is surprising how few realize that it was fought in the Champagne region.” In Wine-Searcher, Tom Stevenson shares this remarkable story.

Meanwhile, in Palate Press, Daniel Demers goes back in time to when Champagne makers were covered in “honourable nicks” from riddling.

“I am going to create a winery in Los Angeles, on the banks of the Los Angeles river, on the edge of what was once the greatest grape growing region in the whole country.” Abe Schoener’s latest missive is long but worth reading.

In Wine Spectator, Alison Napjus visits Schramsberg Vineyards.

Frank Morgan chats with Paul Wilkins, winemaker at Alta Maria Vineyards.

Panos Kakaviatos is “tired of expensive wine.” Fortunately, there are more fantastic affordable wines than ever before.

In Moldova, CNN travel writer Pat Kinsella got his hands on Putin’s wine.

In the Daily Meal, Jess Novak names the “101 Best Wineries in America.”