Showing posts from February, 2009

Loire part II: Domaine de Juchepie

The sweet white wines of the Loire region belong to the greatest sweet wines on the face of earth. Actually it is not valley of the Loire hosting the vines for these wines, but the valley of the Layon, a fairly small tributary of the Loire. The wines from this area, or actually some of these wines, deserve this statement about greatness. Because for many these wines remain more or less unknown. It makes the wines affordable, great, but obscurity is simply undeserved for the beauties produced here.


So why among the greatest? That's basically the combination of terroir (which comprises a whole range of factors...) and grape variety, chenin blanc.

To begin with the terroir. This northerly wine region produces wines with an attractive freshness, there is always good acidity countering the sweetness, it makes the wines digestible and pleasant. Then more local: the soil of the Layon valley. We visited Domaine de Juch…

Domaine Leflaive: Bienvenues Bâtard-Montrachet 2000

If you have never heard of Domaine Leflaive and Bienvenues Bâtard-Montrachet, would you be fascinated by the bottle? The elegant classic design... the old-fashioned flourished letters singing Bienvenues Bâtard-Montrachet... the label Grand Cru... or wouldn't you? Could it possibly come across as just some random French wine with a difficult name? I wouldn't know.

Yesterday this wine gave us lots of pleasure. But also some stress.

Earlier that day I had picked the Leflaive from our cellar, and our almost two-year-old daughter insisted on joining me there. Like always − the cellar is exciting. Probably because it is locked most of the time. Anyway, she was there when I took out the bottle.

Hours later, when she was going to sleep, it took me quite some time (while frantically searching the house) to arrive at the thought that her teddy might be in the cellar... and indeed, there it was. Then I also realised that, as I left the cellar with her, she had tried to tell me we forgot her…

Loire part I: Philippe PICHARD

When I talk about my wine business, I tend to say that "I am in a constant search for great wines". I am not necessarily looking for organic wines, but with the outcome of my quests a great wine often turns out to be an organic wine, or even a biodynamic wine.

Another outcome, one which I used to mention to my audience quite regularly: most of the winemakers that I work with are young people − winemakers who decided to "do it their way", i.e. different from what the previous generation did. Most often heard: they bring down yields, start working organically, and try to intervene as least as possible during the process of vinification.

This weekend I returned from the Loire valley, where we spent a week long tasting wines (the first two days at the Salon des Vins de Loire in Angers), and visiting winemakers.

On this trip I was happy to receive a clear message: the age of the winemaker is not related to him or her being innovative, i.e. being interested in new ways of f…

Is wine an aphrodisiac?

It might sound like a silly bugger question, but I assure you much has been written on this subject, so much in fact that one hardly knows where to start reading. So let's begin with The Holy Bible. The book of Genesis recounts how Lot's daughters used wine to get their father drunk, so they could, uh, have sex with him (Gen 19: 30-36).

This is more bawdy and sordid than Chaucer, but that's old world times for you and it was necessary to propagate the species. As we are told that Lot "was unaware" of what happened, we must conclude that he was completely bombed, yet seemingly not so bombed that he couldn't finish the business at hand, as "both the daughters of Lot were with child by their father."

The ancient Babylonians forbade the use of alcohol at nuptials. This may be due to ancient hands-on experience with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. Things get even more confusing if you go to China, as almost everything from ground-up caribou antlers to bear gall bl…