When Melissa and I are in Paris, drinking loads of Dard et Ribo--their Crozes, St. Jo, or Hermitage--is a sacred ritual. This June, I did one better. While she went to Denver, climbed a mountain and finished work on her 'diet' book, I visited the winery. Melissa thought she got the short end of the stick. Uh, well, she was right.
Francesco Pimpinella, a friend, winemaker, sourcer of wine and fruit and juice offered to make my appointments. I asked him to find me a guy who makes wine like a shiraz, then Faurie for Hermitage, Gonon for St. Jo and I demanded D&R because they are who they are.
Francesco warned me that the wild duo are famously difficult. Yet, he would do his best. I reminded Francesco that difficult or not, they figured greatly in my Rhone chapter. I must see them.
The Pimpinellas (wife Beatrice, two angelic children) put me up in their stone home in Tournon, right on the Rhone river with a dramatic view of Hermitage and the Chapoutier sign that adorns itóas if it were the Hollywood Hills. The house is deceptively blocky but inside, the rooms are as generous as the owners and the place is packed with good food, air and Francesco's first vintage.
Not only does he have a garden worthy of the Neapolitan man he is, he planted a kiwi-draped shade arbor and a terrific apricot tree that squirts sappy juice if you just look at it.
In the still cool morning we headed out. He finally assuaged my anxiety and told me that Dard & Ribo was our third appointment. Yay. We were meeing with Ribo. I donít know which one I was supposed to fall in love with. It didnít matter. Even though they are both married, it didnít matter.
We arrived 2:30 and no one was home. Most probably lunch was still ongoing. We puttered about in the blinding sun, me looking for shade. The winery looks like a white trash house in the middle of Walton, NY, with all sorts of shmutz and broken down farm equipment and very close by, a clutch of old fruit trees. While we are waiting, Francesco told me that the first time he rang them, Francois hung up. They have a famous mistrust of journalists, so I wasnít surprised. But Francesco, who is tenacious in the most innocent, firm way, called again. They liked that. And we were granted an audience.
End Part One