I was deep in a New York City-sized meltdown after realizing I booked into a St. Emilion Logis with no connectivity, no phone, no wi-fi. A story due. A disaster. That’s when I found Chez Claude, a nearby w-fi equipped wine bar (there is a God) pouring Tarlant Brut Zero for about $10 a glass. (Yes, again, there is a God.) It was a slightly nutty, puckeringly citrus and savory champagne. Could I ask for anything more? I suppose I could have been in the Loire or Burgundy or the Jura instead of Bordeaux, but, what the hell. All was right with the world. Finally in a good mood, I filed the story and started to read the emails. One popped in with this question: Alice, Any Grapes You Don't Like? Giddy with the magnanimity of wireless, I wrote back, "I can't imagine saying I didn't like a grape. I might, however have a hard time with the way it was made." The next day, when enroute to more tastings I was back to normal, no longer charged with happy hormones from Tarlant and wireless, I smacked my head. What was I thinking? Do I ever recall getting sentimental about Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot? In fact, do I ever go out of my way to drink either unless I'm in the company of a collector who is plucking out some ancient bottle to taste with me? (Which I would never refuse and, by the way, is an event that is terribly, fretfully, frightfully rare.) Or, happen to be doing a story in the appellation? Not that I didn't enjoy visits to a few choice producers but they all paled in comparison to Michel Favard's St. Emilion, Chateau Meylet; Favard showed me a thing or to. He agreed to meet me but it was not to be at the land, in the vines, but at his home in the Entre Deux Mer, in Jugazan. A slim man with streaks of grey in his hair, intense and exacting, He was waiting for me at the outdoor table, an overhang protecting from the day's constant rain (a difficult year in Bordeaux and much of France). A scrapbook sat menacingly on the table. He opened it and showed me his vines, his room for élèvage, the old barrels: pictures help but are no stand-in for the real thing. He talked in the flat tone of a Truffaut flick. I found out was that he had been selling printing machines before he took over his father's almost 2 hectares, and converted it to Chateau Meylet instead of selling the grapes off--always organically farmed--to the coop. The earth moved for him in 1985 when he discovered biodynamics and studied Alex Podolinski (who I can find little about--so please send info) and started to practice in 1987--making him one of the very earliest practitioners in France. He works with no added sulphur since the 1997 vintage. Yes, he uses the 'methode' or some variant of it ---meaning the Chauvet natural wine method using dry ice during crush, but his attachmentwas more for Chauvet's oft ignored (but still alive) friend. "Do you know Bidasse?" He asked me, referring to Jacques Néauport, I had to say no. I never met Jacques. Often there is a moment in conversation where the switch flicks and someone decides to take you seriously or not. But just having known about Bidasse gave me his stamp of approval. He told me besides the 'carbo glace,' one of his methods aging his wines on the lees (the crap leftover from fermentation). What he noticed, he said in Biodynamical mystical fashion, is that when he racked the wine off, when it was time to bottle, there was hardly any detritus left in the barrel, as if the wine gorged itself on the left behind yeasts. He pushes the wine out of the vat with a neutral gas, he uses no pump. Into bottle, where it stays until he thinks it's ready. His latest vintage is 1997. I had a dinner appointment, and couldn't get in touch with the woman to cancel, clearly that would have been my choice, so I have to give him a nudge. "Taste?" Oh yes, that's what I am there for, to talk? Yes. To taste? Yes. As he opens the wine, his latest release, that first 1997 that had no sulphur, he said, "Today you need a newspaper to list the ingredients on wine." When I was at Becky Wasserman's the other week and discussing a well-meaning winemaker, his wines failed to thrill me. She sighed and said, "What do you say to someone when they just don't have talent?" A good question. When I tasted Michel's wines I knew I was sitting in front of a man who has so much talent he should humble most of Bordeaux. The man is a Barishnikov, he is a Philip Roth, he is a Dostoyevsky, he is a Kandinsky he is an Alice Neel. Talent is not the man's problem. His wines are profound. 1997 Chateau Meylet: This is blood and olive. And more olive. And I can't believe I don't have a bottle to watch it grow. It's full and sublet at the same time and has that compelling notion of halitosis, just a bit of smokiness as well. A touch of smoke. Hint. I cannot believe this is merlot. 1998 Chateau Meylet His wines remind me of Philippe Pacalet's burgundies, primarily the Pacalet Pommard. Is this the method or the wine that I'm loving? Yes, the method is here but as in Pacalet's case it does not interfere. Here is some of Pacalet's cinnamon. It is also chocolate (not Pacalet). And that lovely halitosis that I take to in wine, but not to in people. It's a patchwork of musk, civet, old drawers and scented, spiced cherries. He brought out a label-free bottle as a last mystery wine. Guess the vintage, my least favorite game It's an anxiety provoker. I always want to be right but rarely am. But this one was easy. It looked young. It hadn't been released yet so that gave me a choice of 1999-2006. The wine was rich, it was cherry in a deep, intense way, it was very Pacalet like with its cinnamon and corduroy like tannins. It felt as fruit forward as a 2005 but definitely had started to develop the slightest bit of secondary characteristics. 2001, I said. And sighed a big one of relief. Redemption. He had trouble, though. Twice he was turned down by the AOC who wanted him to put a Vin de Table on his 2000 and 20001, instead of his St. Emilion grand cru status, because they said the wine had volatile acidity. He took the issue to Paris for one more hearing. He won his label back. There are a handful of others who work well on either bank, but so few. "Are you anyone's guru?" I asked him? He thought. And then said, Nicolas Despagne of Maison Blanche, up in Montagne-Saint-Emilion. I remember passing them on the road after I left my tasting at Chateau Le Puy, but have no knowledge of the wines Jenny & Francois bring him in. Not sure of prices, but probably under $100 a bottle and worth the adventure.