Thierry Puzelat picked me up in Blois and we traveled the 25 minutes to Valaire and L'erbe Rouge, his girlfriend's restaurant. There, Joe was meeting his group of travelers. Most of the French producers were to be there Friday, the Italians on Saturday. Joe was there with a snoodly cap on his head, looking fatigued but happy. Let's have a moment here about the place's bread. It shames the seigle I shelp home from Poilaine. And the tasting first followed by lunch and drinking. What can be bad? Now, I write about the Louis/Dressner portfolio enough and plenty. And I should give a meticulous account of the tasting and I will in the Tasting Note section of this blog--promise-- but I do want to mention a few highlights: Clos de La Roilette's 2008 did not disappoint. Watch out though for limited availability on the Cuvee Tardive. Like so many winemakers in France, the yields in this vintage were extremely low. The big debut was George Descombe's step-son, D. Coquelet's who was pouring right next to George. tangy raspberry Chiroubles. A refreshing beaujo for sure. And for those who noted a great deal of sheepy brett on previous Descombs vintages, in 2008 and 2007, the wines were brett free. The moment of genuflection came in front of Rene Dard. I gave my condolences for his loss--2000 bottles in a fire this past harvest. Then I tasted a brand new cuvee, called Fou Foune, a brash youngster. I asked how old the vines. Shocked? Yes. The answer shocked me--3 year old vines. Are they using dreaded clones, I wondered. What the hell, clone or not, the wines were twiggy and as fun as a new puppy. Then the 2007 Crozes and 2007 St. Joseph--nothing short of beauty. I rest my case. Lucky for me, right next to Dard was Eric Texier. Flip the page to find out why.