The chateau was gorgeous, the grounds breathtaking, the collection of winemakers inside promised to rock the place's foundation. At this point the tasting Chateau de Breze is legendary. Imagine this magnificence in the ice age. What a way for the Dive Bouteille to return to its roots, not as part of Omnivore in some god forsaken town up north but back in the heart of the Loire. Linda, Pascaline and Frederik, the coffee obsessed wine importer from Denmark , ( got to love him. He brings his own equipment, including beans and grinder on the TGV) drove up and enthusiastically stormed the gates. It was about 11am and already human icicles were greeting us at the door. I've been in Poland in February but never in my life have I had tasting conditions on the Tundra. But yet, we dove in, starting with Champagne (Larmandier-Bernier) to get into the mood. By the time I hit the Beaujolais and Marcel Lapierre's table, it was over for me. I was done. My hands were quaking, my toes were dead fish floating under the ice. I was done. But Marcel's wife was very complimentary about my book but she warned me something on the back cover was cliche, but reading the book made up for it. I am dying to know what was cliche. No writer wants to hear of such things when they can't fix it. But when she told me Marcel loved the book so much he bought thirty-five copies, I cheered up. I was having a very pleasant moment, even though my bones were on the rinse cycle. That's when a vigneron in a home boy cap approached me. By my searching eyes, I'm sure he realized that my French wasn't good enough to catch all of the well slung insults. He was kind, he switched to English to make sure I grasped his full meaning and I didn't even ask. By the time he was finished with me,my brain was shaking as much as my teeth. He yelled, his body hunched into the words as if he could forcefully sling them at me. I could smell his breakfast tartine. "Do you see what you've done to me. How could you judge my wine on one taste. My wine is not vinegar." Well, I didn't exactly call his wine vinegar. But it was in the New York Times. This was not a critique of his wine, it was my experience of the bottle. This was back in my early sans soufre education (and probably his as well) and I believe I wrote that the wine was given to me with great confidence but on the plane where I was drinking the VitRiol, (the wine, not the emotion) had practically turned to vinegar. He also didn't know I've been continually tasting his wine ever since Pierre Jancou introduced me to them, and he did not remember that I had just spent a half-hour with him at La Remise, with some positive words about his Pet Nat and nature, but no, his wines are at the top of my list. They just don't have the 'it,' for me. The whole business of a critic makes me uncomfortable. I know I am critical but I do hate being seen as a critic and even more, I hate to hurt people. Oh, I can when the behavior is out of control and needs some. I can call out a company? Oh that's fare game. An industry? Sure. A symbol? Why not. But a person? That's a tough one There are writers behind the play, there are people behind the wines. I too had to get used to having my heart and soul used as a rag for the slop. Sometimes just someone's opinion for better or worse, and sometimes grossly unfair, especially when people take swipes at my character and personality without having met me or read me carefully enough. This is something, a few years back, Joe Dressner told me to buck up about when I flinched at bad Alice press. "If you put yourself out there, you'll get it." (I think what he really said is, "You're now a public person, get used to it." However this all brings into question, why does my opinion or anyone elses matter? Because I (just for example) have a record of being able to find wines that my readers also like? Because I have a platform, I have to think this ( and I ) serve some sort of purpose, as a guide or an advisor. But this vinegar story, I am not sure I did anything else but tell the story and the wine was not that far from vinegar. And so, Pierre, I want to say to you that I feel quite sad and shaken that I made you so unhappy you needed to vent about something written years back. Please know, I never said you weren't a good winemaker, but that I had a bad experience with one of your wines and I am glad to see that what I wrote did not damage your reputation. After a talk with Dressner and the crew, Lou Amdur, Jenny Lefcourt, we looked for Frederik with no luck, we mourned that we would miss the rest of the tasting and went back to the Renaissance. Later Frederik turned up still blue in the lips at the party in Angers. And eventually I danced away the bad feelings and tried to turn it all to good.