I wish I could see it, but here's an interview with me in Poland's premier wine magazine, Wino in their issue devoted to...you guessed it, wina naturalne; plain, simple, wine.
The much awaited report from IFOAM is out. Hold on, industrial organic is coming your way. (Certainly not mine.)
Seems to me it means the same thing as made from (industrially farmed) organic grapes. Most of the outraged press has focused on the allowance of sulfur while forgetting to look at the other details. So, have a look yourself.
• partial concentration through cooling (they don't mention freezing)
• elimination of sulphur dioxide by physical processes (cool!)
• electrodialysis treatment to ensure the tartaric stabilisation of the wine
• partial dealcoholisation of wine
• treatment with cation exchangers to ensure the tartaric stabilisation of the wine.
• examples of prohibited additives: Sorbic acid, Di-methyl-di-carbonate, lysozyme, (af: MAKERS OF NATURAL WINE, LISTEN? WHAT DO YOU THINK?) ammoniumsulphate & ammonium-sulphite.
• for heat treatments the temperature shall not exceed 70 ° C
• for centrifuging and filtration with or without an inert filtering agent the size of the pores shall be not smaller than 0.2 micrometer.re-examined
• heat treatments as referred to in point 2 of Annex I A to Regulation (EC) No 606/2009
• use of ion exchange resins as referred to in point 20 of Annex I A to Regulation (EC) No 606/2009;
• reverse osmosis according to point (b) of Section B.1 of Annex XVa (af: cannot find Section B)
Sulfur allowed: 100 ppm for red. 150 ppm for white.
Acid and deacidification: allowed.
Acids (citric, L-Ascorbic acid, Lactic acid, Tartaric acid, Meta-tartaric acid)
Acacia gum; allowed
Oak Chips: allowed
Pectolytic enzymes: allowed
Thermovinification: allowed (I believe, I'm not totally sure.)
Reverse Osmosis: allowed
Opinion: The EU is as hopeless as a printer with no ink. They are as reliable as Nixon was a truth teller. Now that the United States accepts EU organics, we'll see a lot of cheap industrial 'organic' bypassing the domestic wines and stacking up in to Wallmart and Whole Foods. Just when I think my work is done and I need another cause, there goes another wild fire. I want people to drink what they want, I just bristle when I see this kind of crap. May I remind people that in the 50's frozen and canned was considered better and healthier than fresh?
But this illustrates define and destroy, and is why I am no advocate for regulations for natural wine. However, it is also why some people are banding together for their own grouplets with their own values, and follow the next post..........
My latest article for Newsweek, on the natural wine debate and its 'ugly underbelly.'
I'm not sure 'we' should. No one should except people who love them, but there's certainly no reason to 'hate' them, is there?
Why is it that no one is writing about L'Abeille in the splashy Shangri-La hotel in Paris?
I'm terribly over fancy meals lately, just mainline the Franny's style cooking please, but chef Philippe Labbé meal delivered wonderful blend of fancy pants and immediacy. And then,while I wasn't looking he earned two stars from Michelin, well deserved.
They had disappointing champagne by the glass choices, so I passed.
A vintage Clicquot? Not vintage enough. Pass.
But seeing my dispair, the sommelier had a very good idea about the wine. Sizing me up he suggested one of the few Alice safe wines on the list. The 2006 Clos Rougeard Les Poyeux (120euro) was delicious, alive, spot on acid and bramble. and for a restaurant of this price point (ouch) not bad. If I were doing white, I would have gone for the 2007 Roche Aux Moines Savennieres, (70e)---that was before their transformation in farming and vinification turning themselves into one of my favorite Savs...but still at last sip, the 2007 gorgeous wine.
Heading out I saw more stretch limos than in my neighborhood on prom night. People hanging in the bar, stuffing it in contrast to the demur, quiet room. In the end, memorable indulgence.
Sommelier, John Szabo chatted me up the other day, http://bit.ly/HWRHtF as I'll be speaking at the Terroir Symposium this coming Monday. The theme? The New Radicals. And so I am especially honored to be included. Sounds like it's going to be terrific. If you're in town, and food/wine centric, this should be on your radar.
"Wine according to Alice," and it's the Jura!
What could be more timely or trendy. But wait! It's not all periwinkles and shell and smoke and mirrors. There is real substance in this fierce, independent region. Come drink, sip,learn, enjoy, things with voile, wines without. As usual we will taste blind, so we can then see. (There is a waiting list.)
Sunday April 29th.
Here's our program.
The lovely wines or the Jura----place or method? Soil: Marl, limestone, shell and salt! (Personally, I think that the significant salt deposit in the area is a strong influence on the wines.)
+2010 J. F. Ganevat J’en Veux (Blend) $40
+2010 Nicole Deriaux (Poulsard) $28.
+2009 Chais Vieux Bourg -- Ludwig Bindernagle (Poulsard) $28.00
+2009 J. Puffeney Cuvee Les Betangeres (Trousseau) $32.99
+2010 Michel Gahier Les Grands Vergers (Trousseau) $34.99
+2008 Philippe Bornard ‘Le Ginglet’ (Trousseau) $29
+ 2006 J. F. Ganevat Cuvée de Garde (50/50 Chardonnay & Savagnin) $45
+ 2006 J. Puffeney (Sagavnin) $30
+ 2005 Bourdy (Chardonnay) $30
+ NV Mystery Wine under flor (Mendall 5 anys 1 dia) = $25
+ 2002 Domaine de la Tournelle "Vin Jaune" (620ml) $60
In the end, the drinking was good.
All of the wines were made with no topping off (not sure about the Bourdy though). As a result the tastes are more nutty than fruity and some were just not warming to the oxidative qualities, you really do have to love sherry to love the wines, but for me, the wines were a gateway TO sherry. The Mendall lacked the intensity of the others but as a drink proved extremely enjoyable and the price point was friendlier. The Cuvee de Garde, was strong on the iodine. Puffeney had higher volatility. The star of the show for me was the Vin Jaune. Extremely vital. Perhaps easier to drink than the Cuvée de Garde, it had a sultry juiciness and incredibly balance.
One great question that came up was why the intensity of the wines with the low alcohol? When talking the non-topped off wines, rarely does anyone ever mention the concentration through natural evaporation, but that is what happens. So the wines become more dense and leggy while remaining low in alcohol.
The reds? These are always more earth and savory than fruit, and I think that is exactly why they are so refreshing at this moment. The Deraiux wine, a red from white region, proved true to type--a lighter style, easy drinker with some earth. Bindernagel was delicious, though the first bottle was corked. As a 2009 it was very easy to spot in a blot tasting. Puffeney split the group. Gahier won over the long haul with a meatyness and cheery acidity, in a few hours a celery root aroma came forward, I mean this in the best of ways. The Bornard needed about 5 hours to reveal it's nature (a good one) and the J'en Veux was very gassy and needed a good burping, but going on the fermentation route, it was a bit sauerkrauty.
The pricing of the wines are a little disturbing. While the crémant from the area tend to hover around $20, delicious and are bargains, these reds should be under $25. $35 for the Gahier is problematic. The J'en Veux is even more problematic and I'm not sure I can recommend this particular one unless you've deep pockets and want to experience what a superstar from the Jura tastes like. Under which conditions do we dig into the pockets? The wines are all terrific, but let your pocketbook be your guide.
I know that sounds like the beginning of joke, and perhaps even it has a punchline but testerday about ten people sent me a link from Forbes, about RMP jr's picks for bistro eating and drinking in Paris. Turns out out of the twelve, seven are either strictly sans-soufre or low-soufre or almost bar a vins naturel.
I've written about how I'd love to sit down with RMPjr and show him wines in the category that he in the past has slammed, wines more his wife's taste than his, but he found it by himself. Yet I cannot imagine what (or who) led him to places like Vivant, Aux Deux Ami, Le Repaire de Cartouche, L’Avant-Comptoir (he must have meant Le Comptoir--instead of the bar) Le Cave du Square Trousseau and Verre Volé, where they sell my books.
It actually sounds like Mr. P had a Roman Holiday with the little people, even though the lack of detail seem to suggest he didn't actually sit down and eat and drink but walk in, look at the wine lists, menu and then retreat to his favorite L'Ami Louis. Never the less, he used my term 'naked,' a nod to me. Was it a mistake? I'll take it as a peace offering! After all, if he read my book he might have actually agreed with me instead of telling Forbes in an early piece that The Battle for Wine and Love was "disgraceful," but he wouldn't read it. Here's the blip;
"The emphasis is on organically produced, naked wines from throughout France, with a heavy dosage from Burgundy, the Loire Valley, and further south. The food is every bit as good as the wine list, but the truly good news is that it is very reasonably priced. Don’t hesitate to ask for help, given the rather kinky nature of the wine list, but this is a treat."
Kinky or not, many of the wines are lovely to him or to others just because they're delicious. Period. But his previous comments of derision are a good example of letting prejudice in the way of just drinking. So onward.
Our little secret, the Jura, is over. It's hard enough that now the wines of JF Ganevat are impossible to get hold of. It's aggravating as hell that a bottle of Overnoy-H is as rare as hen's teeth. But now is even a more esoteric genre of wine going to become the next big thing, only because so far it has been so undesirable it's safe from counterfeiting?
This morning, the news came into my in-box that a 1774 bottle of Vin Jaune was going to be sold at Geneva. The bottle was front and center, it was the prize on the same page as DRC and Mouton.
I've seen some oldish Chateau Chalon up for sale in the past (all well under $1000 a bottle),with the biggest drop coming in from Los Angeles. But their surfacing are the bargain bottles geeks hope to find, you know the runts that the others throw back into the river. This kind of prominent advertising is a first. Of course the staggering age helps.
But whether someone else is going to dump a lot of dough for an old bottle of Vin Jaune, a wine people don't know about, is questionable. Most assume the Jura is a distilling island off of Scotland, not the independent-minded region nestled between Dijon and Switzerland, north of the Alps, separating the Rhone and the Rhine, a region that has been ignoring the international markets and styles, mostly because they themselves have been ignored.
Christies never mentioned in that release that another 1774 from the same producer went for 57,000€ at the annual Percée du Vin in 2011, even though they're projecting it will go for the same amount. Wink Lorch has a very nice report of that sale, as well as in this season's World of Fine Wine. Nice trivia: there are seven more bottles. She also mentions that the wine was assumed to be VJ, because back then, Vin Jaune was a perjorative and the wine was referred to as Vin de Garde.
They might have not mentioned it because like the rest of the world, they might not actually know what the wine is. According to the press release and their site,
"This extraordinary bottle of Vin Jaune is probably the oldest unfortified example of what is to be still an astounding wine and another true rarity for wine lovers and connoisseurs.”
Vin Jaune is not fortified.
Maybe they know that and needed an editor to bring out the meaning of that sentence. Perhaps they mean that it is the best example they know of the long aging ability of an unfortified wine. I'll allow that, but just in case they don't, Vin Jaune, otherwise known by some as the crack, is a highly addictive taste, made from the spectacular grape, savagnin--harvested late. From there, it is made like any wine, sur voile, left unattended so, like sherry, develops a layer of yeast on top which both protects the wine from spoilage and also transforms the fresh fruit flavors into nutty, secondary ones. Unlike modern sherry, the wine is pure grape. By law, the wine may not be sold until six years and three months after harvest.
One of the recent one's I've loved? Domaine de la Tournelle 2002. I see the 2003 is around, as yet untasted. Given the heat of that vintage, I'll be quite curious to give it a go.
I'll be watching this with interest. While it is expected to go for $70 or so, the 1945 Mouton and the 1959 La Tache--with the high risk of fake involved--are expected to go higher.
Yet, I'm banking on the fact that few other than Paris-based collector François Audouze, has the money or the desire for this, status-free, except -for -its -age bottle, and without the frenzy of the Percée behind it. I bet it is picked up for a relative bargain. Or so we can only hope. Because if it flies, if collectors start to know the geography of a region most critics ignore, who knows what will happen in the ploussard market next.
(a meandering stroll through the food and wine mind of Alice. This is one post where killing kittens is necessary but I just don't have the energy)
With all due respect to Ms. Hagerty's review of her North Dakota Olive Garden, I'd much rather dine on toaster-ovened cabbage leaves. Leave there for four minutes. Roll them up with tapenade and feta cheese, sprinkle hot sauce andwash it down with some 2009 Rimbert St. Chinian, Travers de Marceau which sells for all of $14 from Astor. (Jenny & Francois). Why go pedestrian when you can go yum.
Cost of the meal, $7 for splitting the bottle of wine, maybe $4 for ingredients. Satisfaction? Immense. Olive Garden? Well, I once visited Grand Forks. The woman really has her work cut out for her and did it with grace, mostly by talking about the decor.
I also loved her encounter with a hot dog. Yet, on the big screen, globally, I mean, a food writer really should know that sauerkraut is a common accent, and what halal is. The job of critic is not just to have an opinion, but to understand and engage the context.
Which is why, when recently turned down for a story I pitched because of my ‘natural wine bias,’ (the story was one that linked wine to religion and culture, and nothing to do with waving a flag) I was perplexed. Being an 'expert' used to have some clout. Sure I have my bias, but I also have context = more than my opinions.
My brother is a cardiologist who specializes in stentwork. Is he biased? Sure. Is he an excellent cardiologist? Well, with one of the lowest mortality rates in the country, yes he is.
Likewise, I can't imagine anyone using this yard stick of 'bias' when it comes to food.
Taking illustrations from paper of record; can you imagine if my friend Melissa Clark ran recipes with hydrogenated shortening or Pink Slime? Should the Times rid themselves of Betsy Andrews who both writes for Saveur and the $25 and under column, because her prejudice is for real food? Should the New York Times stop giving Michael Pollan magazine articles? Is food asked to shed all pretension and embrace a fast food Totalitarianism?
Big Wine is embraced the way Big Food is not. Yet isn't wonderful food more elitist? I've lamented that certain breads I covet ring up at $12 and over a loaf. Ricotta at $16 a pound is a pox. Eggs at $8 a dozen gives me a double take. Greens in the market for $32 pound gives me agita. Good milk, $4 a quart, well, it only goes into coffee. Just the other day, two brioche 'to go' were $9 and change. I love all of the above, and so, I eat less rather than do without. Yet, it is wine that gets the short end of the stick.
How is it possible, then that I can find artisianal wines full of life, like that St. Chinian. Jean-Marie battled fierce winds to bring his carignan blend to bottle. Okay, it is not a supermarket $4 a bottle but $13 gives me a lovingly made and attended to wine, complex and satisfying.
How is it that not one writer has spanked Il Buco Alimentaria's very sad little wine list. Is it because most of the writers or bloggers don't really have wine in their purview?
I went twice.
Staff super sweet.
The food. Lovely.
The star: a marinated white anchovy that poked its body like a sea lion through a hoop of egg yolk, and a water melon radish triangle that completed it like a Miro painting provided a night of entertainment and art, a circus museum in my mouth. Not only imaginative, but sentimental, the taste was pure and seaworthy.
But the list? Here is where my opinion meets context. The wine selections lived in a different universe. The food respected, revered. The wines..hard to see the respect. There was no context. The concept is fun; in-depth exploration of a producer. But the winery kind of needed to be worthy of exploration.
On my first visit did I really see both Antinori and Capezzana on the in depth list (or was my memory faulty?) Both could have been on the Olive Garden's wine list, an association not right for IBA. As luck had it Texier was the sole French wine on my first visit (not Olive Garden). I was lukcy. The second time I was not. Texier was gone and nothing sharing the same context took its place.
For $100 we won a 500ml of 2005 Radikon Oslavej. Great but more than we wanted to spend. The next time, I might just have drink some of their spot on, bitter-perfect cocktails instead.
But, just maybe, in the future we'll see a coming together of context and knowledge (let's ditch the bias). Amen.
Starving for an honest expression of Malbec (with a touch of Tannat)? I've neglected this Cahors from Giles Bley for a while, and while I wasn't looking it popped. Beautifully. It's gorgeous. It's a jungian dream, anima and animus, high-toned whistling in the clay.
Intense and filled with silty , raspberry dreams while it digs deep into the limestone and clay Malbec hungry soil.
Imported by Jenny & Francois, about $16.00. If you get the 09, if this is any indication, give it a year to lodge into the ether before you put it on the couch, or in a glass.