A month or two after that dinner, both of us were attending a lox party at the home of our friend, food writer Melissa, in Brooklyn. I brought a wine from the Loire; the bottle had a clown label on it and was called Patapon. It cost a huge eleven dollars. It was in my budget and was made from the Pineau d’Aunis grape.“Here,” I said to Frank,“try this.”
I’ll never forget his face; he gave it a sip. He burst out laughing. “Alice! What the hell is that?” he asked me.
What more can you ask of a wine than provoking a huge smile from the drinker? The next day, he sent an e-mail: “Where can I buy that?”
The wine was made by Christian Chaussard, long and lanky. The first time I remember meeting him he had a little infant strapped to his chest at the salon in the Loire. How many years ago? I'm not sure. He made beautiful pineau d'aunis and his winemaking grew more pleasurable. He was ill, cancer has taken its toll among the wine crowd, being natural gives you no immunity. I last saw him in London, with his beret and cane and looking fragile but clinging to life. For a while. But he outsmarted a death of illness by being felled in a tractor accident.
David Bowler took this picture of Joe Dressner and Christian in 2010. Wishing condolences to his wife Nathalie and the children.