I never thought I'd actually grow up to write books and I never thought that my words would ever be quoted as part of a museum's exhibition.
I am proud to say that along with Mike Steinberger, Paul Draper and Matt Kramer, I'm represented in the current How Wine Became Modern show at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. I was wondering why they invited me to the opening, but it took a winemaker from Sonoma to alert me.
It seems to be in the section that deals with ...
If you've seen the show, let us know what you think.
I was after a scoop, were Chauvetists really Néauportists? All of those wines that seem to taste charming, light, quaffable with a touch of cinnamon and spice? All of those wines where you see natural instead of terroir? Did they all come from Chauvet's right hand man, Néauport?
And the best way to find out was to find the man himself.
Andrea Calek sent me Néauport’s phone number and address, delivering the ultimate blow, “No email.”
I asked Pascaline to for a favor. “Would you call him? I can go the last week in September.”
At precisely 10am on the next morning she called me back. I could hear her grinning as she delivered the news. “It would be his pleasure,” she reported. “He invites you to lunch.”
This was too easy. Where was the resistance? I expected to have to bring out the artillery to get him to agree to speak with me. I expected him to hang up on Pascaline. I expected to urge Andrea to plead my case. Yes, there was the ‘charming fellow,’ but I had heard so many other descriptors for him: reclusive, paranoid, difficult, unsung saint.
The lunch invitation made me feel uncomfortable. I conduct interviews more efficiently when I’m hungry, and then there was the meat. “His mother,” I said to Pascaline, “will be cooking for days. I can’t show up and tell her then I don’t eat animal.” When company comes, the vegetables go out the window and the duck confit flies in.
Trying to stave off an older woman’s horror as I sat at her table pushing the food around on my plate, I sat down to an archaic task, writing a letter. I had no idea my fingers could still channel my thoughts through a pen. I jotted down that I was coming, and delighted. Would the 29th of September be okay, I’d be bringing local friend Amy. I hate to be a bother but I felt it was best to have his mother know, that one of her American guests was a pain in the ass. I had Amy call to make sure letter was received, “He was lovely!” she reported. And so I bought a plane ticket to head to France, the most expensive lunch I ever went for, in in Saint-Fortunat sur Eyrieux
The chapter will be cover what was really behind Néauport’s wine vision as he spread the Chauvet gospel around France, but meanwhile the short?
I walked into lunch and behind the door were seven more people. So much for a private interview.
Jacques had some bottles for us, in the end there were 10 for 9 people and three weren't drinking.
the Monpertuis was '98. Delicious.
The '90 Overnoy threw that clay slip flavor underneath the characteristic cherry fruit and the vein of tar. The Breton had become a little one note, simple. In fact it was the natural version of Parker Jam. The Montpertuis was earthy and still structured.
One of the big surprises? Amy Lillard brought out her one 2008 vintage. Brave woman! After all every wine we had, had some direct no-sulfur link to Jacques. The wine, grenache and no mistaking that one, showed well, and Jacques said, "It is well made.Of course you have to add sulfur if you're exporting."
I'm headed to Austin over the weekend where I'll be hanging, drinkin' and two-stepping with Mr. and Mrs. Dobianchi, aka Jeremy Parzen and the lovely Tracie B. If you're in town on Monday night please join in the wine dinner at VinoVino, informal with a few spectacular Jose Pastor wines, a few as yet to be seen or tasted in Texas. Come see the future of Spanish wine and see how Texas treats a redhead.
After that, insanity took over, and instead of heading home to beat my book deadline, I'm in San Francisco to launch a new secret, the Secret Wine shop. Let's see, I was doing a book signing in Paris in June and a fellow named Betrand David. Betrand mentioned a slew of winemakers who I knew in the Loire. Turned out he was tight and down with the vin au naturel, so a bond was established.
The next thing I knew, I was saying yes to help him launch his first California art show.
So if you can, book your spot for this wine and art salon. AND PLEASE EMAIL ME IF YOU WANT TO PURCHASE TIX @ A DISCOUNT. OKAY?
I won't be reading, but I'll be talking and probably drinking because in house will be the debut of the Sonoma Sagrantino I helped birth, (it better taste good.), Puzelat, Dard et Ribo (and you know how I feel about those wines), Steve Edmunds (ditto) and some of Jose Pastor's wines as well, featuring another debut, from Jordi's ! So, the wine and the conversation will flow.
I've been trying to remember when I first met Laureano Serres..... .....Certainly before I took that scuzzy, blurred photo this winter at La Remise. Was it a Dive? Perhaps. We've emailed, met, tasted. I liked. But it was this winter when I really noticed his wines, his white wines in particular. They provoked double take. Personality? Sure. But then, Laureano is a bit of a mad genius man. Vision. Talent.
At that crazy tasting, because it is always tasting, I reacquainted myself with his macabeao, the '08 Abeurador (licorice!, with two days of skin contact) the 09 is earthier, with a little radish and melon. Needed some time to settle. I said to him, I'll visit. Laureano is pure. A New Yorker would have thought. Sure, she's coming. Right. It was no surprise to him when I wrote to ask if he could see me in June. He just assumed I was going to keep my word. He and JPJP a short pow wow, Benoit at Anima del Vi jumped on board. After some arm twisting, my publisher in Spain agreed to get my book ready for the evening. (pictures courtesy of Observatorio de Vino) And that's Benoit, His his shop might be the only store in Spain you can find people on the natural wine route. It was a fantastic time. Benoit blind tasted me on the three cuvees of Marcel Lapierre. Pretty fun stuff. Laureano, is the founder of vinosnaturales. I urge you to take a look at that link to see how seriously they take their charter. He convinced the crew from all over Spain to show up, and I'm still overwhelmed and I can't thank them enough.There they were, the whole Spanish hard core unSO2 group. So many thanks to Laureano and Benoit for an energetic and fairy tale evening. Many thanks to all. ++ (Back to the matter at hand--going to visit Laureano) Post blissful day at Jordi's, we headed out to Terra Alta (1.5 hours from Barcelona) where L lives and tends to family and vines. We were late. We were shameful about the late hour. But arriving after the heat of the day, happy to be there, venus was rising. What could be bad? Laureano's wines say, screw you if you don't like them. Someone else will. I like that. In writing we call that voice. (Part two coming up)
The author is the last to know! My publisher has been cooking up a BIG surprise for me.
Would love to see you with Overnoy & Houillon. Download the Invite here
During the event, which was in a surrounding of roaming cows, nibbling chickens and plenty of chardonnay, savignin & ploussard, M. Gasnier, who came along from Orleans, snapped a photo.
More on what we ate and drank to come, I subject I try to avoid but here, only important because how many times does M. Overnoy and M. Houillon give a book party?
I'm hunting the Leon Trotskys, the Philip Roths, the Chaucers and the Edith Whartons of the wine world. I want them natural and most of all, I want them to speak the truth even if we argue. With this messiah thing going on, I'm trying to swell the ranks of those who crave the differences in each vintage, celebrate nuance and desire wines that make them think, laugh, and feel. Welcome.
And, if you'd like a signed copy, feel free to contact me directly.