In 2002 I tagged along to my very first Dive Bouteille. I had hitched a ride with the Dressner crew, on my way to the Salon de Val de Loire. At that oyster-shelled tasting, with wines that were more like lab experiments and more than a few flashes of brilliance, we seemed to be the only Americans. In fact it was pretty much a French only crowd. Unlike today, where it's a cross between the Burning Man and the Vin Expo of the monde du vin, there were no Asians, no Scandinavians, no Italians, no Brits, no Aussies, no Germans, no Israelis.
Witness: Unlike 2002, in 2015, there were plenty of Americans
Sylvie Augereau, the organizer (who in year three took over from Catherine and Pierre Breton) couldn't have projected the revolution it sparked. If back in 2002 I'd have told her that in thirteen years a group of Americans--including two women--would be showing their wines, she would have thought I was talking dirt.
But that is exactly what happened.
After all of those years of being an American wine apologist, I was proud. The buzz was fierce. Wine in Vermont? The bloggers encircled Deirdre, probably to flirt first, but then the wines hooked them.
The creator of Tronches du Vin wrote me a letter asking me to beg Deirdre to come to his tasting in Paris. He wrote, "Great juices, mysterious grapes (well mysterious to me). Couldn't chat with them a lot since it was quite crowded, but that was a WOW for me. Maybe the single WOW in La Dive this year."
Look who showed up from Australia! Yup, that's Anton. Around the corner from Deirdre, Hardy & Joe.
Then there was Bianca, positioned right at the beginning of the cave so all could see her as they entered (and hear her friend and illustrator, Matthew Rose play his mandolin). Francois Morel of Le Rouge et Blanc told me her vermouths were the single most intriguing wines he tasted that day.
"Andrea Calek came to taste with me," she said, smiling a Martian-like smile, about to pass out.
Calek didn't know what to make of them. "What are those," he asked, as we were sipping his sparkling shiraz experiment outside in the chill. "Explain them to me," he said.
I tried, but the concept was a little beyond his ken.
Nevertheless, the two exchanged some bottles at the end of the tasting, and both lives were changed forever. That's what happens at La Dive, all the time.