I sat down with Michael Halstrick, president, and Jorge Riccitelli, chief winemaker, of Argentina’s Bodega Norton yesterday, as they were in town to promote their new icon wine. Halstrick, whose family also owns the Swarovski crystal company, has steadily piloted Norton’s growth over the past few years.
Thanksgiving is by far my favorite holiday—it’s all about the food. Plus you get an extra long weekend for both the leftovers and a barrage of football games. So what to serve, winewise? Well there are lots of theories.
There are big wineries and small wineries. And then there are really tiny wineries. During my recent trip through the Northern Rhône, I discovered a tiny new project, one that is just starting out with the 2007 vintage.
On this trip, I finished up where I started. My final visit was in Cornas again, this time with Jean-Luc and Anne Colombo. Before tasting though, I headed out into the brisk mistral with Cyril Courvoisier, the young vineyard manager for Jean-Luc Colombo, and Julien Revillon, who manages just about everything else for the hyperkinetic Colombo.
There’s been a lot of change at Paul Jaboulet Aîné since Jean-Jacques Frey, owner of Château La Lagune and Champagne Billecart Salmon acquired the winery in 2006. The initial plan to keep Laurent Jaboulet on as winemaker was quickly scrapped—Jaboulet was let go in August of 2006 in a move that raised a few eyebrows in the valley.
Domaine Combier is now run by Laurent Combier, a third-generation vigneron. His grandfather started with a few vines along with apricot trees, and when the canal at Roche-de-Glun opened in the early '60s, he crossed the river to expand his holdings.
Contrary to popular belief, the life of the wine journalist on the road is not that glamorous. I’m not much of a breakfast person, so I typically skip a formal meal and instead struggle to get a handful or two of granola down while I drive to my first appointment.
My previous visits with Jean-Michel Gerin have always started with an early morning, stomach-churning drive up into his vineyards in his mini-truck. This visit was different. We started with an early afternoon, stomach-churning drive up into his vineyards in his 1984 Renault, which he proudly showed only had 27,000 kilometers on it.
I waited to file my blog based on my tasting at Maison Chapoutier since, frankly, I needed to take a deep breath and clear my head afterward. For me, after tasting such an exhilarating set of wines (several dozen in total, and not a clunker in the lot), I thought it best to see if that exhilaration would last.
George Brett was the most feared hitter of his generation, next to Mike Schmidt. He’s not the brett I met on this trip, however. No, that brett is brettanomyces, a spoilage yeast that typically infects old, unclean barrels and results in (depending on the strength of its presence) either faintly sweet or downright nasty barnyard odors.
As I looked back on yesterday's tasting at Guigal , I realized that the most exciting wines for me were the Condrieu, white Hermitage and red and white St.-Joseph bottlings. Yes, I love the La La wines, but they have already set themselves up as benchmark bottlings.
Today I started in Condrieu with a stop at the domaine of Remi & Roberto Niero. This small domaine totals just 5 hectares and was started by Robert in 1986 with some vines from his father-in-law. Niero produces just 1,600 cases a year and sends only about 40 to the U.
Yves Cuilleron , Pierre Gaillard and François Villard are three Condrieu-based vignerons who have been friends for years. As a trio, they started Les Vins de Vienne , and were the first to try and resurrect the ancient winemaking history in the hills on the left bank of the Rhône, south of Vienne.
I transitioned from the southern part of the north up to Côte-Rôtie by the end of the day. My first stop was back in Mauves, where I met with Jérôme Coursodon whose domaine is located just off the Place de Marché at the northern end of the town.
I must admit, I don’t get many bum steers on wine. I know my fair share about wine, and while I’m always curious to try something new, there aren’t many wines that I haven’t at least tried, let alone heard of.
On Friday I started in Tain, which is always a good place to start. The charming and rather busy town sits at the foot of Hermitage and enjoys terrific views across the Rhône to the ancient town of Tournon.
The Route National 7 is one of France’s most historic roads. Connecting Paris to the Mediterranean, it was long the route of choice for urbanites heading off on their summer vacation. They would typically break up the long drive with a stay at a hotel along the way, and at one time the road was peppered with great hotels and restaurants.
If you think Cornas is a sleepy town, try Mauves. That is, if you don’t miss the quick turn off of the RN 86 to find it—it comes and goes quickly. Despite its diminutive size, several top-notch cellars are in the town, including Bernard Gripa ’s.
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