I sat down with François Thienpont here at my office the other day. Thienpont comes from one of those big Bordeaux families with a long history in the business—the Thienponts started a négociant business in their native Belgium back in 1842 and today François, along with his brother and cousins, are the third generation to run estates in Bordeaux. The portfolio is impressive.
But despite the high-profile properties and blue blood lineage, François Thienpont is involved with the "other" side of Bordeaux—the side that struggles for recognition these days: the outer lying appellations—Bordeaux Supérieur, for example—where good terroir, and excellent value, can be found.
Guillaume Touton has lived the American dream. He just took a detour through Canada to get there. I sat down with Touton the other day to talk a bit about Bordeaux, which happens to be his old home town. Touton moved to Canada, then New York in his 20s, to start his own import company.
Today, Monsieur Touton Selection, Ltd. is a new York-based importer which now counts annual sales of $100 million, with around 15 to 20 percent of that coming from his native Bordeaux.
There’s a race on in Chile—a race to develop new vineyard areas that are on the edge, climate-wise. Chilean vintners have turned their full attention to their long coastline, looking for various terroirs where cool-climate varieties such as Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Syrah might thrive. Last week I sat down with Felipe Müller, winemaker at Viña Tabali, to talk about the winery’s latest developments in the Limarí Valley, including his own extreme vineyard.
Gray, rainy weather accompanied me all the way up from New York City, intensifying as I drove through Elmira and into Watkins Glen, at the southern edge of Seneca Lake. However, Sam Argetsinger was in his vineyard and picking Riesling, so I stopped there before making my scheduled visits to Anthony Road, Standing Stone and Red Newt Cellars during harvest 2010.
The last time I sat down with winemaker Grant Phelps, he was making Malbec at Chile’s Viu Manent in the warm Colchagua Valley, where he seemed to have settled in nicely. So I was a little surprised when I heard he moved north this past January, to the cooler Casablanca Valley, to take over as head winemaker at the smaller Casas del Bosque winery, which has an average track record for quality since it debuted at the start of the decade. I sat down with him again this past week to get caught up on his move, which now has him focusing on Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc.
After a stellar growing season, Finger Lakes vintners are dealing today with a late-season rainstorm, the remnants of Tropical Storm Nicole, that swept up the entire east coast, dumping several inches of rain along its path.