Call me hard-hearted, or wrong-headed. But as I read the outpouring of admiration and love for Marcel Lapierre following his untimely death in early October, I thought of Georges Duboeuf.
Lapierre, who tended a small family domaine in Morgon, in the Beaujolais region of France, had an impact far beyond the size of his production. He was an early and faithful adherent to a traditional, non-interventionist approach to grapegrowing and vinification. This made him a hero to the proponents of "natural" wine. And they, in turn, have positioned him in opposition to the wines they judge as industrial or even immoral, most particularly mass-market Nouveau.
Reading between the lines of the obituaries and eulogies, I suspect that these people would say that Lapierre saved Beaujolais from the likes of Georges Duboeuf—as if the cheap and cheerful Beaujolais Nouveau he popularized was the threat, the enemy.
I just watched a new documentary film called A Day in the Life of El Bulli. It’s an intimate and moving look into a restaurant that has changed the way many people think about food.
In 60 minutes, the film watches a day go by (Aug. 22, 2008, to be exact) in the restaurant, which occupies a modest house by the beach in an out-of-the-way cove of the Mediterranean above Barcelona. Juli Soler, who began at the restaurant in 1981 and is now a co-owner, unlocks the doors early in the morning, fixes himself some coffee, and off we go. Chefs gather, deliveries arrive, the kitchen swings into action, and we watch as the elaborate and mysterious dishes come together under the direction of chef Ferran Adrià.
Wine-and-food matching used to be pretty straightforward. But today, menus are global in origin. A French restaurant might incorporate flavors from Vietnam or Algeria or Martinique. Want a different take on bouillabaisse? Try fish stews with accents from Thailand, Japan or Brazil.
This mix-and-match approach has been gaining ground for some time, of course, but I realized just how much it has become the "new normal" at a recent event I helped organize that matched a broad range of dishes with an equally diverse group of beverages.
Long Island is young, as wine regions go; the first vinifera grapes were planted in 1973 by Alex and Louisa Hargrave. But it's old enough to be a lifetime for some of the people involved.
For example, Alex's brother Charlie, who helped plant those first grapes, is now vineyard manager at Peconic Bay Winery, founded on the North Fork in 1980 by Ray Blum and now owned by Paul and Ursula Lowerre. And Peconic Bay's winemaker since 1999 is Greg Gove, who launched his career at Hargrave nearly 30 years ago.
On a recent autumn Saturday, Gove led a tasting of 10 vintages of Peconic Bay Riesling, for one of the "wine salons" that were part of Harvest East End, a celebration of Long Island's wine and agricultural bounty that benefited local charities. A dozen people attended for a look back at one of the region's earliest-planted, yet least-heralded, white grapes.