Joe Dressner, founder of the wine importing company Louis Dressner Selections, died this past weekend. He was 60 years old.
Dressner was an original who always shot from the hip and was never afraid to speak his mind. He and his wife, Denyse, started Louis Dressner Selections with the philosophy of importing wines from small family estates that worked organically, with indigenous yeasts, no filtration and minimal intervention. They were ahead of the "natural wine" curve from the beginning.
I first met Joe at a tasting in the early 1990s. I got to know him a little over the years and we always had a conversation whenever we met. Though we didn't agree on everything, he always brought an honest and analytical perspective to the discussion and an offbeat sense of humor.
At Burgundy Wine Company, my first job in the wine business, we sold several wines from Burgundy and Beaujolais that Louis-Dressner imported: Jean-Paul Brun's Terres Dorées, Clos de la Roilette and Michel Tête Clos du Fief, Domaine de Roally, Sylvie Esmonin and Paul Pernot to name a few. When my colleague Kim Marcus and I spent a few days in Burgundy after Vinexpo in 1995, Joe set us up at both Pernot and Esmonin.
Joe Dressner introduced a lot of unique wines to American consumers. Over the years I enjoyed bottles from many growers Joe worked with, particularly the Chinons of Bernard Baudry. I am fortunate to have a few magnums of Clos de la Roilette's Cuvée Tardive 2009. When I open one, I'll think of you, Joe.
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