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Off to the Rhône. Again...

Photo by: David Yellen

Posted: Oct 30, 2006 10:27am ET

Well, I’m off to the Rhône again. This will be my fifth trip to the region since November 2004. It’s been a whirlwind since I started covering the Rhône, getting caught up with producers and vintages, all while the amount of new information and wines continues to grow.

Before each trip, I like to do what I call "hit the reset button." Basically I eat salad for a week and drink little to no wine. The "reset button" is akin to brushing your teeth extra vigorously the morning of your dentist check-up. I doubt it really helps—it's aimed more at karma.

On the surface, the travel is the glamour part of the job. Marvin wonders why he even pays me sometimes. Of course there will be a truffle or two mixed in while I’m there, and if I’m lucky, a few older bottles.

But these trips are not for partying—and in reality they’re far from easy. I’ll be gone for two full weeks—away from my wife and daughters—and will spend 10-12 hours a day tasting, traveling and writing.

I’ve taken my wife along for one of my trips, my father for one, and both of my parents for part of another. To their credit, they kept up with me, but I think they’d agree it’s not easy. You need to be in prime shape for everyone you meet. They’re taking time from their busy schedules to meet with me—I need to be able to give them my undivided attention.

I’ll be visiting 30+ domaines on this trip—mostly in the north—to taste the 2005s. It looks to be a very exciting vintage. Some of the domaines I visit are regular stops for me, others are new faces. Visiting an ever-changing mix of domaines is the best way to get a read on the vintage, and see who’s improving (or who’s not).

I’ll be posting here from time to time during my trip to let you know how things are going, both with the wine and the truffles. We'll start the truffle meter on 'empty' and see how far we can move the needle. I’ll also follow up with a more extensive report via my usual cellar notes and vintage analysis on both the web and in the magazine.

So stay tuned, and in the meantime, keep drinking Rhône wines!

Louis A Finnerty
October 30, 2006 12:36pm ET
Keep up the good "work" James. Your reports from old old Europe are fine. Is there any truth in the rumour that the U. S. is going to ban truffles as well as fois gras?
James Molesworth
October 31, 2006 3:33am ET
I'm a little early for the fresh truffle season as it turns out - I may get some by the end of my trip. There will be other versions of course to tide me over, and the fresh mushroom season is in full swing. Lots of ceps and others. Some well timed rains led to a bumper crop this year, which has people predicting a great season for truffles as well.
Michael Culley
October 31, 2006 10:44am ET
James, Don't forget the olive oil! It may be just a bit early for southern France, I'm not sure. They are starting to pick here in Tuscany and the presses are up and running!

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