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In the introduction for The Battle for Wine and Love I talked about a screenplay I wanted to pen: girl journalist finds out about a global plot to kill of the authentic wines of the world, she springs into action. The plot to kill off authentic wine is not such fiction. Let's take the plight of two wonderful wineries in different lands, in similar situations, penalized for not lack of quality, tastiness or stability, but solely on their lack of typicity. Canada's Vintners Quality Alliance (VQA) could almost be rebranded as the Anti-Quality Alliance. All wines of Canada must to... Continue reading
Posted 1 hour ago at The Feiring Line
Hello almost August dog days...and so I've neglected the blog. Instead I'm posting some of my favorite stories I wrote in The Feiring Line in 2013. This was from my visit to Italy last spring to an iconic winery, just reemerging on the scene, Vallana. Please subscribe. That and a little peace on earth, is that too much to ask? WHEN I said I was headed to Cantina Vallana in the Alta Piemonte—the northeast of the region—I saw the eyebrows arch. Then would come the “Why?” After all, the Vallanas aren’t on the current list of hipster- approved wines. But... Continue reading
Posted 5 days ago at The Feiring Line
Thus spake Bruce Palling. Or, rather, so he wrote in his 2012 essay. Palling's recent Newsweek piece was entitled much more astutely, Why Natural Wine Tastes Worse than Putrid Cider. His title seemed inspired by the sensational Robert M. Parker Jr. and Michel Rolland. Yet the text seemed more in step with restaurant critic Steve Cuozzo. It turns out that like Cuozzo, Palling (also a restaurant critic who loves his tipple) thinks he's the rare food writer who actually knows wine---as they say, a unicorn of the species. Now, Palling still drinks 'claret' and 'vintages, ' and even though he... Continue reading
Posted Jul 8, 2014 at The Feiring Line
2004 is widely regarded as the worst Burgundian vintage of the last decade. There was cold, there was hot, there was wet and there was rot. And, for some reason there was an overabundance of ladybugs. Some believe that this ladybug taint contributed to the compound called methoxypyrazines found in that vintage. But remember, even without ladybugs, this compound,which causes the pee in sauvignon and the bell in cabernet, often shows up in wet or cool years. So, how do you separate one from the other. Muddy flavors? Grilled hazelnuts? I've heard that those can be indentifiers as well. In... Continue reading
Posted Jun 26, 2014 at The Feiring Line
I offer you this knish. Knish, In Search of the Jewish Soul Food, by Laura Silver, came out in May from Brandeis University Press. I was impressed. Silver's story begins on the one-year anniversary of her grandmother's death when she drove to Brighton Beach in search of her Grandma Fritzy's favorite, Mrs. Stahl's. She was craving a memorial knish. The storefront was intact, but Mrs. Stahl had dispatched for Florida. Shortly thereafter Silver was further crestfallen to find the shop retrofitted into a Subway franchise. All was wrong with the world. Bereft, she embarked on the sentimental journey, needing to... Continue reading
Posted Jun 25, 2014 at The Feiring Line
Hi Simon, I was wondering if this was just for the Dutch market. There are a few natural wine importers in Holland, I meet them all the time at tastings, and certainly, nearby Belgium is crawling with vin naturels, but I digress. I believe that legislature to safeguard the word would probably fail, as it would be impossible not to drag the food world in on this and big bus, I believe, has too much to lose. A pity he wouldn't engage, but then again, why would he? A smart one, that Gort is.
Toggle Commented Jun 20, 2014 on Slurp Wine, audacious fraud? at The Feiring Line
Yesterday morning I woke up to a tweet from colleague Simon Woolf who writes The Morning Claret, a worthy blog. His beef that morning was a wine with a ludicrous claim. Slurp, a €4,99 supermarket bottle claiming 100% natural status. Its owner, Ilja Gort, a rather hyperbolic Dutch guy makes wine in France (Michel Rolland is his trusted consultant). From an advertising background, he learned his field well. All you need is a little bullshit and a false message. But still, I spent some time trying to figure out what the man could have been thinking, other than a sucker... Continue reading
Posted Jun 20, 2014 at The Feiring Line
Addendum: This post was first published in March 2014. On June 4th 2014, the verdict on the Olivier Cousin case came through; guilty of putting the name Anjou on the label, but his fine? 1 euro. And so to read more about the issues and the attorney who handled his case, I introduce you to Eric Morain. Impressed by the handling of the Olivier Cousin case, I stopped in to talk lawyer Eric Morain when in Paris, this past March, With a case of Frank Cornelissen 2009s resting against the wall, the avocat sat behind his desk in his art-filled... Continue reading
Posted Jun 5, 2014 at The Feiring Line
This week I opened up a 2011 Bartolo Mascarello with Pascaline, we loved it. We both agreed that it was so very pretty, but somewhat tight and could use some age. There was cherry and tannin, and depth but it needed to have a window opened. I said it needed ten years, would love to see it in twenty. When I woke up this morning, I saw that quite the tweet fest started and debate about its agebility. They were in good company. Even in Piemonte its debated. Last year, when I talked to MT last year about the wine,... Continue reading
Posted May 28, 2014 at The Feiring Line
The first time I heard the name Alex Podolinsky I was in Bordeaux. It was in 2008m with Michel Favard of Chateau Meylet. "You don't know Alex?" he asked, incredulously. I admitted I did not. As far as famed Biodynamic consultants, of course I knew Joly and Armenier, but Podolinksy? Alex, who worked out of Australia, had been his initial consultant and Favard was in awe. How could I not know one of the most influential people working in Biodynamics in the world? Alex was born in the Ukraine and raised in in Germany. He was there during the war.... Continue reading
Posted May 20, 2014 at The Feiring Line
You name it, these wines dish it up: stale choucroute, old cheese rind, rancid butter, moldy dough and other malodorous flavors all spawned by the sexual antcs of the wold yeasts that end up driving the fermentation. –Michel Bettane on the subject of chenin blanc. Michel Bettane is the pre-eminant French wine critic and does not shy away from unsupported sensationalism. To prove it once again, he has written an article (a translation from one that appeared in his revue) that places him in the forefront of lunacy with his recent essay in The World of Fine Wine, where he... Continue reading
Posted Apr 25, 2014 at The Feiring Line
I first met fellow shrimp, Jenny Lefcourt, at the Dive Bouteille in 2002. Since then I’ve traveled with her, tasted, drank and danced with her. Above, Jenny at 2011 Dive Bouteille, trying to get some sustenance. Jenny Lefcourt, a woman blessed with twinkly eyes, a musical giggle and positive outlook, based her wine importing business on ethic and taste, not by what she could sell, way before it was fashionable. But back at the turn of this century, in 2000 when she was just starting, Jenny & Francois, it was after having completed her doctorate in French Film. She and... Continue reading
Posted Apr 18, 2014 at The Feiring Line
This is the last segment of the interview I did with Joe, in October of 2010, just after the death of Marcel Lapierre. Listen on and you will hear a stunning and endearing apology to Jenny Lefcourt. You'll hear him dish about carbonic maceration and its followers. You'll hear him talk about what is a palate who has a crappy one and what does it matter. Veteran radio-man,Peter Z. had done the editing on these pieces, a difficult task, especially with the considerable Second Avenuen noise. During the sessions, I saw him growing closer to Joe. I'd often hear him... Continue reading
Posted Apr 4, 2014 at The Feiring Line
We'll cut them slack for translating this into English from Italian? But let's think of the meaning of whichcraft. Might it actually be better than their intention?
Forget down-to-earth, I'm a radical! I can live with that. At first I thought it was an April Fool's present, and it was kind of cool. Someone broke down the wine world according to taste and symbol in a most amusing and accurate way. Then I read the press release.It's legit. In fact Bosco Viticultori will present their commissioned box and its meaning at Vinitaly, Monday April 7th at 11:00 a.m. According to the press release they contracted with Squadrati, a market research firm, to develop this 'tool' because "detecting these behaviours with clarity is essential to fix the strategies... Continue reading
Posted Apr 1, 2014 at The Feiring Line
Addendum: June 4th 2014. Verdict on the Olivier Cousin case, guilty of putting the name Anjou on the label, but his fine? 1 euro. And so to read more about the issues and the attorney who handled his case...... Impressed by the handling of the Olivier Cousin case, I stopped in to talk lawyer Eric Morain when last in Paris. With a case of Frank Cornelissen 2009s resting against the wall, the avocat sat behind his desk in his art-filled office. His handsome-cherubic face is angled in by a gently silvering beard. Mail constantly beeped into his computer. With the... Continue reading
Posted Mar 30, 2014 at The Feiring Line
Readers! I am really sorry. I am so missing in action. I am putting all of my effort into my newsletter, which I hope you sign up for. Getting that up and running has scrunched me. But I'll try to stay better in touch. There are indeed stories that are more suitable for a free-for-all posting. So, stay tuned for more in the women importer series, articles on Australia and some on my time at Les Grands Jours de Bourgogne. Like this one. Where are you on organic or synthetic? Last week, in the crazy warm weather in France, I... Continue reading
Posted Mar 27, 2014 at The Feiring Line
Last month I was at Rootstock in Australia where that natural wine fair ruffled more than a few feathers, it was beautifully pulled off by founder Giorgio di Maria, James Hird and Mike Bennie (and some very specific help from others). Visionaries and great men and women! I didn't realize that the article David Roe wrote was going to focus so fiercely on me. He uncovered a comment about me I never knew of, " a hand-grenade in a dress with a short fuse," but I think he did a fabulous job, and so posted here. Download About Alice WBM... Continue reading
Posted Mar 19, 2014 at The Feiring Line
This is the second of three posts of my last recorded conversation--interview--with the late, great, wine importer, Joe Dressner. The setting was a noisy 2nd Avenue at the Altas Café You'll want to listen in order, so head here for the first part Joe Dressner, 2010 interview. You'll want to pay particular attention to Joe's comments on the future of natural wine, somewhere about 14 minutes into the 15+ of our conversation. Also you'll hear Joe go on about Bernard Pontonnier. For more insight, read what Bert Celce had to report. The final section will be posted in April. In... Continue reading
Posted Mar 2, 2014 at The Feiring Line
As I write this, burgundian vigneron Emmanuel Giboulot is in a Dijon after the masses showed up for peaceful show of support. The passionate Biodynamic vigneron is being prosecuted by a branch of the French agriculature ministry for failing to apply a mandatory insecticide treatment to his vineyard aimed at Pierce's Disease (flavescence dorée). Well known in California as well, this vine killer is spread by the cicadelle, the leafhopper Scaphoideus titanus aka glassy-winged sharpshooter. Pyrevert, the questionable treatment in question is derived from nature. Yet it is not with out danger. If you follow the link, the product guidelines... Continue reading
Posted Feb 24, 2014 at The Feiring Line
Joe Part 1 Click the above to listen to the interview. It runs about 14 minutes, and terribly sorry but if you pause, it will cycle back to the beginning. Be advised: my server is glitchy with IOS devices and audio. Back in 2010 I was just about to deliver my manuscript of Naked Wine. At the time Joe Dressner was a year away from death and was fighting with many, me included. But I wanted something from him, quotes and stories from our past to add to the book. Nope. Instead he insisted we do a formal taped interview... Continue reading
Posted Jan 23, 2014 at The Feiring Line
Some comments were left on my FaceBook page, but I wanted to share them with a wider audience. Juliette Pope: Jeanne Marie was a terrific part of my trip to Burgundy this past June. She is a force of nature. Linda Milagros Violago She was amazing during my first trip to Burgundy, back in 2003. I had many late nights with friends, and she kindly drove to the centre of Beaune, let me stay in the car (I slept), and she brought back a delicious gougère and thrust it at me, "Here, you NEED this in your condition." She deserves recognition for more (that's where you come in), but at that moment, it felt like she saved my life.
Jeanne Marie is the Madame de Champs who created the exporting house, Domaine et Saveurs Collection, consisting of a slew of very fine estates, mostly but not exclusively in Burgundy. Through the years she has been a constant presence at tastings and stays off the radar as far as print. So, I thought it was time to change that a little. ** Years ago when I wanted to visit two terrific domaines in Burgundy, Domaine Bart in Marsannay and Domaine Lafouge in Auxey, I asked David Lillie of Chambers Street Wines, who to contact. He smiled a strange smile, and... Continue reading
Posted Jan 20, 2014 at The Feiring Line
I announce the debut of The Feiring Line Wine Society. Oh, sure, this is known as a wine club, but I really don't want to be clubby about it. In fact I can actualy say, as featured by the New York Times! Working hard for your pleasure. Photo by the talented James Robinson You can trust that the wines are all my totally subjective selections, driven by taste and not by marketing or margin. (The shipping and billing however will be handled by Frankly Wines. Laws, laws, laws.). Sorry, United States availability, only. WHAT DO I GET? $75 a month... Continue reading
Posted Jan 12, 2014 at The Feiring Line
Hi Paul, I know Veronique was the first outspoken person in support of organic viticulture, ( but I know her more as an on-line retailer than an importer and I believe her influence is more felt locally in California. But I could be wrong about that.