Louis Dressner Selections Louis Dressner Selections Blog http://louisdressner.com/ Thu, 07 May 2015 7:34:13 GMT Jules Dressner <![CDATA[Winter Bonanza 2015: Agnès et René Mosse in St-Lambert-du-Lattay!]]> http://louisdressner.com/date/2015/5/5/299/ http://louisdressner.com/date/2015/5/5/299/ Tue, 05 May 2015 23:57:17 GMT

Upon arrival to Mosse headquarters, we kind of freaked out these two journalists who were there to write a piece about the estate.



After a big hello with Agnès and René, their son Joseph took us out to the vineyards.



Joseph is the young man on the left of the picture above. He's 25, had just returned from working with Louis-Antoine Luyt for a year, is obsessed with sneakers and is poised to take over when his parents retire.

When we told him that my car had gotten obsessed with "Fresh Prince" by Soprano (click that hyperlink if you're a fan of the Will Smith sitcom. Totally worth it), he told us that that song was terrible commercial rap and played us something really good that I forgot. Though it was reminiscent to one of my favorite french rap songs of all time, "La Rue Cause" by Karlito (RIP DJ Medhi).



The Mosse family doesn't have any dogs, so here is a picture of one of their chickens.



The first vineyard we visited was a parcel of 10 year old vines that contributes to the production of the base Anjou Blanc.





Joseph explained that the majority of the region is defined by clay topsoil with schist subsoils, with the amount of topsoil schist composition (chunks, pebbles, sand) varying on where you are on the hillsides. There are lots of grains grown in the area as well as a fair amount of cattle raising. For the young vines, they do a very short pruning in order to limit yields from the get go. This helps to avoid having to green harvest later in the year.

All of the Mosse's vineyards are located in the Coteaux-du-Layon, an area defined by the abundant hillsides that curve and bend alongside the Layon river. The hills help induce humidity in the morning but also make for very warm afternoons; this helps botrytis thrive, which explains why the area has historically produces sweet wines from noble rot.

From the young parcel, we drove to Le Rouchefer, a parcel that sees its own cuvée.







Le Rouchefer is a 1.6 hectare parcel of 40 year old Chenin Blanc grown on iron heavy clay and gravel on schist, with pebbles and quartz at bottom. As you can see from the photo below, large chunks of schist are easily found on the top-soil.



Directly across the road from the Le Rouchefer, one finds the lovely Marie Besnard vineyard.



These crazy vines are over 100 years old!!!





René briefly made a Marie Besnard cuvée, but the vines have become so low yielding that he now blends them with Le Rouchefer. Also, for reasons unknown to Joseph, the vineyard is named after Marie Besnard, a local woman accused of poisoning 12 people from 1927 to 1949. If you're curious about her, you can get an in-depth bio on her murderpedia page.

The final vineyard we visited was Les Bonnes Blanches, from an area widely considered to be the best terroir in the Layon.







As you can see, this was the only vineyard the Mosse hadn't yet pruned.

The reasons why this is considered the best is two-fold: first is its geologically ideal proximity to the Layon. This is one of the rare vineyards that can produce an excellent Coteaux-du-Layon every year, but the Mosse intentionally harvest earlier to produce dry whites. The second is that the soils are composed of shallow decomposing schist and quartz on schist rock, so the roots of the vineyards' 40 year old vines can get exceptionally deep, providing an unparalleled amount of minerality in the wine.

After a solid vineyard tour, we got to taste all the 2014 barrel samples as well as some yet to be released 2013's (many of which have now hit the market).



Everything is smack dab delicious, including a CURVEBALL TWIST with the 2014 Magic of Juju, which is now 90% Melon de Bourgogne (WAAAAA????)!!!

More importantly, we ate the ultimate casse-croute lunch thanks to this butcher:



In that pot were some fantastic rillettes. But the ham, rillons, cheese and butter were nothing to scoff at!







So simple. So hearty. So good.

After lunch, we checked out the cellar.





The entirety of the Mosse production ferments and ages in old oak barrels, often for a really long time. Malo is a prerequisite on the whites, and often happens on the reds as well. The extended lees contact on the whites gives it a weight and unctuousness that take the wines to the next level. Also, René leaves a radio on 24/7/365 so that the barrels can listen to music at all times.

As we set up to say goodbye, the whole thing got very hug-centric:







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<![CDATA[Winter Bonanza 2015: Thomas-Labaille in Chavignol!]]> http://louisdressner.com/date/2015/4/27/298/ http://louisdressner.com/date/2015/4/27/298/ Mon, 27 Apr 2015 27:59:07 GMT

RIP to Buster, the best dog ever.

If Louis/Dressner Selections was a band with a greatest hits album, Thomas-Labaille's Cuvée Buster would probably be Track 3.

We didn't have much of a sunlight window, so after a big group greeting with Jean-Paul Labaille, we headed straight to Sancerre's best and most terryfying vineyard, Les Monts Damnés.



Before getting into any details about Les Monts Damnés, we need to talk about Jean Paul's jacket. It is without a doubt the freshest jacket ever worn by a human being. And if its insane color combinations weren't enough, the brand's "manifesto" on the back is all the proof you need:



That is the best testimony for the life itself. Fact.

If you've never met Jean-Paul, the act of so effortlessly pulling off this jacket should cue you in to his extremely confident nature. Because let's face it; that shit is hard to pull off.

Ok, so have you seen or heard of this Mont Damnés vineyard? It's shockingly steep!







Monts Damnés is within the commune of Chavignol, and faces full South. About 80% of the vineyards in Chavignol are planted on steep hillsides, and are intentionally planted with grass to avoid erosion. Monts Damnés is the most extreme example of this steepness. Along with a majority of Sauvignon Blanc, a little bit of Pinot is planted on the hill's red clay. Due to the steepness of the hill, everything is done either by hand or with a mechanized hand-tiller that is still a ton of work. When they prune the vines, they leave the cuttings on the ground in order to create a natural fertilizer.

From Les Monts Damnés, we headed over to a vineyard called Cul du Beaujau.







Jean-Paul doesn't own this vineyard, but considers it one of the best views of Chavignol (which you can easily spot in the above pictures' backgrounds) and an apt contrast between the village's Southern and Northern hills, with the latter pictured below.



Of course, there's two sides to every story, so we then drove to the northern vineyards to check those out.





Here's a good pic of the view of the southern vineyards:



The sun was setting, so we decided to head to the cellar.



When you enter the relatively new Thomas-Labaille cellar (the facility is barely three years old), you immediately bear witness to this glorious work of art:





Some things you can't un-see...

Still, if you don't at the very least find this painting amusing, I don't know if we can ever be friends. I can only imagine the reaction of prudish tourists visiting the winery for the first time! Kudos to Jean-Paul for owning the boldest jacket AND self portrait IN THE UNIVERSE.

It was time to taste the 2014's!



The vast majority of Jean-Paul's production ferments and ages in these fiberglass tanks:



"They're not the most beautiful things in the world, but they get the job done!"

As with the rest of the Loire in 2014, everything was showing really well. Unsurprisingly, the highlights were the barrels of Monts Damnés, particularly the Cuvée Buster from a single barrel from Jean-Paul's best parcel of old vines within the "damned hill".



Someone spotted and decided to photograph this inspirational calendar:



After tasting the 2014 juices, we were treated to a truly next-level tasting of back vintages.







Jean-Paul pulled out all the stops. We tasted 12, 08, 06 and 01 Monts Damnés, 97, 96 88 and 85 Sancerre (later renamed L' Authentique), as well as a 99 and 97 Cuvée Buster. 1997 was the first ever Cuvée Buster, so this was an especially special bottle to try.

If having such an amazing tasting wasn't enough, Jean-Paul's wife Laurence prepared us a true feast that was one of the best meals of the trip!







Look at the size of that cheese plate!!!



When I complemented Laurence after the meal, she told me:

"It's easy. I'm used to it."

Oh my god can she cook! Jean-Paul was in a really good mood, and ended the night with 85 Mirabelle marc and 83 grape marc that happened to be kicking around.





Man that was a fun night.]]>
<![CDATA[Winter Bonanza 2015: Domaine Fernand Girard in Chaudoux!]]> http://louisdressner.com/date/2015/4/16/297/ http://louisdressner.com/date/2015/4/16/297/ Thu, 16 Apr 2015 27:57:36 GMT

Someway somehow, I'd never visited Alain and Fernand Girard. I'm not really sure why; we've been working with them so long that they definitely fall into the "We are going to drag 5 year old Jules and 3 year old Alyce all around France and bore them to death by visiting vignerons for two weeks straight." era of Louis/Dressner Selections. You see, there was a time when Joe and Denyse would spend their entire summers in France visiting growers. And because we were too young to stay at the house by ourselves, that meant we were obligatorily included in these insanely boring road trips. Plus French TV in the summer only played reruns of MacGyver and Knight Rider (aka K-2000)!

So yeah, I wasn't the biggest fan of summer vacation growing up...

But I'm not here to bore you with the past. I'm here to write about WINE STUFF.

Before heading to the vines, Alain Girard gave us a quick introduction to the estate. He took over from his father Fernand about 20 years ago, and is the fifth generation working his land. Here's a great picture from that era:



14 hectares of vines are spread over five communes with three distinct terroirs: gravely soils, flint and heavy clay.

We began the visit checking out the flint soils of Saint-Satur:









This next picture isn't really necessary, but I like how it highlights my R698 EVO's:



Louis/Dressner Selections: We Wear Nice Sneakersu

Alain explained that these soils have much later maturities than the others, bringing roundness and tension to the final blend.

Next up, the caillottes, or gravely soils:







The caillottes were formed millions of years ago when the land the vines grow on was an ocean. This terroir brings fruit to the blend.

Last but not least, we visited the beautiful coteaux of Verdigny to check the grosses terres, or heavy clay:





Back in the nineties, the village of Verdigny decided to completely redo this hillside in order to make larger, more regular plots with better drainage. This was done to avoid flooding of the town on the bottom of the hillside (which you can spot in the pics). Prior to this change, many owners had micro-parcels all over the hillsides like in Burgundy. But in order to make this restructuring work, vignerons had to exchange parcels so that their land was more coherent.

After a lovely tour of the vineyards, we got to check out the cellar. As it is so happened, a shipment was on its way to our NY/NJ/PA distributor David Bowler wines!



We began by tasting from many pre-blended 2014 tanks. Alain co-vinifies parcels with similar characteristics in stainless steel vats:







That's right: Alain owns a parcel called "piss pot".

2014 was a tough year due to a very rainy summer. Fortunately, an Indian summer in the fall saved the crop, and the wines have proven very satisfactory.

While tasting these distinct, unblended terroirs, I asked Alain's father Fernand if he'd ever considered making single vineyard or terroir driven cuvées.

-No.

- Why not?

- The blend is nice.

-But you never felt some parcels could make a great single vineyard wine?

- I like the blend.

- Have you ever been to the US?

-No

- Have you ever wanted to visit?

-No.

Fernand Girard: a man of conviction. A man of few words.

We also got to do a fun flight of Sancerre from the last decade:



As well as this special treat:



Before leaving, we had to pet Alain's girlfriend's dog Gypsy.



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<![CDATA[Winter Bonanza 2015: Champagne Tarlant in Oeuilly!]]> http://louisdressner.com/date/2015/4/7/296/ http://louisdressner.com/date/2015/4/7/296/ Tue, 07 Apr 2015 26:55:17 GMT

After a warm greeting from Mélanie and Benoît, we took a quick walk to Pierre de Bellevue, a nearby parcel characterized by the thinnest soils in the Marne valley.



From there, Benoît started breaking it down for us.



All in all, the Tarlants work 57 single parcels. Most are in Oeuilly but the vines are spread over four villages: Oeuilly, Celles-lès-Condé, Boursault and Saint-Agnan. Sparnacian soils (clay and limestone) are located on the higher portion of the hillsides, with more chalk on the bottom.

In Oeuilly, most of the vines are exposed east/northeast:



Being so close to the Marne river helps in dampening the effect of sunlight, allowing the grapes to mature very slowly. This is great for both concentration and acidity.

The other main village for the Tarlant's vines in called Celles-lès-Condé. Mostly Pinot noir is planted there, and the slopes are very steep and south facing. The total surface of the vineyards makes up 50% Pinot Noir, 30% Chardonnay, 15% Pinot Meunier and 5% of Champagne's "forgotten" grapes: Pinot Blanc, Arbanne and Petit Meslier. The vines average at 35 years old, with the oldest around 70-ish.



Everyone was really cold, so we walked back to the Tarlant cellar to taste.



Maybe it was the jetlag, but the lighting was super trippy. Also, who knows where this leads?



Our friend Gaboush bravely went down there to explore and never came back, so we'll never know. Anyway, let's get back to being serious. While in the cellar, Benoît was quick to point out that:

"The simpler winemaking can be, the better it is."

Yet immediately after telling us this, we were explained that of the 57 vineyards, everything is harvested and vinified separately! All in all, there will be around 80 individual wines for Benoît to work with and blend EACH VINTAGE! That doesn't sound all that simple!

Fermentation is done 2/3 in barrel and 1/3 tank, always from indigenous yeast. Usually, young vines are fermented in tank. Very little is done to the wine, save a few batonnuges towards the end of fermentation for the yeasts to finish off the last grams of RS. Malolactic fermentation is rare and not what Benoît is looking for.



To ensure this, only new barrels are brought into the winery. About 3 to 5% on barrels are renewed every year, and Benoît prefers purchasing these in more powerful vintages so that the wood marks the wine less. Only the best juices are used for brand new barrels.



Tasting of the vins clairs begins in January. Benoît's first focus is always on making the best Brut Nature, then the rosé, then the single vineyard wines. Each year, one third of the harvest is kept as reserve wine.

Guess what else Benoît has been tinkering with?



Yup, amphoras. The big one has Chardonnay, the small one has Pinot Noir.

And though it isn't necessarily shocking for us to see tinajas/amphoras getting play in cellars these days (here is a list of people who use them), it still came as a surprise seeing these in the Tarlant cellar.

"I'm was very lucky that my family has always encouraged me to experiment with different ways of doing things."

Benoît is waiting to see if it brings anything extra to the wine, or if the secondary fermentation covers up anything that differs from the other barrel fermented wines. Regardless of the results, it's experiments like these that show how truly dedicated Benoît is to pushing things forward. He is truly next level in the cellar, and the work ethic is both impressive and inspiring.



From the cellar, we headed back up to the tasting room. But before we were allowed to taste any bottled Champagne, Mélanie had us all sign our names on two magnums of Cuvée Louis.



"We'll drink these next time you all come visit!"

From there, it was an all-out taste-a-thon of current and soon to be releases:





EXCLUSIVE: Get ready for this 2003 vintage wine, La Matinale.



Plus we got to eat a really healthy, hearty meal from Mme Tarlant senior!

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<![CDATA[Winter Bonanza 2015: Ulysse Collin in Congy!]]> http://louisdressner.com/date/2015/3/25/295/ http://louisdressner.com/date/2015/3/25/295/ Wed, 25 Mar 2015 27:46:43 GMT

[I must give an infinite amount of thanks to Phillip Ehrlich for kindly providing his notes to me for this next batch of recaps. They would not be possible without him!]

Sorry for the lack of updates. The whole team was super slammed with the 2015 REAL WINE ATTACK tour, where 20 of the finest vignerons in the game SMASHED through Los Angeles, San Francisco, Reno, New Orleans and NYC in 8 days. As with last year, I believe the trip can summed up with one very telling picture:



Moving on...

Olivier Collin is a meticulous man in the cellar. Everything starts with this incredible manual press:



Yes, that is in fact a divine light shining on to me.

This is one of the first presses in the village of Congy. It was built in the 1950's, and the whole village used to use it. During harvest, it is hand operated by 4 people for 12 days, 18 hours a day.

"It's a lot more work, but for me it is fundamental: you extract more matter, tannins, anti-oxidants and it permits the wines to age longer. It may be hard to taste when the wine is young, but they become sublime later on."

Using a manual press forces Olivier to harvest at a higher maturity than if he used a pneumatic one, because otherwise the wine would take on bitter characteristics. The Chardonnay is pressed separately from the Pinot Noir, and all in all 4000 kg of grapes produce about 2050 liters of jus de presse (first juice) and 500l of jus de taille (2nd juice). Notice the numbers on each of these underground tanks?



Olivier meticulously keeps first and second juices from each pressing separately: the first press goes into the cuves 2-5, and he manually deviates the jus de tailles into cuve 1.

After press, Olivier pumps the juices into the débourbage vats pictured below.



The juices are left overnight and sometimes a bit longer to let the juice settle. Olivier likes the juice to be very clear and free of bourbes ("gross lees") because you never know what can be in there.

According to Olivier, many independent growers in Champagne choose to discard their jus de taille and sell them to négociants. This is why many "Champagnes de taille" are usually what ends up in supermarkets. In the case of the Ulysse Collin wines, Olivier feels that the jus de presse gives the wine its backbone and structure -permitting it to age longer- and the jus de taille makes the wine a little stronger, richer and adds gourmandise. Because the second juices are more murky and fragile, Olivier keeps them separated from the first juice at least 1 year before blending.

The entirety of the Ulysse Collin production is fermented and aged in barrel.



Olivier is not a fan of new oak, but new barrels are out of necessity syphoned in every year to replace the old ones. Another major development in the cellar is Olivier's recent investment in foudres, which have been used since the 2011 vintage.



If you're not familiar with the Ulysse Collin wines, sites are not blended and each cuvée is parcel specific. Today, Olivier produces four wines from four sites: Les Maillons, Les Pierrières, Les Roises and Les Enfers. And while vintage and reserve wine is important to the final product, this is not what Oliver is seeking to accomplish with his Champagnes.

"When you work this way (vinifying specific parcels), the goal is not to express the vintage or the percentage of reserve wine. I want you to taste the parcel, to taste its DNA."

Strong words.

Nothing is set in stone, but about 20 to 40% of each year's juices go into his reserve wines.

NON-SEQUITUR FACTOID: The limestone suboils in Congy feature the same type of rare black flint you spot at François Pinon's in Vouvray!





From the cellar, Oliver manually disgorged some 2014's for us to taste.







Before tasting, we took a quick stroll to go visit Les Roises and Les Enfers.











Les Roises and Les Enfers are neighboring parcels, with the former exposed full South and the latter exposed East. The soils for both parcels are clay topsoils and limestone subsoils, though les Roises has a almost twice as much clay.

Walking through Les Enfers, Olivier grabbed this plant from the soil:



It is called Le Mouron des Oiseaux, which might just be the frenchest thing I've ever heard.

"When you see this plant, you know your soils are doing well. It's a bio-indicator that proves there is healthy microbiology in the soil."

As we've discussed before, Olivier isn't 100% convinced with organic viticulture, at least not in Champagne. He tried working les Roises organically in 2012 and lost 80% of his crop.

"I admit 2012 was the wrong year to launch myself into working organically. But I really believe that is is extremely difficult working 100% organically in Champagne's conditions. As an aside, one thing I notice about organic Champagne is they tend to taste more bitter to me. I believe this is because the use of copper increases the thickness of the skins, and I feel it is evident in the wine. I still believe that the most important thing anyone can do in the vineyard is work the soils."

For protection, Olivier mostly sprays the vines with silica. However, if he sees a sickness taking place, he will intervene with Pecadeux, a non-systemic product that is legally allowed in German organics but not in France.

"I don't believe in treating my vineyards with with systemic products. But I also don't believe in letting my vines suffer greatly from illness. I treat them like I would treat myself: if I'm really not feeling well, I will take antibiotics to get better."

Of course, we then tasted the 2014's, which were obviously very young but already showing great promise. We were also treated to the one-time-only Le Magnum, a relic from 2006 vintage.

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<![CDATA[New Estate: Agnanum in Campi Flegrei! Profile+Visit Recap!]]> http://louisdressner.com/date/2015/2/27/294/ http://louisdressner.com/date/2015/2/27/294/ Fri, 27 Feb 2015 27:33:35 GMT

CHECK THE AGNANUM PROFILE OVER HERE!

There's an old Italian expression that goes: "Vedi Napoli e poi muori", or "See Naples and Die". I can't really explain why, but any city where traffic is this fucking insane at any random street corner will always have a special place in my heart.



It's worth watching until the end. So many close calls... So few helmets...

Also, this:



Best. Outfit. Ever.

But Napoli isn't just panic-inducing traffic, insane all-night street parties, incredible architecture, delicious pizza and fashionable children. If you head to the Western edge of the city, you find yourself in Campi Flegrei, a unique area on the edge of the Tyrrhenian Sea. Geologically, Campi Flegrei is marked by many large volcanic craters. Combine this with the sea's constant winds and you have a fascinating terroir.

While still within the city limits, much of the area feels desolate and forgotten. However, if you follow the twisty, unkempt roads to the crater of Agnano, there is plenty of beauty to experience at Raffaele Moccia's 4 hectare estate, Agnanum.



All of Raffaele's vines are located on a single, steep hillside overlooking the mainland in all its postindustrial glory.



Here is Agnano's lovely hippodrome:



Fortunately, once you turn away from the urban panoramic, you are treated to an absolutely stunning vineyard site.









The soils here are sand and volcanic ash, with the vines planted on terraces that make mechanization impossible. Terraces have been the traditional way of planting in this area for centuries, but in an all too familiar tale, most growers are abandoning them because it's too much work. Speaking of too much work, Rafaelle has to be very careful with his soils.

"If you don't till, the rain goes right through (the soil) and messes everything up."

To avoid this, he lets grass grow wild to absorb water that would otherwise overfeed the vines. The grass also helps create a layer of moisture that helps cool down the vines.







"I didn't come up with this system. It is very old!"

Rafaelle's land is considered a historical vineyard: the youngest vines are 60 years old and the oldest are "at least" 200. Because his soils are so sandy, everything is planted in franc de pied.

"We're drinking the wines the Romans were drinking. Well, with the help of a more modern cellar!"

2.8 hectares of the native Falanghina are planted for white and 1.2 hectares of Piedirosso for red. The vines are some of the most strangely shaped I've ever witnessed.



Rafaelle described the training system as pergola, yet it doesn't resemble what one usually associates with the term.

At one point, a distinct whiff of sulfur overtook the group. That's because there are nearby sulfur eruptions all the time.



See that smoke in the middle? Sulfur cloud.

As we continued our walk through the vines, Rafaelle explained that there are 4 layers to his soil: sandy volcanic, humus, fine sand from basalt and finally basalt subsoils. It is very compact, and in such the roots of the vines feed from all 4 layers.

"Though the younger vines only reach the first 3."

By "younger", I'm pretty sure he meant the 60 year old vines.

Another particularity of these soils is that they auto-restrict yields, which was surprising since the vines are so huge.

Look, it's an old lady working her land alone in the horizon!



I spotted hoses in the vines, and asked Rafaelle about them.

"These are not for irrigation, but rather to have water handy when doing treatments. It's much easier to start from the top of the vines and having pitstops on the way down than having to go all the way back down each time."

At the very top of the hill, some young vines have been planted in massale and franc de pied. They are 15. To help them grow and develop, Rafaelle has planted fava beans in the rows and fertilizes the land with rabbit shit.

I found rabbit shit to be an oddly specific animal for this task, but it turns out that Rafaelle has a side-buisness of raising rabbits, so that makes sense. Speaking of which:



Our tasting/lunch took place in this medieval dungeon type space that was a stark contrast to the beautiful vines.



Rafaelle's son, who is currently in culinary school, made us a banging lunch from this amazing wood fire oven.



Of course, we had to eat some rabbit!

We also tasted some wine. In the cellar, slow native yeast fermentations take place in stainless steel tanks. Malolactic has never occurred since Rafaelle took over the winemaking.

For the white wine, 10mg of sulfur is added at the beginning of fermentation and nothing after. A light filtration also takes place. The red is unfiltered and un-fined.

Rafaellees great, great grandfather used to sell the wine in vrac to to restaurants in Naples. He would load barrels up in a horse wagon and bring them to town.

"The wine became so popular that my father had to start a lottery system. The wine would go to the winners."

Rafaelle is the first generation to bottle the wine with the 2002 vintage. 4 wines are produced: a Campi Flegrei Bianco that is 100% Falanghina, a IGT white thates 50% Falanghina and 50% grapes Ieve never heard of. He also makes two reds from Piedirosso: Per e Palumm and Vigne del Volpe, a selection from the oldest vines. They are all delicious.

After leaving, we got a little lost on the way to our next appointment and, after pulling over, met a really ugly dog with a heart of gold.



Due to his underbite, we nicknamed him Teeth. I wanted to keep him forever.

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<![CDATA[Paul Gillet of Les Maisons Brûlées Interview!]]> http://louisdressner.com/date/2015/2/16/293/ http://louisdressner.com/date/2015/2/16/293/ Mon, 16 Feb 2015 22:50:21 GMT

"When you truly love wine, you can immediately tell the difference in the way people work in the vineyards and cellar. You can taste convictions, from the choices made in the vines to those in the cellar."

A fascinating interview with Paul Gillet, the new proprietor of Les Maisons Brûlées. Find out how Paul and his wife Corinne went from opening a retail shop in Mulhouse to throwing pop up dinners in Buenos Aires. Read about their plans to start a viticultural estate in Argentina and eventually settling in France. Learn from Paul's wise words and choice philosophical musings!

Read the interview here!

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<![CDATA[The Didier Diaries Part 9: The Grand Finale!]]> http://louisdressner.com/date/2015/2/4/292/ http://louisdressner.com/date/2015/2/4/292/ Wed, 04 Feb 2015 19:57:53 GMT

READ PART 8!

This final post is dedicated to Joe Dressner and Joe Dougherty. Your spirits live in the Clos forever.

I can't remember what time I woke up, but it was early. As if by divine intervention, it just so happened that the last harvest day of Clos Roche Blanche's last vintage landed on my last day in France. Sometimes, when you know you are going to be part of something significant before it's actually happened, the self-awareness leads to expectations of emotions running high from the get-go. But to my surprise, everyone remained cool and collected throughout the work day. Later on would be another story...

Just like with the Côt, Catherine and I were the last ones to arrive to the vines. Once again, Catherine immediately got into boss-mode and started leading us into the vines. Friends and family came to help, including Laurent Saillard:



Béatrice Augé and Balou:



and Catherine's daughter Claire:



The morning went by smoothly, with everyone working at a brisk, professional pace. Except me. I was super slow.





The Côt was nothing to scoff at and the Romorantins at Tue-Boeuf were gorgeous, but this Cabernet Franc gave' em a run for their money.







While we harvested, Didier vigilantly observed every bunch being dumped into the wagon to inspect quality and get rid of dirty extras such as leaves or branches.







Around noon, the wagon was full so Catherine sent the harvesting team home for lunch while we got ready to load what had been been picked into a vat. Before we could do this, 6 of us had to MANUALLY LIFT an old car that was in the way of the vat (we thought we could push it but the front breaks were stuck, resulting in an improvised Worlds Strongest Man event). Then Catherine had to do some serious tractor maneuvering to get the wagon in position.





Unlike with the Côt, here we did not manually de-stem a portion of the grapes on a moving tray table. Instead, we loaded the grapes into an égrapeuse, a mechanical device that de-stemms the grapes. But first, we had to drain the juice from the grapes crushed at the bottom of the wagon:



Once the grapes were ready to come out, we got to work!



You can't tell from the video, but you actually need 5 people involved at all times for this entire process: the first is Didier pushing grapes out from the top of the wagon. The wagon is equipped with this mechanism to make things go smoother:



The whole time, Claire was making sure the grapes fell correctly into the égrapeuse. You also need a person clearing the bins of discarded stems and two people getting their hands dirty at the bottom and pushing grapes through to make sure the machine doesn't get clogged. The last job is quite strange, since your hand is emerged in juice that is much colder than you'd imagine, effectively making your hand feel like an icicle.

Once this was done, we sat down for a long, beautiful lunch prepared by Catherine's mother Solange.



There was still some work to do, so got right back to it around 2:00pm.



And then, in a little over an hour's work, it was over. I was trailing in the back, but it was confirmed by Laurent's:

"That's it for Clos Roche Blanche's 2014!"

There were of course grapes to load into the vat, but not nearly as much as the morning's harvest. When we got back down to the house, Catherine was paying her pickers one by one. Some hung out, others left as soon as they got their check. There was some wine open, but I was desperately craving beer so Laurent, Claire and I went on a mission to grab a bunch.

Sipping beers, the late afternoon conversation was jovial. As it began getting darker, those still hanging agreed it was time to eat something. Along with the leftovers from lunch, Catherine cooked a huge bowl of pasta. Though every meal at Clos Roche Blanche is always complemented with wine from the estate, Didier chose to serve us, in honor of it being my favorite wine EVER, his very last bottle of L'Arpent Rouge 2010.



As the night went on, things predictably got emotional, especially as I had to tell many of the people I'd spent the last two weeks with goodbye. I also individually thanked Didier and Catherine for letting me be a part of this experience, one that for so many reasons will remain a hallmark in my life.

It got a little weepy...

Being there for the end of something that truly mattered is certainly bittersweet. Clos Roche Blanche is a magical place, and Catherine and Didier are magical people; whether they realize it or not, they have touched and inspired countless lives through their work. But as I stood outside at the end of the night, alone and watching the stars in the crystal clear sky, I didn't feel sad. If anything, I was excited to see what the future holds: for the Clos Roche Blanche vines, for Catherine, for Didier, for Laurent and Julien.

And shit, even for me.

]]>
<![CDATA[The Didier Diaries Part 8: Le Décuvage!]]> http://louisdressner.com/date/2015/1/24/291/ http://louisdressner.com/date/2015/1/24/291/ Sat, 24 Jan 2015 27:01:04 GMT

READ PART 7!

The décuvage, or "devatting", is the critical moment when you press the red grapes that have been macerating on their skins, stems and seeds to extract their juice. To do so, you have to manually take them out of the vat where they have been macerating.



That juice you see dripping from the vat is called the jus de goutte; this comes from the grapes at the bottom of the vat crushed by the weight of the bunches on top of them. The jus de goutte has usually finished its alcoholic fermentation by the time of the décuvae, but the berries that haven't completely burst still have a ways to go.

The jus de goutte drips down into the press, which is directly below the vats.



From there, the first step involves shoveling out the grapes from the vat into the press.











You eventually get to a point when you can't reach any more grapes from the outside and must physically enter the vat to keep pushing them out.



A few days after we devatted the Gamay, I would go into the vat of Côt to repeat this operation. IT IS SO HOT IN THERE! As Eben Lillie once described it:

"It's like being in a NYC subway with broken air conditioning In August!"

Not only that, but because of all the trapped CO2, you get all light-headed. It's kind of fun but also a little freaky, since fainting is never a good look.

Anyway, once the grapes are in the press, it's time for the juice to flow!









As you can see, the vats and press are outside (a unique particularity at Clos Roche Blanche), and the wine is racked by gravity into the underground cellar.

A few hours later, it was time to clean the press. The first step of this required removing the marc (or pomace), aka the solid remains of grapes after pressing for juice. Didier tractored this bin over so we could throw it in there.



By observing the marc, you can see that the grapes are evenly flattened but the stems aren't.







"This is great because it means the marc isn't imparting its flavor into the wine. 15 years ago, equipment was much less efficient. You would always see flattened stems."

As far as the press itself, the way it works is as follows: a bladder full of air pushes in a vertical line. Grapes are pressed and go through this grid, which does not let solids through.



The marc is aged for 3 years, then used as a natural compost for the vines.

After the marc had been cleared, it was time to vigorously hose everything down.

"Being a vigneron is 90% manual labor and 10% internal reflection. On the other hand vinifying is 10% reflection and 90% cleaning stuff. It's not as noble as everyone thinks!"

For every liter of wine produced, you need 1.5 liters of water to clean up the equipment.

"It used to be 2. We have better technology now."]]>
<![CDATA[Lotsa More Harvest Reports!]]> http://louisdressner.com/date/2015/1/16/290/ http://louisdressner.com/date/2015/1/16/290/ Fri, 16 Jan 2015 24:26:18 GMT

Çotar!!!

Francis and Delphine Boulard!!!

Eric Texier!!!

Campi di Fonterenza!!!

]]>
<![CDATA[The Didier Diaries Part 7: Le Prélèvement and Testing for Volatile Acidity!]]> http://louisdressner.com/date/2015/1/13/289/ http://louisdressner.com/date/2015/1/13/289/ Tue, 13 Jan 2015 5:00:58 GMT

READ PART 6.

I've already mentioned the process of the prélèvement in the first part of this series, but to re-iterate, it consists of grabbing a bucket's worth of grape bunches, crushing and analyzing them to decide if the time is right to harvest. In Part 2, Didier and I had done an initial prélèvement of the Cabernet Franc. Five days later, it was time to do another one.

The Cabernet Franc is not in the lieu-dit Clos Roche Blanche, but in a plot just outside of La Boudinerie (an old farm where Didier, Laurent Saillard and Noella Morantin live).

"I consider this our best terroir."



Didier's instructions were simple: pick a random row to pick random bunches from, repeat until your bucket is full. You also need to constantly snack on grapes to see how they taste. By utilizing this randomized process, you get a global idea of entire plot's overall ripeness. Picking lasted about 20 minutes.





From there, we headed back to "the lab" to test the juice out!





Catherine noticed that the pigs with arrows were pointing at Julien as if to indicate he was one, prompting us all to laugh.



The first device you can see in the pictures above is similar to an old school thermometer, and this is to measure sugar levels. This next device, which looks like a taser, is to measure PH levels.



The final test is acidity, where you keep adding this liquid until the juice becomes blue.





I still don't understand how it works, but it's essentially a chemical reaction that happens once there is the right amount.

After manually smushing my grapes, it was my turn to analyse my bucket's worth of fruit.







Our results were identical. After testing and tasting the juices, we agreed it tasted good but was not ready. In such, Dider decides to harvest the following Tuesday (October 10th).

"There is a big difference between today and five days ago, but it's not there yet."

"You knew just from tasting the grapes in the vines that they weren't ready, didn't you?"

"Yes. Well, I mean I'm not surprised they aren't ready."

On another day, Didier took me to the lab in his room to the Gamay for volatile acidity.



Here is the setup:



And the main piece of equipment is this cool ass thing:



This is how it works: you add 2 drops of oxygenated water (which blocks away any sulfur, which could alter results) and add 10ml of wine. The bottom heats the water, creating rising vapors that boil down the wine. Here is the whole process in action:



"It's very similar to a distillation".

The result of this operation is that all of the wine's volatile acid is diluted into vapor and water, both completely clear.

"Volatile means "it can fly", which is why it can easily get extracted out of the wine. All the other molecules are too heavy and will fall back down."

On a completely unrelated note, Didier has this sweet out-of-order pinball machine in his room.

]]>
<![CDATA[Harvest Reports from Elisabetta Foradori, François Cazin, Clemens Busch and Agnès et René Mosse!]]> http://louisdressner.com/date/2015/1/10/288/ http://louisdressner.com/date/2015/1/10/288/ Sat, 10 Jan 2015 5:04:27 GMT

We've been late on providing harvest reports this year, but rest assured that we still have a couple more batches after this post. I promise they will all be up on the site well before you get a chance to taste any of these!

Elisabetta Foradori!

François Cazin!

Clemens Busch!

Agnès et René Mosse!]]>
<![CDATA[Watch an Extremely Infomative Video about Quinta do Infantado and Learn A Shit-Ton!]]> http://louisdressner.com/date/2015/1/2/287/ http://louisdressner.com/date/2015/1/2/287/ Fri, 02 Jan 2015 26:56:32 GMT

Happy New Year!!!

Ring in 2015 by learning an insane amount of information on Quinta do Infantado and Port wine in general? Originally published by our lovely distributor David Bowler Wines, this video is narrated by João Roseira himself. It's a fascinating, well paced and extremely informative glimpse into the often misunderstood world of Port. It's also a glimpse into Quinta do Infantado's work and why they are considered one of the best Port producers in the world. Enjoy!]]>
<![CDATA[New Producer: Laurent Lebled of A la Vôtre!]]> http://louisdressner.com/date/2014/12/23/286/ http://louisdressner.com/date/2014/12/23/286/ Tue, 23 Dec 2014 27:02:51 GMT

Did you guys know we like wine from the Loire? Did you know that we work with 6 producers from Touraine? Well make it 7!

I met up with Laurent Lebled in the center square of Saint-Aignan, just a 5 minute drive from Clos Roche Blanche. From there, it was a quick drive to to a good portion of the land he rents.







Laurent currently rents land from 3 separate owners. Because he currently lives too far to do so, for the time being the Saint-Aignan owner does all of the viticultural work here. Laurent makes his specific requests (working the soil, yields, etc...), then comes with his team to harvest. And because he vinifies over an hour away (more on this later), he then shuttles the grapes in a refrigerated truck.

Originally from Saumur, Laurent planned to start his estate in Touraine. After some diligent research, he was able to secure rented vines and a cellar, but the guy with the cellar dropped the ball at the last minute. Laurent had to improvise and, as you will see, found himself forced to spread himself all over the place. He currently vinifies over an hour away in Savigny en Véron, but is confident he will eventually relocate to Saint-Aignan. Laurent been working the same 1.7 hectares here since he started in 2010.

0.8 hectares consist of Sauvignon planted in 1962 on clay and limestone. The Gamay is massale from vines planted in 1950 and 1970, and planted in rockier subsoils which give the wine a more structured acidity. The Cabernet Franc is on similar soil to the Gamay and planted in the 60's and 70's.

Laurent was born and raised in Saumur. Before making wine, he was a successful wood merchant for 30 years. Specializing in chestnut trees, he sourced woods from Spain, Portugal and Italy. But by 2008, the recession hit hard and Laurent had to shut up shop.

"I had never done anything else. But it was clearly the end of an era for this type of work. I had no idea what I was going to do, and never thought about making wine. Not even for a second."

It was his childhood friend Sebastien Bobinet, who himself gave up a first career to tend his grandfather's 2 hectares of Cabernet Franc, who proposed that Laurent follow a similar path. After some rigorous research to find land and a cellar, A la Vôtre's first vintage was in 2010.

"I just jumped right into it by learning in the vines. Sebastien helped me through the entire process in 2010, from pruning to vinification. Combined with the additional help of Patrick Corbineau, this gave me the confidence to continue. It's a beautiful second chance. It's an incredible feeling to see something through from beginning to end."

We then drove an hour to Chinon country, where Laurent was able to find the chai where he vinifies and ages the wine. Because of his proximity to nice vineyards, he couldn't resist renting some land here as well. This he works 100% from beginning to end. The first plot we visited was 0.49 hectares of Cabernet Franc planted on pure sand.





This plot used to be worked conventionally, and after 4 years of conversion Laurent is finally able to easily work the grass and soils.

"No one wanted this vineyard because the rows are all different (in length) and you can't use machines here."

The grapes here are blended with the Cabernet from Saint-Aignan to make the On Est Su l' Sable cuvée.



Both sites are vinified separately. I was surprised to learn that a parcel this far out could still be classified as an AOC Touraine wine.

"It can! The first vintage we made it a Touraine wine, but have stuck to Vin de France since then."

A lot of replacements have been necessary, and Laurent planted many in 2012. His neighbors also replanted a bunch at the exact same time, and the difference is shocking. Here's Laurent's:



And here are his neighbor's:



"I have no idea how that's even possible."

Me neither. As we drove off, I couldn't help but feel I'd been to this vineyard before. It all felt eerily familiar...

We then drove to Laurent's 0.6 hectares in Les Picasses, the famed lieu-dit where Olga Raffault (amongst many others) produce some of their most expressive wines. In fact, it turns out that Laurent's parcel direct neighbors Olga Raffault's Chenin Blanc!





This parcel was also worked conventionally prior to Laurent's rental, and in still in conversion. The grapes were looking nice, and Laurent believed he'd harvest a few days later.



From Les Picasses, we drove to Laurent's vinification chai, which just so happens to be in Savigny-en-Véron, the village where Olga Rafault is based. And it just so happened that Laurent's chai is literally three doors down from the Raffault house! Neighbors again!

We naturally popped in to say hi. Eric and Sylvie had no idea I'd be visiting, and were just returning from picking a parcel in Les Picasses. Though Eric was busy getting the grapes into tank, Sylvie graciously offered us a few drinks of older vintages.



As we kept chatting, the fact that they were neighbors in Les Picasses came up. And from there, it was confirmed that the parcel that the Raffault produce Les Barnabés with is RIGHT NEXT to Laurent's sandy parcel. That's why it felt so familiar! So to recap, Laurent Lebled and the Olga Raffault are neighbors EVERYWHERE. What are the odds?

As we left for the chai, Laurent was really happy that I introduced him to Eric and Sylvie.

"This is the first time I'm meeting a colleague and neighbor since I started. Sometimes I feel all alone out here. It's good to know there are nice people just next door!"

In the chai, Laurent showed me his vinification process. During fermentation, he keeps a heater on because it gets very cold in there. He tries keeping it around 20&#730;.

The main vinifications happen in concrete tanks with wood planks on the bottom. A full carbonic maceration takes place for 30 days (an average, "normal" carbonic maceration goes from 10-12 days). Here are the whole clusters in tank:







Once the fermentation takes place, the grapes are pressed and racked to fiberglass tanks:





The wines stay on their lees until bottling.

To taste the older vintages, we THEN had to drive to Laurent's storage cellar, an old tuffeau cave in a neighboring village.







Man this is a lot of bouncing around! We did a vertical all the way back to 2010. Each vintage- and this is not a bad thing- was radically different.

"I have no shame admitting that I am completely new to this and learning as I go. Every vintage has proven to be a completely unique experience, both in the work and in the flavors of the wines."

I found it particularly interesting how the wines are able to keep a more rustic, terroir driven quality than most pure-carbo vinifications. Laurent believes this is due to the extended period of time he lets the intra-cellular fermentation occur.

We THEN drove to Saumur to eat at the excellent Bistro des Jean, a tiny spot doing amazing French bistro fare. Highly recommended. The two owners were are originally from Saumur but had a successful place in Paris for years. Eventually, they got sick of the big city and moved back home. More importantly, they have this incredibly huge dog:







His name is Gandalf, and he is the size or a small horse!]]>
<![CDATA[The Didier Diaries Part 6: Party Time!]]> http://louisdressner.com/date/2014/12/11/284/ http://louisdressner.com/date/2014/12/11/284/ Thu, 11 Dec 2014 28:45:43 GMT

A farçie is local Loire slang for the end of harvest celebration. These vary in size, but are usually an intimate affair between the harvesters and the vignerons who hired them. Since Clos Roche Blanche was one of the last estates to finish their harvest, I was lucky to partake in many farçies while in France. The first I got to check out was at Maisons Brûlées.



To the left, new owner Paul Gillet celebrates the first harvest he's seen all the way through since taking over from Michel Augé in 2013. It was kind of a cold, but we still hung out for apéro outside. Even in the heart of natural wine country, you gotta satisfy the children with artificially colored and flavored candy:



Can't lie: I kind of mess with those Coca Colas...

Paul's team was mostly composed of natty boys and gals who chain smoked joints (this can describe 95% of harvest teams in France), but there was a handful of interesting characters, including some older locals, an elderly couple from Brittany and a very nice Spanish guy.

After drinking a couple of bottles, it was time to eat an Alsatian specialty, the Baeckeoffe:







If you're wondering why we we were eating a mix of sliced potatoes, sliced onions, cubed mutton, beef and pork which have been marinated overnight in Alsatian white wine and juniper berries and slow cooked in a sealed ceramic casserole dish in the Loire, it's because Paul and Corinne Gillet are, you guessed it, Alsatian! To wash it down, the gracious Laurent Saillard brought some of his Lucky You! Sauvignon and La Pause Gamay:







That gentleman to the right of Laurent (who is in the foreground if you don't know what he looks like) is Bruno Allion, a much loved biodynamic vigneron who for years has sold his grapes to Thierry Puzelat and Pierre-O Bonhomme's négoce. I also got to try some of his own wines for the first time, which were delicious.

After lunch, the sun decided to pay us a visit so we had no choice to sit back outside.



We also had no choice but to drink some Maisons Brûlées Dernier Né, which due to the label is illegal for us to import to the United States.



You see, the barred out "drinking pregnant woman" is the equivalent of the US Government Warning, saying you shouldn't drink and drive or drink while pregnant (or both). It is obligatory to have on each label of wine in France, so as a joke Paul has made it the focal point of this cuvée; it's actually the exact logo you see in tiny on most labels, except huge. But hey, it's legal. Except in the US, where it isn't...

All in all, the Maisons Brûlées farçie was a lovely afternoon, and just a pre-game for what would happen a few nights later: The Villemade farçie!

It can pretty much be summed up in this 4 second video:



First off, this happened at maybe 9pm so you can imagine how the rest of the night went. The context here is that the harvesters, 90% of whom were from Brittany, were about to sing Isabelle and Hervé Villemade a song to thank them. This courageous young lady decided to stand on a chair and play ring leader. Then that happened...

Anyhow, due to the size of the Villemade's estate, there were many more people at this event, including cameos from Loire all-stars Thierry Puzelat, Christian Venier and Pascal Potaire. Pretty early in the evening, I vaguely remember smoking a cigar while make-believe surfing because Surfin' USA by the Beach Boys came on.

After dinner, everyone started dancing to basically the worst music ever, but it didn't matter and was still super fun. I don't think you can quite grasp this type of scene without having experienced an improvised musical mish-mash in rural France for yourself (I'm a hardened veteran), but the flow of music is jarring and all over the place stylistically. To make matters worst, the internet connection kept crashing and cutting off songs half-way through. I tried jumping on to flex my DJ skills and almost immediately this guy wanted to fight me so he could hear some Miles Davis (right after, mind you, a horrible French Ska song picked by someone else). The flow of the two songs was horrendous, but everyone still danced and it didn't matter.

Around 3 in the morning, Thierry Puzelat busted out a secret stash Overnoy that we carefully hid from the harvesters, who were guzzling everything in sight.



Also, this happened:



Strangely, both those images captured a 100% accurate representation of what my blurred vision looked like at that point of the night.

After waking up in Hervé Villemade's guest room, I took a shower and headed to the Clos du Tue-Boeuf farçie for lunch. Knowing Thierry, I was expecting the worst. And of course, before serving me any food, guess what lands in front of me:



Jero bomb of Lemasson!

Lunch was delicious, but I was exhausted and desperately in need of a nap despite having been awake not much more than 3 hours. When I woke up, I was pleasantly surprised that Thierry and most of the harvest team were in a pétanque tournament, with the others jamming on their guitars. It was shockingly mellow for a Puzelat party.

And I couldn't be happier.]]>
<![CDATA[Italian and Croatian Harvest Bonanza!]]> http://louisdressner.com/date/2014/11/25/283/ http://louisdressner.com/date/2014/11/25/283/ Tue, 25 Nov 2014 28:25:25 GMT

Cantina Giardino!

Cà de Noci!

Massa Vecchia!

Clai Bijele Zemjle!]]>
<![CDATA[The Didier Diaries Part 5: A Visit to Clos du Tue-Boeuf!]]> http://louisdressner.com/date/2014/11/18/282/ http://louisdressner.com/date/2014/11/18/282/ Tue, 18 Nov 2014 27:54:05 GMT

The evening of the remontage and visit with Valérie (recapped here and here), Didier told me there would be little to do for a few days and that I should take advantage of them to visit other growers. I had a loose itinerary of people to see, and the following morning I called Thierry Puzelat on his cell.

"We're actually on our last day of harvest. Wanna come?"

The answer was an obvious YES!!!!!! When I pulled into Les Montils, Thierry was loading the just harvested Menu Pineau from the Brin de Chèvre parcel into the press.



From press, it goes into a débourbage concrete tank before being racked into barrel.



Débourbage translates to "racking off the gross lees", which is apt because they are in fact quite gross:



It looks like a honey-mustard factory. Yuck.

Thierry's harvest began on September 19th, and would finish on the day I showed up, October 6th. After lunch with the harvest team, we grabbed our sheers and drove over the a parcel of old vine Romorantin, the oldest being planted in 1905!









eThis is the highest yields weeve ever seen here.i

The grapes were indeed plentiful and magnificent.



Thierry was getting in the mix.





Everything was going great for the first ten minutes. Then, in a bold move of over-confidence, I went for a bunch hidden behind some leaves and cut my finger pretty bad! Much to my surprise, Thierry had a first aid kit and patched me up so I could continue working.



I debated putting up a picture of my extremely bloody hand, but decided that while profanity and nudity (mostly in the form of absurd paintings) is ok, I must draw the line at gore.

Harvesting took about an hour and half, and we couldn't have finished at a better time since it started raining heavily just minutes after we'd loaded all the grapes into the truck.





After a short drive back to Les Montils, we went right to the press.





Unloading the grapes took about 20 minutes, and the press lasts 2:30 to 3 hours depending on the load. Once again, the juice was racked to a débourbage tank, this time much smaller.



The Romorantin we harvested will have to be labeled Vin de France, as it lies just outside of the Cour-Cheverny AOC. Thierry was making it under the Puzelat-Bonhomme label for years, but in 2014 this will be a Tue-Boeuf wine.

In the cellar, an employee was testing the sugar/acidity/PH of the Menu Pineau.





While the harvesters celebrated the end of harvest, Thierry and I tasted some juices.

PeTit Blanc 2014 had a few grams of sugar left, and was in full malo.

Petit Buisson 2014 had way more sugar, but tasted good.

"Once youere about 2/3rd done with fermentation, you can start tasting aromatic complexities."

Frileuse is an assemblage of Fié Gris (a strain of Sauvignon) planted in 1998 and Chardonnay planted from massale in 1967. We tried two separate barrels.

eThe maturities in each barrel are about a week apart, and they bring balance to each other.i

The first was denser and richer, the second more tense and bright.

We then tried the the Brin de Chèvre that had been pressed just hours earlier.

"A slight oxidation on the juice means you won't have any on the wine. It's a guarantee that it can handle it from an early stage. The brown color will be gone in 5 days."

Then we tried the Gamay Vin de France 14, which is made with a 100% carbonic maceration. It was in full malolactic fermentation and had a muddy, murky color. The malic acid tasted awful.

"It's pretty gross right? Once it's finished, it softens up considerably."

I asked Thierry if he gets much from tasting the juice.

"For me, it's about tasting if the juice is pure and in good shape. As I mentioned earlier the aromatic complexities come later. For now it's about making sure the juices are in good shape and to spot any potential issues before they become insurmountable."

The last two wines I tried were a special new experiment, Menu Pineau and Pinot Noir from Caillière made in amphora! They were totally wild and tasted nothing like what you'd expect from a Tue-Boeuf wine. Both spent 6 months on the skins and were bottled un-sulphured. Thierry showed me the 2014's fermenting:





Oh and the soon to be available Caillière 2013 (3 week maceration, 10 months in barrel) is absolutely delicious.

We then joined the harvesters and hung out until really late.

]]>
<![CDATA[More Harvest Reports from France and Italy!]]> http://louisdressner.com/date/2014/11/14/281/ http://louisdressner.com/date/2014/11/14/281/ Fri, 14 Nov 2014 27:52:26 GMT

Jean Manciat!

Olivier Lemasson!

Monte Dall'Ora!

Cascina 'Tavijn! (Those crazy looking grapes are the Ruché!)]]>
<![CDATA[And So It Begins: 2014 Harvest Reports!]]> http://louisdressner.com/date/2014/11/10/279/ http://louisdressner.com/date/2014/11/10/279/ Mon, 10 Nov 2014 24:35:26 GMT

Alice and Olivier de Moor!

Zélige-Caravant!

Bernard Baudry!

Plenty more where that came from!

]]>
<![CDATA[The Didier Diaries Part 4: Visiting a Colleague!]]> http://louisdressner.com/date/2014/11/4/278/ http://louisdressner.com/date/2014/11/4/278/ Tue, 04 Nov 2014 26:19:02 GMT

Apologies for the lack of recent updates. All the craziness leading up to our annual portfolio tasting (which was a huge success!) and a trip to DC has set me back on posting new stuff on the blog, but rest assured that there will soon be a FLURRY of new content, including new interviews, producer visits, and of course our annual HARVEST REPORTS, which have usually already been published at this point.

Louis/Dressner Selections: Weeve Got Internet Content!u

On a lovely afternoon, Julien Pineau and I accompany Didier to Domaine de la Méchinière, an estate run by Valérie Forgues. Didier chose to wear this sweet T-Shirt, purchased in NYC during a trip in 1998.



Founded in 1999, Méchinière spans 14 hectares in Mareuil-sur-Cher, is planted in the 6 grapes of the Touraine AOC and is in its second year of converting the vines to organic viticulture. Didier met Valérie because she is dating his brother, and for the last few years has been helping her out in the cellar.

"She's gone through a lot of setbacks and I think she deserves the help. She's a fast learner and I think that she will be able to do everything on her own very soon."

Here is her awesome dog Drago, Crusher of Souls.



The reason for our visit was to scope out the damage from the what would turn out to be the hot topic on everyone's mind: the drosophila suzukii. Originally from Japan, these flies have been fucking shit up in the US since 2008, and were first spotted in France sometime in 2010. They look like fruit flies (which are a common occurrence around fruits, so no one really worried at first), and feed themselves by stinging soft summer fruits and sucking out the sugars. They also lay their eggs between the skin and the pulp, and in both cases the berries start turning to vinegar. Normally these bugs die after summer, but the strange climactic conditions of 2014 kept them around too long. As far as anyone knows, this is the first time they've actively targeted grapes in France.

Herees what the damage looks like:








"It's crazy. Here we are a few days after our Pineau D'Aunis harvest, and you can easily spot the damaged grapes. When we were picking ours, you could barely see the stings and the only way to know was smelling the bunches to see if they stunk of vinegar. Good luck explaining that to the harvesters!"

Valérie was one of the last people in the area to harvest her Pineau D' Aunis, so this was a rare opportunity to see what the grapes look like after about a week after being stung. The worst is reports of suzukii bites began only TWO WEEKS before harvest, which many believed was going to be an abundant year after the very challenging 2012 and 2013 (Ieve heard some growers have lost up to 50% of their harvest because of this).

Still, not all hope was lost:

"The grapes that havenet been stung are ripe and in good shape. This is salvageable, but only if you hit the tank with sulfur immediately after cuvaison. Otherwise the vinegar yeasts, which are in full force, will take over."

Stories like this are stark reminders that the work of a vigneron is one of constant adaptation, and that dogmatic extremism -Iem specifically referring to sulfur use here- can only work in ideal conditions or states of complete mastery (Overnoy, Dard & Ribo and Massa Vecchia immediately come to mind). Many vignerons who traditionally do not sulfur during vinification felt obliged to do so this year, and I do not fault them for it: if they hadnet I canet imagine what the juices would have ended up as. For Valérie, whose Pineau De Aunis rosé is a big seller, you can understand why sheed be losing sleep at night over this.

On a brighter note, we then visited Valériees 80+ year old Chenins, which were in tip-top shape and ready to make some bubbles.







After a walk through the vines, we went to taste the juices in the cellar, which had a shockingly over-powering odor of reduction.

eItes intense right?i

These crazy concrete tanks that looked like submarines captured my imagination.



We tasted Sauvignon from an organic parcel, and Sauvignon Rose from one in conversion. We also tried some Gamay.





Outside, I admitted to Julien that tasting juice is really hard, and that I found it almost impossible to tell what was going on.

"Me too. But ites still fun to do!"]]>