Louis Dressner Selections Louis Dressner Selections Blog http://louisdressner.com/ Mon, 11 Dec 2017 28:04:35 GMT Jules Dressner <![CDATA[More 2017 Harvest Reports!!!!]]> http://louisdressner.com/date/2017/12/1/340/ http://louisdressner.com/date/2017/12/1/340/ Fri, 01 Dec 2017 24:40:16 GMT

Phillipe Chevarin!!!!

Thomas-Labaille!!!

Maison Pierre-Overnoy. ]]>
<![CDATA[A Gaggle of New Harvest Reports!]]> http://louisdressner.com/date/2017/11/17/339/ http://louisdressner.com/date/2017/11/17/339/ Fri, 17 Nov 2017 27:16:24 GMT

Mosse!

Foradori!

Santuvario's 2017!


Santuvario's 2016!]]>
<![CDATA[2017 Harvest Reports from Baudy, Cazin, Pépière and Foti!]]> http://louisdressner.com/date/2017/11/2/338/ http://louisdressner.com/date/2017/11/2/338/ Thu, 02 Nov 2017 24:26:12 GMT

Salvo Foti!

François Cazin!

Pépière!

Baudry!]]>
<![CDATA[2017 (and 2016) Harvest Reports!]]> http://louisdressner.com/date/2017/10/6/337/ http://louisdressner.com/date/2017/10/6/337/ Fri, 06 Oct 2017 23:13:31 GMT

Here we go!

2017:

Côtar!

Oupia!


2016:

Eric Texier!

Combel-la-Serre!

François Cazin!



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<![CDATA[Introducing The Négoce WInes of Bellivière!]]> http://louisdressner.com/date/2017/8/25/336/ http://louisdressner.com/date/2017/8/25/336/ Fri, 25 Aug 2017 22:12:44 GMT

Weeve decided, in order to face the challenges of multiple vintages affected by frost, to help supplement our treasury with a new activity of négoce wines. We are actually very happy to have embarked in this very human, collaborative endeavor.

After contacting some vignerons friends in Anjou, we were able to secure biodynamically farmed grapes in red (Cabernet) and white (Chenin). The opportunity to purchase grapes in the Midi was offered to us in August. Chance has drawn me back to a region I spent a lot of time in during my oenologist years and that Ieve always appreciated for the beauty of its land and vineyards. We met a vine grower close to Mont Ventoux, also in biodynamics, who due to the lack of a local buyeres interest for the quality of his work, decided to sell his harvest elsewhere.

In a race against time, were were able to purchase beautiful grapes from gobelet trained, 45 year old Grenache and old Carignans. This decision was made hastily and instinctively, motivated by a positive experience with a new acquaintance. These three very intense weeks in late August and September have led us to a new, durable partnership with a vine grower who cares about the quality and morality of his work. This permitted us to choose the grapes directly from the the vines, to decide the optimal moment to harvest and, in coordination with other vignerons friends, hand-harvest ourselves in small bins and quickly bring the grapes back home in a refrigerated truck.

We worked non-stop for these beautiful grapes. A first for us, a totally de-stemmed vinification took place in our new cellar. The results are already tangible.

CONFLUENCE:


Harvested in the zone of Petits Bonnezeaux, Confluence (100% Chenin) will be in a resolutely dry style, with a good body marked but by fresh white fruit, particularly peach. This is a sector apt for botrytis, and we were very diligent about exact harvest dates to avoid it at all costs. We are very happy with the result.

CASTOR:


Lighter than its Southern brethren, Castor (70% Cabernet Franc, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon) shows nice richness and a great freshness, with ripe fruit and acidity. The Cabernet Franc dominates and shows optimal maturity; I donet think it could have been picked at a more perfect time. This is definitely Loire, and more fresh than opulent. However, a solid tannic structure assures that the wine, while ready to drink now, will age gracefully.

RAISIN MIGRATEURS:


Still in elevage, Raisins Migrateurs (80% Grenache, 20% Carignan) is looking to be rich and solid. Dense with very ripe fruit, black, crunchy fruit dominate on the palate but are balanced by rich, elegant tannins. The potential to age this wine is real, and our goal was to find a balance between immediate enjoyment in its youth and cellaring. We think that the winese nuance will work well with red meat and game. It is a real pleasure to discover the generous profile of the Southern Rhône.]]>
<![CDATA[New Producer: La Villana!]]> http://louisdressner.com/date/2017/8/4/335/ http://louisdressner.com/date/2017/8/4/335/ Fri, 04 Aug 2017 21:56:24 GMT

We are very, very excited to be working with the wines of La Villana! We first met Joy Kull years ago when she was interning at Le Coste, and were finally able to visit her this May and check on her solo project. We were very impressed for a first vintage, and looking forward to sharing these with the you!

Read Joy's profile and interview here!]]>
<![CDATA[New Producer: Phillipe Chevarin!]]> http://louisdressner.com/date/2017/4/27/334/ http://louisdressner.com/date/2017/4/27/334/ Thu, 27 Apr 2017 22:15:12 GMT

Go check out Phillipe's profile and interview!]]>
<![CDATA[Maria Ernesta Berucci!!!!!]]> http://louisdressner.com/date/2017/3/31/333/ http://louisdressner.com/date/2017/3/31/333/ Fri, 31 Mar 2017 24:54:11 GMT

Read up on one of our newest Italian producers, the very talented Maria Ernesta Berucci!!!!

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<![CDATA[Federico Orsi Profile and Interview!!!]]> http://louisdressner.com/date/2017/3/1/332/ http://louisdressner.com/date/2017/3/1/332/ Wed, 01 Mar 2017 20:32:35 GMT

"When I took over the winery in 2005, everything was done conventionally. My original plan was simply to find the best way to market myself; I was aware of being a very small winery in a relatively unknown area. My initial goal was to work with grapes indigenous to this land, to make a wine that corresponded to Bologna. I wanted the wine to distinguish itself; not to make something for the sake of being different, but to express my region."


Federico Orsi gives us an in depth look into how he became a winemaker overnight, discovering biodynamics, founding a farmer's market, raising pigs to make the world's best mortadella and so much more in his brand-spanking new interview!

READ IT HERE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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<![CDATA[A Day With Arianna Occhipinti!]]> http://louisdressner.com/date/2016/12/14/331/ http://louisdressner.com/date/2016/12/14/331/ Wed, 14 Dec 2016 21:45:21 GMT

Follow the adventures of Arianna as she works on her 2016's in the cellar, has a pizza party and shows her hidden singer/songwriter talents!]]>
<![CDATA[WHOA! 360 Videos from Elisabetta Foradori's 2016 Harvest!]]> http://louisdressner.com/date/2016/11/18/330/ http://louisdressner.com/date/2016/11/18/330/ Fri, 18 Nov 2016 23:25:13 GMT

Elisabetta Foradori's son Theo Zierock has shared with us his incredible labor of love documenting Foradori's 2016 harvest in Virtual Reality! This is so cool!

Via Theo:

This spring, after a calm winter, a wave of immediate heat favored an early vegetative explosion. The hot start was quickly interrupted by a wet and cold end of May, which continued into a chilly summer until August. Heat and lack of rain marked the second half of the season and continued almost uninterrupted until the end of the harvest. Single showers helped the vines in the last days before picking, but overall, although very productive, this vintage is marked by an unbalanced climate. We will discover in the next phases of human transformation how this bipolarity transfers to the wines.

To share this yeares harvest we thought of creating a participative experience of the winery during the moment of the year, where all the challenges and efforts come to a peak.

1. The video above is a condensed overview of the whole production process from the grape harvest to fermentation in our clay Tinajas.

2. The harvest in the Teroldego vineyards.



Both scenes are filmed in parcels that end up in bottles of Foradori. The first part shows our harvest-team picking grapes from our wide pergola. This original method of Teroldego farming in the area of the Piana Rotaliana allowed our ancestors to be as autonomous as possible with little farmable land. Between these wide rows, originally the peasants would plant vegetables or corn for polenta, keep animals and cut hay.


3. Our collaborator Andrea drives the tractor with the harvest from the vineyard to the courtyard for the next step.



4. After weighting the harvested grapes on our old scale (built-in to the courtyard), Lorenzo moves the load from the scale to the processing area. Here the grapes are destemmed and pumped to the cellar without being pressed.




5. The harvest team at lunch. This year our team was particularly young and international: hailing from seven different countries, most of our pickers were under 30.



6. The Foradori brothers, Emilio and Theo, take care of the grape stomping or pigeage in the cellar. During the fermentation this is done twice a day for every tinaja.

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<![CDATA[General Musings From Italy: Fall 2016.]]> http://louisdressner.com/date/2016/11/11/329/ http://louisdressner.com/date/2016/11/11/329/ Fri, 11 Nov 2016 27:10:49 GMT

General Musing From will be a new series of posts recapping the funny, anecdotal moments from our travels around Europe.

I love Italy! After having missed our annual May trip to visit Louis-Antoine Luyt in Chile, I was eager for our 10 day romp through Emilia-Romagna, Campania, Puglia and Lombardy.

Nothing starts a trip with a bang more than a glass door in your apartment spontaneously shattering while packing!









I thought one of my frames had fallen and shattered, but it turns out that the door to my inactive fireplace/liquor cabinet suddenly EXPLODED INTO A MILLION PIECES! Some googling led me to the conclusion that this apparently happens with poorly made glass. Anyway, it was one of the weirdest, surreal things I've ever experienced and I'll keep you posted on if my house is haunted.

The flight was pretty smooth, and permitted me to watch X-Men: Apocalypse (meh), Mike and Ted Need Wedding Dates (had some moments despite starring Zach Effron) and the original Independence Day (classic).



Upon arrival, we drove straight from Milano to Parma to attend Vini di Vignaioli, aka our favorite Wine Fair. While stopping for lunch on the autostrada, I spotted something rather perplexing:



Yes, that's right: Simpsons themed, doughnut flavored tic-tacs:



Naturally, Josefa bought me some:



Spoiler alert: they are disgusting. So disgusting.

Vini di Vignaioli at Fornovo was great, and over two days we were able to catch up with a plethora of producers, including Luciano Saetti, Monte dall' Ora, Cerreto Libri, Camillo Donati, Fonterenza, Elisabetta Foradori, Montesecondo, Costadilà, Casa Coste Piane, Cascina Degli Ulivi, Massa Vecchia, Altura and Arianna Occhipinti.



As always, the Emilian nights saw us posted up at Tabarro, one my favorite wine bars in the world. On the second night, Diego got a police complaint around 1:30 am and forced us all to hide in the basement to make believe he was closed.

It was certainly a weird scene, and included: drinking Fabio Gea's Grignolino and Mushroom Panda while talking to him about Chinese politics, a wild goose chase for Overnoy, a 2012 Émile Héredia Le Verre des Poètes, passed out dudes, an unanswered request for Dard & Ribo and/or Beaujolais, Alice Feiring, bored Danish women and a vertical of old Mascarello Barolos around 3:am.

On Sunday we had dinner at one of our favorite local Emilian spots, Trattoria Milla. This place was my introduction to Torta Fritta/Gnocco Fritto, flaky fried pastries you stuff with prosciutto, culatello, salami, parmesan, etc...



I had an existential crisis when I read a sign saying they'd run out for the night, only to be confirmed by the owner when we sat down. Didn't they know this was the one time a year we come here??????? And then, after all that dread of missing out on my customized Emilian hot-pockets, the owner nonchalantly offered us 20 to go along with our antipasti. This was after explicitly telling us they were out! Though very confusing and putting my mental sanity in question, everything was right with the world!

Also, ribs and Mascarello Freisa.



Being in Emilia also gave us time to pay a visit to the maestro of Emilian bubbles, Vittorio Graziano!





We haven't had these in stock for a while, but we promise it will be in soon! So good.

From Parma, we hopped on a train to Naples. But not before eating a Cruffin.



Just kidding. That sounds stupid.

The weather in Naples was beautiful:



Much to my surprise, hover-boards are extremely popular in Naples right now, as I spotted over 20 in less than 24 hours. I guess they haven't started exploding there yet; someone should call them with their Galaxy Note 7's to let them know.

Being in Naples meant pizza for lunch and dinner, including a stop at the famous Sorbillo!





Yes, that was the crowd waiting to get in. Mobbed and super long wait, but totally worth it. If you find yourself with a 2-plus hour wait, feel free to walk around and sample some of Naples' delicacies:





Between these and the doughnut tic-tacs, this post might contain the foulest consumable products known to man.

From Naples we went to visit Cantina Giardino! I love how all the art on their labels comes from artist friends and can be spotted decorating their walls.



The forthcoming 2015's are great, keep your eyes peeled for the magnums of Rosso and the return of the Rosato!





I was also able to score this amazing t-shirt featuring the Bianco Magnum's serpent:



That night, our hotel in Irpinia smelled like being trapped in an elevator with an 80 year old woman wearing too much Channel N5. While trying to take a nap, I kept constantly being distracted by a man loudly counting from 1 to 10 over and over again; turns out there is a gym below the hotel and a class was going on. Josefa, a native Chicagoan, stayed up all night to watch the Cubs win the World Series. By crying and screaming so much, she woke up Denyse around 6:am, who wasn't sure if her reaction was due to a win or a loss.

We also swung by Agnanum, which was so noteworthy the visit will get its own recap.



From Campania, we headed over to Puglia to visit Perrini, Natalino del Prete and Cristiano Guttarolo. At some point during our visit to Cristiano, we pissed off his damijan.



While in Puglia, we got to spend a few nights in the gorgeous baroque town of Lecce.



Dinner was at the incredible Le Zie!



I highly recommend the slice of horse as your main course:



From Lecce, we spent a night in Barri, then had one last visit in Lombardy to visit the incredible Franciacorta estate Il Pendio!



Il Pendio will get its own profile and re-cap shortly.

Ok, that's it!

THE END.

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<![CDATA[New Producer: Julien Pineau in Mareuil-sur-Cher!]]> http://louisdressner.com/date/2016/9/21/328/ http://louisdressner.com/date/2016/9/21/328/ Wed, 21 Sep 2016 26:15:36 GMT

Visiting Julien Pineau this summer felt a bit like being in a parallel universe: everything looks the same, but it's not. The Clos Roche Blanche vineyard is the most written about on this website, including a 9 part recap on my experience harvesting the estate's last vintage in 2014. Julien, who was training under Didier at the time, features prominently in those posts, and I encourage you to re-read them or discover them for the first time before continuing on with this recap. Also, also read Julien's profile!

Meeting up with Julien would be one of few uplifting moments of our two weeks in the Loire, at least wine wise. 2016 has been a disastrous vintage for the vast majority of Northern France, yet somehow his sector is one of the only ones not ravaged by frost, hail and/or mildew. This sector also includes Noella Morantin, Maisons Brûlées and Laurent Lebled, so keep that in mind in the Spring of 2017 when you need your Loire fix!

Taking our habitual walk through the vines, the sky was menacing.



Regardless, the Clos is as beautiful and full of life as ever. Here are some pretty flower pictures.

















What a relief to see some healthy bunches!



Especially compared to some of the horrors witnessed in the Muscadet a few days later:



That, my friends, is a bunch devastated by mildew at Pépière. Yikes...

Continuing our walk, Julien explained how he and Laurent Saillard, the other co-owner of Clos Roche Blanche, have ripped out some very old, unproductive Sauvignon and Côt vines that Noella Morantin used to rent.







Some of the plots had been replanted with cereals.



Julien plans to re-plant about a hectare of of the indigenous and obscure Menu Pineau, but also apple and pear trees.

"My girlfriend is currently following a formation for biodynamic polyculture. Our goal is to have more than just vines in the Clos: different fruit trees and vegetable patches, but also livestock to diversify this already incredible eco-system even more."

As far as the division of the 12 hectares that actually constitute the lieu dit Clos Roche Blanche (the estate once ballooned to as big as 25 hectares), Julien and Laurent have split the land in an intuitive fashion: Julien works the 6 hectares he trained under while working with Didier (Sauvignon, Gamay, Côt, Pineau D'Aunis, Cabernet Sauvignon) and Laurent works the 6 hectares he worked as the long time employee of Noella Morantin.



As we continued our walk through the vineyards, Julien pointed out the 100% straw cabin Didier had recently restored.



"He purchased a ribbon and we did a fake opening ceremony. We drank a bottle of bubbles in there to celebrate."

From the cabin, we went to check out the old Côt and Pineau D'Aunis.







It really started raining at this point, so we had to take refuge in the cellar to taste.



The first thing we spotted was some Sauvignon heading to our coasts (now available in NYC!!!!)



We began by tasting all the wines bottled in Spring, all of which are now stateside.





In Julien's first vintage, two Sauvignons were produced à la Clos Roche Blanche N#2 and N#5. The Spring bottling is called Roche Blanche. For reds, the spring bottling resulted in a Cabernet Franc called L'Écume des Nuits and a Pineau d'Aunis called Les Sucettes a l'Aunis. The latter is a pun riffing on Serge Gainsbourg's Les Sucettes, a song whose subject matter you may catch from the (ahem) extremely subtle images in that Youtube video. A Pet Nat from Cabernet Sauvignon called Bocca di Rosa rounds out the lineup.

Julien has purchased all of CRB's barrels and tanks, which we diligently tasted through for wines still being aged.









These included the younger Côt, old vine Côt and foudre raised Sauvignon. Everything is tasting great.

It was lunch time, and since Catherine knew I was coming, she made sure to stock up on a little bit of cheese.



It made me happier than a gnome with his arms up or a cat in a basket.




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<![CDATA[Stanko Radikon]]> http://louisdressner.com/date/2016/9/12/327/ http://louisdressner.com/date/2016/9/12/327/ Mon, 12 Sep 2016 22:35:14 GMT

As many of you know we received the news from SaIa this weekend that his dear father and our very dear friend / collaborator Stanko passed away over the weekend. Joe and I first met Stanko and Suzana in the spring of 2003. It was at Villa Favorita, an "off" show of Vinitaly at that time organized by the group Viniveri of which Radikon was a founding member and whose idea of viticulture and winemaking pre-dated and helped shaped the guiding principles of the group. I remember he seemed formidable and at the same time genial. I think Joe was even a little intimidated (a rare occurrence).

It wasn't until a year later when the Viniveri show moved to Villa Boschi that we seriously talked with him. We tasted a few times over the course of the two days of the show. Naturally we loved the wines…it was 2001 vintage. We had a full schedule, but wanted to see the winery and Stanko wanted us to come see the vineyards and cellar. We said we could only come at 7AM, a scary thought for Joe and I, before our flight from the nearby Trieste airport. Stanko said no problem; he'd be awake. It was a gorgeous day, we got lost, of course (pre-GPS days!), but he waited for us patiently on the side of the road so we would not miss the turn. We stumbled through the vineyards and a rushed, but revelatory, tasting in the cellar and I think when we parted, we all understood then and there that we would be working together for years.

The news this weekend saddened us and a lot of our winemakers who over the years of our collaboration and through SaIa came to know one another and Stanko very well. They came to know and understand the very special way that Stanko looked at wine, a vision that was a wonderful sense of emotion and reasoning, sense memory and science, heart and brain.

We are very proud to represent Stanko and the heart and brain in his wines. He stands for a generation of winemakers that made conscientious and brave choices to revitalize tradition, respectful farming practices, and counter-fashionable wine styles in an era of "modernization" and fast-paced standardization, igniting a movement that continues to resonate, provocate and enlighten a new generation of wine appreciators.

Auguri, Stanko!

And to the wonderful Radikon family -- Suzana, SaIa and Luisa, Savina and Andrea and Ivana and the 3 boys of the newest generation -- our hearts and thoughts are with you all.

Kevin
e Denyse, Jules, Josefa, Maya, David and Sheila
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<![CDATA[The Chile Chronicles, Part 8: Los Angeles, Portozuelo, Last Night in Santiago!]]> http://louisdressner.com/date/2016/8/15/326/ http://louisdressner.com/date/2016/8/15/326/ Mon, 15 Aug 2016 21:08:06 GMT


READ PART 1, PART 2,PART 3, PART 4, PART 5, PART 6 and PART 7.

No, this did not suddenly become a California post. Los Angeles is a tiny sector of the Bìo Bìo that used to be densely planted in vines. Today, LA estimates only 30 to 50 hectares remain.

After yet another long drive from Chillàn, we got lost and drove up and down this road a million times.



"Shit, this never happens to me!"

In this very rare case, LA's mental GPS had failed him and we had to ask for directions at Provisiones Don Leo.



I'm not sure if the pan was any good, and wished I had a little more time to gamble on Leo's machines.



Finally, after a little more searching, we were at the Los Angeles parcel!



The vines here were abandoned in 1955, with the owners opting to replant wheat and other cereals. One problem though: the vines kept growing back. For decades, the owner was convinced they were annoying shrubs.



"I started working with this vineyard through the owner's uncle (note: the owner of the Quenehuao vineyard). When I came to visit, we quickly noticed that the shrubby vines growing from the soil were aligned, confirming this was once a dedicated vineyard. I'd estimate the vines to be anywhere between 200 and 300 years old; the owner kept lopping the woods, but the roots are simply too deep to tear out! They kept coming back!"







The soils here are pure sand, making for a fruity, glou-glou wine.

Before our last vine visit, we grabbed lunch at this place.



Along with our chicken stew, we got to enjoy a shitty 40 Oz of beer.





From lunch, we headed to the Portozuelo sector to visit some newly discovered Cinsault vines.





The Cinsault was essentially a prelude to our visit to see more beautiful Paìs! But first we had to walk for a while on this private pass.







After about 15 minutes, we spotted an employee roasting some chestnuts by the concrete vinification vats.





A little more walking led to another beautiful pic.



After almost 20 minutes on foot, we'd arrived!











The next day, we visited a producer that we don't import, so I won't talk about it. I did take the best picture of the trip there though:



Driving back to Santiago, the sky was on fire.



We started the night at LA's friend Flacco, an architect, university professor and accomplished DJ in a past life.



He had a NY section in his vinyl collection, and we waxed poetic (pun intended) about LCD Soundsystem and Metro Area.

From there, we went to another friend's house whose name I can't remember, but who had a really fancy turntable and some good tunes as well.





Old pieces of art from Louis-Antoine's beginnings were on proud display:





It was a really fun night.



THE END.

CONCLUSION: What Louis-Antoine Luyt has accomplished over the last decade is nothing short of incredible, and I hope I was able to transmit this in this series of blog posts. He's brought life to forgotten vines in forgotten lands. He's championed Paìs, the grape that started it all. He's given us the opportunity to drink wine made from 300 year old vines for the first time. He's encouraged farmers to value their land in a climate that does the exact opposite. It's an honor to be represent him and share his vision with you all.

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<![CDATA[The Chile Chronicles, Part 7: Coteaux de Trumao!]]> http://louisdressner.com/date/2016/8/2/325/ http://louisdressner.com/date/2016/8/2/325/ Tue, 02 Aug 2016 20:28:38 GMT

READ PART 1, PART 2,PART 3, PART 4, PART 5 and PART 6.

In what was perhaps the longest day of driving in my life, after our visit to Santa Juana (about 3 hours from Chillán) we drove 5 hours South to visit the Coteaux de Trumao project.



Spend a little time examining that label, then compare it to the pictures below. It will all make sense.

Coteaux de Trumao was founded by two French brothers, Christophe and Olivier Porte, in the early 2000's.



The brothers live at the top of the gorgeous coteau that inspired the estate.



Olivier and his wife live in the house to the left of the talapa.



Christophe and his wife live to the right of it, just out of sight.

The talapa itself is absolutely gorgeous:











Check out this amazing coal rotisserie action.





Gotta spin those ducks!

Over dinner, we got to hear the Porte's Chilean origin story. Their parents had left France to raise cattle in Chile, and both brothers joined them after college in their early 20's. They both worked in the family business for about 10 years, with Christophe eventually branching out into his own project of running a gold mining operation. Pardon the shitty pun, but it was anything but a goldmine; after nearly a decade he found himself nearly dead broke.

Olivier was still working in cattle but wanted a change of pace, so the brothers decided to become partners in a new venture. They founded a wood plant in 1990, which continues to exist to this day. Parallel to their professional lives, a love of Chilean wine was developing, particularly for the Paìs of the 80's. And despite their increasing disillusionment with spoofy 90's winemaking (particularly new oak), the Porte bros eventually felt the urge to start a vinous project of their own. This was right around the time they'd settled on building their new homes on the property where the vines now grow.



"We had already decided to build the houses and talapa on this gorgeous, isolated hill off the Río Bueno. One day, while walking around, Oliver and I spotted a single, old vine that had not been torn out. This was a sign to us: clearly vines had been planted here in the past."

They hired a consultant who proceeded to plant Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir.

"Again, we had no idea what we were doing. But it became very clear early on that the Pinot was reacting the best to the land, as well as making the best wine."

Though the vines have always been worked organically, the first few vintages (never released commercially) were vinified conventionally and proved uninteresting. In 2007, the Porte brother's good friend Lucien (remember him from PART 4?) put them in touch with Louis-Antoine Luyt, who made the long drive down to visit.

"I was immediately drawn to the beauty of the land and the potential of the terroir. It was clear that Pinot Noir worked really well here: it's right off a river, giving the vines the coolness they need. Furthermore, the soils of compacted, volcanic ash react positively to the variety."

Here are pics of said soil:





LA agreed to help to partner up with Porte brothers. The first step involved replanting the entirety of the estate to Pinot Noir in 2005. After three years of letting the youngest vines grow, he vinified for the first time in 2008. Today, the wine is being man by a young Frenchman named Quentin Javoy, who is to the left of Louis-Antoine in the picture below:



In the dusk of the early morning, we set out to visit the vines.



But first, we had to meet the big guy whose names dotes the bottle: Cruchon!



That's right, this wine is named after a dog. So I like more now.

We started at the very top of the hill.



Planted in 2009, these are the youngest vines of the estate.





Because phylloxera never affected Chile, all the plantings are in franc de pied.

"We simply planted the canes and waited."

The 2009 vines are particularly suffering: at 7 years old and barely producing. Still, it was LA and the Porte's choice not to irrigate these young plants, something you almost never see in Chile. The positive side is that it forces them to create deep root systems, which will pay off in the long run.

For now the soils are not being worked, because they don't want grass re-growing and creating competition for the vines.



"Next year we want to start using discs to cut the grass."







You can't spot it because of the mist, but the Bueno river borders the property.

Planted in 2000, the oldest vines are at the very bottom of the hill. Many have been propagated with marcottage.



Quentin, the young Loire native who now is in charge of the Cruchon project, explained that the viticulture is organic, with only contact products touching the vineyards. Odium is the biggest problem due to the proximity to the river and big temperature dips from day to night. Other than that, Quentin makes many herbal preparations from plants surrounding the vineyards.



Stay tuned for the exciting conclusion of the Chile Chronicles!]]>
<![CDATA[The Chile Chronicles, Part 6: Yumbel and Santa Juana!]]> http://louisdressner.com/date/2016/7/13/324/ http://louisdressner.com/date/2016/7/13/324/ Wed, 13 Jul 2016 14:19:57 GMT

READ PART 1, PART 2,PART 3, PART 4 and PART 5.

After an extensive tour of the Maule Valley, it was time to spend some time in the Bìo Bìo Valley! Our first stop was in the sector of Yumbel to visit Tito Saavedra.



Surprise: this area produces...



Anyhow, the Bìo Bìo itself is a river, and the region is divided into two main sectors. Some, like Yumbel, have sandy volcanic soils. Other parts are more similar to the Maule, with limestone and granite. It rains more in Bìo Bìo than in the Maule, but it's still very hot. Because there is less industrial farming here than the Maule, you find a lot less french grapes. Bìo Bìo is dead in the center of Chile, and has some of the oldest vines in the country.

On to Tito's vines:







The soils consist of light clay and decomposed granite, and are much darker than any other site we'd visited.



These Paìs vines were planted in 1580!!!!!!





"The vines here are incredible. But I still feel Tito overworks them. A huge challenge with farmers is convincing them to prune for lower yields. In their minds, a good harvest is a plentiful one."

LA and Tito have been having pruning conversations that would reduce yields by 30%, in turn sacrificing quantity for quality. It's a recurring conversation with all of his suppliers; most are willing to compromise and do this on the vines LA purchases fruit from, but not the entirety of their land.

From the vines, we checked out Tito's "cellar" to try his Pipeño.



Check out this elaborate stool setup to get up to the lagar.





Ouuuhhh, a puppy!



It was time to taste Tito's Pipeño straight out of a big plastic jug.



It was fruity and spicy with nice structure. This is important to note since Tito's finished wine is what will be bottled as the 2016 Pipeño Yumbel.

"Sometimes I buy made wine, sometimes I buy the grapes to make the wine myself. I know Tito makes a good Pipeño without any bacterial issues so I trust his finished product. It would be great in the long term to buy the wine directly from everyone, but the challenge is being able to bottle very fast. Pipeños are all about freshness, and you don't want to lose that."

In 2016, Yumbel will be the only huaso-made wine we import the the US. Everything else was vinified by LA. From Yumbel, we were off to the Santa Juana sector. But first, we had to take a river ferry across the Bìo Bìo!













LA was relieved that it was the guy he liked working the ferry.



"There are two guys who work this job, and they both despise each other. The other guy is a total dick."

Once we were on the other side of the river, we took some dirt roads to the middle of nowhere. The drive brought us right to this closed gate.



Already there was a nice view.



Could we be in Santa Juana? The place that produces:



We were! After a few minutes, the lovely Luis Burgos let us in.



Before checking out the vines, we had to pop into Luis' house to meet his wife and proprietor of the land Sara. She was busy whipping up some home-made empanadas!!!!!





This was probably the most excited I've ever been writing about food on a trip.

But before eating, we had to see vines! This isolated plot of land is hands down one of the most beautiful I've laid eyes on.















Amongst some of the flatter vines, an entire box of harvested Paìs had been forgotten.





"I honestly think they just forgot it."

The soils here are similar to Coronel del Maule: red clay with decomposed gravel and flint. The vines used to be worked with systemics, but LA and his team have helped convert the land back to organic viticulture. Luyt comes with his team each year to prune, green harvest and pick grapes.

While Sara kept cooking, Luis served us a little bit of his Semillon for apero.



We also got to try his Merlot straight from huge plastic barrel.





My notes say: "Fresh, juicy juicy."

We also tried a Malbec, which was darker but still very easy to drink.

By this time we were starving, so we checked up on Sara and her empanadas.





They were SO GOOD!!!!!!!!!!!!!



I lost track but I think I ate six.

And of course it needed to be accompanied by some Pipeño!



Don't worry, it was Sara's, not Santa Rita.

Sara used to make the Santa Juana Pipeño herself, but didn't feel like making it this year, so LA bought her grapes instead.

"She's getting older but not letting herself slow down. She's always saying yes to every project thrown her way. However making the wine has become too time consuming. Luis makes his personal stash and that's enough for them."

Before saying goodbye, we had to take some goodbye pics:



And polish off that Pipeño:



By the way, I wasn't joking about those dirt roads:


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<![CDATA[The Chile Chronicles, Part 5: Coronel del Maule!]]> http://louisdressner.com/date/2016/7/6/323/ http://louisdressner.com/date/2016/7/6/323/ Wed, 06 Jul 2016 19:25:18 GMT

READ PART 1, PART 2,PART 3 AND PART 4.

From Pilen, we headed to the Coronel del Maule sector of the Maule valley to visit Raoul Perez.



From the moment we pulled into the farm, it was clear there was a special connection between Raoul and LA.



"Raoul is my biggest inspiration. We've had our ups and downs, but the trust is there and our our bond is unbreakable. This sector (Coronel del Maule) was the area that originally inspired me to make wine in Chile, and I am so happy to have met him."

After some nice helloes, it was time to check the vines.



On the way up, the Raoul/LA bonding continued.



When LA met Raoul, he was on the verge of abandoning his 1.5 hectares of Paìs.







"He simply felt it was too much work for what he could get paid for."

In a stark contrast to Raoul's beautiful vines (which, for some reason, always keep their foliage very late in the season), here is a picture of his neighbor's chemically farmed parcel.



I prefer these.





The contrast is even crazier in this pic:



The vines are at least 300 years old, and grow on soils of clay with decomposed gravel and flint.

"The roots go down 80 meters."

That's deep.

It was lunch time, and Raoul graciously invited us into his home. Before we could eat, we had to taste his Pipeño!



It was made in this lagar!



The wine is a blend of Paìs, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. It was delicious, fresh with herbal notes.

It also went really well with his wife's soup, made from their farm-grown garbanzo beans and hominy.



It is traditional to have soup AFTER the main dish in Chile, which I'm a big fan of. This was also my first opportunity of the trip to flex my "I'll have seconds" skills. Works every time at pleasing the cook!

During lunch, a rather amusing conversation revolved around Raoul trying LA's Coronel del Maule Pipeño each year and always saying: "It' ok. It's not as good as mine!"

Both are delicious, but LA admits that Raoul has a "slight" advantage: he's been making wine from this land since he was a teenager. I asked if Raoul ever sells some of his wine to locals or friends, and LA translated that he'd prefer giving it away.

"Most people don't care about the hard work and effort, and don't even know what they would be paying for. They just want some wine. And if they don't buy it from me, they will buy it from someone else. So I'd rather give it to them so they can enjoy."

Apparently, in Luyt terminology, "coffee" translates to "another glass of Pipeño". This was a good excuse to try a traditional beverage/porridge/energy drink consisting of Pipeño, toasted wheat and honey.



It was pretty good. After lunch, I made sure to give Raoul a big hug with the Huaso hat he gave me.



Raoul is the best. Here are pictures of his dogs for no reason other than I like taking pictures of dogs.





From Raoul's, we headed to another sector within Coronel del Maule called Pichihuedque. Here, we visited Miguel Alvear.



When we got to Miguel's, his entire family was huddled up eating boar stew from a beast slain just that morning.



They asked if we wanted some. After requesting a little taste, we got 3 huge plates. Second lunch was good (and quite honestly a little too filling), but permitted us to try Miguel's Pipeño, made from this huge lagar that can hold up to 18,000 liters!





"No chemicals. Natural."

Unsurprisingly, it was very tasty.

Moving along, Miguel's farm was quite a scene.







There were huge oxen everywhere.







Miguel insisted they were very nice and that I could even pet them, but I'll admit I wasn't reassured with this guy giving me the stanky eye.



Keep in mind that picture was zoomed in.

From Miguel's farm, we set off to check out the Paìs that produce:













This sector is much more marked by heavy clay, with much less decomposed granite and quartz than we'd seen in other areas.

"Because of the heavier clay, you get wines that are more on the fruit here, with less smokiness than Pilen or even Raoul's."



The second parcel we visited from Miguel had much redder clay.







The heavy clay, combined with the day's on and off rain, had made for treacherous driving. The car we'd rented was capable of much, but wasn't four wheel drive. For a moment it looked like we might get stuck. Fortunately, Miguel was ready for anything:

"Don't worry, I have oxen. They've got four wheel drive: with big hoofs and horns."

Our last stop of the day was Sergio Perez, who makes the delicious:



Look, here's the tinaja that made it!



Anyhow, this is the awesome Sergio Perez!



Nice hat Sergio! When we got to his house, we woke him up from his afternoon nap. If that day was anything to go on, he has no problem sleeping through the very loud music coming from his boombox.

In an unprecedented moment in this blog's history, I took a picture of a cat!



Too cute to pass up.

Anyhow, Sergio was supposed to press his Pipeño grapes the day we got there, but his employees didn't show up, so he didn't. But that didn't mean we weren't going to taste it!



In an impressive move, Sergio put together a natural filter by taking a bunch of stems directly from the lagar and jamming them on top of a fire hose.







My, oh my was it tasty!



Sergio is 79, and has been making wine since he is 12.

"I make Pipeño to give the workers something to drink right away. My Tinaja wines are the ones you can age."

Speaking of his employees, Sergio locks all of his doors because they are "drunk idiots." Maybe if he stopped giving them all that Pipeño, they'd be more trustworthy? Or maybe they need Mormonism in their lives?

After some Pipeño, we tried his eau de vie from barrel.



The single barrel was tucked away in an interestingly decorated room.



In what is perhaps the most bizarre advertisement I've ever seen, here is one for A BUTCHER SHOP pinned to the wall.



FOR A BUTCHER SHOP!

And even better, look who was right next to sexy butcher lady.





Here's four more pics from Sergio's I wanted to share but had absolutely no way to work in:









Boop!

It was the end of a long day, and we were finally on our way home. Here some choice quotes from Louis-Antoine.

"Coronel is my center, my home base. It is my favorite part of the Maule. If only I could figure out how to make wine like these guys!"

"I know the Beaujolais and Coronel del Maule. And I prefer Coronel del Maule!"

"The people there are the crème de la crème. They are still human. They are independant. They are welcoming. They are kind. They don't judge you. They are everything good about peasantry. This is my family." ]]>
<![CDATA[The Chile Chronicles, Part 4: Tomenelo and Pilen!]]> http://louisdressner.com/date/2016/6/27/322/ http://louisdressner.com/date/2016/6/27/322/ Mon, 27 Jun 2016 21:38:58 GMT

READ PART 1, PART 2 AND PART 3.

On our fourth day in Chile, we started our day in a sector called Tomenelo to check out Elena Pantaleoni's Chilean side project.











It was fiercely guarded by the terrifying watch dog Chip.



All in all, 27 hectares of vines are planted mostly in Carmenere and Cabernet Sauvignon. Way back in 2007 and 2008, Louis-Antoine actually made a Clos Ouvert wine from this vineyard.



The 2007 we tried later that night was tasty!

While on the road, LA explained that at this point in time, he is working purely on a négociant model, purchasing fruit at an unheard of 3 times the market rate. However, he is more directly involved than most négociants with many of the parcels' viticulture, participating in pruning, green harvesting and picking. For plowing and day to day work, he trusts his suppliers.

"Everything is so spread out. I can't be everywhere at once."

Before setting out to discover more vines, we decided to visit LA's friend Lucien.



Lucien, a jolly guy in his 70's, is originally from Savoie. Around 30 years ago, he got sick of France, so he built a wood boat and sailed it to Chile. Since he's clearly good at building things, he founded a wood shop that makes some truly unique, beautiful pieces.









Everything is hand-made. Thin slices of wood are carved, pressed together, then polished and touched up.













He also still makes boats.



It was a quick visit, and Lucien was very disappointed we hadn't brought a bottle to drink.

"That's the modern world. Always on your way somewhere else. Always late."

For the record, it was 10 in the morning. And yes, we were late. Late to check out the stunning vineyards that produce:



After some dirt road action, LA stopped in the woods and told us we'd have to do the rest of the trip by foot.





It had been raining, so the ground was quite slippery.



"Even under better circumstances, it is impossible to get here with a car. During harvest we use an ox cart to bring the grapes back up."

During our walk, LA pointed out an exposed patch of rocks that revealed Pilen's subsoils:





We'd seen a lot of red clay already, but Pilen is particularly marked by iron.



After a solid 15 minute walk, we arrived to the first of 3 parcels of 200 year old Paìs.











The soils here are red granite, red clay and schist. At 580 meters of elevation, Pilen is truly a mountain vineyard.

Here are pictures from the equally beautiful second parcel.







These two parcels belong to a young man named Leonel Diaz.



He lives with his parents in one of the only two houses in the immediate vicinity (the town is a 20 minute walk away).







Leonel owns a lagar that he uses occasionally to make Pipeño.



And this tinaja (amphora), though it doesn't seem to be getting much use these days...



From Leonel's we took a short walk to the only other house in the vicinity.



There, we were greeted by the lovely Margarita Leon.



Margarita was very busy! First off, she was making food for her dogs.





This little guy was patiently waiting for his meal while sitting on a big bag.



Then she had to check on her tinaja to give her Pipeño a nice stirring.







And what about ALL THOSE CHICKENS????



But most importantly, Margarita was working on her main hustle, making hand-made plates and bowls from Pilen's abundant red clay.





Little did I know that I'd been eating out of her handiwork every night at Louis' house!





Just below Margarita's house are her and her husband's vines.







Some of the Paìs, for reasons LA could not understand, had not been harvested.







"They probably just had too much left."

Check out this 200 year old beauty.



Anyhow, that's it for now!
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<![CDATA[The Chile Chronicles, Part 3: Luyt Life, The Cellar and Coelemu!]]> http://louisdressner.com/date/2016/6/20/321/ http://louisdressner.com/date/2016/6/20/321/ Mon, 20 Jun 2016 20:05:27 GMT

READ PART 1 AND PART 2.

Louis-Antoine Luyt lives off an unmarked, unpaved dirt-road in the outskirts of Chillàn with his wife Dorothée and three kids: Antoine, Mathilde and Benoit.







They also have four beautiful dogs: Mr Pickles, Bazooka, Ron and Jane (only three pictured).



Though I would later find out this is fairly common, dozens of chickens freely roam the yard.



And let's not forgot Oinky, the lovable pig with a heart of gold.



On our third day in Chile, we were feeling the beginnings of winter: besides the sun setting at 6pm (the result of a just passed daylight saving time), it was foggy, rainy and cold!



Undeterred, we set out to Louis-Antoine's cellar to see where the magic happens.





LA shares this cellar with Viña Chillán, another winery focusing on organically grown vines surrounding the property.





A plethora of international grapes are planted here, including Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Paìs, Syrah, Carmenere and Malbec. Some of these LA vinifies in micro quantities as a side-project:



Stepping into the cellar, I spotted some familiar bottles!



The main room mainly consists of large stainless steel and fiberglass tanks.



However there are also a large amount of plastic lagars.





Check out that sweet sweater/beanie combo from the Quenehuao wool factory!

Anyhow, a lagar typically refers to a stone trough with an open top, but can also mean plastic or, as is more common in Chile, large wood vats.









As you can see, LA has all three. Since starting his Pipeño project in 2013 (old vine País from different sectors bottled in liters), the traditional huaso style of open-top vinification has deeply affected his cellar practices.

"When I started, I worked exclusively with cold carbonic macerations because that was the only way I really knew how to make wine. In fact, I remember the first time I met your father (the late Joe Dressner), we got into a huge argument about it, with him screaming at me that all I did was carbo, carbo, carbo! He still ended up buying the wines anyway!"

The vinifications have shifted to include some carbonic, but at this point are mainly whole-cluster or de-stemmed macerations with regular pigeages. In some cases, Luyt vinifies parts of the same harvest separately and blends at the end for more balance. The macerations are much shorter than probably any one else in Chile, leading to a noticeably less extracted style. It also doesn't hurt that he harvests 3 weeks to a month before the average winery...

"Making a Pipeño is a violent form of vinification. We de-stem and then do nothing. Everything happens really fast."

In a way, the Pipeño approach shares similarities with the hands off, semi-carbonic vinifications of the Beaujolais (famously dubbed by Marcel Lapierre as "lazy man's winemaking"). But working with open-top containers (which remain open throughout vinification, in itself much more of a challenge), has shown LA that it was time to reevaluate his winemaking practices.

"I think my separate vinifications, playing with pigeages, de-stemming and whole cluster, short macerations, long macerations, blends... It's partly experimentation, but I do believe it adds complexity to the vines. Since moving away from carbonic macerations, I've had to find my own way."

We spent our morning tasting wine, which isn't particularly interesting so I'll spare you. More interesting was our lunch!



Every day, LA and his team have lunch just a few 100 meters away in this "clandestine restaurant".







LA has struck an agreement with the lovely Angelica (pictured in the middle) to make daily meals for his team.



"Her husband is a farmer, and she cooks for his team, the Chillán team and mine. She's the best."

Her homemade sopaipillas were banging, as was her chicken stew.



Tea was heated right off the furnace.



The whole room had some funky details.





My favorite was a picture of a decapitated pig head in a bucket next to happy family pictures.





After lunch, we drove for over to the Coelemu vineyard that produces Gorda Blanca and the Pipeño Coelemu.















The steep hill pictured above is 300 year old Paìs that have never been exposed to chemicals. The soils consist of heavy red clay with decomposed quartz and granite subsoils, and are worked by horse.



The vines are within a private property of a very wealthy couple's country house (which can be spotted to the left of the picture below.



"They are here maybe one month a year. I'm not sure what their incentive was, but they've always worked the vines with tremendous respect. I'd actually been looking in this sector for quite some time, but was having no luck. They are the ones who contacted me."





Further along the path, another extremely sleep hill is home to 300 year old Moscatel (Moscato d'Alexandria) and some old vine Paìs.







As you can see, the vines here are very sparse.

On our way back home, we drove through a sector called Juarilue, which apparently is very... MORMON?



Apparently, this sector of the Bìo Bìo was once one of Chile's most prolific viticultural regions. But when the wood industry began gaining major traction, the cellulose companies realized they needed to sober up the locals, many of whom had a reputation for over indulging in the fruits of their labors. So they started subsidizing churches hoping to get people off the hooch. And I guess it worked!

To be fair, you don't want your workers to be hammered when chainsawing huge trees.

Within this sector, we were supposed to visit a newly sourced parcel of Cinsault but got lost for over an hour on dirt roads. LA never uses a GPS to get anywhere because these parcels are not searchable. It's an impressive skill, but in this case didn't pan out according to plan...

Still, we got some redemption by ending our day with the Figeroa family.



The Cinsault parcel we were trying to visit was theirs. Instead, we checked some of their Chasselas (yes, Chasselas) and Moscatel and pet their crazy eyed dog.










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