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The Teetotaler @ Table

Date: Sun, Jan 17, 2010

I was at a dinner this week, a networking thing. The gathering was extremely pleasant and brought together by so and so to meet so and so and we started with a gorgeous champagne, Marc Hebrat Club Speciale 2004. The star of the evening picked up her water glass to toast. I looked to her glass, the lonely Hebrat. There was no way to save the situation. That glass was doomed for the dump bucket. It soon came out that she didn't like to drink, she also gave up a sever diet soda and caffeine habit and was now turned on to water. There was nothing religious, nor did she have an alcohol problem. At first I thought, put yourself in my hands, I'll show you wines you'd love, then I realized she on some amimal level made the right decision for her body chemistry. But I also realized there was a situation here to deal with but needed an etiquette expert to advise me. Perfectly lovely wines just couldn't languish in her glass. The second bottle was poured. A 2007 Faury St. Jo blanc that was too overripe, a little vegetal but went swimmingly with the food, especially...

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Help Haiti. Go to Chambers Street

Date: Sun, Jan 17, 2010

If I can afford $10, so can you. Today I've received ten emails to help out Haiti in some way and it's hard to know which venue to take. But wine is the key in joy and sorrow and to drink and to give some dough to send south, might be the perfect pairing. Chambers is hosting a benefit tasting. The wines will be great. 148 Chambers Street New York, NY 10007 Phone: 212-227-1434 Suggested donations of $10 (or more) will go directly to pih.org, Partners in Health, and this sounds pretty direct to me. PIH is organizing volunteer medical personnel and sending needed supplies. Chambers Street Wines and Louis/Dressner Selections will each donate $1,000 as will Polaner Sections. Other companies sponsoring the event and making generous contributions include Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant, David Bowler Wines and Michael Skurnik Wines. Taste a great selection of wines (not for sale). If you can't come, please go to pih.org to make your donation. Their website will have updates on the situation and information about their work. We will have forms from Partners in Health enabling your donation by credit card to be tax-deductible....

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Chianti as Volnay- Wine Expo Speaks Out

Date: Wed, Jan 13, 2010

This following worlds, and all of the following, was a cut and paste from Santa Monica's Wine Expo mailer.... I guess my book is still relevant. + Fighting Globalization in your Glass 'Once you guys succeed in making all wine taste the same, what will you do for a living?' That is the question we have been asking wholesale reps lately as we have been absolutely barraged by the forces of evil (well, severely misguided, focus group driven winemaking and marketing at least): One importer proudly presented us with a Parker Beatification Certificate pronouncing that one of his Chiantis 'could easily pass for a fine Premier Cru Volnay' (a particularly soft, velvety and UN-CHIANTI-like Burgundy) which we thought was like telling Vince Lombardi that his star linebacker would make a dandy ballerina. Then, adding insult to injury, another supplier came in with two samples alleged to be Cahors (a Southern French red made from Malbec and Tannat that has been famous since Chaucer's time for being BLACK, tarry, brambly and aggressive, just the thing to go with the local diet of confit of duck, fois gras, lamb cassoulet and such) that have been polluted with enough Merlot (?!?!) and a...

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Domaine La Fourmente

Date: Wed, Jan 13, 2010

PP is staying with me for a few days and after the long day at Rouge Tomate she came back with a sample to taste. Not bad, in fact quite nice? Who is this importer "Integrity?" That's a big name to live up to. And a little scary because, wasn't there a Sparky & Marky wine for $100 by the name of Integrity? What the hell is that anyway. What is integrity and what is it in a wine or in people. I swear, I don't know. I used to know. I think I did when I was in my 20's, but now, as I'm approaching 80, it seems quite a distant memory, or at least a quality that gets rewarded rarely. But, never the less, this wine did seem to have interest. On the second day, the juice held up with pleasure, you know, Rhoneish! The wine is from Visan in the Vaucluse, nearest known town of importance? Vinsobres. It's kind of just what I want in an everyday wine. It's got licorice, silt, acidity, not too full even though this is a 2007--okay, it's a tad overripe prune, but still. I like it. The wine was raised in...

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Malolactic Fermentation: Banned in Portugal

Date: Wed, Jan 6, 2010

Don't expect a good piece of writing here. Day eight of being sick and the words get plugged up in the brain, yet, I wanted to start up a conversation. Last week I received this email from a reader in Portugal: 'At a guide of red wines, that were tested at a consumer magazine here, they detected that about half had not concluded the malolactic fermentation. That... they hinted... was done intentionally to meet some criteria (prevent too much acidity, or other things), so they admitted... for some reason... it was stopped. Being a consumer magazine, and not a wine magazine, that somehow wasnt seen as a "downer" to the wine." I have to admit I was surprised. The only red wine I know of with blocked malo is commercial nouveau being rushed to market. Word just in from Roberto in LA, that there is a refosco from Terrano del Carso done without ML. And, looking into it a little deeper, blocking malo in part or in full has been done to preserve freshness in hot climes. But, I am not even sure that blocking malo fore reds in the EU is legal. First some background about the issue of...

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Dard & Ribo, 2004 Crozes-Hermitage, tkgving '09

Date: Mon, Jan 4, 2010

This little video was taken when PP and friend's descended on my apartment on Thanksgiving for a spur of the moment dinner, you know, the scrape the bottom of the fridge and see what you can find. I have no idea what possessed me to share this particular bottle with so many people, but i was in a generous mood and I really wanted to taste what was going down with the Dard & Ribo 2004 Crozes-Hermitage. Since then, I've been trying to edit out the words that came out of my mouth but don't believe and so I want to offer up my wishes that you will understand that I do not believe Rene Dard or Francois Ribo are either misogynists or a-holes. APOLOGIES TO THEM AND I REQUEST FORGIVENESS FROM YOU. At worst, the men are 'difficult' to deal with. Let's just say I was playing, I got carried away, and was careless with my words, however the wine was so delicious I wanted to put the video up. If anyone knows how to edit frames out of a FLIP video, please send along suggestions....

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ASF Wine of the Year

Date: Thu, Dec 31, 2009

And yes, so what was the wine of the year. I am stumped. I buy the same ones over and over. So I offer two that I can't seem to get out of my head. Domaine Bornard Le Ginglet, Trousseau I had it in the Jura and loved it. I had it with its importer Savio Soares at a sushi restaurant on 15th street where we saw a white rat loopy with drugs, in the corner but the Ginglet survived. And then when meeting Hugh Johnson--what a thrill that was--and I was offered the chance to pick a wine under $100, I chose this one at $60. No matter what I ate, it stood up to it. And it stood up to Hugh's dazzling charm as well. And finally,, the wine that my main reactions were...Yum and Yay---all for $17. I opened this wine from the hands of Christian Venier (another Savio Soares) again last night, and granted I'm somewhat flu-ish and less than terribly enthusiastic about drinking or eating anything except zinc and aspirin, but what impressed me about this was the polish on this wine, with the markings of a vin natural. It had the spice on the...

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Contemplation on the Year in Wine

Date: Wed, Dec 30, 2009

A few years ago in reaction to other 'wines of the year' I decided to strike back. I mean if the WS can do it why not me? Of course I couldn't compile 100 wines of the year. Maybe if I jumbled it all up with memorable moments, but 100 wines that I can swear by seem like a lot. Then I read their selections and out of a hundred, there are maybe five I'd drink, but I've gone over that territory before. But still, the wine of the year, the wine of the year? The most user friendly? The most delicious? (impossible) The wine I could go to every night of the year and could make me smile? Or was it, given the fact that once again it seems as if I've absolutely no future as a writer, the wine I can afford. Or is the wine I wish I could afford? Or was it the wine that made me laugh the hardest? Or was it the worst wine. You see the worst wine could as well be the wine of the year, why not if it was the most memorable. The worst wine. Now that's a concept. But...

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Alice's Wine of the Year

Date: Sat, Dec 26, 2009

Any guesses?...

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The Year in Pictures

Date: Sat, Dec 26, 2009

One of the best new restaurants I went to in Paris, though I can't quite believe it, but true; 114 Faubourg, in the Hotel le Bristol. Room like the inside of a Klimt painting. Food clean, expensive, but I almost think worth it? Fun and pure. High % of plastic surgery and stunning jewelry. Wonderful cepe soup and a stunning bass wrapped in fennel stalks like a sweet poisson package. There was one wine worth drinking, 2002 Pibarnon. Thank goodness for it on this mostly crappy international wine list. And, ah, that mad and crazy Polish vigneron, Andrea If you can't read my writing; This is the 2007 version of Babiole, a blend of grenache, carignan,syrah, Can't believe this is the 'methode chauvet,' because I can't detect carbonic. There is a hi-ink tone and floral exotica with hefty licorice. I lusted after shoes.True. I saw these hand made doojobs in Paris, taunting me in the shop right next to Marriage Freres in the Marais where I bought my extra tarry Lapsang and these too, not far from Invalides From my friend Stephen, the place you want to stay while in Fes. My wildly talented friend collects the King....

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Courtois & Beckmeyer

Date: Sat, Dec 26, 2009

Separated at birth? At least as far as design and philosophy is concerned. This is a frivolous bauble, I just happen to like looking at these bottles side by side. Left: Element Terre '06,Gamay Chaudenay--$27 Right: La Clarine Farm, '08 Sierra Foothill Syrah-$20...

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Adventures in Absinthes

Date: Thu, Dec 24, 2009

Absinthe: the notorious, myth-ridden, herb-infused anise flavored spirit that includes the bitter herb wormwood. The drink suffered--as it does today-- from an image problem. Wrongly believed to be a psychoactive, delusion-inducing, even poisonous, the perfectly harmless drink was banned in the United States and most European countries by 1915. And thanks to a reader's tip this past summer, I became aware of absinthe being made up in Walton, New York, the town attached to the spot in the woods in which I overcame my fear of country. I tracked the distiller down, and low and behold, it was a she and it was Cheryl Lins, a fellow obsessive, on the self-taught, alternative route lane. She works on the teensiest commercial still ever. Eight gallon? You bet. That's about it. Her distillery is right on Main Street in a town so depressed, most of the storefronts are shuttered. CVS and McDonalds and the BBQ at the gas station are the big tickets. Out of place? I should say so. But perfect? Oh, yes indeed. You can read about this past off-the-grid yurt-dwelling woman in my story for the New York Times. Meanwhile, check out this little video of her coloration process....

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Alice Gets Saved (from switching)

Date: Sun, Dec 20, 2009

"Boots is not going to be a switcher!" a friend said about her charmer of a daughter. It took a few beats for me to understand that we weren't addressing Boots' sexuality, but proper utensil strategy. Under penalty of spanking, the child would eventually (she was still on the bottle) feed herself with the same hand she pierced the morsel of foie and never, ever 'switch' that fork to her more dominant hand to eat. I blushed, because I was harboring a shameful secret. I was raised by wolves. As a result I was switcher. I then realized I spent my life eating at the table as if it were the trough and my regrettable habits had been impediments to my getting ahead in life. God is great (though a little too late) and opportunity came my way last year when I was putting the sagrantino to bed. Conveniently already on the west coast, I was invited to the Meadowood resort ostensibly to get a file applied to those rough edges. This was a test drive for some 'Wine Etiquette" weekends they were going to offer (do not know if they still do.). Their target audience was not the bull...

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Wines I Forgot to Rave About

Date: Thu, Dec 17, 2009

A contender for the wine of the year might be in this trio. Not sure. Check back in ten days....

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