Friday, May 29, 2009

Video Tasting: Helfrich Gewurztraminer "Steinklotz" Alsace Grand Cru 2005

As a follow-up to the interview I recently posted with Alsace's Emmanuelle Kreydenweiss, here is a video tasting of a fantastic Gewurztraminer from the same region: The Helfrich "Steinklotz" Alsace Grand Cru 2005. Also, please note that, though I said in the video that the vineyard faces South-Southwest, what I meant to say was South-Southeast. Either way, it's seriously delicious wine.

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Thursday, May 28, 2009

Interview with Alsace's Emmanuelle Kreydenweiss

In Alsace, names like Zind-Humbrecht, Hugel, and Kreydenweiss carry enough prestige among their fans to send them into heart-fluttering fits of vinous happiness at the mere mention of them. Earlier this month, I had a chance to sit down with Emmanuelle Kreydenweiss of Domaine Marc Kreydenweiss at the Wilson Daniels tasting in New York to discuss her family's wines, the region itself, biodynamic winemaking, and more. Click on the videos below to watch Part 1 and Part 2 of the interview.

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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Back in the States

Last night, after an hourlong hop from Edinburgh to London, followed by an almost eight-hour flight from Heathrow to Philadelphia, I arrived home after a two-and-a-half-week trip to France and Scotland. And this morning, sitting at the kitchen table with my newspaper, cereal, and coffee, I couldn't help but think to myself, This time two weeks ago, I was wandering through the vineyard at Chateau Petrus. A recycling truck was idling outside my window. I was thirsty for a nice glass of red.

Such is the nature of travel, I suppose. Re-entering reality isn't supposed to be easy.

The good news is that now I have my own, thankfully reliable Internet to work with. Which means that I'll be able to post all of those other videos I couldn't while I was away. (Still, I was able to post a number of them from overseas these past two weeks. If you haven't seen them yet, check them out below and let me know if you've tasted any of those wines, too.)

So keep an eye out for my videos of vineyard visits and winery tours from Bordeaux. Also stay tuned for more video interviews with legendary producers.

In the meantime, click on the short video below. I shot it a week-and-a-half ago in Pauillac as I stumbled upon one of the great chateaux of the appellation completely by surprise.

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Thursday, May 21, 2009

Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte Blanc 2006

After a fascinating tour of Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte in Pessac-Leognan, I was able to sneak off to record a tasting video of their stellar 2006 white. Check it out below: This is a textbook example of just how spectacular Bordeaux blanc can be.

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Fish and Chips

I've finally made it to Scotland. After spending 10 days in France, and ending my stay there with a dinner of duck confit and a fantastic Saint Chinian at a cafe in Paris, followed by a glass of marc de bourgogne (think grappa, but French), I flew up to Edinburgh yesterday morning and almost immediately tucked into a plate of deep-fried local haddock and fries at the Dunvegan in St. Andrews. And, as planned, I enjoyed it with a perfectly paired glass of Scottish ale--in this case the slightly sweet, slightly nutty Belhaven's Best.

But that's not the only beverage I could have enjoyed with it. As I've written here before, a nice glass of Champagne would have done beautifully, too. Prosecco or Cava, as well.

In fact, it doesn't even have to be bubbly. Cool dry rose comes to mind, as does a nicely chilled Pinot Grigio. Verdicchio and Sauvignon Blanc, too. Esentially, a dish like fish and chips is, perhaps surprisingly, so wine friendly that your options are fairly unlimited. Just avoid tannic, heavy reds and you'll be fine.

Better than that, actually: You'll be thrilled. A comfort dish like fish and chips often provides huge surprises in the wine-pairing department.

(Also, an update: I still have many, many hours of video that I shot in France to sift through and edit. Keep checking back for more highlights from the trip!)
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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Chateau Leoville Barton 2008 Barrel Sample Video


After the tour of Chateau Leoville Barton that I mentioned last week, I had the chance to taste a barrel sample of the 2008. And though it still has time to go before it's ready for the bottle, it was, happily, delicious.

Take a look at the tasting video after the jump for my notes.

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Sunday, May 17, 2009

Food and Wine in St.-Emilion

One of the great pleasures of visiting France is spending an afternoon soaking up the sun, drinking inexpensive wine, and pairing it with simple, honest food that's as delicious as it is affordable.

Check out the video after the jump to see what I mean. It was shot in St.-Emilion during one of the quietest, most pleasant afternoons of the trip.

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Thursday, May 14, 2009

Lafite...And McDonald's

Today was a day of highs and...well, if not lows then unexpectedness. It began with a tour and tasting at Chateau Leoville-Barton with Lilian Barton, the daughter of proprietor Anthony Barton (the 08 barrel sample was amazing!) and continued on to Chateau Lafite, where we were not only shown the entire production facility, but where we were treated to a bottle of Chateau Lafite 1995, a legendary wine that more than lived up to its reputation.


The unexpectedness is where I'm actually typing this blog post: At the McDonald's in the town of St.-Foy le Grande. A quick explanation: There have been massive thunderstorms here the past several nights, and yesterday's knocked out a key telephone line. Which means that, with no Internet in the farm house, I was relegated to traveling to the nearest publicly accessible source of it with the President of The Wine School and a number of our students:

To Le Macdo, as it's called here. And this is a borrowed computer, one sans the videos I've been filming.

So from 95 Lafite to a large Coke and fries, it's been a full day. But with wines and tours like these, a bit of fluorescent lighting and soggy fries are a small price to pay.

Stay tuned...there are certainly no dull moments here!
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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Technical Difficulties, But at Least There's Great Wine

Unfortunately, the Internet connection in the farm house I'm staying at has been spotty at best. I have connectivity for a few minutes at a time before it re-sets itself, which pretty much makes it impossible to upload the videos I'm taking with any regularity. Once I'm in Paris, though, I'm hoping that my hotel room has better service. In the meantime, I thought that an update on what's been happening so far would be appropriate.

Each day, we've focused on a different part of Bordeaux and explored its wines and its terroir as much as possible. Monday was Margaux, with tours and tastings at Chateau Brane-Cantenac and Chateau Rauzan-Segla. Highlights included the 2006 Brane-Cantenac (flowers, leather, smoke, sandalwood, cassis) and the 2001 Rauzan-Segla (flowers, cedar, powerful fruit, and a silky texture).

Yesterday we hit Pomerol. I'll post my tasting notes in the coming days and weeks, but perhaps more fantastic than the wines themselves (Le Bon Pasteur was great) was the standing around and feeling the soil beneath my feet in the vineyards of Petrus and Cheval Blanc. If loitering can ever take your breath away, then this was it.

And today I had the privilege of driving around St.-Emilion and Pomerol with the winemaker at Chateau Ausone, Philippe Baillarguet, and his brother, Bruno, who owns the Wine School of St.-Emilion and an amazing wine shop called Vignobles & Chateaux. I tasted a number of 2008 barrel samples, and am thrilled to report that that vintage on the Right Bank was magnificent.

Keep checking back for those videos, which I'm trying desperately to post. In the meantime, I'll be sharing my tasting notes from the week, as well as a bit of detail about the region itself.

Until tomorrow, then, I'm off to enjoy a bottle of red from Margaux and some foie gras that we purchased this morning. Hopefully that'll take some of the stress out of this whole Internet situation. At the very least, I'm sure it will be tasty.
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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

First Day in Bordeaux...And a First Growth!

The Internet has been spotty here so far, but the quality of life has been anything but. From the most basic neighborhood cafes to top-notch restaurants, the food and the wine have been...well, pretty much what you'd expect in Bordeaux: Amazing.

I've been filming videos of all the tours and tastings for Uncork Life! by WineChateau.com, and, as I finish editing them, will be posting them right here. Check back regularly for the latest updates.

Since everyone I'm traveling with from The Wine School arrived in France at different times (and in different cities), we decided to meet up the first day for a celebratory lunch at La Tupina, a fantastic restaurant in Bordeaux. Check out the video below for a look at what it was like...and the wine that started off the week's adventures: Chateau Haut-Brion 2001.

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Friday, May 8, 2009

Off to France!

Next week, I'll be posting blogs from France. After spending tomorrow in Paris, I will be co-leading the The Wine School's trip to Bordeaux, visiting such legendary places as Chateau Lafite, Mouton, Brane-Cantenac, Pontet-Canet, and more.

And I'll have both my laptop and my video camera with me the entire time so I can share the experience. From vineyard tours to tasting rooms to wine bars, I'll be recording it all and posting it right here.

So check back regularly to follow the adventure. I'll be just like you're in Paris and Bordeaux...without having to suffer through airline food to get there.
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Thursday, May 7, 2009

Top Burgundy: Interview with Erwan Faiveley

For fans of Burgundy, the name Domaine Faiveley has a special resonance. From Mercurey to the grandest Chambertin, Faiveley's wines are some of the most delicious, beautiful expressions of the famed region's terroir.

I recently had a chance to speak with Erwan Faiveley about his family's wines, his role at the estate, and the region in general. Along the way, he even answered that age-old question of whether great wine comes from the vineyard or the winery.

We spoke before the Wilson Daniels tasting in New York--the background noise is the other producers arriving and setting up their wines. Even at 9:00 in the morning, there's no sound quite as wonderful as corks being popped.

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For a look at the vineyards themselves, click here and check out the video called "Fine Tuning at Domaine Faiveley," part of a series that Wilson Daniels has produced for a number of its wines.
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Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Serious Bubbly

I recently co-hosted a Palmes d'Or Champagne tasting with the Wine School, the Four Seasons Hotel Philadelphia, and Champagne Nicolas Feuillatte's winemaker, Jean-Pierre Vincent. It was, to say the least, an amazing evening. We tasted the 1998, 1997, 1996, 1995, 1992, 1991, 1990, and 1985 vintages of this top cuvee, and each one seemed better than the next.

I went home with a bottle of the 1985 and opened it recently at my parents' house as we celebrated the birth of my new nephew. I was able to sneak away from the festivities for a few minutes to report on the wine. Check out the video below for my tasting notes.

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Friday, May 1, 2009

Prats + Symington Chryseia 2004


One of Portugal’s most famous dry reds, Chryseia is the result of a dream partnership between Charles Symington (if you’ve had Warre’s, Dow’s, or Graham’s Port, you’ve had his family’s wines) and Bruno Prats (of Chateau Cos d’Estournel fame). In fact, in the fewer than 10 years since the first vintage, Chryseia has become one of Portugal’s most sought-after dry red wines.

There is a fantastic overview of the grape-selection and winemaking on the Chryseia web site, but the short version is this: The wine is the result of Bordeaux-style winemaking techniques being brought to bear on the traditional grape varieties of the Douro Valley.

I recently had the chance to taste the 2004, and though it’s young, it nonetheless still offers plenty of modern-style pleasure, marked as it is by grilled meat, rich plums, well-integrated new oak, and dark, dark cherries. Like you’d expect from the dream team of Symington and Prats, all the pieces are in their appropriate place in this wine, and the result is abundantly enjoyable.
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