At one of the more anticipated tastings of the year, Louis/Dressner Selections hosted a Real Wines Tasting on October 17, 2007 at the Divine Studio revealing many Vin De Table wines that are often eliminated from official classification because they are atypical. Polaner Selections who distribute many of these wines was also present, making for a gala event of people who really care and know what’s going on in the wine industry. Winemakers such as Laurence and Eric Texier and Joao Roseira were present, as well as several wine writers such as Eric Asimov from the NY Times. I think there were a few models present too, either confused about their next studio shoot or coincidentally interested in great wines with great character, nonetheless a refreshing welcome to the red-stained shirts of tasters. Celebrities notwithstanding, there was a tremendous showing of knock-out wines whose emphasis in expressing terroir is achieved by some combination of utilizing wild yeasts, hand harvesting, low yields, natural viticulture, no or low chaptalization, and non-filtration. The result is just delicious, natural wines.

Going through all the wines tasting would require a six part report or series, so I will just impart a few impressions. A starting point was easy to choose, what with a full platter of oysters being offered for palate openers.

Larmandier-Bernier, a single grower-producer whose no dosage champagnes personify the genre was outstanding. Both the near 80% chardonnay and the Terre de Vertus were rich, full, and addicting. This was my palate cleanser for most of the afternoon. When in doubt, Terre de Vertus. Side by side was the chardonnay and gamay made by methode ancestrale, a wild effort that can only be applauded by the Beaujolais master.

Haven’t quite finished with the Blue Points yet, so I went on a wild pairing spree with Laurent Barth’s Sylvaner, Domaine de la Pepiere’s Muscadets, Domain du Closel, and the standout Luneau-Papin Muscadet d’Or, to name a few. My favorite were the Eric Texier viogniers with a touch of dulce. The Silex table was mobbed and under-bottled, so I spent a moment at Radikon, which made me yearn for truffles and foie. Those Ribolla Giallas were distinct and subperb.

Onto to Philippe Pacalet for Beaune reds made from ancient Pinot stock, where the argument is often is the Nuits-Saints-Georges better the the Chambolle-Musigny or the Gevrey-Chambertin, and which will age better?

Another jaunt to Larmandier-Bernier, and proper homage was paid to a table ripe with Beaujolias for Michel Tete, Jean Paul Brun, Clos de la Roilette, and Georges Descombes, wines which should be grace every Saturday lunch table. I skipped Clos Roche Blanche, Thierry Puzelat, and Clos du Tue-Boeuf, not only for time constraints, but also because those wines have nothing to prove. Year after year, these winemakers put out fabulous product at fantastic prices. You just can’t go wrong with any of these bottles.

I did a flight from the Roagna series, wines that are too young but allows one to speculate and dream about their futures. Then it was back to Eric Texier for the CDP and the Brezeme, one of my favorite values in the whole marketplace.

There was some noise from the west coast, with a very terroir driven Pinot Noir from Kalin. Ten guesses and I still wouldn’t believe it’s pinot from Cali. I enjoyed the Grenache blanc form Graves Monkey Wrench and some old-fashioned chardonnays from Whitehorn and White Helix too, demonstrating that care and technique works anywhere.

Chinon was well represented with Catherine & Pierre Briton, Bernard Baudry, and Olga Raffault, all limestone, gravel and clay goodness. There was a heap of Italian red and whites, but once again time was not my ally. A lasting sip of Larmandier-Bernier left a lasting impression as large as Joe Dressner’s Cuvee Buster t-shirt. VDT rocks, Vive terroir, Drink life.

Spanish Presents

As there have been several celebrations for Spanish cuisine over the past month, I have used thise them as an opportunity to spread the love when it comes down to getting the perfect gift for friends and family. Spanish ingredients such as pimenton de la vera (paprika) and saffron are welcome additions to any home cook’s pantry. A good bottle of Spanish wine will compliment any great meal.

As far as old wines go, a bottle of Spanish wine from an older vintage (say 1970 – 1990) will cost you significantly less now to buy than say an Italian, French or Californian counterpart. Just compare the price of an old Barolo, Bordeaux or Burgundy to an old Rioja. You will be surprised at the discount. Recently, in celebration of my friend Jay’s birthday, I opened a wine from Bierzo from 1970. The bottle, from Palacios de Arganza, was spectacular, youthful, fresh, and full of yummy harmony. It had an intense aroma, elegant and complex. As part two of my present, I brought a haul in from Murray’s cheese shop, a selection of Spanish winners. For dinner Dr. L. made two types of lasagna, both of which we just could not stop eating. There was no room left for the cheese, but this is the report I received later:


Last night I demolished that cabrales. Tonight, I tore up that Arteserena di Serena. Both nights, I used the tortas to accompany.

The Cabrales was PERfectly ripe. Inhaled it. And that Arteserena di Serena is some crazy good *&%$#@. I enjoyed/appreciated it on the first taste, but, as you work through it, it’s extraordinary stuff. The texture is awesome and the thistle pungent flavor with the sheep’s milk is way stronger than one might imagine (in a good way). Maybe it’s for the advanced palate, but dang me that action is delicious.

Thanks again for a smashing birthday gift, senor.

If you wish to receive similar praise when purchasing a present for a foodie, just follow suit. And just wait until the jamon iberico passes thru customs!