Archive for September, 2015
Emmanuel Lassaigne, measuring booze levels during press
If you’re in the bubbly business in the Aube (the southern region in France’s Champagne-Ardenne), then you have to make peace with the fact that, compared with the popular Épernay and Ay to the north, you’re basically the red-headed stepchild of Champagne.
Unless you’re Emmanuel Lassaigne, who crafts the bubbly at Champagne Jacques Lassaigne.
In that case, you unabashedly make wine from vineyards in Montgueux, which, being technically a chalky outcrop of the Côte des Bars in the Aube, might be considered the red-headed stepchild of the red-headed stepchild. Emmanuel Lassaigne’s purpose in life seems to be to birth a modern Montgueux Champagne naked and screaming into the world wine market.
Calling Lassaigne’s Champagnes “high acid” would be like calling the blood from Alien “mildly corrosive.” But they might be the purest expression of place available from the Aube: all Chardonnay, all from one area, mostly all zero dosage, all disgorged by hand, all eschewing quality “ranges,” all treated with as little sulfur as possible, and all adored by the way-too-cool-in-its-own-mind cadre of hip sommeliers on both coasts of the USA.
“Material other than grapes” during press at Jacques Lassaigne
“Here,” Lassaigne told me, “we try to do ‘wine’ before we do ‘Champagne.’ We don’t take any security. It’s a choice of life. Challenging is very interesting, and doing the same thing is always boring. We’re always at the edge…”
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131,000 acres burned (and counting).
A little over 5 percent contained.
The Valley and Butte wildfires in California are wrecking havoc on thousands of lives, and are taking a serious toll on Lake County wine country in particular.
You can help out by visiting LoveLakeCounty.org, a list of donation centers of all stripes and types, which are focused on assisting those impacted by the wildfires. It’s a great and easily-navigated aggregation of what items are most needed, and where.
The list is compiled on a volunteer basis, and as of the time of this writing, not all of the donation centers on the list have been vested. As always, proceed generously, but with caution (I figured that you folks are smart enough to navigate the small risk there).
If you love California wine, please consider donating in whatever way that you can.
- 14 Wakefield Promised Land Shiraz Cabernet (South Australia): The promise is less paradise, and more perky, tasty everyday sipping. $13 B >>find this wine<<
- 11 Schramsberg Blanc de Noirs (North Coast): At once flamboyantly loud & yet tastefully poised about why it's being so talkative. $39 A- >>find this wine<<
- NV Schramsberg Mirabelle Brut (California): For your pleasure, appetizers of apple slices & toasted almond bread are now being served $27 B+ >>find this wine<<
- 12 Willamette Valley Vineyards Estate Pinot Noir (Willamette Valley): Likes itself. Likes you. And is very, very happy to be here. $30 A- >>find this wine<<
- 12 Sostener Pinot Noir (Santa Lucia Highlands): Fan of juicy, meaty Pinot action? Fan of decent bargains? Why didn't U buy this yet? $17 B+ >>find this wine<<
- 11 Quinta de Foz de Arouce Tinto (Vinho Regional Beiras): Baggin' the Baga, toutin' the Touriga, & over-deliverin' on the fruitiness. $17 B+ >>find this wine<<
- 14 Donnafugata Lighea Zibibbo (Sicily): Hellooooo, wooooorld, hear the song that we're singin'… C'mon get haaaaaaaaaaaaaaappyyyyy! $23 B+ >>find this wine<<
- 14 Dry Creek Vineyard Wilson Ranch Dry Chenin Blanc (Clarksburg): By any other grape name, it'd probably be around 22 bucks instead. $12 B+ >>find this wine<<
- 14 Giesen Pinot Gris (Marlborough): Bring on the flowers, bring on the blankets, bring on the picnic baskets, bring on the hoagies! $14 B >>find this wine<<
- 13 Priest Ranch Somerston Estate Grenache Blanc (Napa Valley): Bless you, in the name of the honeydew, the honeysuckle, & the apple. $25 B+ >>find this wine<<
The wily Peter Wiegner
Viewing the volcanic rock strewn about the foothills of the still-active Mt. Etna volcano, one would be forgiven for imagining that it must take a crazy person to want to farm anything there.
After meeting the wily and eccentric Peter Wiegner, the paterfamilias of Etna’s Wiegner Winery, and his huge Tibetan Mastiff patrolling the grounds for the leftover crumbs of gourmet fare, one is positively certain that it takes at least a mildly crazy person to want to farm there.
Along with son Marco and consultant Michele Bean, the Swiss-born-and-now-Etna-dwelling Wiegner has white hair and expressive eyes, all as wild as the combination of deadly-seriousness and comic lack of diplomacy behind them. He basically says whatever is on his mind, with very little operating filter, and dresses like he is farming on the side of a volcano (which he is). That Wiegner Winery crafts such vibrant wines might be a function of fine food and fine wine being about the only things that Peter Wiegner seems to hold truly sacred.
“You gonna finish that?”
“But it’s not my concern,” was a popular phrase with him when I met him, which he often uttered immediately after a semi-disparaging remark about himself, his wine, or his competitors’ wines. The impression Wiegner gives is of someone who loves to cook, deeply loves Etna wines, loves sharing his opinions, and doesn’t give a shit about the rest of it. I basically loved him instantly…
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