Posts Tagged ‘Book’

Bruno Boidron – Editions Féret

Bruno Boidron – Editions Féret

 

Editions Féret, founded 200 years ago, foreshadowed the 1855 classification and set the standard for wine guides

On a sunny morning in September 1897, Edouard Féret sat on a horse, watching the harvest in Bordeaux’s Médoc region. Women and children cut the grape clusters, carefully discarding rotten fruit before depositing the ripe grapes in a basket, a work for which, Féret noted, they were paid half the daily wage of 1.50 francs that the men earned. As he visited each property, he took out a well-worn book, thickened by the addition of alternating blank pages, and carefully documented changes that had occurred since 1893, when the book had been published. It was the sixth edition of Bordeaux et Ses Environs et Ses Vins, Classé par Ordre de Merite, or Bordeaux and Its Region and Its Wines, Ranked in Order of Merit, and Féret was taking notes for the upcoming seventh edition.

Time has shortened the title to Bordeaux et Ses Vins, but Bordeaux wine aficionados know it simply as Le Féret. It may be the most influential book on wine ever published—it certainly has been the most influential in Bordeaux, where the original 1850 edition provided the blueprint for the 1855 classification of Médoc and Sauternes châteaus still in use today. The 18 editions of the book have also provided unparalleled historic snapshots of Bordeaux and its wine industry.

What started as a slim 84-page travel guide for 19th century gentlemen burgeoned into a 2,296-page bible for Bordeaux merchants, brokers, history buffs and wine geeks. It is the oldest book in France updated continuously by the same editor and publisher. Editions Féret celebrates its 200th anniversary in 2013, and the publishing house is celebrating by preparing the Bordeaux guide’s 19th edition, which will be released in French, English and Mandarin and in e-book format.

“It’s really the reference for courtiers when they start in the business, and I’ve bought every edition,” said Xavier Coumau, president of the courtiers’ syndicate. “Of course today we have the Internet, but Le Féret remains very useful. It has information about the château, the owners, technical information about the vineyard and wine, how they sell their wine. And it’s really interesting to see how the vineyard surface area changes over time.”

Edouard Féret published 200 books in his 40-year career, but Bordeaux and Its Wines would define his work. He had a passion for wine, a zest for detail, and a skill for dogged, accurate reporting. The 1898 edition captured Bordeaux at the cusp of modernity, and each successive edition is considered required reading
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Meet Natalie Oliveros as a vintner.

Meet Natalie Oliveros as a vintner.

Plus, chef Emeril Lagasse honored for taking charity up a notch, Paris’ Elysée undertakes wine austerity, Napa’s philanthropic 1 percenters, and more

“When they showed up, I just thought they were hard-up for celebrities,” joked Robert Kamen at the April book launch of Celebrity Vineyards at the Bowery Hotel in New York. Kamen protested to Unfiltered that, as a screenwriter—albeit the screenwriter of the Karate Kid series, Taps and A Walk in the Clouds—he just sits in a darkened room writing stuff all day (celebrities: They’re just like Unfiltered!), and pardoned himself to sign a copy of the book “for a minute while I be a celebrity.” But Kamen was a vintner before his fame, purchasing 280 acres on the slopes of the Mayacamas Mountains in Sonoma with the money from his first screenplay, in the late 1970s. “What can I do with all the money I make as a screenwriter? I bury it in the ground.”

While Kamen’s story goes back further than that of most of the celebrities in the book, all were selected, according to author Nick Wise, because they were “serious about some parts, whether picking the vineyards or the final blends.” Other famous vintners profiled in Celebrity Vineyards: Francis Ford Coppola, chef Charlie Palmer, Dan Aykroyd, Antonio Banderas, Fess Parker, race car drivers Mario Andretti and Randy Lewis, coach Dick Vermeil and Natalie Oliveros, perhaps better known to Unfiltered readers as adult-film phenom Savanna Samson. “They have to bring out the whole ‘Savanna Samson’ thing, but I do make the wine,” Oliveros said. “I was there every month in 2012.” Oliveros is co-owner of Brunello estate La Fiorita with Roberto Cipressi; the 2006 riserva earned a classic 95 points on the Wine Spectator 100-point scale. Wise, who has worked as a wine merchant and entertainment writer, mused that winemaking is an attractive second profession to “a lot of technical people, a lot of golfers and race car drivers. That translates into the technicality that goes into wine—what pH, what tannin level.” As for Kamen, his approach began with slightly less precision: As he tells it, his “dope dealer” in the ’70s dreamed of planting an organic vineyard on North Coast slopes, but no one would bite at the time. Kamen took a chance and was among the first to go organic in the state. His original viticulturist is still on staff.

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Oz Clarke.

Oz Clarke.

 

In this excerpt from his new book, Oz Clarke slams the use of appellations and chooses his top wines for the coming year.

“Don’t do this to me, fellas. I’ve spent years promoting the libertarian approach to wine, the approach that says the tastiest will always triumph, the consumer will recognize the decent stuff and that’s what they’ll buy. Don’t let the bureaucrats into your vineyards and your wineries. It’s a simple formula. Just do the right thing, and we’ll do the right thing – we’ll buy your wine.

And then I hear that the New World champion of fresh original flavours, created from scratch and owing nothing to the European classics – Marlborough in New Zealand – wants to introduce an appellation system ‘with strict controls over quality and yield’, modelled on the French system. Why? How could such a standard bearer for the Brave New World admit that it needs to fall back on the French system of ‘Appellation Contrôlée’ – which over the decades has become one of the wine world’s most notorious apologists for mediocrity protected by government decree.

But hang on, let me read that again. Marlborough wants an appellation system ‘with strict controls over quality and yield.’ Er…what’s so wrong with that? Well, if the producers can’t trust themselves to vigorously control yield and maximize quality, perhaps you do need a bunch of local enforcers to do the job. When an area’s new and small, frankly, if someone isn’t playing the game, a few of the beefier winegrowers can take them round the back of the bike shed and give them a good kicking. It usually works. But Marlborough isn’t new or small any more. Over 30 years it’s built a reputation as the gold standard for Sauvignon Blanc around the world and has led New Zealand’s charge to join the Premier League of world winemakers. Its production now dwarfs that of any other Kiwi region.

Late last year I took a helicopter ride up the Wairau Valley, Marlborough’s heartland. We must have flown for half an hour up the valley – way, way past the limits old timers always told me… read on

 

The Roman god of wine.

The Roman god of wine.

A new book provides a refreshing perspective on contentious wine issues of today.

Paul Lukacs is a professor of English at Loyola University in Baltimore, but what he really loves is writing about wine. Now, he’s combined that passion with his knowledge of history in a new book: “Inventing Wine: A New History of One of the World’s Most Ancient Pleasures.” In it, Lukacs manages to cover several millenia of wine without romanticizing the subject or sounding overly academic.

As the book explains, while wine has been around as long as 10,000 years, wine as we would recognize it has really only existed – even at the highest level – for about 300 years.

In an interview, Lukacs told me more:

What would the wine that the Romans drank have tasted like?

There would have been two kinds of wine in the Roman Empire. There would have been cheap wine, that everybody drank all the time. It would have been thin, acidic, getting more sour by the minute. Within a few months of harvest it would have been pretty bad.

Then there was wine that patricians drank. It would have been filled with additives: Honey, spices, gypsum, all kinds of stuff – the most notable being pine sap or resin. It would have been more like maple syrup than what we think of as wine. To our palates it would have been pretty foul, but they liked it.

Why was this the case?

It’s because wine spoiled. Unless it was very fancy wine, which would have been stored in amphorae, they had no way to keep wine from spoiling. If wine was kept in a cask and gradually emptied, in the beginning it might have been okay, but the cask would have oxidized. So wine tasted pretty good at harvest and pretty terrible afterward, but people drank it anyway. That’s why the harvest festivals were so important.

Why did wine play such a big role in ancient civilizations?

Throughout history, wine played a spiritual role. When people drank wine, they were drinking god or gods. When you drank wine, God was there, actually there in the wine, and you brought Bacchus and Dionysos into your body.

We don’t think that today. The one place that endured was in Christian sacramental rituals. But after the fall of Rome, the church increasingly made a sharp distinction between wine on an altar and wine outside the church. Only priests got to drink sacramental wine, and only on certain special occasions. That didn’t change until the 1960’s, with Vatican II.

You write that wine actually got worse in the Middle Ages.

It certainly didn’t improve. The amphora died out in Europe, but it was the one vessel that people had in late antiquity to transport wine at least semi-safely. People stored wine in big vessels where it oxidized right away. The best wines in the Middle Ages were made on an old Roman model from dried fruits. They were called Romneys, referring to Rome.

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(Image courtesy of Michael Crichton)

 
You chill your whites but not your reds, pair your fancy bottles with fancy food, and skip right past the pink champagne. Guess what: You’re doing wine all wrong.

 

We talked to the best sommeliers, vintners, and career winos around to rewrite the book on this fermented-grape-juice thing. And we came up with enough great wine to keep your glass half full till 2012 and beyond

 

  • DON’T WORRY

If you didn’t pick up those subtle hints of “kaffir lime,” “black currant confiture,” and “the sweet stemminess of burning vine clippings”* when you stuck your nose into the glass. Take a look at two different tasting notes for the same bottle of wine—same vineyard, same vintage, two different critics. They almost never taste or smell the same stuff. Which is to say—your guess is as good as theirs. So drink. Decide what you like. And if you detect a hint of quince paste in your Sauvignon Blanc, keep it to yourself.—Stan Parish

* Real Wine Spectator tasting notes!

 

  • YES, WE’VE HEARD ALL ABOUT TERRIOR and some of us are a little sick of it

Sean Thackrey, one of the best winemakers in America (seriously, try his wine), explains why you should get your head out of the soil

The theory of terroir is the agricultural version of the theory of aristocracy: You are as you were born. You are the Duke of Norfolk or you are not the Duke of Norfolk, and that’s that. You buy Château Margaux because it’s Château Margaux, and it’s Château Margaux because the grapes were grown on a particular piece of land. So much money is riding on this idea that it’s imperative, from a financial point of view, to maintain this extremely profitable mystification of real estate. There’s no traditional word for ‘winemaker’ in French, Spanish, or Italian, because over there they’d like you to think that we humans are just humble servants of the soil’s desire to express itself. Of course grapes grown in different places taste different; that’s a banality no one disputes. But so much has to happen to those grapes before they end up in your glass, and someone—the winemaker—has to call those shots. Even if you supplied ten different restaurants with identical produce, you would expect ten totally different results. Do you really think the work of a winemaker is less complex than the work of a chef? Winemaking is like cooking: The chef bats last, for better or worse. And if we’re to take the blame for bad results that we deserve, we should get credit for good ones, too.”
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The History of Wine.

The History of Wine.

CLICK TO LISTEN TO INTERVIEW

Wine is our original alcoholic beverage. It dates back 8,000 years and, as Paul Lukacs writes in his new book, Inventing Wine: A New History of One of the World’s Most Ancient Pleasures, was originally valued more because it was believed to be of divine origin than for its taste. And that’s a good thing, Lukacs tells Fresh Air’s Terry Gross, because early wine was not particularly good.

People would add a variety of unexpected ingredients to obscure and enhance the flavor. Everything, Lukacs says, “from lead to ash to myrrh to various kinds of incense, spices. And the most common thing added, especially to wines that people valued, were fresh resin from pine trees or boiled resin — namely pitch — from pine trees. Lead, in fact, will sweeten wine, so lead was used for thousands and thousands of years.”

The book is filled with surprising facts about the drink. Pharaohs have been buried beside jugs of it. The Quran promises baths of wine in the afterlife because

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The Complete Guide: Wines of the Southern Hemisphere is an amazing gift. To have this book for my wine library is a tremendous resource; and, making the time to read it delivered even more gifts.

 

wine

 

Written by Mike Desimone & Jeff Jenssen, two very savvy World Wine Guys who are wine, spirits, food, and travel writers, have gone around the world and are now sharing those adventures. Their gathered stories are warm and very informative, sharing much of what they learned in this very thorough book. Representing each region well, they also present it in such a way that the only thing left to satisfy is your own personal curiosity through adventures you need to start planning….

Much of the Southern Hemisphere has escaped me because I’ve never physically made it over the equator. I’ve been to the South Pacific, to the Caribbean, Canada, most of the US states (40+ states), and to Europe… but not gone over the equator.

My favorite section was Chile. Perhaps it’s because I was part of the Wines of Chile Blogger Tasting led by Master Sommelier Fred Dexheimer, and enjoying those wine immensely. It was very enlightening about this wine grape growing country, with the book connecting me on a much deeper level with that recent wine exposure.
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