What happened to my promised summary of the decade round-up? Writer’s block. I still have it. But here’s the overview: The Battle for Wine and Love came out in paperback in 2009. Since then the changes in the wine world have been profound. Natural wine went from backroom bottle swapping to mainstream, a thing to market. It went from insider to outsider. New oak went into hiding. Social media became the way communication and a lot of business was done. Natural wine fairs boomed. And for better or worse, natural wine went from an ideal to the rule.
California went from high test and fruit to lower alcohols, fewer additives, becoming a veritable natural wine force. Deidre Heekin’s La Garagista went from a home project to worldwide recognition, shifting Vermont from a huh to a one to watch. Chile went natural—finally! I went on to write four more books, entered the Georgian phase of my life, and started this newsletter.
There were deaths, births, health crises and a left turn hit and run (metaphysically speaking). If I go through my pictures of the most profound wines I’ve had, I keep thinking: are you kidding me? That’s just too ludicrous. I couldn’t possibly.
This week, months of salinity research finally became an article. This started off as an exploration of one of the hottest wine descriptors—a shorthand for quality—in the past few years. However in this piece I explore the question, is it always a good thing? Many thanks to Oregon vigneron and regenerative soil expert, Mimi Casteel and Benôit Marsan up in Montreal for helping out.
In personal news, Anna Brones gifted me with this papercut as well as including me in her Women’s Wisdom Project.
I hear that The Dirty Guide to Wine sold out in the Japanese edition after only ten days!
Had a fantastic time in Richmond, Virginia where I gave a talk sponsored by the restaurant Laura Lee’s. Their wine director Michael Smith reached out to me on Instagram (yes, sometimes it’s not toxic) and the next thing I knew they were flying me down to give a talk. Right off the plane my first stop was the Church Hill section and Sub Rosa for coffee and bites. And what bites they were.
This bakery was conceived and executed by siblings Evrim and Evin Dogu. Evin is in charge of pastry, Evrim handles the bread. Now, I’m more a savory person than a sweet but the quality of the pastry, with recipes drawn from their Turkish ancestry, was impressive. I am still eating the pistachio shortbread and rye biscotti. However, that damned polenta bread? Flour is milled in-house. Local varieties are used as much as possible. Oh, yeah, and they have natural wines! If you’re there in the neighborhood, go. Why can’t we have anything this spectacular in New York City? I know. It’s called high rents = low creativity.
That night the event was packed, enthusiastic and the questions could have gone on into the wee hours. Michael was right. Richmond is sweet.
Those stinky proposed wine tariffs? Friends and colleagues have been hard at work to try to raise awareness and do what they can to lobby for a positive resolution—meaning take the notion off the table. Anyway, we will know the answer by February 13th.
Among those hitting the drum the loudest have been Jenny Lefcourt and our very own Christy Frank. And I didn’t mean it this way—because I dread the coming articles from mainstream publications on what to drink now that European is unaffordable—but as it turns out, this week we have a lot of Chilean wine for you to consider. Every single one of them is worthy. For some of the backstory on them, you could read the AFAR story I wrote last year.
Please hold the date!
Mark your calendars for March 9th for a compelling evening of amazing wine and conversation (farming, vinification, sulfur and changes in Burgundy) as we get into the changes at Domaine Simon Bize with Chisa Bize! It will be at Brooklyn’s Vinegar Hill House with Chisa and Bill Fitch. Watch this space for pricing and tickets.
So Happy New Year. Not sure what it will bring but hope keeps us young. My next note to you will come from France! Wish me courage for the tasting march.
I'm hunting the Leon Trotskys, the Philip Roths, the Chaucers and the Edith Whartons of the wine world. I want them natural and most of all, I want them to speak the truth even if we argue. With this messiah thing going on, I'm trying to swell the ranks of those who crave the differences in each vintage, celebrate nuance and desire wines that make them think, laugh, and feel. Welcome.