Riedel threatening writer Ron Washam for satirical article
When I read this story on Jim's blog, then the incriminating satirical piece, I thought I might try to say a few things about the issue. I never jumped into the potentially-hot issue of fancy glassware but you may have noticed that my pictures often show traditional non-tech glasses when I'm speaking about a particular wine I discovered here and there. I love these glasses, they're possibly not the most effective tools to detect the ultimate aroma coming out from a wine, but they're time-proven vessels [I found many of them on flea markets] coming straight from an era (early 20th century) when wine was shared around a table without this ostentatious need to analyze it from A to Z. People loved and enjoyed wine for centuries without fancy modern glass designs and I'm confident they still can today. But for a couple of decades we have entered an era of wine geeks and intellectualization of wine tasting, and these smart glassware companies made us believe that we can't be real wine amateurs if we don't invest in there costly glassware.
This blog article innocently mocking the prestige and the supposed calculations of Riedel was indeed feriously funny, and the thing is, it may have struck a chord among the business people behind these fancy glasses as they threatened to sue the writer who wrote this humoristic article. Now that's some thing, a big, powerful company like Riedel feeling so bad after a satiric story that they want to silence the writer... Doesn't this mean that they don't feel secure about the relevance of their supposedly-irreplaceable glass designs ? Then we learn that the Riedel people backtracked and said it was all fine, just that it had to be underlined that this was a satirical piece, not a real story. Actually they probably realized that this over-reaction was a very, very bad PR operation, but they switched attitude only after other influential bloggers and journalists like Jim put the spotlight on the issue. Come on... This was obviously a calculated move for damage control, not a sudden acknowledgement of the sense of humor. The good side of this appaling story is that it may spark some soul searching about the conformism that fuels the fancy glassware business. People enjoyed wine in many ways for centuries before the modern tech wonders, wine is to be shared and to be gently intoxicated (this is never adressed in the politically-correct circles of the wine media), and we all know that the best wines can do that.
Let's look at the issue from another perspective : what Dionysos would do in this context ? Like in this famous scene of Raiders of the Lost Ark, I doubt he'd choose among the fancy glasses and instead of the false Grails he'd grab a simple, non-tech glass to drink his holy wine....
This was a great pick a few weeks ago in the street fleamarket in a village in the Loire : It's not uncommon to see a few old bottles among the stuff people sell, they're often cellar leftovers which people deem not really fit for drinking today. Very often people assume that an old bottle has some sort of value by itself regardless of the domaine and the price they ask is not worth making a try. But here I witnessed exactly the opposite : here were 5 bottles of Domaine Huet including sparklings, several of them from 1959, and the guy wanted only 5 € per bottle. I kneeled down to look at the bottles, looking at the labels, all the bottles had some wine missing by a few centimeters, but I know by experience that it doesn't mean the wine is undrinkable, it will be certainly altered and have some degree of oxidation but because wine is very mysterious you can enjoy a great drinking experience with such partly evaporated bottles. I decided to buy one and we made a deal at 4 € because of the leaked wine (the guy obviously was not aware of what Huet was). Retrospectively (right then actually) I understood that it was a bit stupid not to take the 5 bottles, but in case they were all undrinkable (which from the start I never believed I must admit) at least the loss was moderate. This was stupid, I'm sure I'd have had the 5 for 3 € each, but forget it.
We opened the bottle a few days ago in Burgundy when visiting B.' parents, this was a great experience indeed. First, this color, gorgeous gold. Great wine can stand oxygen I'm now sure, and that's not only because of the added SO2 (I don't know what were the doses back then in 1959 for a demi-sec). The mouth was intense with nice tertiary aromas. Notes of honey and toast bread, brioche, and the whole with a surprising freshness. Not that much sugar in the mouth feel. Richness, no real oxidative character. B. corrects me, there's a bit of it maybe. This was a pleasure and we finished the bottle delightedly.
Just for the info this vintage sells for 232 € on the Internet these days in France and 302 € in the U.K.
This was in central Burgundy, we were walking on a dirt road bordered with prairies with cows, woods and at one point a couple of small vineyard parcels obviously grown for family consumption only. On the ground I spotted this small heap of grapes with their seeds, this was obviously the droppings of a large bird, probably a jay as they like to prey on orchards and vineyards. This gives us an idea of the large volume of grapes eaten by birds, and you have to count the large wild animals on top of that. I tasted the grapes myself and these were not table grapes, the owner must make a small batch of wine for himself, I'd be curious to figure out how much volume is lost because of these birds. In the Loire to try keep away the birds from my fruits (figs in particular) I use a custom-made hawk decoy that I put hanging above the tree. I made the 40-cm-wingspan decoy using black plastic sheets that I carved up along a model that I found years ago in Japan, one piece for the wings and one for the body.
I must confess that all my reads are not politically correct but this is the price to pay to have news out of the box of the mainstream media (which I read too and where I learn many things too be sure of that), and when I read this piece on Breitbart it triggered my curiosity as this little-noticed weather fact could mean a lot. I have a few doubts on the conventional wisdom regarding climate-change's doomsday scenarios, there's a lot of flat-earth fears behind the whole thing (that may be why the Pope himself is a great fan) and political motives are obviously what fuels the pushers here. This doesn't mean I advocate more pollution of course but I don't trust big-government schemes bent on controlling our daily life in the purpose of this saving-the-planet sanctity.
This somehow-satirical piece points to news that could prove very destabilizing for those who heavily invested in the mainstream narrative of us-developped-countries ruining the lives of them-third-world-countries because of our supposed selfishness : according to scientists, the Sahel is getting greener, which would imply that if there is indeed an impact between the human activity and the general ecosystem, some consequences might be unexpectedly very positive. We'll certainly be said by the climate clergy that these scientists are not true [read : politically correct] scientists, but if proven accurate, the guilt-based ideology will have to scramble to find convoluted explanations in order to stay afloat, or the whole thing will become very complicated...
This was recently the famous foires aux vins in the french supermarkets and other food chains, I usually never wander through their wine aisles although I know there are occasional bargains, but we had recently with a group of friends a tasting reunion with each of us bringing his/her pick. I liked this Macôn La Roche Vineuse cuvée prestige 2014, this is a Burgundy white from Domaine Chêne, it had fresh hawthorn aromas on the nose, the mouth touch was nice with vanilla notes, some richness with a truth feel and good energy. Costs only 6,95 € at Auchan.
This was my own pick for that tasting centered on what you find in the foires aux vins, I had been late to prepare for that tasting and when I visited the supermarkets and other food chains having a september wine fair, many had already finished their wine promotions, and those who hadn't weren't always convincing in their selection. Monoprix did have quite a number of wines but like for the rest of its food section it was pretty overpriced. Some one told me to go check Aldi and Lidl because they're getting wine wise in spite of their discounter status but this wine thing seemed to be over too, so I went back to a Carrefour Market in Paris where several wines had caught my attention, and I chose this Fitou 2013 from the Domaine de L'Ardoise. For some reason I have a good image of Fitou because when I began to get interested in wine it was (along with Faugères and Saint Chinian) a small appellation that at the time was a very good deal for the money. What I liked here is that the back label advised to open 2 hours in advance or carafe. 50-year-old vines planted on shists in the Haut Fitou. In the mouth, dark fruits, something stony and mineral with dust notes. A good pick I think for a mere 6,5 € at Carrefour Market.
The domaine managed by Maguy & Alain Izard sells bottled wine since 1994 after having sold its grapes to the coop.
Here was another pick for this evening, Maryse chose this Witzenheim Gewürztraminer cuvée Maxime 2007 (50 cl bottle) by domaine Barmès-Buecher, a sweet Alsace that had made when biodynamic expert François Barmès was still among us. Great pick again : nice tension in the mouth, balance and nice bitterness, the sugar not showing up much. Radiates on the palate with good length. Costs only 11 € at Monoprix (missed this one when I dropped there).
Suntory lauched a few weeks ago its new whisky, Hibiki Harmony, in Paris, organizing for the occasion an event where we could taste the original whiskies that compose this new blend. Very exciting day like usual with Suntory, with this Japanese sharp precision and sense of hospitality. The new blend is based on the usual whiskies used for the original
blend, but they say it's focused on delivering harmony in aromas
both in the nose and the mouth. I'm kind of a fan of the regular Hibiki 12 years ever since I got one first bottle bought at Narita, this was a major surprise, the whisky was beautifully silky and powerful without any harsh side. I reapeted the experience the following year, buying two bottles this time, and although I found a difference and was less overwhelmed this time, I keep thinking that's a reference in the lower price bracket for Japanese whiskies.
Here they use Mizunara casks for one of the components, bringing this spicy note you find in the Japanese-oak barrels, the smoked malt part bringing depth and complexity, and the grain whisky from Suntory's Chita distillery making the dashi base in this whisky.
We were treated on two long tables with the Japanese representative Mr Miyamoto explaining to us the approach of Suntory behind this new whisky, and guiding us as we tasted one by one the 6 different whiskies behind the blend. Non diluted whisky is hard to appreciate for me and each time I added a few drops of water to really appreciate.
<>The second part of the event was upstairs, with a workshop on cocktails specially designed for Hibiki Harmony by Thierry Hernandez, head of the bar at the Plaza Athénée in Paris. There were 4 of them, representing the 4 seasons. I tasted just two, not more because I actually drank my whole glass each time, chatting with a friend, and I had to ride the motorbike after that. I can't find my notes, one was pleasant but more on the sweet side and the 2nd (I think it's Natsu, autumn) was the right pick. Go to the Plaza Athénée to sample them. Here is the Pdf document with the recipes for these cocktails.
Nice piece by Irish author Colum Mccan on Hibiki Harmony
You may remember my short story earlier this year about this duet show centered on wine and joking about us monomaniac wine amateurs. The show, named Entre Deux Verres and played by a couple of talented Belgians, Pascale Vander Zypen and Christian Dalimier, is back in Paris for 2 evenings at the Théatre des 2 Änes. Here is a short video presentation of their show.
Entre Deux Verres. Théatre des 2 Anes october 5 & 6 at 9pm, 100 Bd de Clichy 75018 Paris. Online reservation page.
I was waiting for such an article (here in the NY Times) for such a long time, I've been so dumbfounded for years by this new health-conscious conformism pushing people to walk along city streets by all seasons holding their small bottle of water as if they were on life support with IV drip. A new ideology had made people believe they had to drink as much water in order to stay alive, live longer, avoid wrinkles and who knows what else. Now there's some one in the New York Times who is not afraid to face the crowds and tell the unpleasant thing : no, plenty of water is not the solution. I always thought this whole thing was wrong, and not only because I drink little water myself (I know I'd need to drink a bit more, if not to the point to imitating these people), it was obvious that plenty of natives live in hot, dry desert regions and just don't walk around toting their water bottles and sucking them every other minute, something had to be wrong.
No, you don't have to drink 8 plasses a day to stay fit and healthy, and I can brag that I knew that intuitively from the start in spite of all the noise around this health myth (that has doubled as a visual annoyance). It was obvious for me that even when you don't formally drink water you get your water share through many foods, and of course beer and wine are mostly composed of water. We should trust our instinct in these matters too, like people do with the instinctothérapie, a school of thought regarding nutrition where you trust your instinct following pleasurable foods, and the balance ensues by itself.
You can follow Aaron E. Carroll through his blog The Incindental Economist.
Interesting article in the Wall Street Journal about water outselling soda [maybe less sugar intake as a result but still an unnecessary addiction]. Extract : "Some scientific studies indicate Americans may be going overboard. The Institute of Medicine estimates women and men need about 2.7 and 3.7 liters of water a day, respectively, but that includes water from other sources like soda or coffee and 20% from food. It says fluid intake prompted by thirst and drinking at meals is usually sufficient."
This past weekend was the 1st day of the hunting season 2015 and I went with a few hunters I know in Touraine, walking across fields and along woods waiting for the occasional hare or partridge that might have forgotten that there's a hunting season. Here hunters are allowed only one hare per season, which means that Didier (here on the picture) won't be allowed to shoot another one until fall 2016. You may be puzzled sometimes when you see hunters scouring such empty-looking fields as you don't understand where the game could be, but hares and several other small animals including birds can hide on the ground and wait the last minute to get away. Hares were prime targets this day, as this other picture on the side testifies (I didn't approach these guys, there were another group of hunters, quite far away).
I also like these walks because I discover micro landscapes and scenic views (like on this video), and also unattended walnut trees along fields where I plan to go back later so that rodents don't get erverything. You can't imagine how many walnut trees and apple trees also loose their fruits because nobody picks them, and I always accompany the hunters with a couple plastic bags just in case.
When I read this article in the Washington Post a few weeks ago, I understood that through wine we had the power to help these people over there in Tunisia, and have a good time altogether. Tunisia's prospects are not bright, to spaak straight, with these jayvee-teams-on-the-run having grown so strong in the region that they might take over the country one day. But people like this woman keep working and make wine in spite of the lethal forces that view this activity as "impure". Unlike the economic opportunists that go try their chance in the European nanny states by the hundreds of thousands, these Tunisians keep working on the future of their own country, and the least we could do is buy a bottle of their wines now and then, especially that the average quality has dramaticly risen along the last decade. The Berbers who are the original inhabitants of north Africa before the arab/muslim conquest remain fond of wine and they're certainly the ones in this region who consume most of the production. I don't have links to stores or online pages for Tunisian wine sales in Europe or the U.S. but I'll link if I find something. Ask you local wine shop.
Read about Samia Ben Ali, the first and only female winemaker in Tunisia, she learnt the trade in Australia and she's not shy speaking to the media in spite of the risks you may guess. Kudos, the future belongs to such people.
We had this bottle a few weeks ago at B.' parents place in Burgundy, she took the bottle out of her own cellar there. This Pibarnon rosé 2006 was a change after all the ordinary rosés I had bought in various supermarkets in Provence, here was at last something worth praising : such a balance, with this elegant coating of the mouth and throat, we're into umami here, with this sapidity that makes such a difference. Such an invitation to have another pour, and this rosé is almost 10 years old...
When B. brought that milk the other day I was quite surprised, there were these leaves on the packaging that I wasn't expecting to see on a carton of milk (on fancy rolling papers maybe...).
This is Hemp milk, like you have soya milk, it's made by Eco Mil and it's sugar free, it tastes good with a slight bitterness (even herbaceous I'd say). You can keep that a long time open in the fridge from what I feel, but it wouldn't last much with me.
If you plan a trip on the French TGV (or any French trains actually), better plan ahead and bring a couple bottles of wine. I don't mean this as a complaint to the overpriced bar service in the SNCF trains (or their wine selection), but just to take something to wield against the next devout fanatic intending to shoot all infidels onboard. As you'll have little to expect from any concealed-carry savior to stop the rampage (you're all sitting ducks waiting for the next genocidal bigot), a bottle of wine could be the perfect [and legal] weapon to at least try to do something.
Don't even count on the SNCF staff : in the failed jihad attack near the Belgium border recently they all run to safety and locked themselves up in the staff quarters in the next car behind a heavy door, ignoring the frantic banging and pleas of the terrified passengers waiting in despair as the gunman was approaching to get them all. The SNCF would have prefered that this appaling part of the story stays in the dark but alas for the company, a prime witness named Jean-Hugues Anglade (the French actor in Betty Blue among other major films) lived through the whole thing, thinking he'd die along with his partner and his 2 children. He reported all the details of his ordeal in the media and the SNCF was left scrambling for confused explanations to deny the staff had abandoned the passagers to their fate.
Remember, a simple bottle of wine. Begin to drink it before the train leaves to get courage and also because it's easier to move when empty. This bottle may be your last chance, you'll not always have the luck to ride with 3 young Americans who have the guts to stand up and say "Let's Roll"...
Birds prey on grapes and now let's look at the apples : wasps are very fond of them too and I'm surprised at the volume they can eat compared to their relative size. I tend to be careful in their vicinity although I occasionally go after them but I appreciate their spotting of the perfect ripeness : when they're around you can bet that these apples are perfectly ripe and waiting for you. If you leave them foraging your apples they can do this beautiful thing on the left that looks like an empty shell. This one on the right didn't get away with its misdemeanor and I'm sure bees praised me telepathically for that.
The apples here are from the Reine des Reinettes variety.
After a difficult beginning a couple of weeks ago when B. and I went to the forests in the Loire and found a few mushrooms after painstakingly scouring the underwoods, I can say now that the mushroom season is well under way, although many people in the countryside still pretend that there's nothing and that the ground under the trees remains dry. It did rain enough in the last few weeks to generate an interesting production of mushrooms (especially boletuses of all kinds), even if that's not the best year I've been through. Again like for hunting, that's also a good opportunity to discover scenic places in the woods, and going three times in the woods for an hour each time, I brought back a total of 6 kg of mushrooms, eating them every day like cats in Russia under the boycott eating caviar everyday as a replacement for "Whiskas" [живем мы на дальнем востоке, whiskas не можем себе позволить. дорогой очень]...
I gave some to people in the village and (I'm getting bored) we're having enough mushrooms in Paris for a few days, I'd rather switch to caviar now....