Saturday, February 28, 2009

For Bordeaux, Does Moueix Mark the Spot?

It occured to me about halfway through yesterday's lunch that Christian Moueix threw for a dozen wine journalists at NYC's restaurant Daniel, that it might just be up to this elegant Frenchman with strong American ties to resurrect Bordeaux reds as a low-cost choice on our restaurant wine lists and as Friday-night options at our own dinner tables.
Time was back in the 1970s when blended Bordeaux -- known as "shippers' wines" or "negociant blends" -- could be had at reasonable prices and in great availability from such appellations small and big as Pauillac, St. Emilion or just everyday Bordeaux. Several things killed off this business, not the least of which was the emergence of the Oak Blend Raters, who started giving numbers to wines, thus calling all the attention to the top growths, including Petrus and other properties owned by Moueix and his family. Shippers wines were suddenly considered low-rent, and, while they didn't disappear entirely, their numbers and availability became relatively lean. Sure, those of us in the know or who had retailers willing to hand sell us wines could still ferret out petite Bordeaux, or small properties, at good prices. But, still, a good regional blend at a low price is a drink of beauty.
Could, just maybe, Moueix and his importer, Kobrand, bring them back? Why not? Certainly the 2005 vintages from St,-Emilion, Pomerol, and Medoc (as well as the regional Merlot Encore) and the 2006 St.-Estephe are all very nice wines, mainly in the $20 range, and certainly drank well with Daniel's wild mushroom risotto and Colorado lamb chop. And they showed their terroir -- the St.-Emilion had a little more minerality and acidity than the plumper Pomerol, the Medoc was approprtiately lean with dried fruits, and the St.-Estephe was power in a Velcro glove. The Merlot Encore, while not exactly Nouveau Monde, was certainly fruit forward.
As Moueix noted, his family has been buying grapes from other Right Bank chateaux for decades, so he knows where to go in St.-Emilion and Pomerol, putting together dozens of different properties in his blends. He admits to less experience on the Left Bank and buys only from two growers in St.-Estephe. "They are both well-regarded chateaux," he said, "so I can't tell you who they are -- unless I drink too much!"
He didn't, but his Christian Moueix Bordeaux blends certainly give the rest of us an opportunity to bring back the good old days.
Until next time...
Roger Morris

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Where the Vineyard Meets the Bottle

My wife Ella is a painter and photographer who, not suprisingly, often uses grapes and vineyards as her subjects.
Recently she was asked to create and donate a painting of a vineyard for a charity auction with the kicker being that a replica or print of the painting be mounted on a bottle of wine -- specifically a magnum of Carpineto's lovely and accessible super-Tuscan blend, Dogajolo, which we both have enjoyed from time to time. So Ella created a watercolor she calls simply "Italian Vineyard," which she mounted in a lovely modern frame with an edging of green, then put a print of it on the broad back of the magnum.
The painting and the bottle will be under the gavel on the evening of April 17 at the Chase Center on the Riverfront in Wilmington, DE. The auction is part of a long weekend fund (and fun) raiser for Meals on Wheels Delaware (go to
Of course I'm prejudiced, but I think it's really lovely painting and label and one that would be particularly soothing for pregnant women operating heavy machinery.
Until next time....
Roger Morris

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Garcon! This Bottle Is Very Old & It Twitters

I'm not the most electronically ept person there is.
Oh sure, I would be bereft without my Blackberry (Barack, I'm waiting!), I much prefer e-mail to the telephone 99% of the time (even though the phone has never given me an electronically transmitted disease - ETD), and I have tasted wine on a Webinar while a guy in the Barossa Valley simultaneously told me what he had in mind while he was making it.
But mostly, I'm lame, a modern Luddite, when it comes to most social and networking aspects of the Electronic Age.
To paraphrase Sam Cooke's classic, Wonderful World:
Don't know much about the Interknitters,
I've never Facebooked, and I've never Twittered --
Still, I was intrigued when the wine folks at Wilson Daniels told me about an event they are working on with Twitter Taste Live to coincide with the 10th Annual Open that Bottle Night, the hugely successful idea of writers Gaiter and Brecher of The Wall Street Journal. Open that Bottle, in case you never heard of it, urges all of us who have been holding a bottle of the good stuff to open it on the same night -- Saturday, February 28 this year -- in a worldwide feel-really-good effort of sharing.
The folks at Twitter Taste Live ( want to go one step further by having us all simultaneously get together electronically at 8 p.m. EST that night to taste our wines. I don't quite understand exactly how it works, but I think we taste the wines, then everyone within Twitterdom asks each other, "Baby, was it as good for you as it was for me?" and then you knowingly respond, "Yeah, but I think mine had a little case of Da Bret!" Then we drink some more, Twitter some more... you get the picture.
I'm not sure yet whether I'll participate or not. As I was writing this and looking in reality at the bottle in the picture above -- a 38-year-old 1971 Leroy d'Auvenay Bourgogne -- I decided to decant it and drink it on the spot.
As Miss Scarlet might have said in her younger days, "Why, Twitter-de-dee!"
Until next time...
Roger Morris

Monday, February 9, 2009

This Writer's Life: The Joy of Regionals

I would be lying in I didn't recognize that the biggest rushes I get as a writer are when I see my articles in print in a major publication, such as Robb Report, Saveur or Beverage Media, or online in and

Yet some of the greatest personal enjoyment comes in working with regional publications such as The Hunt, Signature Brandywine or Pennsylvania Wine & Spirits Quarterly. Part of the allure is the great range of topics -- a profile of a professional flyfisher (the photo above), a piece on McFarming about business execs and professionals who do serious dirty things in their "backyards," or a final hommage to one of our best-known locals, Andrew Wyeth.

It's also fun to jump into the car and run off for an interview 30 minutes cross-country. Of course, I wouldn't trade my well-planned trips to Bordeaux and Umbria, but, still, the immediacy and intimacy of local reporting has its perks.

Finally, some of the most beautiful spreads to which I have had my name attached were published in the regionals. If you could flip the page above, you would see two more lovely spreads in The Hunt, finely photographed by Jim Graham and expertly laid out by the magazine's excellent art director, Leslie Kedash.

As Terry Peach, the flyfisher getting ready to cast away in the Brandywine, might say, it may be a small pond, but the fishing is good.

Until next time....

Roger Morris

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Bottoms Up: View from The Deep South

Writing about wine, like most things in life, is a matter of perspective. I was reminded of this recently when I received two posts from the Southern Hemisphere.
The first was a harvest update from winemaker Ian Hongell at Peter Lehmann wines in the Barossa Valley noting that this year's 2009 vintage harvest started on January 29 with the crushing of Chardonnay, the earliest picking date for them on record. I've been to the Barossa and New Zealand and Chile and Argentina, and, while I recognize they pick grapes in those locales during our winter, I've not yet wrapped my mind about what constitutes an early budbreak (September 23?) or a late harvest (March 3?). I've not yet reached that Down Under state of mind where everything automatically computes.
The second posting came from Adrian Bridge, CEO of Fladgate Partnership, a photo of him enjoying a glass of Croft Pink, Port's first rose wine, near the South Pole while waiting to make a four-day dash to the top of Mount Vinson, the highest peak in Antartica. It's summer Down There, you know, the time for a good rosy. And so, properly "portified," Adrian reached the mountain top -- 16,062 feet -- at 11 p.m. on January 10 -- still daylight, of course.
So I decided to take an umarked map of the world and turn it upside down (according to our Northcentric viewpoint) to see what things look like from that angle.
I just hope that Adrian didn't fall off while I was doing that.
Until next time....
Roger Morris