Saturday, June 27, 2009

In Bordeaux, VinExpo Calls for VinPartytime

By day, they manned booths, walked miles of exhibit floors, poured wines or tasted them and took part in discussions about the current State of the Vin -- but at night, last week at VinExpo2009, the Bordelaise and their guests from around the world partied on!

Like most guests, I had more invitations than I could accept. I missed some good parties, such as the Grand Crus dinner at Chateau Lafite-Rothschild, because I needed to recoup after a tour of Cahors that bumped into VinExpo week. Nine hours of sleep later I was ready to go again.

But I managed to catch some good times as well. First there were annual induction ceremonies such as the ones held by the St.-Emilion Jurade Fete de Printemps (I was honored to be inducted into the society) and the Commadeurs du Bontemps' Fete de la Fleur at Chateau d'Issan on the last night of the exhbition. During the reception for the fete, I paparazzied my hostess for the week, Anabelle Cruse Bardinet, proprietor and winegrower at Chateau Corbin, the blonde in the shot upper left along with her friend Isabelle Perrin of Chateau Carbonnieux.

Then there was the lovely luncheon hosted by Pierre Lurton at Chateau Cheval Blanc (photos below). While munching and sipping, some of us wondered how many cases more of Cheval could have been produced if the lawn where we were eating had been planted to vines instead. Lunch at Chateau Lagrange featured an excellent show-and-drink presentation by director Bruno Eynard of the terroirs and tastes of the estate's various plots and how he blended wines from them to make 2008 Chateau Legrange, which is still in the barrel.

Olivier and Anne Bernard have the reputation of being among the best hosts in Bordeaux, and they kept their record intact with a rollicking outdoor reception and tented dinner at their Domaine de Chevalier for the annual "Tour de France" event with seven winemaking partners (think Pol Roger, Leflaive, Faiveley) from around the country. At Chateau Lassegue, Pierre and Monique Seillan hosted a Bordeaux barbecue (partner and horseman Jess Jackson was a scratch) with tours of the vineyard in classic American sports cars and country music by the Rusty Pants (it must lose something in translation). The fiddler (upper right) may be pure French, but she sure played great downhome American music.

But the highlight of the week just might have been a private tour of Le Pin by owners Jacques Thienpont and Fiona Morrison. Le Pin is an unmarked, small, unpretentious country house, but its basement cellar helped launch the garagiste movement that was instrumental in changing how Bordeaux grew grapes and made wine and is also the source of one of the world's greatest, rarest, most expensive wines.

I'll diet tomorrow.

Until next time...

Roger Morris

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Visiting with the 26th Generation Antinoris

I just returned from a wine writing assignment in Italy where I had the opportunity to visit several of the Antinori estates and discuss wine and food with the three Antinori daughters who will eventually succeed their father, Piero Antinori, and who represent the 26th generation of the famous family that has been making wine since the 14th Century.
Albiera, Allegra and Alessia Antinori all have primary roles in the family business, all are very friendly, unpretentious, smart and attractive, but they are all refreshingly different in their styles and interests. I look forward to writing about them more in the weeks ahead.
Two other writers and I had dinner with Alessia at La Pinetta restaurant on the Tuscan seashore near the family Tombolo Talasso resort and later lunch with her at their Tignanello Estate in Chianti. Next, an alfresco pig-roast lunch with Allegra at Guado al Tasso, where she also raises thoroughbreds. We had two dinners with Albiera, first at Badia di Passignano and then at the Cantinetta Antinori in Florence, the first of a small chain of restaurants by that name, located just downstairs from the family enclave at Palazzo Antinori and a few steps from the city's famous duomo. In between all this, we also stayed at the Antinori's Fonte de' Medici agritourism farmhouse at Montefiridolfi and visited other estates at La Bracessca and Castello della Sala in Umbria. During this time, we had a wide array of excellent wines with matching Tuscan food.
In short, the enterprise Antinori is amazing in its history and its very modern approach to wine, food and travel. As Albiero and Allegra have children already, a 27th generation of Antinori winegrowers seems like a sure bet.
New Publications: In the June issue of The Drinks Business, my article titled "Barmy Days in Balmy Bordeaux" chronicles the 2008 Bordeaux growing season, the anguish of a late harvest, the elation of the vintage's reception at Primeurs and the wacky campaign that followed.
The May/June issue of Sommelier News carries an article I wrote about three wine tastings that each raised an interesting discussion -- about vintage quinta Ports, the orthodoxy of biodynamics, and Moueix and the return of good shippers' Bordeaux. It's called "Cuvees of the Tete."
Please let me know if you would like a pdf of either article.
Twitterdumb: Follow my tweet life on Twitter at Battonage.
Until next time...
Roger Morris