Friday, April 13, 2012
On The Road Again: France and More France
A couple of years ago, I had to suddenly leave home for a magazine assignment in Bordeaux in early February. It was one of our worst winters in Pennsylvania in modern times, and I got out of town just before one major snowstorm hit and was delayed a day at CDG coming back by a second blizzard. My wife said, don't worry, but I had visions of no electricity and heat in the house and howling wolves coming out of the back woods.
So this year I vowed - no foreign assignments until March! Of course, I never once had to shovel snow this winter and was even checking out the sun screen supply in the bathroom closet.
So, over the past month I've been catching up. First a mid-March trip to St-Emilion, Pomerol and their outer boroughs, then on to Burgundy for a comprehensive look at the 2009 and 2010 vintages during the Grands Jours de Bourgogne. Back home a week, then a return to Bordeaux for primeurs, their annual barrel tasting, this time of the 2011 vintage. I love primeurs not only for the wines, but also because it gives me a chance to catch up with colleagues in the media and in the trade from around the world and to make new acquaintances. I stayed at Chateau Lascombes and on successive dinners was treated to conversations with interesting people from Barcelona and Russia.
I also had great lunches at Pontet-Canet and Phelan Segur. The latter was especially interesting, because how many times to you have chance to chat at one event with Charles Curtis and Simon Tan from Christie's Hong Kong, SG co-owner Thierry Gardinier (who talked about the makeover of Taillevent, one of their new properties, in Paris), Decanter's Bordeaux writer-in-residence Jane Anson, French wine critic Michel Bettane and Fiona Morrison, MW, writer extraordinaire and co-owner of Chateau Le Pin? (The 2011 vintage is surprising good even though last summer's weather was scarrifying to the vintners.)
And then there were the magazines and online assignments before I went and the "futures" (article pitches, not wines) I was able to sell to editors after I got back. Thus far, I'll will be writing, or will have written, stories from materials gathered on these three trips to Wine Enthusiast, Drinks Business, iSante, Sommelier Journal, Sommelier News, The Daily Meal, Drinks and to a new market, Magazyn Wino, headquartered in Warsaw. I met the editor at a dinner at Clos Vougeot. For some of these publications, there will be more than one piece.
What next? Travel assignments sometimes pop up suddenly like succulent morels in April, but thus far I have upcoming trips to Sante Fe (vacation and assignments), Portugal twice and California north and south.
But nothing yet for January or February 2013. I'm afraid global warming will take a breather.
Until next time...