A conversation with the late François Barmès, a pioneer of biodynamic wine growing in Alsace, and Greg Moore about the nature of authentic wine.
Greg Moore holding court at the Tasting Table The Tasting Table is always open at Moore Brothers, whether for daily tastings, “themed” event tastings, and when our winegrowers visit the stores. Here are some examples from our “themed” tastings: Bordeaux Tasting: Visiting Winegrower: All videos (without youtube ads:): All videos
Benjamin Gonçalves and Mallory Talmard The Talmards have grown vines in the Mâconnais since the 17th century, though the current domaine dates only to 1971, when Paul Talmard withdrew from the local cooperative to estate bottle his own wine. In 1997 he was joined by his daughter Mallory and her husband Benjamin, who now farm 27 hectares in the villages of Uchizy, Montbellet, Chardonnay, Tournus, and Farges-lès-Mâcon. Most of the vineyards grow on well-exposed, steep limestone hillsides, which minimize the yields, and maximize concentration and quality. The grapes are fermented and matured on their lees for two to three months in stainless-steel tanks (there is no wood at Cave Talmard), and the wine is bottled in the spring after the harvest.
So here's the deal. It is accepted wisdom that storing wine in oak barrels may in many cases be beneficial. Storing wine in barrels may add flavors and/or textures that add desirable complexity to wine. Myriad decisions regarding the quality (and/or “qualities") of the various types of barrels (French vs. American, vs. Slovenian oak etc., new barrels vs. used, or “neutral,” etc.) have to be made by any winery regardless of scale. Over 20 years ago, as “oaky” became a synonym for “high quality” (I'll reserve discussion about aesthetics for another time), large-scale producers were faced with a big challenge; how do you get “oaky” when you need to sell wine at supermarket prices? You see, barrels are expensive. The typical barrel holds 300 bottles. A new barrel that will impart that “oaky” flavor (a barrel used once, is considered neutral–incapable of imparting oak flavors), will cost anywhere from $250 to $1500 per barrel, depending on where the oak comes from, quality of th
I’d just completed a two-hour drive from Orly (with a stick shift, mind you — that vehicle would never be the same) after an eight-hour flight from Philadelphia — my first trip to France. I was beat, but as I pulled up to the front gate at Philippe Poniatowski’s Clos Baudoin, and stepped out of the car, I was struck by the familiarity of the place. I’d opened hundreds bottles that grew on this estate, and had drunk quite a few myself. A deep breath was all it took to recognize the“Clos,” even though I’d never been there. Philippe (now, deceased), was in his 70s at the time, and I was a young “know-it-all” back then, but he did all he could to guide me to an understanding of wine in the “Old World.” He was patient with me — no simple task in those days…some might argue that hasn’t changed…but I digress. On the map above, you see many places carefully mapped out that show the boundaries between one wine region and another. The concept of wine as having a distinct, ge
So that big truck pulled up outside of Sergio Germano's winery, fully refrigerated at 56° (13.33° Celsius, for those “in the know”). It was the first time I'd seen one of the reefer trucks in Europe. After a whole lot of years working in wine, it's unbelievable that this isn't the “norm.” On this same day, a number of (much smaller) delivery vans pulled in to pick up smaller amounts of wine, and none of them were refrigerated, let alone air-conditioned — and this was in June. The small vans were apparently picking up from a number of wineries in Barolo, so one has to assume that a lot of wine was sitting in these vans for some time before they got to their initial destination. One hot July afternoon outside of Domaine Ampeau, I saw a flat-bed with dozens of cases of expensive Burgundy sitting outside the cellar. It had come to pick up 10 cases from the domaine. It was in the low 90's temperature-wise. Who knows how long those wines had been sitting there, or how mu
Patrick Brunet of Domaine de Robert, farms roughly 2,500 vines per acre by hand In wine production, oak barrels (see here for more on this subject) are the second largest expense after grape purchases, unless, of course you already own the grapes, having grown them yourself. In industrial “winemaking,” where a company needs to fill its “brand position” in the marketplace with many multiples of thousands of cases, this is rarely, practically never the case. Whether you’re “Cupcake Vineyards,” and buying grapes or ready-made “wine” on which you’ll slap your label (or a multi-national, publicly-traded marketing corporation most known for luggage that does the same), the “raw material,” grapes, are one of your largest expenses. This brings us to farming. Before we get started down that road, let’s first establish how things work with our producers; 99.5% of them farm their own vineyards, and do so sustainably. Most are fully “organic,” some are "certified" in their respe
Fabrice Gasnier working the vines during veraison Hang around here long enough and you’ll hear lots of conversations about wine in the “Old World,” and how they evolved. And even more stories about our winegrowers. Wines like those you’ll find here are very different from what you’d find in a typical liquor store. And the stories of small local cultures that existed before “France,” “Italy,” or “Germany” were countries as we know them today, explain why “Burgundy” is Burgundy, and “Barolo” is Barolo. Ours are stories that speak of the humanity of wine—whether as a function of human cultural evolution, or the hard, physical, human effort that goes into producing fine wine. Our winegrowers are a living part of this history. They work in a spirit of gratitude, refining and developing what previous generations created while preserving the land for future generations. For them, an attentive, sensitive style of stewardship is both a duty and a precondition for living s
The work looks easy–until you realize you’ll be walking up and down a 50 degree (or better) slope repeating the movements thousands of times. Here’s a taste of the hard work that goes into fine wine. Also Greg gets a quick tutorial from someone who has done this for a number of years on the Halenberg one of Germany's most important vineyards.