Books, Maps, Magazines, Films even Podcasts!

a chambolle repast…

By billn on August 31, 2012 #books, maps, magazines, films even podcasts!#degustation

Sometimes things all come together – or perhaps, better said, all at once. I could have split this over three separate posts but why(…?)

I’ve just loved the working my way through the first edition of ‘wine magazine’ Repast. I usually have a long line of ‘worthy’ books to work my way through, but rarely do I just sit their chuckling-away, having to read out passages to all and sundry – but this is just such a publication. Written by Jeremy Holmes, an Australian wine importer, together with his wife and photographer Heidi. Just over 160 pages are filled for your entertainment, not just with words but images of mouth-watering dishes. Actually you could knock-off the whole thing in a couple of hours – but it will be worth it. I found the discussion and selection of restaurants to be the most interesting part – more addresses for a rainy day in Burgundy!

To be honest, it’s uplifting writing such as this that makes me even question why I bother – pertinent as my Summer issue remains largely in note-form at the moment!

An amuse bouche for you:

“We powered through some sightseeing and hit Mon Vieil Ami for our midday booking. I could wank on about how this restaurant is like an old friend. But I won’t, because an old friend wouldn’t leave us standing outside in the cold for 15 minutes after our agreed time of commencement of our luncheon. Nor would a good friend be a little slack in attention to water or cutlery requirements. But this is ‘lagged Jeremy’ being a picky prick. The service, when evident, was very warm and friendly.”

I read much of the above whilst sipping a Chambolle or two…

2005 Remoissenet, Chambolle-Musigny 1er Cru
Deep colour. The nose has depth, plenty of herbs and just a hint of green foliage – it’s not a classically floral and elegant Chambolle, but it is reasonably engaging. In the mouth this is both concentrated and offers a super acid-led intensity. The greeny herbal aromatics also have a role in the flavours, the tannins are there, but remain submerged. I doubt you’d pick this blind as a Chambolle – there’s a certain masculinity to it – but in terms of the concentration and intensity, a 2005 masculinity – it’s not about chunky structure, this is well-enough balanced. Interesting and, I suppose, showing not so bad versus many from the vintage – I’ll be interested to see where it ends up…
Rebuy – Yes

2009 Hudelot-Noellat, Chambolle-Musigny 1er Les Charmes
After the 2005 this seems wan, weedy and disappointing. The nose is certainly less challenging than the 05 – faintly sweet with creamy vanilla inflected red berries – but just a little confected, perhaps. The palate also seems more about make-up than a depth of Chambolle-ness – despite a decent intensity there seems little concentration to back it up – vacuous would just about define my first 10 minutes with this wine. Recalibrate (forget 2005s), wait 30 minutes and start again. Faintly powdery red fruit with a subtle, creamy undertow. Sweet, slowly insinuating flavour, with a little strawberry that’s borne on a lovely acidity. Long and but understated flavours. Pretty and easy to drink – still short of a little substance.
Rebuy – Maybe

A Vineyard in My Glass, Gerald Asher (2011)

By billn on August 30, 2012 #books, maps, magazines, films even podcasts!

Published by UCP.
Buy from Amazon.

I’ve had this book ‘waiting in-line’ for a while now, but what a lovely introduction to the writings of Gerald Asher it is. Although the book was published only last year, the vast majority of the short essays were originally published in the 1980s and ’90s when Asher was a ‘house writer’ for the magazine Gourmet. Largely the text is in the original form and then post-scripted by ‘x is now owned by y‘ updates, only the very last entry hails from recent times – a piece on ‘Rutherford’ which was originally published in the World of Fine Wine in 2010.

Enclosed within the book’s 260 pages are 27 essays, split into three subject areas: France, Other European Wine Regions and California. I found a languid, easy writing style, though occasionally trying to fit too much into a sentence – I’m far from immune to that! The content is easy to dip into as even the individual essays have easy stopping-off points, so this is the perfect book to leave lying around the house or have in a travel bag. Personally I took the most pleasure from the last section on California; a fascinating if, in Europe (at least), much overlooked region – I learned a lot.

I have only one criticism; the format of the book leaves little room for exploring what the author has learned or how his perceptions have changed in the (often) twenty years since he wrote the original pieces – I’m sure that would have been as fascinating as the original words themselves!

I’ll leave you with a couple of snippets to whet your appetite:

  • “There was a time when weekly shipments to the bars and cafés of Paris absorbed much of the production, but that demand seems to have disappeared along with the Art Nouveau décor to which a glass of Vouvray, it must be admitted, once added a shimmering dimension. Vouvray is a period wine with an intrinsic style that is not always in accord with present sensibilities. A white wine that needs a modicum of sweetness to be in balance and some age to show its quality meets resistance when the first duties of a modern white wine are to be dry and young”
    Vouvray, 1984
  • “In fact, Dry Creek Valley Cabernet Sauvignons remind me of Médoc wines in the once-upon-a-time before it became fashionable to edge Bordeaux closer to the engagingly forward fruit and blaze of flavour we normally expect of California Cabernets. If I’m saying that Dry Creek Cabernet Sauvignons are not typical of California, that might be why I have felt particularly at ease with Pedroncelli’s Cabernet Sauvignon when I first arrived, my palate still attuned to the more restrained style of European wines.”
    Dry Creek Valley, 1990

fwob reviewed by clive coates mw

By billn on August 03, 2012 #books, maps, magazines, films even podcasts!#other sites

FWOB, kindly reviewed by Clive Coates MW – to him, my thanks…

Also ‘new in’ today, another excellent piece from Vinography.

Reading Between The Wines, Terry Theise (2010)

By billn on July 19, 2012 #books, maps, magazines, films even podcasts!

Published by UCP.

I finally get the time to place my fingers on the keyboard, about two weeks after I’ve actually finished this book – I’m already a third of the way through a follow-up volume…

‘Reading Between The Wines’ (with the addition of a little, but not too much, writing) sounds just like my current existence – so this must be a book written for me – and largely it is. Terry Theise (that would be pronounced ‘Thizer’ if his German connections follow through…), or TT, as I will from now-on refer to him, certainly has a gift for writing; though his American roots shout out from the pages as he ‘kibitzes, schvitzes and schmaltzes (and many other words with ‘zeds’ (zees) in them that I don’t comprehend) his way through the pages.

TT’s prose is both evocative and flowery, and it paints pictures in equal measure, it is often ‘overly-fantastic’ too; it would be a great source for people wanting to cull quotes for definitive proof what nerds wine ‘enthusiasts’ can be. Some of the earlier chapters show this extreme and even had my attention wandering, but despite the emotional connection to wine that is the book’s central contention, I found the last third of the book completely absorbing.

I think it’s enough to give you a few short examples, to see if it’s a book for you, but I enjoyed it very much and would offer it a strong recommendation:

  • “Sometimes when I talk with growers they like to remind me that they’re farmers first, before anything else. That’s easy to forget when you’re dealing with the New World, but in the Old – or the parts of it with which I’m involved – you never forget. Yet their world is not only farming; it’s also selling, marketing, publicizing, engineering, and craftsmanship. If you plant carrots, you eventually harvest carrots. There are things you can do to ensure you have wonderful carrots, but once you put them in the customer’s basket, your work is done. Imagine if picking the carrots were followed by processing them into a soup or a beverage that was then evaluated alongside everyone else’s carrot product, deconstructed, given scores, and all of this so you can be ranked as a producer of carrot drinks. I don’t know about you, but this would make me bonkers. Small wonder the vintner likes to be out in the vineyard where he can escape the noise for a while.”
  • On writing tasting notes: “But some wines embody a story – not merely a narrative, but a kind of curiosity, as they cast out tentacles into the ether. Other wines stimulate the imagination, and you’re off and running. I am very sure these things are worth getting down, but if you seek to share them you will sometimes run afoul of a certain kind of person who actually does want to know that your 2004 Domaine du Crachoir tasted like ‘beer-battered kiwi fritters, boysenberries, and pork snouts.’
  • “In many cases the quietest beauty and the deepest stories live in older wines. This is in part because they grow less brash and frisky, less explicit – but more searching and, at best, more sublime.”

take a break…

By billn on February 03, 2012 #books, maps, magazines, films even podcasts!


The mid-fourteenth century was a time of maximum distress across Europe. The Black Death struck in 1348, though it was by no means the last irruption of the bubonic plague. France was about to descend into the bear pit of the Hundred Years War with England, and the Holy Roman Empire was in uproar over the Golden Bull of 1356 and the introduction of a consolidated imperial constitution and electoral procedures. Thanks to the papal schism, there was one Pope in Rome, and another in Avignon. Those few parts of the Kingdom of Burgundy which had not been lost were often disputed amongst neighbours. To cap it all, mind-boggling crises of succession erupted simultaneously in the Kingdom of France, in the Duchy of Burgundy and the County-Palatine. At this point, faint-hearted readers are advised to take a break.

Phew – I will Norman, I will!

FWOB book review #1

By billn on January 25, 2012 #books, maps, magazines, films even podcasts!

An overgenerous review from Jamie Goode of the world-renowned wineanorak site. I have to say that I laughed when I realised that he correctly spotted that the domaines are all listed in the index under ‘d’ because they start ‘Domaine…’!

new year reading…

By billn on January 01, 2012 #books, maps, magazines, films even podcasts!

A happy new year to all.

My pre-xmas cold returned with a vengance for Christmas, but slowly the coughing and spluttering is subsiding – I’ll probably be on great form when I return home!

I suppose that if I can’t drink, I can certainly read: I don’t seem to be able to ‘pdf’ this so I guess the link may not be extant for long, however, this section (of a very big book) looks quite interesting.

Burgundy Report

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