Thursday, 15 August 2019

Consider the sieve


Consider the importance of the sieve 
silver guardian at unapologetic gates restraining humble pasta and floaty bits in wine 
or don't, 
and re-consider feet grape-deep in buckets
later.




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Sunday, 11 August 2019

On sales on souls


The funny thing is that for months I ignored the wine sitting downstairs unless there was a problem which when you consider the cuve was leaking and the heatwave and chapeau losing air there was frequently enough but even then I didn't regard it as ‘wine’ it was just there and we would take glasses from the tap and it was OK because it tasted like what it was: a basic red made in a shed with no running water fermented in plastic and exposed to plenty of air because we didn’t know about ouillage so there wasn’t much length but it did it must be said and others did say it had a delicate nose. 

But then we bottled and suddenly it wasn’t a worry it was wine it was a product and not only that but stock: a shed full of more wine than we ever had stacked quietly after the rush that is bottling on a pallet and in caisse and on the shelf there was wine  e v e r y w h e r e  it felt so much and we made it and it was ours and it was wine and now it also looked like wine and we brought it everywhere here this is it, here it is and we felt very rich. We weren’t of course rich, still aren’t, we are this year more poor than any year before, but we were rich in wine and in spirit and when we felt bad we could drink and this year has been very hard so we drank and anyway it wasn’t for sale, never considered it would be for sale because we made it for fun and for friends and for us and so we drank and we didn't count had never counted never knew never will know how many bottles we drank or made.

But then someone wanted to buy it and suddenly we started counting and stopped drinking and stopped giving because someone actually wanted to buy it and this was a surprise and at first we thought maybe a joke and because here was someone who I repeat wanted to BUY it and he wasn’t a fool nor family nor sympathetic friend this was business based on taste and we couldn’t believe it and just like that something had changed: the wine was no longer just for us for fun but a product for SALE and this goes to your head and like I said we started counting. Now it had a label and people saw it and they wanted it and it was us that had it and if we drank it then it would be gone and we were no longer naive and rich now we knew it had worth outside of us but suddenly poor, saving and stretching and weighing and questioning was this occasion worthy to drink it, was it enough, because somehow after that first hundred sold it just went on from there and suddenly there could  never be enough until but for the box of six and the magnums for us and for fun and for friends and a small stock waiting in the dark for next year it’s all gone and 
there we were in our shed full of stock and we felt so rich and that we had so much.




(Thanks to Florence for the photo of our wine on a shelf in her new shop).



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Thursday, 11 July 2019

On bottling in forty-two degree heat wedged between suitcases and an old fridge


I will write one day about the toothpaste factory twisting boredom of bottling which is a likeness I haven’t conjured up from behind my computer but one that struck me with the dull thump of anti-progress while actually bottling after which I couldn’t stop thinking about factories and empathy and all the people ever to have existed in such existential poverty and those who continue to do so. I have never thought more about industry and heavy duty machinery as I do nowadays working with people I would describe as more or less artisanal but it’s true, I do, so it's good that it doesn’t always make me sad when I think about factories but sometimes Wow cool like the time I drove via Champagne to Mars in the enjambeur of Dufour Charles and which I keep calling entrejamb meaning between-leg which makes the French laugh. There are other times too where I think Wow like when I’m scrolling through agricultural websites search term ‘cuve fibre’ and for sale I find tanks as big as concrete houses and I try to imagine how many grapes these need to be filled and how full France is of grapes and I can't which is the thing with industry: incomprehensible scale. But bottling doesn’t have to be in the controlled conditions of a factory it can also be in forty-two degree heat wedged between suitcases and an old fridge whose coiled back is thick with rust left as it was for years in a shed with the outside world clearly visible through the 1 cm gaps through its slats and not only visible but tangible, the heat pushing through and long-ago boiling the last eighty-odd litres of wine we’re finally bottling having only that morning secured the magnums brackets thank you Anders although I can think of a more exact of description of this than ‘bottling’ namely holding each mag up arm heavy to the tired déguster to catch drip by drip the liquid jam as you sit behind the fridge next to the suitcases amidst the hairy confusion of a million flies rubbing together their dirty feet as if gleefully at your misery and you are, you are miserable because in this heat you can’t eat, you can’t work, you can’t sleep, you can’t live and you tell yourself It's day eight of a wave of heat you just have to hang in there, It won't, you tell yourself, Go on forever but what if it does? What if we're at the beginning or maybe even already the middle of the end of the world and who cares which it is? why split hairs the flies are thirsty, the ants are thirsty and they are coming into the house to collect around the dripping fridge like elephants at a mud pool and humans around a lake.


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Monday, 24 June 2019

Vincent Marie | No Control


Vincent Marie is not Vincent and Marie who are the Tricots and who I wrote about here but a gentle riot.
No compromise ni control, makes snapped guitar-string wines that crawl out of mosh pits bleeding magma and two black eyes in Volvic chai painted millennial conch shell pink.

— Visit 1 April 2019. Volvic, Auvergne

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Tuesday, 11 June 2019

Charles Dufour


Charles is energy to the power of 7: Epicure, Enthusiast, quietly cultivating vines and transmuting their spirit into wines that sun on ocean-ripples dance and shimmer as opposed to sun on fresh-waxed Maserati b*l*i*n*g from which you shield your eyes. Here, can I offer you another rice cracker? A cold shower? A perpetual reserve of forest asparagus we foraged together then turned into a salad we’ll blend with veg and seeds and other things and eat for the next three days? Welcome to Landreville, an alternative Champagne. 

What more can I say than most days being mostly lunch with crunch? On the Only Living Boy in Champagne (thanks Honey) I have: Inherited responsibility, buh-bye biodynamics cus 'I don't want to wake up so early’, no more single-parcel cuvées, pale hands blue pick-up big time generosity and a legally grey-area orange spritz. Further on our visit there's Aux Crueyrs de Vin, a Troyes institution, a '09 Puzelat, Julien Guillot's '17 Cuvée 910 drunk fast and blind which made all three of us scratch our heads and sing; an andouillette initiation, a pintade prince and a standout Coteaux Champenois star-fire wine (capers, sandalwood, Arizona desert dust) on fiercely pithy skins. Then there was more fowl for lunch and a '98 to end but before all this the once in a lifetime time I can say a Le Carton wine was drunk in Champagne (!) ditto that I took an unsupervised spin (!!) on a Soviet octopus mission to Mars vine sprayer and in conclusion bear with my five word monologue by way of answer to your question, 'But tell me, how did you find Champagne?'

Charles: disgorges my birth year. 
Me: Can we drink something red soon? 


— Visit 6-10 June 2019. Landreville, Champagne




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Wednesday, 5 June 2019

Harvest 2018: Aurélien Lefort


The 
only
good
system
is
a
(very good)

— Auvergne, 14 October 2 0 1 8



 







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Friday, 19 April 2019

Jan van Roekel




Jan or Jean nobody knows and nobody cares, it is what it is which I'll tell you is one hell of an explosive glacial melon pét nat of the finest china bubbles in Johnson’s² baby powder pink. What else? Well, what has always been is that Jan plays hard for the Jura team, believes in hip hop and that a better life is possible in France. One of the only Amsterdammers who doesn’t bike, the only one to visit us here twice and the person to look at my grapes and say “press” so the next day I did (thanks Jan). Furthermore director of tours from the swamplands North to Bojo's bastard salon Bojalien where, chez Romain, he’s been making Gamay since 15 in his cult-merch hoody softly beseeching #free(Olivier)cousin and is no joke big in Japan.

— Jan visited 11 April. Alba-la-Romaine, Ardèche

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Monday, 15 April 2019

Catherine Dumora and Manuel Duveau


"Barrel wine is for the head", Manuel Duveau said,
and we’re in the biz. of firework spritzers and volcanic elixirs and getting mescaline crazed butterflies dancing in bellies.

— Visit 1 April 2019. Blanzat, Auvergne.


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Thursday, 11 April 2019

Aurélien Lefort


There are two things I want to say about Aurélien Lefort and here they are in no particular order.

The first concerns his labels, each as if drawn by a genius doodling fine-lined the unwinding of the labyrinth of the mind in paper margins with spacecraft precision its runaway monsters and underground suns. Hieronymous Bosch sky burials event horizon heavy falcon full engines blast through black hole energy. Insane messages scratched out by ravaged wingtip with ketamine clarity, NDE-lucidity. Francis Bacon rib cages and dino-boned claws arranged methodically, algebraically, madly; urgent warnings left in black quill tip hint at the wine's liquid intensity. Cryptic script left by those before the known cosmic order in machine language and jester diamonds, traces of minotaur mazes filled with frightened winged things captured in scratchy lithograph Expressionist madness and the second thing is: his sound system is amazing.


— Visit April 2 2019. Madriat, Auvergne.

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Tuesday, 9 April 2019

Vincent Tricot


Vincent is a Sunday afternoon beaten Creuset cooking all day slow on a Saturday quiet kitchen deep eyes heavy lidded talking slow like a metronome tick tick about the different Gamays. Silver stubbled old western smoking steady radio voice tones invites us post tasting 18s in late sun gilded cellar after pickup truck safari tour of sandy Auvernat hilltop soiled parcels of old and also newly planted vines to stay and drink at kitchen table cracking almonds and later eat risotto with François Dhumes and Francien their friends and neighbours for dinner. All we did otherwise today is eat lunch: six oysters with London beer and a Mediterranean rosé (Castex) with a breadcrumbed cassoulet and a liver nourishing broth that's pot au feu in French and afterwards I fell asleep in the back of the car.

— Visit 30 March 2019. Orcet, Auvergne



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Friday, 5 April 2019

François Dhumes



Last year here they say a lack of Nitrogen means the wine’s lazy the day today March 31 twothousandnineteen spring and warm and sunny us music on in plastic small-trunked Jeep driving out of Clermont Ferrand city and what’s better all Sunday doing nothing ‘til at five drinking weeks to months-long cold carbo charged wines colour of dark stain-glass violets with taste hints of local basalt volcan-icty and different fibreglass personalities in a three years-new cellar downstairs before dinner dipping Saturday-dry bread sliced thin in juice of whole house smells like golden-crisp chicken? Dipping fries young-faced, doe-eyed François (Dhumes) triple-fried hot and salty with a bar of torn foiled dark chocolate, Spain’s first strawberries and effervescent Gamay d’Auvergne rosé flicking through folder of ancient local paper cut-outs of now older Auvernat gods in the kitchen with new friends fresh escaped from two weeks extra pruning in a pink-hued, otherwise stifling Beaujolais for dessert.

— Visit 31 March 2019. Orcet, Auvergne

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Thursday, 15 November 2018

10 November


It’s been a long while since I wrote and with so much happening in between where to start? so you don’t or you start with what is true now so I will write about living in a cloud. 10 November 2018 and the Ardèche is sink-sponge yellow-green shaggy grey skies and sodden. The vines cling to their leaves shades of neon with gold skeletons their grapes two months-long gone into juice now quiet the last of the garden's green tomatoes fridge-top in jars next to the cooking spoons oh, and I brined olives today. Life is in muted sage green mist mottled with tones of brass door handles, burnt quince and ochre shades of corduroy, brushing off lazy flies and baguette-bending humidity, there was to my dismay no goat milk yoghurt thick as walls at the market today I'm told no more until spring and the mushrooms we picked were orange and poisonous but: quince! Meaty spice orbs turned slabs of fridge-cold jelly and an illicit harvest of hand polished chestnuts means they are brown in their basket with the walnuts on the windowsill while beyond I see a calico cat landscape of quilted army fatigue olive sheen, winter tomato ghostly greens copper pots fading into sad soup brown plus blush of rose gold pear and like I said, sodden. 


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