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I'll Drink to That! Wine Talk

Food & Cooking Podcasts

A former sommelier interviews incredibly famous and knowledgeable wine personalities in his tiny apartment. He gets them to talk candidly about their lives and work, and then shares the conversations with you. To see new episodes sooner and to see all of the hundreds of back episodes in your feed, it is important to FOLLOW or SUBSCRIBE the show. It is free to do either, the show is free. Contact info- Email leviopenswine@gmail.com for advertising, consulting, speaking, or guest inquiries Instagram @leviopenswine Website illdrinktothatpod.com




A former sommelier interviews incredibly famous and knowledgeable wine personalities in his tiny apartment. He gets them to talk candidly about their lives and work, and then shares the conversations with you. To see new episodes sooner and to see all of the hundreds of back episodes in your feed, it is important to FOLLOW or SUBSCRIBE the show. It is free to do either, the show is free. Contact info- Email leviopenswine@gmail.com for advertising, consulting, speaking, or guest inquiries Instagram @leviopenswine Website illdrinktothatpod.com



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498: A Rush of Blood to the Wine Glass from Dan Keeling

Dan Keeling is a co-founder and partner in the Noble Rot restaurants and Shrine to the Vine retail shops in London, "Noble Rot" Magazine, and Keeling Andrew and Co., an importer of wine into the United Kingdom. He co-authored "The Noble Rot Book: Wine From Another Galaxy". Dan admits to some of his obsessions, namely food and music. He describes how a friend's accident allowed him the chance to start a nightclub in Manchester. He talks about his early jobs writing about music, and then progressing to working in A&R for record labels. He signed Coldplay to Parlophone Records, marking a huge win, but admits that at first he wasn't that taken with the band. He then succinctly breaks down the elements that contributed to Coldplay's massive success. That success propelled Dan to a Managing Director job at Island Records, but eventually that career high gave way to a career transition, as Dan found himself without a job and wondering what to do next. Dan met his now business partner Mark Andrew at a wine shop near the Island Records office, and they quickly established that they shared a sense of humor and a fascination for the same wines. They went on to begin a wine magazine (er, fanzine) titled "Noble Rot" in 2012, working together on Mark's old computer. Writing for the magazine led to introductions to vigneron, some of whom joined the import portfolio of Keeling Andrew and Co. The magazine also led to the start of a wine focused restaurant group, today encompassing three Noble Rot restaurants in London. Dan talks about being a restauranteur who is not a chef, and about the emphasis of the restaurants on wine. Dan discusses how the writing and graphics in the "Noble Rot" magazine are designed to stand out from other publications about wine. He talks about contextualizing wine amongst other aspects of culture, such as food and music. He rejects the idea of trying to be objective or encyclopedic about wine. Instead, Dan emphasizes the importance placed on humor in his wine magazine, as well as finding insights. He further describes how he developed an interest in certain kinds of wines, favoring idiosyncratic and different wines over corporate, homogenized examples. Dan talks about wine tasting trips to Burgundy, to the Jura, and to Spain, sharing some of what he learned along the way. He discusses the pricing situation for Burgundy wines today. He also discusses the wines of Bordeaux, and of Greece. Dan stresses the importance of finding the characters in wine for his own work, and then shares some advice that he would give to the next generation. See Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.


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497: Robert Drouhin Is From A Good Vintage

Robert Drouhin and his family own Maison Joseph Drouhin in the Burgundy region of France, as well as Domaine Drouhin in the Willamette Valley of Oregon. Robert describes moving to Burgundy as a child, and his experiences around Beaune during World War 2. His adoptive father, Maurice Drouhin, owned the Maison Joseph Drouhin winery, and began instructing Robert in the specifics of wine. Maurice was a wine producer, making wines from vineyards near Beaune. Robert remembers Maurice also as a sales agent for the wines of the Domaine de la Romanee-Conti, and a Vice President of the Hospices de Beaune. Robert recalls Maurice hiding from arrest by the Nazis during the war years, taking shelter for months in the Hospices de Beaune. When Maurice had a medical emergency, Robert assumed control of the Maison Joseph Drouhin winery. Robert discusses the notable Burgundy vintages of the 20th century, from the 1930s through the 1990s. He also talks about his decision making after taking control of Maison Joseph Drouhin at the age of 24. He recalls traveling to California and meeting Robert Mondavi. He then describes the development of enology and new techniques for wine in the 1950s, his experiments, and eventual response to the wines produced with new methods. Robert talks about the wave of vine replantings that took hold in Burgundy after World War 2, and what that meant for the wines. He expanded the Drouhin vineyard holdings in the Cote d’Or and in Chablis, and Robert talks about the characteristics of famous vineyards like Le Montrachet, the Clos des Mouches, Griotte-Chambertin, Musigny, Bonnes-Mares, Chambolle-Musigny Les Amoureuses, and Vosne-Romanee Les Petits Monts. Robert talks about his children, and their roles in the Drouhin businesses today. He remembers hiring Laurence Jobard at Drouhin in the 1970s. He talks about the style of the Drouhin wines, and takes up the question of tannins and extraction in red Burgundy wines. He also speaks about the changes in the Drouhin winemaking in Burgundy since the 1960s, touching on topics like temperature control, filtering, fining, new oak, and the timing of bottling. Robert experimented in the 1980s with vinifying wine by hand destemming and natural fermentation, utilizing a sixteenth century press and adding sulphur in the old way. He compares the results of those methods to the Drouhin wines made in the contemporary way. He shares his reflections about what makes for a good wine, and at what stage it may be drunk at its best. In the 1980s, Robert Drouhin purchased vineyard land in the Willamette Valley of Oregon, and he speaks about what led up to that purchase and the formation of Domaine Drouhin in Oregon. He talks about exchanging experiences and ideas with grape growers in Oregon, and divulges what he learned there. He also recalls the blind tastings that launched his interest in Pinot Noir from Oregon. He then describes the differences of the wines from the divergent vineyard parcels Drouhin owns in Oregon today, and mentions that further knowledge of the different growing areas of Oregon is something that is still in development. Robert contends that organic farming is easier in Oregon than it is in Burgundy, because of the different weather patterns in those places. He also speaks about the introduction of organic practices in some Drouhin vineyards in Burgundy. He gives an overview of the vineyard practices of Drouhin in Burgundy. This episode features commentary from: Jason Lett, The Eyrie Vineyards Steve Doerner, Cristom Vineyards See Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.


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496: Sandy Block's Shot at Redemption

Sandy Block was a Master of Wine who was also the Vice President of Beverage at the Legal Sea Foods group of restaurants, and an Adjunct Professor at Boston University in Massachusetts. Sandy passed away in November of 2021. Sandy talks about his rollercoaster relationship with academics: doing very well in school during some periods of his life, and almost flunking out of school during others. Sandy explains that he began working at a restaurant while working on his PhD dissertation. He would eventually abandon his dissertation, but pursue his interest in wine at the restaurant. He explains how he was given his first wine job in 1981. The only French speaker on the waitstaff, he was promoted to the sommelier role, although he did not know anything about wine. He looked for answers about wine in books that he would consult during his shifts. He found that the subject of wine encompassed many of the fields of study that he already had an interest in, such as geology and history. During his first wine tasting trip to Europe in the 1980s, Sandy discovered that wine was made by farmers, and that those farmers didn't always live in elaborate palaces or chateaux. He came back to the States more energized about wine at the same time that there was a greater shift towards wine in the wider American culture. Customers were beginning to show more interest in wine at the restaurants, with the rise of varietal wines by the glass and an increase in interest in opting for wine instead of a cocktail. In the interview, Sandy discusses the character of the Boston wine trade in the 1980s and later. Sandy talks about his experiences taking the Master of Wine exam. Having obtained his MW in 1992, Sandy was one of the first Americans to achieve that distinction. He talks about learning to pass the test, writing essays under time pressure, and honing his blind tasting skills. He remembers being tasked with describing one particular set of blind wines, which turned out to be Bulgarian. And Sandy discloses how he approached studying for the test in secret, among a small group of friends who divided the study responsibilities. He then discusses how that study regime was eventually developed into a curriculum that he taught about wine with some of his fellow test takers - Alex Murray and Bill Nesto - at Boston University in Massachusetts. Sandy divulges the typical student profile of a wine class. He speaks about having the context to understand what a good wine is, an emphasis on value wines, and having some resistance to the winemaking trends of the 1990s. Sandy describes a cultural history of wine where wine has been understood as a food much longer than it has been viewed as a connoisseur's beverage. He discusses the rise of countries like Chile, Argentina, and Australia on the global wine market, the importation of Portuguese wines into the United States, and the difference between working in restaurants and working in wine distribution or import. He also addresses what qualities he used to evaluate potential hires at the restaurant group where he oversaw the beverage program. And he answers the questions frequently asked by his students, including "How does one get into the wine business?" and "How does one succeed in the wine business?" He also contrasts the interest shown in wine by young Americans today with that of their parents. This episode features commentary from: David Wrigley, MW See Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.


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495: Steve Doerner and the Burgundian Bicyclists

Steve Doerner is Winemaker Emeritus at Cristom Vineyards in Oregon. Steve discusses his shift from being a Biochemistry Major at UC Davis in the mid-1970s to his first Job working for Josh Jensen at Calera Wine Company. Steve arrived at Calera for the 1978 harvest, the first vintage for Pinot Noir at Calera. Josh had begun making wine at Calera in 1975, first planting a Pinot Noir vineyard in 1974. Josh hired Steve after a blind tasting test that included tasting a La Tâche. Steve worked at Calera for a total of 14 years. During that period of time, Steve met some of Josh's peer/friend group in Burgundy, a circle of people that included Jacques Seysses of Domaine Dujac. Steve recalls his early years working at Calera in its limited facilities, working highly physical harvests that left him questioning if this was really the career path for him. He talks about his early days tasting wine, mostly Zinfandel from California. He also talks about utilizing different fermenting techniques in response to certain winemaking tools, and his growing knowledge of the techniques being implemented in Burgundy by the likes of Jacques Seysses and others. Steve comes to the conclusion that in California in the 1980s, Pinot Noir was often treated like Cabernet in the wineries. He also concluded that this was problematic, and began teasing out the nuances of practical meaning from adages he heard in Burgundy. A serious accident left Steve questioning his relationship to his job, but his perception of his worked changed after his first trip to Burgundy. Steve encountered Jacques Seysses as an outsider to Burgundy who was actively experimenting with different ways of doing things with his winemaking. Steve developed a friendship with Christophe Morin, who eventually worked for many years at Domaine Dujac, and who later died in a motorcycle accident Although Calera was in an isolated location, Steve tasted fairly regularly with other top American vintners, including Dick Graff of Chalone, Jeffrey Patterson of Mount Eden Vineyards, and Ken Wright. Eventually Josh and Steve began to make white wine at Calera, including from Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, and Viognier. Josh brought back Viognier from France to the United States. And Steve recalls going to France to speak with vigneron in the Rhône Valley about Viognier. For the red wine from Pinot Noir, they contended with very low yields from the Calera vineyards, with limited access to water. Steve leaves Calera and transitions to working at Cristom Vineyards in Oregon from 1992, encountering a supportive winemaking community in Oregon. He recalls his early days at Cristom, and his first harvests there. He talks about planting vineyards at Cristom, and how they went about it. He also shares his realization that over the years the ripeness levels in the vineyards have changed, and that he has been rethinking vineyard planting decisions that were made in the 1990s. He also believes it is now possible to achieve ripeness at higher elevations in their vineyards. He further asserts that keeping the vineyard yields low, with a lot of thinning, is less necessary than it once was. Steve discusses where Cristom is located in the Willamette Valley, inside what is now the Eola-Amity Hills AVA. He talks about the influence of wind from the Van Duzer Corridor, and also the Columbia Gorge. He asserts that lower humidity in the area implies lower disease pressure, and points out that due to the wind, fruit typically gets dry on the vine after rainfall in the vineyards. Steve notes that the soils at Cristom are primarily volcanic, and that they retain water due to their clay content. He contrasts this situation with the sedimentary soils that are found elsewhere in the Willamette Valley. Steve goes into detail about the ripeness levels in the vineyards, and how they have changed since the 1990s. He notes that more extreme vintages have occurred more recently. He talks about the differences between vineyard...


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494: Alicia Towns Franken's Wine Life

Alicia Towns Franken is a Co-Founder of Towns Wine Co. and the Executive Director of Wine Unify. Alicia discusses her upbringing in Chicago and her introduction to wine in college. She then segways into describing her role as the Head Sommelier at Grill 23 & Bar in Boston, Massachusetts during the 1990s and early 2000s. Alicia talks about the bigger themes of her career, including inclusion, mentorship, building community, being hospitable, building long term relationships, and being a woman supportive of other women. She also talks about the differences between the 1990s and now in the wine world. Alicia details how the experiences in her life affected and shaped her work, and how she organized her life as a parent raising two children. She identifies the connecting thread of her mentorship in the wine world and the parenting in her personal life. She discusses what makes a good mentor, and what support and scaffolding can achieve for mentees. She further addresses the challenges and rewards of personal and work transitions. Alicia stresses the importance of education, as well as the need to welcome more people into the wine world. See Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.


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493: Neil Empson Shifted Gears Into Wine

Neil Empson is the founder of Empson & Co., an exporter of wines from Italy and other countries. Neil, who was born in New Zealand in 1939, recounts his youthful days driving fast, reselling Ferraris, and meeting with intelligence officers. He talks about meeting his wife Maria, who convinced him to move to Italy and take up the wine business there, founding a company for wine export. And he recalls his first sale of wine to the United States, a Chianti that was sold to Trader Joe's. At that time, back in the early 1970s, Neil recognized the potential for Italian wine sales in the United States. He both exported the first Italian wine labelled Chardonnay to the United States, and coined the term "Super Tuscan". Neil discusses the changes in the market for Italian wine in the United States in the intervening decades since the 1970s. He also talks about his relationships with key Italian wine producers, such as Angelo Gaja (Gaja), Beppe Colla (Prunotto), Elvio Cogno (Marcarini), Sergio Manetti (Montevertine), Emilio Costanti (Conti Costanti), Alberico Boncompagni Ludovisi (Fiorano), Silvio Jermann (Jermann), and Ampelio Bucci (Bucci). He touches on the rise of varietal wines made with Chardonnay, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon in Italy. He addresses the changes in cooperage that happened in Tuscany around the same time. Neil also discusses his relationships selling Sassicaia, discovering Poderi Luigi Einaudi, bringing Cantina Santadi Shardana to market, and his memories of oenologists like Giorgio Grai, Giacomo Tachis, and Vittorio Fiore. He also touches on Luigi Veronelli and what Neil learned from Veronelli's writing. As the interview wraps up, Neil talks about some of the difficult moments in his career selling Italian wines for export, opening up about his feelings around producers that have left his portfolio as well as the difficulty of collecting payments. This episode features commentary from: Angelo Gaja, Gaja Ampelio Bucci, Bucci See Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.


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492: Jean-Emmanuel Simond Does Not Like Your White Wine

Jean-Emmanuel Simond is a writer and wine critic for "La Revue du vin de France", covering the Côte de Nuits of Burgundy and Alsace. He is also a co-owner of wine importer Oenotropie. He is based in Paris, France. Jean-Emmanuel describes a chance introduction to fine, old wine and the subsequent revelation he had about wine. He discusses a key period for his wine experience that happened while he was living in New York City in the late 1990s, where he met Joe Dressner. He explains that in his role selling bottles from Natural wine pioneers to restaurants and wine shops in Manhattan that he learned about the wine philosophy and outlook of Joe Dressner and the vigneron he represented, at a time when there were few Natural wine producers. Jean-Emmanuel talks about tasting little known wines from the Loire Valley and the south of France, and how he recognized those as something artisanal and local, and wines with a sense of place. Jean-Emmanuel next describes his transition back to France, and then to writing and reviewing wine for "La Revue du vin de France" magazine, something he has done since 2005. He emphasizes that he is drawn to the side of wine writing that is about making discoveries, while covering diverse regions like the Côte de Nuits and Alsace. He contrasts the positions of Burgundy and Alsace in the market, with strong demand following the wines of Burgundy, but with Alsace being perceived as stylistically out of fashion, despite the emphasis on organic and Biodynamic farming there. Jean-Emmanuel goes on to describe a global fashion for lean, crisp white wines drunk too young, a trend which he finds frustrating. He cites a lack of aged white wine bottles on restaurant wine lists and suggests that white wine producers should hold back bottles longer in their own cellars. He then goes on to suggest that a fashion for underripe white wines from across many different wine regions has resulted in white wines that have been made in a way that emphasizes acidity over ageability, arguing that white wines from riper vintages will age better. Jean-Emmanuel strongly believes that global warming has helped improve the quality of Pinot Noir grapes for red Burgundy today, and he discusses this while comparing and contrasting the red Burgundy vintages of 2019, 2020, and 2021. He addresses the role of chaptalization in Burgundy today, and also raises that point that with climate change and riper grapes, the growers are finding that they cannot work in the same way that they used to. He postulates that more acidity in wines can result from adjusting work in the vineyards. He also covers current trends for red Burgundy in whole cluster use and for the level of extraction. He touches on how the timing of malolactic conversion can affect the build of a red Burgundy. He also describes how adjustments to canopy and trellising in the vineyards may affect wine quality and texture. He further touches on the importance of lees contact for red Burgundy, and how Burgundians are moving away from pumping grapes and juice, and towards an increased interest in bottling barrel by barrel. He talks about learning about wine by tasting in Burgundy cellars, and what that has been like for him. He also postulates more unpredictability and small yields in Burgundy in the future, as a result of further climate change. Jean-Emmanuel highlights the quality and value of Pinot Noir from Alsace today, suggesting that this is not always noticed because of the image of the region for white wines. He covers some of the different styles of Pinot Noir being made in Alsace today, and talks about why consumers should buy them. He also discusses his import business, which imports Italian wines into France for French consumers. See Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.


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491: Ukraine, Wine and Terror

Levi Dalton speaks with three Ukrainians about the struggles faced by winemakers and winery owners amongst the warfare in Ukraine. Alla Plachkova discusses fleeing Kyiv as bombs begin to fall on the city in 2022. She talks about rescuing her mother and fleeing south inside Ukraine as warfare stretches across the country. She shares the fears she felt as a mother trying to protect her children, and the terror she felt as bombs fell and planes roared over her home. Alla talks as well about her family's decision to open their home to refugees fleeing the war. Alla talks about the roots of her husband's family, and his founding of a winery near Odessa. She talks about the success her husband found with Odessa Black, a grape variety specifically associated with Ukraine. She also touches on the success the winery has had in bringing tourists to the region it was founded in. She finishes with a strong statement of ideals about the freedom of the Ukrainian people. Sergiy Klimov covers the recent development of Ukrainian wines since the early 2000s, as well as the ancient roots of winemaking in the country stretching back thousands of years. He describes a history where winemaking has at times flourished in the area, while it has been restricted or suppressed at other times. He also touches on the different winemaking regions of Ukraine today. Sergiy describes what it is like to sell Ukrainian wines to people who have never had it before, and gives a rationale for the recent rapid quality development for winemaking in the country. Anna Gorkun talks about the difficulties faced by a wine business in Ukraine today, and about adjusting business strategies to cope with a country that has seen waves of turmoil from warfare and the pandemic. She also talks about what her own business is trying to achieve. Anna further gives her assessment of Ukraine's shift towards the west, and of Volodymyr Zelensky, Ukraine's President. This episode features commentary from: Alla Plachkova, Kolonist Wines Sergiy Klimov, the author of "The Untold Story of Ukrainian Wine" Anna Gorkun, 46 Parallel Wine Group NOTE: This episode contains discussions that may be disturbing for children. Parental discretion is advised. See Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.


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490: Patrick Campbell Pruned Mountain Vines on Crutches

Patrick Campbell was the owner of Laurel Glen Vineyard on Sonoma Mountain in California, a winery he sold in 2011. He began the Tierra Divina Vineyards company, which encompasses the Terra Rosa, REDS, !ZaZin, and Tierra Divina wine labels, among others. The Tierra Divina Vineyards brands include wine labels from Lodi in California, from Argentina, and previously from Chile. Patrick talks about growing up in Southern California in the 1950s and 60s, and his early experiences drinking wine with his family as a teenager. He talks about visiting wineries in the Cucamonga Valley of California during the period of the time when that was a prominent appellation for California wine production. And he sums up the kind of wines that were being made in the Cucamonga Valley area at that time. Patrick talks about his increasing engagement with his religious feelings, which would eventually lead him to study the Philosophy of Religion at Harvard University, and to then join a Zen Buddhist Center in Sonoma, California. He makes a connection between religious feeling and farming, and talks about his work pruning old vine Palomino at the Zen Center. When a vineyard then came up for sale near the Zen Center on Sonoma Mountain, Patrick bought it and expanded the acreage. In the process he learned about the history of immigration to Sonoma Mountain, spoke with many of the interesting characters who called the Mountain home, and took an increasing interest in wines from the area. Patrick describes the vine growing conditions of Sonoma Mountain, and discusses his early days as a grape grower in the late 1970s. He talks about learning how to prune. He contrasts his business experiences with Chateau St. Jean with the more positive outcome he had selling grapes to Kenwood Vineyards. He discusses the vintages of the 1970s and 1980s on Sonoma Mountain, some of which were more successful than others. And he details his shift from just selling grapes to then making wine and selling it under his own label. The grape material at Laurel Glen and the Laurel Glen clone are discussed, and so are the market preferences for California wine in the 1980s. Patrick talks about the setup of his winery in the early days, and details his use of punching down to maximize contact between juice and skins. He also stresses the importance of tannin management when dealing with Mountain Cabernet. He emphasizes that he is not a university trained winemaker, and talks about winemaking as a process of controlled spoilage. He explains facets of his technique, such as his approach to maceration, pressing, and cooperage at the time. And then the conversation takes a turn, as Patrick describes his increasing interest in bulk wine, in marketing bulk wine from California, and then subsequently developing projects in Chile, followed after that by a long period of working with wine from Argentina. Patrick talks about Argentina as a relatively little known wine region at the time he first visited it, and shares his experience of first trying a wine from Malbec. He then covers the situation for winemaking in Argentina during that period, and the social, economic, and political realities that he witnessed as well. Patrick contrasts the wine culture and society of Chile at that time with what he witnessed in Argentina, and then describes the boom period for Argentinian Malbec in the global wine market, as well as what happened next. Patrick enunciates a philosophy in step with and taking cues from local winemaking traditions, while also being frank about his embrace of modern winemaking techniques and methods. He further discusses the market for the wines. Patrick's involvement with the push for expanded direct shipping of wine in the United States comes into the discussion, and he talks about the numerous strategy sessions, the different partnerships, and the approaches that were developed in the run up to a United States Supreme Court verdict on the question of direct shipping from...


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489: Sylvain Pataille and the New Old Style

Sylvain Pataille is the owner and winemaker at Domaine Sylvain Pataille, which is located in the Marsannay area of Burgundy, within France. Sylvain discusses the impact in Burgundy of economic changes over the last one hundred years, and notes the special situation of Marsannay, which is near the city of Dijon in France. He does into some depth about the the vine planting history of the Marsannay area, and the commercial success of rosé wine from Marsannay. Sylvain then relates the more recent history of his own family's wine domaine, including its association with the Aligoté grape. This leads him to contrast the region's older viticultural practices - which he has identified from reading older books - with more recent norms. He also gives an overview of the different areas of the Marsannay appellation, and its top crus. Sylvain describes his own progression in oenology, from a more technical lab background to his very different focus today. He talks about working with "the best and the worst wine growers" in Burgundy as an oenological consultant, and what feelings led him to leave that sort of business in the lab behind, with a shift of focus to his own wine domaine. At his own domaine he has explored no sulphur vinifications and low sulphur bottlings, as well as non-filtered bottlings, which he sums up as "new old style." He has also attempted to use less sulphur and copper treatments in his vineyards, and experimented with Biodynamic applications. Sylvain summarizes what is particular about the native yeasts and bacteria of Burgundy. He also details how the shift in vintage conditions from year to year, alternating between hot and cold years, has implications for both the vineyard work and the winemaking. He further contrasts the draining ability of different types of soils he works with, and what that means for the work in the vines. Realizations about yields, and what they imply for the finished wines, are also shared, as well as key times for decisions about yields. Guyot Poussard pruning, which is concerned with sap flow pathways in the vine wood, is something that Sylvain has embraced, and he explains why in this interview. He gives a summary of some of the advantages of Guyot Poussard, and what he values in his vineyard work. Sylvain gives an overview of the differences between Aligoté, Chardonnay, and Pinot Noir in the vineyard, as well. Stem inclusion is something that Sylvain prefers in both white and red wines, and he explains why, as well as what stems bring to the final wines in terms of color, alcohol level, and acidity. He also discusses why he prefers to crush fruit, and what crushing promotes in a fermentation and in a finished wine. When it comes to pressing, Sylvain also has his preferences, and he explains the benefits of vertical pressing. Further, he addresses topics likes the timing of malolactic conversion, lees stirring, oxidation, and reduction, specifically enunciating multiple causes of reduction. Sylvain also gives his thoughts on the topic of premature oxidation (premox) of Chardonnay in Burgundy in general. This episode also features commentary from: Bruno Clair (translated by Peter Wasserman), Domaine Bruno Clair John Kongsgaard, Kongsgaard Wine Becky Wasserman, Becky Wasserman & Co. See Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.


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488: Erin and the Volcano

Erin Scala explores the wines of Pico Island, a part of the Portuguese Azores in the Atlantic Ocean. Erin puts on sturdy boots and ventures to the Azores to explore mysterious vineyards and ancient lava stone walls in view of the giant volcano on Pico Island. She explores grape varieties grown on Pico, such as Arinto dos Açores, Terrantez do Pico, and Verdelho, and describes the wines made from them. She also details local traditions associated with winemaking on the island, as well as the geography of the place and its history. Erin speaks with several different people who live and work on Pico today, leading a tour to many of the top wine producer addresses on the island. In the process, she also goes into specifics about what some of the top producers are up to in regards to topics like oxidation, reduction, pressing, and wine aging, touching on the wide range of wines on made on the island. Erin finds out about some of the distinctive vineyard practices on the island. She also gives a sense of some of the different personalities amongst the winemakers and vine growers. In the process, Erin reveals the renaissance of winemaking that has occurred in recent years on the island, as well as explaining what occurred to send vine growing into decline there many decades ago. Across this episode, Erin interweaves the culture, context, and history of this area of Portugal into the survey of the wines there. Listeners will hear about the distinct cheese of the island, the spiritual significance of the soups there, the effects of the vineyard walls, the impact of the whaling industry on Pico, and "The Year of the Noise". More than a sense of place, Erin also conveys a sense of the sublime. She takes you to some of the hardest vineyards to farm on Planet Earth, and gives you a fantastic sense of why it is important to do so. This episode features commentary from (listed in order of appearance): Vanda Supa, Director of Environment and Climate Change of Pico Monica Silva Goulart, Architectural Expert of the Pico Island Vineyards Paulo Machado, Insula and Azores Wine Company Dr. Joy Ting, Enologist at the Winemaker's Research Exchange António Maçanita, Azores Wine Company Catia Laranjo, Etnom André Ribeiro and Ricardo Pinto, Entre Pedras Lucas Lopez Amaral (translated by Paulo Machado), Adega Vitivinícola Lucas Amaral Tito Silva (translated by Fortunato Garcia), Cerca dos Frades Jose Eduardo and Luisa Terra, Pocinho Bay Fortunato Garcia, Czar Winery Bernardo Cabral, Picowines Co-op Filipe Rocha, Azores Wine Company Christina Cunha (for her uncle Leonardo da Silva), Santo Antonio Carcarita Marco Faria, Curral Atlantis Winery See Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.


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487: Dominik Sona and a Conception of Kabinett

Dominik Sona is the General Manager of the Koehler-Ruprecht winery, which is located in the Pfalz region of Germany. Dominik speaks about his family history in the Pfalz and his winemaking work early in his career for a winery, Villa Wolf, in that area of Germany. He also discusses the situation for the Koehler-Ruprecht winery in 2010, when he began to work at that winery. He references the history of the Koehler-Ruprecht winery, and notes that the previous proprietor, Bernd Philippi, was a pioneer in the production of dry Riesling wines from the Pfalz. Dominik speaks about the winemaking protocol for wines at Koehler-Ruprecht, and contrasts that with the winemaking at Villa Wolf. He also gives details about the handling of grapes in the winery, and the explains how the wines are aged at Koehler-Ruprecht prior to bottling. He discusses the exit of the winery from the VDP organization of German wineries in 2014, and touches on what led to the decision to leave the VDP. He also stresses what is important for the philosophy of winemaking at Koehler-Ruprecht: a focus on dry Riesling, fermented with native yeasts, aged in old wood barrels for a long period on the lees, and given a limited dose of sulphur. Dominik refers to method of selection at Koehler-Ruprecht, and notes that choices regarding bottlings, such as determining which lots go into Kabinett Trocken versus Spatlese or Auslese Trocken, are decisions made on tasting the wines, not on analytical numbers or areas of the vineyard. He explains what he is looking for on the palate when he makes those choices, and also describes the aromatics and food pairing potential of those wines. He also speaks about the ageability of the wines, and how they might evolve in bottle. And he gives some insight into the R and RR wines, the rare wines that Koehler-Ruprecht makes in certain years. In relation to these topics, Dominik also discusses climate change, and the likelihood that the vintages in these days tend towards more ripeness than the vintages in the past. The Saumagen is the most famous vineyard owned by Koehler-Ruprecht, and where the most prestigious wines of the winery emerge from. Dominik discusses the characteristics of that vineyard, including the exposure, the microclimate, and the presence of limestone there. He also discusses what wines from the Saumagen display that other wines of the winery might not. And he makes the connection between the flavors of the Saumagen Riesling wines and what foods they may pair well with. Spätburgunder (Pinot Noir) is also discussed, in addition to Riesling. Dominik discusses the evolution of Spätburgunder winemaking in the Pfalz, and talks about what has changed and why. He also notes the move to new types of vine material for Spätburgunder, and talks about what the ramifications of that change may be. This interview represents an excellent opportunity to learn about the specifics of winemaking at a winery that follows its own path, and about which there is somewhat little information generally available. At the same time, the episode provides a large amount of context for understanding some of the changes in German winemaking in general. This episode also features commentary from: Florian Lauer, Weingut Peter Lauer Johannes Selbach, Weingut Selbach-Oster Egon Müller IV, Weingut Egon Müller-Scharzhof and Château Bela Katharina Prüm, Weingut Joh. Jos. Prüm Klaus-Peter Keller, Weingut Keller See Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.


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486: George Skouras and the New Old World

George Skouras is the owner and winemaker at Domaine Skouras, located in the Peloponnese of Greece. George explains how his interest in wine first developed, and discusses his time as a student, working and living in France. He then talks about the early period of his career, making wine on the Greek island of Cephalonia. He describes a key meeting with Spyros Kosmetatos, which would lead to the founding of the Gentilini Winery on Cephalonia, and to market success for a white wine he made there. George shares some of the business philosophies that he developed at that time and which stayed with him later on. George then discusses his return to an area near where he grew up, Nemea, to focus on the production of wines from the red Agiorgitiko and the white Moscofilero grape varieties. He talks about his first vintages of making wine at Domaine Skouras, and about the resistance he faced trying to sell Agiorgitiko wines in the international markets. This last problem was solved by the addition of some Cabernet Sauvignon into the blend of one of the Skouras wines, a wine called Megas Oenos. That blend was a market success, and led to more interest as well in the native Agiorgitiko wines from Nemea. That interest was shared by George, who spent decades examining the different areas in which Agiorgitiko was grown, and exploring the different qualities that the grape possesses. George came to several conclusions about how to grow and to handle Agiorgitiko, and he shares those thoughts in this interview. He also describes the different growing areas for the grape variety. He then touches on a key change, the recent development of virus-free clones of Agiorgitiko. Further, George gives an assessment of his own wines from Agiorgitiko, and their development over time. George frequently discusses how both the Greek wine business and the international markets for wine have changed over time, and he gives an account of his own developments in response. He also summarizes his work with little known native grape varieties like Mavrostifo. And George speaks in some detail about Moscofilero, specifically about a darker colored variant of Moscofilero known as Mavrofilero. George talks about his early learning curve with Moscofilero winemaking, and describes the attributes of a Moscofilero wine from the Peloponnese. Several viticulture and winemaking topics are touched on in this interview, including irrigation, yields, elevation of vineyards, destemming, press wine, cooperage, lees contact, and aging. If you are curious about the development of Greek wine since the 1970s, this is a key perspective to take into account. George is one of a generation of Greek winemakers who have decidedly shaped the Greek wine scene of today. See Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.


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485: Robert Vifian and Stories from the Tan Dinh Wine Cellar

Robert Vifian is the chef and co-owner of Tan Dinh Restaurant, located in Paris, France. Robert was born in Vietnam in 1948, and lived in Saigon (now Ho Chi Minh City) as a child, experiencing the effects of the Tet Offensive firsthand. He and his family are French, and he moved to Paris, eventually joining his parents there. Robert's mother founded Tan Dinh Restaurant in 1968, and later Robert joined her in the kitchen there. Robert then took over as Chef of that restaurant in 1978. As the 1970s moved in the 1980s, the restaurant became popular with artists, actors, and other cultural types, and became both a chic spot to dine and a destination for wine aficionados. Robert became interested in both cuisine and wine, and was soon searching out rare bottles, organizing private tastings, teaching in a wine school, and visiting cellars in Burgundy and Bordeaux. He visited producers such as Domaine Coche-Dury each year for many years, and developed a lot of familiarity with the wines of Domaine Comtes Lafon, Domaine Georges Roumier, and Domaine Hubert Lignier, tasting every vintage of each for several decades. He shares his reflections and thoughts about this producers in the interview. He also discusses Henri Jayer and Anne-Claude Leflaive, and their wines. Robert also developed a lot of familiarity with Right Bank Bordeaux, specifically Pomerol. And Robert had close friendships with oenologists like Jean-Claude Berrouet and Michel Rolland, as well as wine critics like Robert Parker, Jr., and those friendships lended support to his experiences of Bordeaux. He recalls those relationships in the interview, and shares his views on each person. He also discusses aspects of what he learned about Pomerol over the years. Robert had a friendship and a working relationship with the late Steven Spurrier during the time that Spurrier lived in Paris. Robert recalls the friendship and his different experiences with Spurrier in this interview. He also discusses the California wines that he learned about as a result of his acquaintance with Spurrier, dating back to The Judgement of Paris tasting in 1976. This interview follows the Paris wine scene from the 1970s until the present, and encompasses thoughts on both benchmark wine regions of France and key producers from those places, across the same decades. This episode also features commentary from: Steven Spurrier, formerly a Consulting Editor for "Decanter" Magazine Becky Wasserman-Hone, Becky Wasserman & Co. Christian Moueix, Etablissements Jean-Pierre Moueix See Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.


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484: Erin Scala Looks Deep Into Lake Garda

Erin Scala explores the long history and many recent changes in the area around Lake Garda and in the Bardolino wine zone, in the northeastern Italy. Erin speaks with a number of different winemakers and specialists to clarify the situation around the evolution of winemaking in the Bardolino zone, from Roman times to the present day. She addresses the shift in the area in recent years towards rosé production, and explores both why this has occurred as well as the historical precedents for it. She enunciates how the wineries in the area vary in their choice of technique, and describes the different styles of the resulting wines. Erin examines both the shifting cultural and climatic settings for the wine production of this area. She explains how this Lake area - now well within Italy - was once at the border with Austria, as well as the recent effects of climate change there. She discusses the typical foods of the place, as well as the microclimate created by its defining feature: the lake. Erin also looks ahead to what wine styles may become more prevalent in the zone in the future. If you have not kept up with the rapid changes for wine within the Bardolino zone in recent years, this episode is a complete and crucial overview of the situation on the ground. This episode features commentary from: Gabriele Rausse, Gabrielle Rausse Winery Luca Valetti, Cantina Valetti Roberta Bricolo, Gorgo Francesco Piona, Cavalchina Marco Ruffato, Le Ginestra Matilde Poggi, Le Fraghe Daniele Domenico Delaini, Villa Calicantus Andreas Berger, Weingut Thurnhof Fabio Zenato, Le Morette Franco Christoforetti, Villa Bella Giulio Cosentino, Albino Piona Angelo Peretti, author of the book "Il Bardolino" Katherine Cole, journalist and author of the book "Rosé All Day: The Essential Guide to Your New Favorite Wine" Special Thanks To: Irene Graziotto See Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.


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483: Listen to Françoise Vannier and Never Look At Burgundy the Same Way Again

Françoise Vannier is a geologist who has studied and mapped the vineyards of Burgundy for multiple decades. She is based in France. Françoise discusses how she began her study of the vineyards of the Côte d'Or, and the surprising results that emerged from her research. She touches on both broad themes and specific, individual instances in her analysis of the rock types and rock weathering in the Côte. For example, she explains how the Côte de Nuits differs from the Côte de Beaune in broad terms, and then gives examples from specific vineyards and villages that illustrate those divergences. She emphasizes the importance of the both the parallel and vertical faults that exist in the Cote d'Or, and explains how the vertical faults are often where combes have developed, which are breaks in the slope (like valleys). Françoise highlights the importance of these combes to understanding the rock distribution of the Côte d'Or. This then plays into her contention that village names are not as helpful as one might think for understanding the vineyards of the area, as it is the combes that are the actual markers of where the rock distribution changes in the Côte d'Or. Françoise also emphasizes the difficulty and complexity of the topic of Côte d'Or geology, enunciating a number of nuances to the different rock types, and how they weather. She also points out that multiple rock types may be found within a single vineyard, as faults do not fall only at the borders of vineyards. Furthermore, the rock types do not nicely match up with the hierarchy of perceived quality of the vineyards, as the same type of rock may be found under both a villages vineyard and a Grand Cru. These realizations prompted Françoise to examine the historical, cultural, or climatic reasons why certain vineyards are in more esteem than others today, and she shares in this interview her thoughts on those subjects. Françoise speaks about numerous areas of the Côte d'Or in some depth, including areas within the boundaries of Marsannay, Gevrey-Chambertin, Morey-Saint-Denis, Chambolle-Musigny, Pommard, and Meursault. She dispels common myths about the topic of Burgundy geology, and she gives examples of specific crus to illustrate many of her points. She also provides an examination of how human activity, in the form of quarries, house building, and clos (walled vineyard) construction has altered the Côte d'Or. Lastly, Françoise describes how the Côte d'Or differs from other areas of France which also feature calcium carbonate deposits, such as Champagne and St. Émilion. Anyone who wishes to understand Burgundy better will benefit from listening to this episode multiple times. This episode also features commentary from: Brenna Quigley, geologist and vineyard consultant Christophe Roumier, Domaine Georges Roumier See Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.


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482: Lorenzo Accomasso and Barolo from the War Until Now

Lorenzo Accomasso is a vintner in the La Morra area of Italy's Piemonte region. He has been releasing Barolo and other wines under the Accomasso label for several decades. Lorenzo discusses the increased interest in Barolo and in the wines of the Piemonte that has occurred over the last couple of decades, as well as the increased planting of vineyards in La Morra. Lorenzo talks about helping his parents at the winery in the post-World War II years. He contrasts the current situation for the wines with the period of the 1960s, when people were leaving the countryside to find jobs in factories. He also recalls the difficult growing conditions of the 1970s, and the changes in attitude towards topics like green harvesting and fruit sorting that have occurred over time. Lorenzo is clear about his winemaking stance as a Traditional producer, and touches on some of the techniques that separate his winemaking from those who operate in a Modern style. He talks about the changes in popularity for Modern and Traditional wines from the Piemonte, and how those categories have been perceived in the market over time. He also touches on the difficulty of changing one's winemaking style once it has been set. Vineyard work is discussed, and Lorenzo makes a distinction between his different Barolo vineyards (Rocche, Rocchette, and Le Mie Vigne). He contrasts the different attributes of those vineyard sites. Vintage evaluations are given for many years, stretching back to the 1970s. Lorenzo gives his frank opinions of many vintages, and at times gives his thoughts on ageability as well. Then he discusses some of the difficulties he has experienced when making wines from the Dolcetto grape variety, in contrast to Nebbiolo. This is a rare opportunity to hear from a Piemonte vintner who lived through World War II, and with that in mind, this episode begins with a history of Italy and of the Piemonte in the later years of that war and after. That was a time when fighting between Fascists and Partisans took a huge human toll, with many deaths. The capsule history then transitions into a discussion of the changes the Piemonte experienced in the second half of the 20th century, as emigration and industrialization changed the environment for wine production. Italian cultural commentators Mario Soldati and Luigi Veronelli are also talked about, as are the changes in winemaking that increasingly began to take hold in the late 1970s and into the 2000s. Those changes gave rise to different winemaking camps in the Piemonte, which are discussed. Eventually the market for the Piemonte wines begins to change, and at the same time there arrives a belated realization that climate change has altered the realities for vine growing in the Piemonte. This episode also features commentary from: Martina Barosio, formerly of Scarpa Nicoletta Bocca, San Fereolo Beppe Colla (translated by Federica Colla), the ex-owner of Prunotto Luca Currado, Vietti Umberto Fracassi Ratti Mentone, Umberto Fracassi Angelo Gaja, Gaja Gaia Gaja, Gaja Maria Teresa Mascarello, Cantina Bartolo Mascarello Danilo Nada, Nada Fiorenzo Giacomo Oddero (translated by Isabella Oddero), Poderi Oddero Federico Scarzello, Scarzello Aldo Vaira (translated by Giuseppe Vaira), G.D. Vajra Aldo Vacca, Produttori del Barbaresco Michael Garner, co-author of Barolo: Tar and Roses Victor Hazan, author of Italian Wine Thank You to... Robert Lateiner and Gregory Dal Piaz for the use of the recording of Lorenzo Accomasso Carlotta Rinaldi and Giuseppe Vaira for their translation work Chris Thile for voiceover Bodhisattwa for the whistling of "Bella Ciao" See Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.


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481: Wine Before and After the Genocide

Zorik Gharibian is the founder of the Zorah winery, in the Vayots Dzor region of southern Armenia. Zorik discusses the long history of wine production in Armenia, referencing evidence that wine was made in Armenia in the Copper Age (about 6,000 years ago). He talks about the grape remnants and clay storage jars that have been found from that time. And he discusses other wine related finds in Armenia, in both the pre-Christian era and later. Zorik then explains why a hundred year gap occured in the dry wine production of Armenia, and he talks about the situation for wine as he found it in Armenia in the late 1990s. Zorik explains his rationale for beginning his own winery in Armenia, and talks about the different winemaking regions of Armenia. He gives special emphasis to the area that he chose to base his production in, Vayots Dzor. He talks about the native grape family of that region, which is known as Areni, and his experiences with planting a new Areni vineyard. That is contrasted with his comments about a much older vineyard of Areni, which he also works with. Both vineyards are own-rooted, as phylloxera is not present in the region. Zorik also talks about the amphora clay containers that housed wine in Armenia in ancient times, and which he uses today as well. He gives his explanation for why he chose to mature his Areni wine in amphora - known as Karas in Armenia - as opposed to wooden barriques. And he relates details about his search to find amphora that were already existing in Armenia and which he could use, as well as to develop production of new amphora there today. He further gives a summary of the drinking habits of his surrounding region in Armenia, and an outlook on what it is like working in Armenia today. This episode also features commentary from: Katherine Moore, Union Square Wines Lee Campbell, Early Mountain Vineyards Conrad Reddick, Monterey Plaza Hotel and Spa See Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.


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480: Kevin Zraly Was At the Top of the World and Then Lost Almost Everything

Kevin Zraly is the author of "Kevin Zraly's Windows on the World Complete Wine Course". He is also the co-author (with Mike DeSimone and Jeff Jenssen) of the book "Red Wine: The Comprehensive Guide to the 50 Essential Varieties and Styles". Kevin was for decades the Cellar Master of Windows on the World restaurant, located on the top floors of the North Tower of New York City's original World Trade Center. Kevin describes his entry into the world of restaurants as a college student, and how a series of seemingly chance events led him to study and teach about wine. He recalls trips to California, France, Italy, and Spain to visit wineries, and some of the standout moments in those adventures. Then Kevin talks about his short lived career as a wholesale wine salesman in New York City, and explains how that quickly developed into a job opportunity as the Cellar Master at the brand new Windows on the World restaurant in the late 1970s. His role at Windows brought him into contact with legendary restauranteur Joe Baum, whom Kevin talks about at length. Kevin talks about the philosophy behind the wine program at Windows on the World - from the selection to the pricing to the service style - and recalls a key trip to Bordeaux to source wines there with Alexis Lichine. He also explains how working at Windows led to his book deal, and to more and more teaching opportunities. Kevin became famous as a teacher and speaker about wine, and in this interview he discusses how he approaches speaking to a group about wine. He also recalls the origins of the New York Wine Experience, which he founded. The interview with Kevin goes from highs to lows, as Windows on the World is closed by a bombing in 1993, and then totally destroyed as a result of the 9/11 attacks. Kevin shares the pain he has felt as a result, and gives his rationale for why he might have survived while his co-workers perished. He also talks about how he has coped with the aftermath of those terrible events on a personal level, and some of the challenges that he has faced as a parent. This episode also features commentary from: Martin Sinkoff, Martin Sinkoff Associates See Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.


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479: Christopher Howell Doesn't Want It To Be About Him

Christopher Howell is the winemaker and General Manager of the Cain Vineyard and Winery in the Napa Valley of California. Christopher discusses his early wine tastings and home winemaking in the 1970s, and talks about some key relationships that helped form his interest in wine. He explains how he ended up pursuing an oenological and viticultural education in Montpellier, France, highlighting some notable people that he studied with, and how that school work then led to a stagiaire position at Château Mouton Rothschild in Bordeaux. Christopher talks about a chance meeting that he had while working at Mouton, and something that was said to him that has stayed with him for the rest of his life. He also discusses other adventures in other wine cellars in France, notably at Château Rayas in the Rhône Valley. Christopher discusses his return to the United States, and a pivotal meeting with Helen Turley that then led to a job at Peter Michael in the late 1980s. He talks about characteristics of Helen Turley and her husband John Wetlaufer that would contribute to their success in the wine world, and Christopher is frank about what he learned from them both. He further explains how the transition to working at the Cain Vineyard and Winery came about, where he has now been employed for the last thirty years. Christopher is open about his sometimes unconventional winemaking choices, and explains the thought processes behind some idiosyncratic decision making, as well. In particular concerning brettanomyces, reduction, and volatile acidity. He also discusses the evolution of the different wine offerings at Cain, and what he has learned from that progression. He shares a great deal of his philosophy on topics like farming, vineyard trellising, terroir expression, grape variety blending, and wine complexity. He also is frank in his discussion about what his career choices have really entailed. This episode also features commentary from the following people: Cathy Corison, Corison Winery Kelli White, author of "Napa Valley Then and Now" Ehren Jordan, Failla John Lockwood, Enfield Wine Co. Bernard Portet, founding winemaker at Clos Du Val See Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.