News & Events
Tuesday
Feb202018

Marie-Pierre Lacoste is the 13th generation of her family to manage Chateau La Clotte-Cazalis in Sauternes, having taken the reins in 2015. In 2017 she replanted a 1ha parcel to Bordeaux blanc which she hopes to fully farm in agroforestry, with the help of her beautiful workhorse Taropa, of Belgian Draft and Auxois breed . She has launched a campaign on the crowdfunding site Blue Bees..........

...... to raise the funds she needs for tools and material she needs to adapt to farming by animal traction, and to build bird houses, establish beehives and plant fruit trees. She has has had some great initial success, see the birdhouses she has put up in good time for Spring 2018.  Click on any of the photos below to link to her fund page with more photos and info.....

 

Des vignes, des arbres et un cheval de trait au cœur du Sauternais !

 

Cher(e)s ami(e)s,

Déjà près de 2400€ récoltés en seulement 10 jours, un immense merci pour votre mobilisation !! 

Grâce aux 31 premiers contributeurs, j'ai pu commander les 30 nichoirs afin de les installer au plus vite sur la parcelle, pour accueillir les oiseaux dès le printemps ! Les 2 ruches aussi ont pu être financées. Avec ces aménagements, nous allons pouvoir maximiser la biodiversité !

Mais il me manque encore 3 700 € pour  acheter le semoir pour Taropa. Il m'est indispensable pour mettre en place des couverts végétaux entre les rangs, et éviter le travail des sols. Je pourrai enfin me passer de toute action mécanique !

Pour ceux qui souhaitent compléter leur cave avant l’arrivée des beaux jours, vous pouvez le faire par le biais de ma campagne, et avoir accès à une très belle sélection de millésimes de la propriété qui me permettra de financer l’ensemble du projet.

Je n'y arriverai pas sans vous ! Je compte sur votre participation, pour relayer, partager et parler de ce projet autour de vous. 

Un grand merci pour votre soutien,

Marie Pierre Lacoste 
Château La Clotte-Cazalis
Lieu dit La Clotte
33 720 Barsac

Tuesday
Feb202018

Chef/Owners Christophe & Michelle Poteaux of restaurant Bastille in Alexandria, VA are offering a beautiful menu March 1st featuring Wine Traditions wines and cuisines of the Loire Valley. Click the link below to see the full menu.

Tuesday
Jan232018

Interview with Denis Barbara of Domaine Grosbot-Barbara, Saint Pourçain

 Saint Pourçain, an appellation in the Allier department, in the eastern part of the Loire, was once a flourishing wine region that rivaled Burgundy as the favorite of kings and clergy of the Middle Ages. Today Saint Pourçain's vineyards are a fraction of their former size, with fewer than 600 ha of vines in production, down from 8,000 ha at its prime. Yet St. Pourcain is experiencing a renaissance: having received AOC status in 2009, the appelation's winemakers are working cooperatively in a shared effort to revitalize and expand its vineyards.

At the heart of this group of winegrowers is Denis Barbara. He is a major contributor to the revitalization and future of the Saint Pourçain vignoble through what he calls his work ethic of total engagement: respect for terroir, intensive work in the vines, focused harvest of the fruit, a passion for the craft and a philosophy of cooperation.

 


 

Please tell us the origins of Domaine Grosbot-Barbara, what was your vision and how did you create the Domaine that it is today? 

I am the grand-son of a winemaker in Saint Pourçain, but circumstances did not allow me to assume responsibilities at his domain. After finishing my studies in Burgundy, then an additional training in Beaujolais, followed by a year in Macon, I still didn’t know what I was going to do, what my next job would be or even where. Having a companion and a child, I didn’t want to be far away from them. By luck one evening I received a call from M Grosbot, a winemaker (of a family domain passed on from father to son since 1910) in the commune of Bransat in the appellation Saint Pourçain, He was soon to retire and did not want to sell his domain, or his vines. We were mutual aquaintances, it was an easy decision for both of us to agree to work together.

We partnered in 1996, thus the domain name Grosbot-Barbara (the elder with years of wine making experience and the savoir-faire passed along by generations, and the younger with a scientific knowledge of plant cultivation and methods of work in the vines to achieve better quality with more precise and pointed technologies.)  The goal was to continue work and insure the future production of the domain, to create a plan to work better and more efficiently, and to create a newfound recognition and appreciation for the appellation St Pourçain beyond its region of origin, to make wines that express from where they come (their terroir and the Bourbon region), and to differentiate among parcels and thus offer a wider and more distinctive selection of wines.

Today, we have achieved these objectives, however each day it is essential to continue this work, this qualitative approach in order to preserve the history and continue the life of these vineyards. With the help of three commercial agents, covering a large part of France, and with the exporting of our wines to the USA (thanks to Wine Traditions, Ltd.) and in Canada (thanks to Vini-Vins) we are very happy with the recognition of our work, permitting the discovery of our vineyards and our wines.

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St Pourcain is a wine growing region with an important history; what inspires you about Saint Pourçain, its history, its terroir, its local culture?

The vineyards of St Pourçain are situated geographically in the department of the Allier, in central France. Saint Pourçain has some of the oldest vineyards in France, and also the famous Tronçais forest, known nationally (and internationally) for the quality of its wood, established in 1669 by Colbert, minister to Louis XIV.

Historically, in our region of the Bourbonnais, so named because it was the place of origin of the Bourbon family, the wine of Saint Pourçain had its time of glory. In the era of the Bourbon Kings of France, connoisseurs drank St Pourçain as they did Burgundy!  But while Burgundy continued to expand in vineyards as well as reputation, St Pourçain lost a considerable part of its planted surface (from 8000 ha to 598 ha) and thus, slowly, over a long period of time, lost its fame and importance as a wine producing region.

For too long in our region, the commercialization and professionalization of wine was not an economic priority. This resulted in great damage to the vineyards. And although for several years now Saint Pourçain’s notoriety has seen considerable development, it is absolutely necessary for us to continue to envision and believe in its future.  We must work diligently to maintain our vines at standards that allow us to produce wines of quality and then be prepared and able to pass on the properties to the next generation so that we continue to strengthen the reputation of the appellation.

Geologically the vines are grown on 3 types of soil situated along the Allier river: sandy, clay-limestone and granite. As far as grape varieties, we grow gamay and pinot noir for the reds and for whites we have chardonnay and tresallier, a cousin of SACY found in the vineyards of CHABLIS, used mostly for making sparkling wines.

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You are a guardian of patrimony. In fact you are the winemaker at Le Conservatoire des Anciens Cépages, a vineyard planted to the historic grapes of the region. Can you tell us a about that?

I am neither the initiator, nor the creator nor the guardian of the Conservatoire des Anciens Cepages. However, it seemed unthinkable to me not to produce wine from the grapes grown there, this patrimony of old varieties that were collected from vineyards and garden plots throughout the appellation. After many meetings, year after year, approaching different winemakers, proposing to share this desire to make a wine from these heritage grapes, without finding any willing partners, I finally committed to vinifiying by myself a white wine which belongs to the conservatory. The production ranges between 1,000 and 2,000 bottles according to the climactic vagaries of the year. The wine is made from several white varieties and matured in Tronçais barrels, making it a wine that is quite special and unique. The wine is sold only at the CAC and at a wine shop in St Pourçain, Qui l’Eut Cru

  

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At Domaine Grosbot-Barbara, you have a single vineyard, "Quarteron", that you planted along with your friends as a cooperative project. Please describe the vineyard and your ideas that inspired it?

Ahhh, yes, le Quarteron!...... passionate about my profession, I wanted to share my experiences with interested wine lovers, both novice and sophisticated.  Having many such aquaintances, I chose a group of willing participants and proposed that we plant a vineyard together on a parcel of land at the Domaine called “Le Quarteron”. This was for them to see how much easier it is to discover a wine then it is to carry out the work in the vines and the cellar throughout the year in order to produce a wine and then to be able to savor it. 

Le Quarteron was planted in 2006. Of course all those original participants in the planting of it were not, and often are not able to be present to work in the vineyard. The calendar of work in Nature is difficult to program, and does not align with the schedules of those who do not work in professions related to her. Yet, this vineyard exists and thrives, giving each year a new vintage for all participants to share. Members of many varied professions have become ambassadors, and through their own words speak to those around them of this vineyard, of the wine and of the winemaking region of St Pourçain.

This wine can be found on the table of J. DECORET, the sole Michelin starred restaurant of the Allier and is sold at our Domaine with a label that changes each year, chosen by the members of Quarteron. It is a blend of chardonnay and tresallier grown on granite soil, also with a bit of Sauvignon, fermented and matured in barrels, always of oak from the Tronçais forest.

 

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 How do you see the future of winemaking in Saint Pourçain?

Saint Pourçain could have a great future if we make available the means required and if we believe in it. Wine consumption has decreased in France over recent years, while globally people are drinking more wines. In France, increasingly, comsumers have grown tired of the standardized styles of certain appellations and are unwilling to pay the prices for those wines when they cannot be sure of their quality. As a result they are turning toward smaller, lesser known appellations and producers, seeking out contact with the winemakers and discovery of their wines.

Certain restaurateurs are taking the same approach, seeking to discover wines from vineyards that are less or little known, and making them part of the attraction to their tables. This is a great advantage for us. It is in our interest to be present and stand up for our vineyards, our production, and so in doing refine our own savoir-faire.

Enotourism is a recent concept, but we must not think that it takes a lot of means; it is enough to be present, to understand how to welcome guests warmly and how to share our knowledge, expertise and to offer the keys, the the pathways to discovering what is a region, a terroir, what man brings to it. This requires a lot of personal investment, presence and time, but this is the only way that we can renew interest and make our wines desirable once again. It’s necessary that every winemaker understands that we must all be actors in maintaining our vineyards and making them prosper. And we must act as ambassadors of our region. It is equally necessary that there be more winemakers in the future to ensure the long life of our vineyards.

We must not confuse « savoir-faire » and « faire-savoir ». « Savoir-faire » is , above all, the responsibility of the winemaker. The « faire-savoir » requires that the vineyard work be authentic and consistant in order to advance the vineyard. Uniformization and standardization must be banned in order to honestly propose to wine consumers and future clients an approach that many of them expect and want. That is to say a reasoning and philosophy of the craft, along with a conscious production which favors quality and the criteria of belonging to a place, a plant, a person, in order to reveal St Pourçain’s unique qualities.


 

 

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Thursday
Oct262017

read the transcript : Ed's presentation at "Petite Soif" Natural Wine Festival at Vif's in Fremont, Seattle

Drinking Wine and using GPS

   “it’s not what you think”

 

Thank you to the staff of Vif for the Petite Soif festival and for asking me to speak today. By way of introduction, I can say that I am perhaps the last driver to utilize GPS and I do so with much loathing and suspicion. That might be all you need to know about me. I do admit that I have come around to accepting its role in my life. For the last 21 years, my wife, Barbara, and I have travelled a lot together, both searching for wines in France and then trying to sell them here in the States, and GPS has not only helped us to reach our destinations in a timely fashion, it has completely taken off the table the question of whether or not men ask for directions. GPS is not however, a replacement for maps. Spending hours in a car and having no idea where you are or where you’ve been or where you are going, is at the very least disorienting and more insidiously, fosters a loss of connection – specifically the connection to place.

 

This connection to place is central to what I would like to talk about. In Amy Trubeck’s wonderful book, “The Taste of Place” published in 2008, she speaks in her preface about Maine potato farmers and their struggle to find an economically viable solution that would allow them to continue growing their traditional crop. One of the responses was to grow varieties of potatoes that are classified as culinary rather than industrial. This has many implications, but for the moment, I just want to highlight the distinction between industrial and culinary potatoes.

 

This is something Michael Pollan was getting at in his book, “The Omnivore’s Dilemma”. When this type of differentiation occurs with our food choices, Mr. Pollan reports that it causes us anxiety. So, if I may ask:

How did you get here?

Did you walk or ride a bike,

Did you come by car and if so, how many passengers were in the vehicle?

Does the engine run on gas, diesel or perhaps electricity?

 

We do have choices to make, and for me, as regards our food and wine choices, the road forward

recognizes place as the important anchor and compass.

 

The discerning consumer of 2017 is interested to know about authenticity and typicity, a sentiment that echoes the French phrase “local, loyal and constant.” There is a precedent. The ancient Egyptians used seals to mark their closures with information about the provenance of their wines. This practice continued with the Greeks and Romans who marked their amphoras with the names of domains and vineyard sights. This continued through the centuries and in the 18th century official decrees were passed to designate and protect vineyard areas. This was first seen in Tuscany with the Chianti region, in Portugal with the Oporto region and in Hungary with the Tokay region. The next century saw the major classification of Bordeaux estates in 1855 which gave rise to the notion of a “cru”. (And no, I do not know the derivation of this term which seems completely self-referential and whose only root means uncooked. I don’t think that Chateau Margaux was calling its wine “raw” or suggesting that the wine should be served with crudité, but who knows?) The end of the nineteenth century was not kind to the vineyards of France and other European nations. They were attacked first by Oidium or powdery mildew in the 1850’s and then shortly thereafter by the aphid known as phylloxera. Both of these blights came from the U.S.

 

By the end of the century the vine growers had found solutions to both problems and restoration was well on its course when as the 20th century arrived, a new blight appeared. It was homegrown and came in the form of fraud, both from the point of view of a product’s contents and its labelling. The wine and food producers looked to their government for help and protection. It is interesting to look at how the French government fashioned a durable response to the concerns of both the French wine and food producers and the French consumer, and in so doing, created a roadmap to deal with the problems producers and consumers face today. A law was passed in France in 1905 that protected against producers who “falsely attributed the location of origin of the merchandise as a way to sell their goods.”

I find it mildly amusing then to remember how ,when I first entered the wine business around 1980, the store shelves were packed with Ernest and Julio Gallo’s bestselling wines; a white called Chablis and a red called Hearty Burgundy. The anti-fraud law in France was strengthened in 1908 by setting geographic boundaries to winegrowing areas and stipulating that the wines show characters that were, and here’s that phrase again, “local, loyal and constant.” Despite the government’s efforts, fraud continued with only infrequent consequences. One response to the continued fraud was the increased reliance on brands, for example; not Champagne but Veuve Cliquot or not Cognac but Hennessy. The government responded by embracing the concept of terroir. Amy Trubeck quotes the anthropologist Mary Douglas who states, “dirt is matter out of place. Terroir, however, is dirt in a certain place.” It was under the guidance and leadership of Joseph Capus, an agronomist from the Bordeaux area and later minister of Agriculture and Senator from the Gironde that the French government passed into law the creation of an organization that would acknowledge and protect the specific flavor of a place. The specific flavor of a place is what makes the difference between an industrial and a culinary potato.

 

The organization that was created in 1935 was the Comité National des Appellations d’Origine. It brought together wine professionals from all over France who would examine the regional requests for recognition and protection. It is important to note that application for recognition had to be made collectively by the wine producers of a region and if granted, the new appellation would be protected as the collective property of the producers, as well as part of the agricultural, gastronomic and cultural heritage of France. After this system of appellation contrôlée was established for wines and spirits, it was adopted for dairy products as well as olive oil, fruit and vegetables, meat and honey.

What Joseph Capus brilliantly understood and is at the core of the A.O.C. system is that the specific flavor of place can only be achieved and should only be recognized when the winemaker brings together his or her land with the proper choice of grape type and winemaking techniques to create an expression in the wine that reflects the uniqueness of its constituent parts. It all sounds very Montessori. The fact that Joseph Capus recognized the selection of grape types as the indispensable compliment to the nature of an area’s topography, soil and climate for producing a wine with original qualities, shows his deep appreciation for the intricate web of terroir. The selection of grape types has a lot of relevance today and young winemakers with the intention of deepening the expression of their terroirs are researching and replanting local, heritage varieties that still exist in conservatories and people’s gardens but haven’t been commercially grown since phylloxera. For the most part they are not included in the appellations’ charters. These passionate winemakers are going to the I.N.A.O. and making their case for why these varieties should be recognized and protected within the A.O.C. status. They are linking the past with the present; local, loyal and constant.

 

For us as consumers, we have choices to make, and they do not need to make us anxious. If, as Elizabeth Barham has said, we embrace the idea that the products we consume reveal “what there is in nature to be known” rather than concealing it by viewing nature as an obstacle to be overcome or controlled for production, then we are choosing the specific flavor of place as our road map.

GPS be damned.

Tuesday
Sep052017

Tomorrow in New York City don't miss the Peloton Tasting. Make sure to visit Ed and Barbara pouring at The Vine Collective tables! #pelotonwinetasting The Dream Downtown | 355 W. 16th St. | NYC