Jacqueline Friedrich: The Wine Humanist WINE BY PEOPLE, FOR PEOPLE; WINE FROM THE HEART

Selected Works

Book
Wine Guide
An indispensable, user-friendly guide to France’s best and best-value wines. Don’t leave home without it!
Wine & Food Guide
The first and only in-depth guide to the wines and foods of the Loire.
My various reflections on Didier Dagueneau compiled and posted here.
For Those Who Want Yesterday's Papers
My Previously Published (and retrievable) Articles
Wine Tours
WOULD YOU LIKE ME TO PLAN YOUR TOUR OF A FRENCH WINE REGION?

Mail&Events

counter for myspace

TheMailRoom
Unless you prefer anonymity, I'll post your letters (in italics or bold face) and my answers to them.

For US readers, please tell me which wines you're not able to find. I may be able to help.

September 2010

Hi Jackie,

I'm the proud owner of a well thumbed copy of Loire 1 and looking forward to Loire 2 being available in the fullness of time.

In early October I'm going to be spending some time in the Auvergne not too far from Corent.  Any exciting discoveries in Cotes d'Auvergne since Loire 1 or is it a case of rounding up the previous suspects?

Kind regards.


David Rorke


Me: Dear David,
I'm sorry it's taken me so long to get back to you. Blame it on the long, long text I'm writing on Pouilly!
There have been quite a few changes in the Auvergne since my book was published. I haven't written that subchapter yet so the only producer actually in Corent that I can recommend is the Cave de Verny.
Beyond Corent, Domaine (Annie) Sauvat and Domaine Charmensat, both in Boudes, are recommended. I haven't tasted Goigoux's wines in awhile but liked them back in the day. Additionally, there are quite a few hypernatural, non-interventionist producers who seem to go in and out of business faster than I can keep track of them.
If you can get to the Cote Roannaise, there are some terrific producers there, among them, Domaine de Fontenay, Domaine les Pothiers and the sui generis Domaine Paul Lapandery.



July 2010

Bonjour, Jacqueline,

As I write I am watching stage 6 of the Tour de France, on an impossibly hot day in France I understand. I hope you are in the shade with a glass of chilled white.

Your Wines of France is a constant reference book for me. Wonderfully well written and informative. My wife and I spent a month in Languedoc in Feb-March and even with Ryanair's baggage weight restrictions, it was the one wine book I felt I could not do without.

My first question is about your book on Loire wines. I see you are doing a revised edition. When do you anticipate it being published? We are hoping to spend a month in the Loire Valley, perhaps in 2011, and I am wondering whether I should go in search of the older book, or wait until the new one is published.

My second question is about Domaine de l'Ecu. I understand that in 2009 it was put up for sale. Such a shame. Do you know if it was sold? I ask because I write a wine blog and this week I'm profiling that estate and their 2007 Expression de Granite.

With kind regards,

Kevin Major
Newfoundland, Canada


Me:

Hello Kevin,

First, let me apologize for having taken so long to respond to your email. I've been traveling and meeting deadlines -- in addition to having occasionally been wiped out by the heat.

Thanks for your lovely words about The Wines of France. If you can manage carrying two books for your Loire trip, I recommend taking both The Wines of France and the first version of the Loire book, the former being more up-to-date where producers are concerned.

I'm working hard on Loire 2 but it goes slowly. I'll be covering many more producers and I'm fact checking and tasting as I go along. It takes a horrendous amount of time.

Regarding Domaine de l'Ecu: It is for sale. Guy is reaching retirement age and neither of his daughters wants to take over the winery. That said, Guy will surely do the 2010 harvest and is likely to stay on as a salaried winemaker for at least three years, maybe longer, once a sale goes through.

After that, he'd like to develop a consultant business -- for producers interested in biodynamic farming. He's already a nursery man, custom-making vines via selection massalle. And he feels, quite rightly, that many of the people claiming to practice biodynamics now only understand a small percentage of the system. Guy would like to advise them on how to follow biodynamic principles from, say, "A to Z", rather than from "K to N".

There is a need for that and Guy is the man to fill that need.

I hope I've answered both your questions!

All best,

Jacqueline Friedrich

May 2010

Hi Jacqueline,
I came across your site today and would like to ask for your assistance in transplanting a bit of the Loire Valley to North Carolina. I am asking for your advice and opinion on the best French Cabernet Franc wines and winemakers as I would like to try to replicate their style. Having a sister city in France would be pretty cool.

I have a 5 acre Cab Franc vineyard which is expected to produce 15 tons of grapes. Harvest will be around Sept 15 and most of the grapes will be sold to Biltmore Estates in Asheville. The vineyard is located 40 minutes from the Charlotte airport.

None of the winemakers here in NC are doing any type of Beaujolais and frankly I need cash so was thinking about being a pioneer and go from vine to wine in about 8 or 9 weeks with carbonic maceration. Of course I would also make wine that requires 2 to 3 years of aging.

Denver, NC could use a Beaujolais festival - which French towns have cool Beaujolais festivals. I want to make a great Beaujolais - not a mass produced beverage product but a high quality wine.

Let me know your thoughts.

Regards,

Suzanne Richey


Me:
Dear Suzanne Richey,

What makes the best wines of the Loire as great as they are is that, in addition to the craft of the winemaker, they are true to their place of origin.

My suggestion to you would be to respect the specifics of your vineyard sites in North Carolina and vinify your grapes with care. Then your wines will be unique.

Good luck in your endeavors,


March 2010
So I was reading through some of you tasting notes on various Loire wines, when I came across the following quote:

"On the downside, there’s that whiff of wet wool that I so dislike in Chenin."

This threw me for a loop. Isn't wet wool a relatively fundamental descriptor for Chenin Blanc?

I'm a big fan of Chenin Blanc (particularly versions that retain some notable residual sugar), and I have a fair number of bottles from various producers (I'm definitely an oddity, given that I live in Michigan, and not on the East Coast where Loire Chenin Blanc is somewhat more common), but I wouldn't call myself an expert by any stretch of the imagination... I'm a surly young student, at best!

In any case, I digress... It seems like there's something unwritten, but implied within your statement, that I'm not aware of. That seems further corroborated by your blog post entitled "A DISCOURSE ON CHENIN, QUARTS DE CHAUME, DOMAINE BAUMARD, RIPENESS, TEXTURE, THE MYSTERY OF WINE and more." Can you help me better understand/​reconcile your comments on wet wool (chenasse?) with your love for Chenin Blanc?

Thanks,
Jim Brennan


Me: Short answer here since I can't seem to find the "Discourse" on my own blog and await your aid!
That said, while it's true that "wet wool" is a descriptor often associated with chenin, I think of it as one of the negative aspects of chenin, in the same way that the horsey or gamey Bretty aromas you find in red wines can either please or displease.
I really dislike that aspect of chenin. This time around I'm doing my darndest to get to the bottom of it. In other words, what causes it? Some of my theories include: lack of phenolic maturity; oxidation or other mishandling of the harvest; reduction.
I will report on some of my investigative efforts on the site but certainly, and greater length, in the book.
I have been feeling -- and a number of my favorite winemakers agree with me -- that we are only now beginning to get to know chenin.





September 2009

Dear Jacqueline,

Have just returned to New Zealand from my trip to England and France and just wanted to thank you/​report in re your Loire Valley advice. I had a marvellous time in the area and enjoyed some lovely tastings which did stretch my meagre french knowledge though I found the locals to be incredibly friendly and helpful across the board: all took the time to help me through the language. I did visit Vincent Ogereau (a very nice man), and loved his wines - really nice to be able to look at the vintage variation in the '05-'07 Anjou whites vs the Savennieres while the Bonnes Blanche '05 C d L was quite simply stunning. I was very excited by the '08 sec tendre and demi-sec style Chenins that I tried in Vouvray which combined great richness with real zest and freshness, but enjoyed a remarkable mix of wines across the region with the range at Baumard a real highlight.

I did stay at Hotel Le Progres in Angers and it works really well. Clean and tidy, a good price (and a good breakfast) and very handily located with that car parking building across the road so thank you for that suggestion. Stayed at Hotel Colbert in rue Colbert in Tours which was simple but friendly, Agnes-Sorel as you suggested in Chinon which I would recommend heartily (and really liked Chinon as a place to base oneself), an older style, simple, but very friendly chambre d'hote in Loches called 'Les Hôtes du Château' at 18 rue du château which was 58 euro for two for double or twin and a slightly rustic and quirky (but very friendly) chambre d'hote in Vouvray itself called Les Tonnelles in rue Monaco which was 50 euro per room.

Restaurant reccos would include La Croisette in Behuard where I had a nice lunch with Florent Baumard and La Rabelais in Chinon. Also had an excellent dinner (a belated anniversary dinner for my wife and I) at Le Villaret at 13 rue Ternaux in the 11 'eme in Paris (Metro Republique or Parmentier).

I come back home determined to do some damage to my credit card with more Loire wines due to go into the cellar!

Many thanks again for your suggestions.

Kind regards...Mark Henderson


Dear Mark,

Thanks for your email. I’m delighted that your trip worked out so well and that you tasted so many wonderful Loire chenins. And thanks, too, for your recommendations. I’m sure they’ll be of use to a lot of people.

But save some money for the 2009s. If the weather holds, there may be quite a few real beauties!

Cordially,

Jacqueline Friedrich


June 2009

Hi Jacqueline,



Thanks to your blog, my wife and I had the best meals of our lives at Chez Michel in Paris. Oh my God! We went to Chez Michel 4 times in one week! After each visit to Chez Michel, we walked back (more like wobbled) to our hotel and lied in our room in a state of bliss. So thank you very much!



Reading your blog posting of May 12 Gardening and your mentioning of Charles Joguet, it reminded me of Joguet wines. I thought I had read in your past blog posting (but not 100% sure) that the Joguets wines have gotten a little heavier, resulting in loss of fragrance and elegance, since Charles has left the winery. What are your impressions of the recent vintages of Joguet wines?

Brian Sohn

Happy in Vancouver, Canada


Me: Brian, I'm so glad we agree on Chez Michel. I really is one of my favorite restaurants. Let me share two other faves with you:

Bistrot Paul Bert: the bistro of your dreams. French soul food and an amazing wine list.18, rue Paul Bert, Paris 11.Tel: 01 43 72 24 01.Cl Sunday and Monday.

L'Ecailler du Bistrot: related to the Bistrot Paul Bert but dedicated to fish and shellfish. Hard to find better. If Utah Beach oysters are available, do NOT miss them! 22. rue Paul Bert, Paris 11,Tel: 01 43 72 76 77.Cl Sunday and Monday.

Regarding Joguet's wines: see WineTastingNotes May 29, 2008 for my post on the 2005 Chene Vert. I haven't yet tasted the 2008s but, for now, I'd say the Joguet wines are very good Chinons but not the inspirational wines they once were.


May 2009

Dear Jacqueline,
Love the website and I adore your books. I know I sound like a blurb, but _The Wines of France_ is flatout, the most useful buying guide, PLUS, there's a wealth of knowledge you casually, effortlessly, stealthily pack in...Many thanks for your generosity.

I'd like to subscribe to any email news bits. Also, the new font color is difficult to read against that pale background. on my screen, it's white letters on pale blue-green (?) background and I have to highlight the text to read it.

Hope you're getting over the stomach bug.

Best regards,
Ashley Stockstill


Me:Dear Ashley,

Thanks so much for your email.

I've just written to the web wizards who manage the site to see what they suggest. On my screen the letters are black against a pale green background and very easy to read.

I'm going to post your email tomorrow. Maybe some other readers have the same trouble.


In any event, legibility is the most important factor so if I can't fix the problem, I'll go back to the old format. (The photographs are another matter. The web wizards have to deal with why they disappeared in the first place.)

Stomach bug is slowly disappearing, though not fast enough for me. There's a Chinon fair on Saturday and I'd planned to do a tasting marathon.

BTW, I don't yet have anything to subscribe to except the newsletter which you can simply sign up for. I rarely send out newsletters but, after I finish Loire2 I'm going to rethink the entire site.

Thanks again,

Jacqueline

A note to all readers: if you're having similar problems, please let me know. I've found some other blips in the functioning and we're trying to work these out.


Hi Jacqueline,

Baumard's latest screwcapped treat est arrivee in Melbourne at last.
Have bought a couple for future joy. To stay my unscrewing fingers
from a case of the jitters, would you like to hazard a guess as to
how long before they start to develop that older loire chenin
richness? Do you know if a Special Trie will be forthcoming?

Our imported wine prices are a bit severe due to distance, taxes and
importers trying to find a niche amongst our own product.
Nonetheless, compared to Burgundy price insanity, Savennieres seems
good value. Just convinced myself to buy some more.

Also please hurry up with the new Loire guide. So much seems to have
happened in the last ten years of Loire wine, reckon you've a task
and a bit. The natural wines of Breton, Puzelat and Bellivierre have
even made it to the other side of the world.

Cheers

Andrew


Me:
Hi Andrew,

It would, indeed, be courting hazard to predict when that wonderful 2005 Clos du Papillon will develop the mature Loire chenin characteristics. Here’s what I propose: buy at least 6 bottles; drink one now and drink a bottle every five years – or until you find you can no longer resist draining your stock. (At which point you might buy some more.) So far as I know, the most recent Trie Speciale was 2003.

Re the timing of the new Loire guide. As the French say, DSLS (Dieu seul le sait). I thought it would be pretty easy as I live here and have been keeping up with people, laws, vintages, etc. What I find is that so much has changed that I’m writing a completely new book.

Additionally, I’ve been here for twenty years, have twenty years of tasting notes and I keep asking myself how far back in those tasting notes I should go. Meanwhile, I’m now adding to those notes by tasting hundreds of samples -- and making some terrific discoveries -- even as I’m chasing after recalcitrant vignerons who haven’t yet sent samples.

Also, when I arrived 20 years ago, one generation was succeeding the previous generation; now, another generation of vintners is taking over. Many new people have arrived. Some have gone bust, some appear to be surviving nicely. And, after twenty years, I have developed very strong opinions on many of the issues concerning Loire wines and Loire winemaking. This means that I have a lot to say and I’m not quite sure how long it’s going to take me to “say” it.

That may not be the answer you wanted but I hope you’ll find the result worth the wait!

All best,

Jacqueline


February 2009
Hi Jacqueline

I am glad to have found your website and to read that you are working on an update for your Loire-book, as I think your first book on the Loire is one of the best and most engaging books about wine I know (along with the Terry Theise catalogues - if you can call those books...). When I bought your book a couple of years ago, I knew little about the Loire wines - but your book really made me want to explore the area and it's wines.

Now I have a question for you: As the 2006 and 2007 vintages are currently the ones available, I would like to hear your take on those two vintages - especially concerning chenin blanc (dry and sweet). I have read on your website that you consider 2006 good for the dry whites (is this uniformly or only for the best producers?), but have been unable to find your take on the 2007s.

I know that general statements about vintages are tricky (personally I have found some of the dry chenins from the highly praised 2005 vintage to be too alcoholic for me, whereas I'm quite enamoured by some of the 2004s - though I doubt whether they will age well). Anyway, it could be nice to have your opinion about the two vintages - also regarding their ageing potential (something I find tricky to estimate).

I would be very grateful for your answer.

All the best,
Jakob Husted
Denmark


Me: Good timing, Jakob. I've just returned from the Salon des Vins de Loire and plan to post some comments and tasting notes over the next week. I'm particularly excited about the excellent quality of the 2007 sweet wines from good producers in Anjou. More to come!



October 30, 2008
A reader asks about the new edition of the Loire book:

Hi Jacqui

I assume you get asked this every single day of the year and are getting rather weary having to respond to the same old question again and again.....

So. When do you estimate that the new edition will be published?

The publication of the first edition was beautifully timed in that a friend of mine moved just south of the Loire in 1995 and I go to visit him two or three times a year. However, the book was a casualty of my divorce in 2001. I didn't care about the Cd collection, all I wanted was the book!

Remarried in 2004 and the service was at Hotel du Vin in Winchester and two of the wines were from the Loire: Baumard's 1996 Quarts and Pinon's 2002 Demi Sec (I still think this wine is one of the most lip smackingly delicious wines I've ever had).

So a little bit of background to me asking such a tired old question.

Thanks in anticipation.

Ian (Shaw)


Me: Thanks for your email, Ian. I wish I knew the answer to your question. I've postponed my deadline -- which was to have been the end of November -- because there's so much to update. Lots of exciting new producers, lots of changes.
The organization takes an enormous amount of time. Tasting takes even longer. As I've traveled all along the Loire and -- after having spent about 20 years here -- know most of the people, I've decided to ask that samples be sent to me. This way I can give the wines my undivided attention when I taste and, where necessary, follow a particular wine over several days to see how it evolves. (This happens more often than not, even with some Muscadets.)
After I taste all the samples stocked in my house and in my neighbor's cellar, I'll figure out who's missing and try to track down their wines. I'll also do follow-up calls when I want more information and conduct full-length interviews (in person, as time permits) with newer producers.
I do try to put some tasting notes on this site but I've decided -- with the support of my editor and various wine-friends -- to stop posting tasting notes of my 'discoveries' until the book comes out.
My more recent book, The Wines of France: the Essential Guide for Savvy Shoppers, is fairly up-to-date, though I've made some significant discoveries since that was published (in December '06) and, of course, the new Loire book will be more thorough, will include much more information about grapes, vinification, viticulture and have longer write-ups of individual producers.
Given that The University of California Press will need time to edit and print the book, I'd say we're a good year away from publication. I hope it will be worth the wait!
Love your choice of wedding wines. Lipsmacking is the word!





October 28, 2008
A reader writes with a request for anecdotes. His letter follows. I'll follow with one funny story and one aggravating one. Please feel free to participate by emailing me your stories which I'll post here.


Hi Ms.Jacqueline Friedrich.

May your autumn be going very well. I was hoping if you had a spare
moment there was a chance you could give me a little bit of help,
though I'm certain you are very busy.

These days I am working on a cartooning project, and I find I'm a
little short on personal experiences. It involves a truly terrible
sommelier, maybe the world's worst, at an awful, expensive restaurant.
I am aiming for comedy, and no form of naming and shaming.

I'd be extremely grateful for any insight and detail observations you
could share with me from your experiences if you have come across
anything like "horrific sommeliering", however small and brief. And
should I ever make it to publication I can certainly promise a
dedication.

And by the way, thank you for your rich and informative columns, and I
hope your blog will be a busy one.

Yours,
Tobias
Trondheim, Norway


Me: Tobias, thanks for your email. I'm trying to think of funny stories but, more often than not, I come up with aggravating ones. I'll mention one or two of these below but first, an incident that still makes me chuckle.

I was in an upscale restaurant in London's West End. As I was going to the theatre I only wanted a glass or two of wine. Typically, the list did not mention the name of the producers. So I asked the sommelier if he knew. He didn't. I asked if he could check the Chablis. He did but couldn't find the name of the domaine. I decided to take the risk and order it anyway. I can't remember now which producer it was but I do recall that, at some point during my meal, he came over to the table with the bottle and proudly announced that he'd found the name. Pointing to a line on the bottom of the label, he said (and now I'm going to write it the way he pronounced it, "You see. Pare ay fillss." (In other words, Pere & Fils. A very popular house.)

Now, for aggravating: let's start with red wines being served too warm. Let's think back to the heatwave that was summer 2003. I was with friends I hadn't seen in years in a bistro in the Lamarck-Caulaincourt neighborhood of the 18th arrondissement, eager to catch up on news. I ordered a red, a St. Joseph, I think, or a Crozes-Hermitage, and it was brought out room temperature, which is to say, well over 20C. I asked for an ice bucket which was brought and I put the red wine in it. Later, a wine-person came to our table, interrupted our conversation and began lecturing me -- angrily. I was, in his view, stupid and ignorant to want my red wine chilled. I didn't want to argue with him. I just wanted him to go away, which, after huffing and puffing for a couple of minutes, he did. My friends wondered why I hadn't stated my credentials. I said that if I had, the meal would have been about him arguing with me. I wanted the meal to be about me and my friends. When I got home, I logged onto the website of the Cave de Tain and found the recommended serving temperature for the wine we'd had. It was exactly what I'd said, around 16C. I emailed it to my friends.



THE AUDACITY OF LOVE

August 13, 2008
Terry Theise chimes in on the Woodward-Friedrich controversy: "IMO you were unusually restrained! The guy was a feckless twit. A charter member of the foreheads-villainous-low club."

August 4, 2008
(I belong to the Circle of Wine Writers. The Circle Update, its bi-monthly bulletin, publishes news in the wine world, news about members, accounts of their wine trips, and so forth. In the April/​May issue, Update printed a piece written by the editor of Decanter magazine, Guy Woodward. It made me furious. I'm reprinting his article here as well as my response. Attentive readers may have noted a previous dispute between and Woodward -- over the reported results of a Decanter tasting of red wines from the Loire. Curiously, I was about to send my "response to Woodward" on the very day I received his email objecting to my having posted a criticism of the Decanter piece.)

Guy Woodward (editor of Decanter) casts his eye over wine writing today

I am told I have a great job, one many of you would kill for. It‘s true that directing the editorial content of the UK‘s only consumer wine title is indeed a privileged position. But rather than the glamorous perception – back-to-back Grivot and Grange tastings, first growth dinners, trips to Montalcino and Monterey
– I spend the vast majority of my time dealing with contributors and devising briefs for future features.

Alas, much of this task involves fending off enthusiastic pitches from amateur wine writers bursting forth with hackneyed, tired ideas of what will make an interesting feature.

I say ‘amateur’ for two reasons. Firstly, there must be very few wine writers out there who are able to command a decent salary from wine writing alone.

Secondly, the standard of ideas I receive is so poor, so predictable, that it beggars belief that some o these people claim to be journalists. Put these two factors together, and it makes for a depressing scenario.


The trouble is, too many of our number are wine writers rather than journalists. They know about wine, but not about the process of making wine accessible and interesting to consumers through writing. Wine writing should be no different to writing about any other subject – honest appraisal, done in an entertaining style. If anything, our occasionally nerdy field requires even more effort to ensure wine is distilled down in a manner that makes it accessible and relevant. Instead, there is a danger that writers are so involved in the subject matter they are commentating on that they make their copy relevant to their peers, but not to the average wine lover.

It‘s the same with wine magazines – most are edited by wine people, rather than journalists. One prominent trade title even appears to be edited by the publisher.

The result is a lack of incisive content and visual impact, in favour of commercial sensitivity. By comparison, one only has to see the recent improvements at Harpers to understand the benefit of an editor with a journalistic background.

By making wine accessible to a wider audience, I’m not talking about dumbing down. There is enough of that going on already (while for the most part, the standard of wine writing in the national press is estimable, the likes of Joanna Simon and Victoria Moore aren’t helped by the lowest-common-denominator approach of their editors). No, wine is a specialist subject, and deserves specialist treatment. But too many wine writers think that this means writing about the subject in an overly technical, inward-looking way. The result is that, outside of the national press (and of course the pages of Decanter), the tone of most wine writing is relatively uninspired.

The irony is that, as an editor, I am blessed with an army of potential writers who know – and love – their subject matter much better than many other specialist writers. But the first rule of journalism is to write for your readers – not for your subjects, and certainly not for your colleagues. We have to remember that wine lovers are just that – lovers of wine, not analysts of it.

Too many of the pitches I receive are of the type I call ‘textbook wine writing’. This is not a compliment on the classical approach employed. Instead I refer to the prior existence, within various wine textbooks, of much of the material suggested. The ideas of too many aspiring contributors are high on information and education, but low on fresh insight and entertainment.

There are plenty of fine books providing overviews of different wine regions. Yet the most common feature pitch I receive is more of the same – a generic overview of a region (sometimes ‘up-and-coming’, other times ‘revitalised’) with a rundown of the ‘producers to watch’. This is so unimaginative.

Consumers are already well served in terms of background info on most wine styles and regions. Where they are not well served is in terms of insights into the personalities and philosophies of the people making these wines. Or investigations of the myriad issues facing the wine world: higher prices of the top wines; rising alcohol levels; climate change; the merits and pitfalls of blind tastings; storage conditions in top retailers and restaurants; the influence of critics; the dilution of terroir; the veracity of en primeur... While many of these are issues which are faced by the trade, they also impact – and interest – consumers.

Lest we forget, at Decanter at least, it is consumers who we write for. And consumers are interested in wine because they enjoy it. Not because they want to know the average altitude of vines in Mendoza; or the comparative yields of the classed growths of St Julien and St Estèphe; or the malolactic fermentation process of their favourite Brunello producer. These things may well add interest for the more committed readers. But the primary motivation for buying wine is enjoyment, and buying a wine magazine is no different. There are plenty of avenues to explore for those stimulated by the more academic side of wine. But we are in the business of celebrating the enjoyment of wine, and this means seeing things from a wine lover’s – not a winemaker’s – perspective.

Of course I am coming from the perspective of the editor of a consumer magazine, and I realise that many wine writers write first and foremost for trade publications. Herein lies the crux of the problem. It is very difficult to write for both trade and consumers. Your audience each has different motivating factors. Writing for the former involves developing a contact book and working these contacts so as to develop a certain closeness to this audience. Writing exclusively for consumers requires maintaining a certain distance from the trade, and seeing things through the eyes of consumer first, winemaker/​retailer/​distributor second.

Alas it is almost impossible for a lowly paid freelance writer to gain access to the necessary people, wines and regions to serve consumers while retaining the necessary distance from the trade to preserve his or her journalistic integrity. And with the number of vehicles for mass-market wine writing falling all the time, it is increasingly difficult for emerging writers to establish a position on the front row of wine writing’s grid. But in a profession that combines two of the most competitive fields out there – wine and journalism – if wine writers want to stand out, they would be well served to think beyond the standard parameters. Just don’t send me any more pitches for generic profiles of up-and-coming wine regions...

(After years of abstinence, Guy has now joined the Circle, partly in recompense for the above criticisms. Is Guy right? Update welcomes reactions and comments and looks forward to publishing them in the June/​July edition. Ed.)

Respond, I did. As the latest issue of the Circle Update has not yet been posted on line, I’m posting my own copy. Here’s what I wrote:

THE AUDACITY OF LOVE: A Response to Guy Woodward

If you believe that “back-to back Grivot and Grange tastings, first growth dinners and trips to Montalcino and Monterey” are what make yours a job to “kill for”, then, Guy Woodward, perhaps you are getting the sort of hackneyed article proposals you deserve.

The privilege of directing the editorial content of the UK’s only consumer wine title – of shaping the style and content of the magazine and potentially influencing the wine world at large , or, at the least, inviting a group of new wine lovers into the fold – is what makes yours a great job.

I should think that part of its description would be to search out journalists with the knowledge and craft to meet your expectations rather than to whine passively about the quality of proposals coming over your transom.

As a freelancer my best work experiences have been with editors who contacted me: they all had clear conceptions of what their publication aimed to be and of what they expected of people who wrote for them.

You, yourself, touch on the influence of editors when you mention the negative impact of those who dumb-down articles by capable journalists such as Joanna Simon and Victoria Moore. Regrettably, this ‘lowest-common-denominator approach’, as you accurately call it, prevails, much to the despair of freelancers who can’t find homes for novel subjects they’d adore covering.

It’s too bad you didn’t pursue the “editor problem”. You might actually have written something new and thought-provoking rather than the same-old-same-old gripes about freelancers.

To get down to some specifics:

*Freelancers tend to get ideas of what types of articles they should pitch by studying several issues of the magazine they hope to write for. Does that shoe fit?

*Frankly, I don’t see anything wrong with articles on up-and-coming or revitalized wine regions. On the contrary. One of the most exciting things about today’s wine world is the emergence of great wines from unsuspected places, obscure grape varieties and crazy-inspired winemakers who happen to be very interesting people.

* Truly hilarious, however, are the topics you think might be interesting:

Climate change. Geez! Why didn’t I think of that??? This guy must be a genius!

What’s even funnier is imagining you, Guy Woodward, reacting to a writer who proposed a “generic” piece on “climate change.” Hello? The whole shebang? Care to focus that idea a bit?

* And mere words cannot express how excited I would be to read about storage conditions in top restaurants! Maybe you can scoop The Wine Spectator with this gem. Aside from being a snoozer, what use would such an article be to consumers? Do you think people will stop going to their favorite restaurants because you find fault with their cellaring practices? And do you truly think that such an article would be more compelling than one on the average altitude of vines in Mendoza – and how microclimate affects the style of wines made there?

All that said, however, I think any story is potentially interesting, depending on how it’s handled. The talent and skills of the journalist are key here but so are the skills and the courage and vision of the editor.

A skillful editor knows how to enliven a dreary piece, tighten a rambling one, as well as how to offer the kind of constructive criticism that can help a keen wine writer evolve into a fine wine journalist. Courage and vision go beyond skill. I suppose they are really about character and are not something that can be taught. A couple of basic questions nevertheless:

Would you, to take an obvious example, assign a controversial story that just might offend a wine company that habitually places full-page ads in your magazine?

Would you cover expenses for freelancers? Not to do so calls into question your seriousness of purpose not to mention the premise of your complaint: it’s shameless to moan about the quality of the proposals you’re getting if you’re not willing to put your money where your mouth is.

You know freelancers can’t afford to pay travel expenses. So should they just write about people and places within walking distance of their humble homes? Should they, like Blanche Dubois, depend upon the kindness of strangers, in this case PR agents – thereby threatening their ‘journalistic integrity’?

Speaking of money, how about fees? Have your freelance rates kept up with the cost of living?

We foolish freelance wine writers renew our vows of poverty on a yearly basis, hoping against hope that somehow we’ll eke out enough of a living to continue being part of a world we love.

Maybe we’ll be inspired to think “beyond the standard parameters” of wine articles if you demonstrate that you will assign – and provide the necessary funding for – challenging pieces that may necessitate travel and/​or the commitment of a lot of time and legwork. You have the power to make this happen. We don’t. All we have is the audacity of love.

(Feel free to join the discussion. I know this page technically isn't the blog page but why stand on ceremony? If you have something to say, send me an email and I'll print it.)

And here's a postscript: I emailed Woodward to ask his permission to print his piece. He had no problem with that and went on to add, "I did laugh when I saw your response. ...(w)ith your wonderfully pretentious but wholly nonsensical Obama-esque sign-off line, you're evidently more interested in style than substance."

July 23, 2008:

I am very pleased to see you will be updating your Loire book. My copy is dogeared from use. Our family is now planning a trip using your original and your Wines of France book. We were hoping you could answer the following questions:

First, how would you characterize the 04. 05 and 06 vintages for Loire sweet wines as we are trying to arrange visits to the notable sweet wine producers in the Loire that you recommend (e.g. Juchepie, Leroy, Pierre-Bise)?

Second, following your advice, we have enjoyed multiple bottles of Druet’s 1989 Vaumoreau, as well as his other cuvees. As you predicted, they aged beautifully yet managed to retain a rusticity that we don’t find in some of the more “silky” Loire reds. Druet was the star of Bourgueil in the Loire book, yet in your new book, you seem to prefer the more elegant producers and those in Chinon. If we are looking for a more rustic, ageworthy version of Cabernet Franc, whom would you recommend?

Thanks in advance,

Lisa Conner


Me: 2005 was a great vintage, though the grapes were so healthy that the sweet wines were more likely to be the result of shriveled grapes than botrytised ones. (It's not a problem! They're terrific.) 2006 was a difficult year for sweet whites in the Loire; there are fewer of them and they are much lighter than the 2005s. That said, they can be delightful. (See my review of Domaine de la Bergerie's 2004 Quart de Chaume in Tasting Notes.) A small amount of very sweet whites was made in Anjou in 2004.

That said, the good producers made excellent sweet wines in all three vintages. The producers you intend to visit are superb. I wouldn't worry. Besides, you'll be tasting.

Regarding Bourgueil: Druet's Vaumaureau is still an excellent, age-worthy wine. I'd look for the 2005 and definitely taste the 2006. Other producers worth considering include Domaine de la Chevalerie (Caslot), particularly the cuvee Les Busardieres (they also have fantastic caves) and Domaine Nau. This domaine is seriously underestimated. Note, however, that they don't use oak so if you want those flavors, look elsewhere.

In my opinion Yannick Amirault is not to be missed. Silky cabernets, from the right terroir, can age as well as rustic ones.

And if you care to cross the Loire, you might visit Lenoir, in Avoine. He still hasn't bottled his 2005s.

I'm in the process of tasting Bourgueils now. So watch for tasting notes.

I hope this helps.


July 18, 2008

Bonjour,

I am delighted to find you have a web site and an email address. That being the case, I am assuming you welcome, or at least tolerate, mail.

By way of introduction, I am a Bostonian living part of the year--for the past 4 years--in Varennes-sur-Loire. I spent a good part of this afternoon rereading the section of your book on the 'Loire Table.' Since Les Rosiers-sur-Loire is only minutes from my house, I decided I would go there in search of Serge Chauvin and his, as reported by you, divine rillauds. But I have been able to find an address. Is he still there? If not, do you have another source nearby that you recommend?

Having read about your wonderful birthday feast, I am also writing to see if you will divulge your source for the Bordier butter in Chinon. I buy mine at the Epicerie da Rosa in Paris, but Chinon, at only 30 minutes from my house, is so much closer!

Many thanks in advance for your response.

Regards,

Susan Aaronson


Dear Susan,

Many years have passed since I wrote the Loire book. (That's why I'm currently slaving away on Loire #2.) M. Chauvin has surely retired by this time. (The French do tend to retire relatively young, at least by American standards.)

So I'm going to recommend two other sources for rillauds. I haven't tasted that particular specialty at either shop but I buy other goodies from them regularly and recommend them without hesitation. They are:

* Girardeau Traiteur, 53 rue St. Nicolas, Saumur, 02.41.51.30.33; and
* Gueret, 8 pl Mail, Montsoreau, 02.41.51.70.37. ( If you go to Montsoreau for the Sunday market I recommend you avoid the cheese vendor and buy local goat cheese from one of the small stands. Gueret also has a small selection of nice cheeses.)

Re Bordier butter, I doubt you'll find it in Chinon. You may have better luck in Saumur, either at Girardeau or at the good little cheese shop Roger Asselin, 18 rue Puits Neuf, Saumur, 02.41.67.57.23.

And you may have even better luck if you ask for butter from Pascal Beillevaire, my personal favorite, whose dairy is located in Machecoul which is part of the Pays de la Loire.

An aside: I know Epicerie da Rosa is favored by some bold-name chefs. Frankly, I don't see what the fuss is about. I recently had a ho-hum, overpriced meal there; found the wine and sherry selection pitiable and the selection of hams, oils, vinegars etc no better than you can find in many other places.

Good luck and bon appetit!

Jackie


February 18, 2008

G'day Jackie

Thanks for your advice about my reference to "hate" - it helps make me aware - no, reminds me - that Aussie humour doesn't work with Americans.
(See earlier letter, below.)

Actually the simple point I was trying to make is that Australia is worlds apart from the food and wine culture and sophistication of France.....and Northern Italy for that matter (visited both last year for not long enough}. The current planning for our next trip to France will be substantially influenced by your books and your FF experiences - should have discovered your stuff earlier - it really resonates for me.

Cheers
David


Hi David,

Point well taken. In fact, when people ask me why I live in France, one of the reasons I give them -- and it's the truth -- is that the relationship to food and wine are so different here than in the United States. With the exception of certain small pockets of France, there's nothing snobby or pretentious about a sumptuous, long, well-lubricated meal. It's part of a life well lived, no matter what your social status. I think the only day we Americans have what would pass as a French Sunday lunch is Thanksgiving. No wonder it's my favorite holiday!

February 9, 2008

Jackie,

I loved your rant with regard to the tasting panel for Decanter. A similar panel did the same with Chateauneuf. John Livingstone-Learmonth wrote me that it's frustrating. By the way, you still have your notes to post on Chateauneuf.

I like what I tasted from Baudry. Past bottles tasted of Alliet have been good, though polished. I missed tasting Joguet at the Salon. How are their wines now?

Best,
Lars


Me: Thanks, Lars. I simply don't understand those results. And some of the tasters are really qualified.
Anyway, don't you think it's too late for me to post my Chateauneuf notes?

I have an ever mounting pile of notes on a number of regions that I want to post but time just flies.

Re Joguet: I've got two cartons of Joguet samples waiting for me to taste. Right now I'm working on les vins du Centre (and have just finished Coteaux du Giennois). I didn't taste at the Salon this time as I have all these wonderful samples at home and I wanted to contact a lot of people at the fair.

Hello Jackie

As someone who is wrapt in both of your books (recently discovered) and your stories on FrenchFeast, I would hate to see blog comments 'interfering' with the flow of French Feast. FF is about one person's personal experiences and they deserve to stand alone because of your ability (gift) of expressing serious comment on seriously good wine and food, interspersed with an earthy honesty ("I could drink buckets of this wine") and sense of fun that is both refreshing and rare among wine and food writers. So many take themselves too seriously!

A separate blog section on your website will allow bloggers to comment on your FF experiences as well as every thing else on this earth - it is not unusual for one blog comment to take on a life of its own.........159 responding comments taking the discussion to places that eventually become unrelated to the initial point.

FrenchFeast is Jackie Friedrich personified - please keep it that way.

Best wishes
David Hailes

p.s. As one who lives on the other side of the world (Australia), sometimes when I read about your wonderful French wine and food experiences shared with such interesting people, I hate you.


Me: David, thanks for this lovely email. I only wish you'd sent this to me ten days ago. You don't know how I've agonized over where to put the blog. The restructured site isn't 'live' yet so I've started switching things around. And I put all of FrenchFeast on the blog page. I may leave it there for now but I do like your point. Well, I can always change it and I'm always open to suggestions. In the meantime, might I suggest that rather than hating me, you get together with a bunch of friends, open some good bottles and make some simple, nice food?

December 28, 2007: I just noticed that Terry Theise quoted part of the following email discussion in his German wine catalogue. The email back-and-forth took place almost two years ago. I was writing the Alsace chapter of The Wines of France and tasting Champagne samples. I need to point out that I was reading Terry’s catalogue on his Champagnes and the discussion started when I found I didn’t “get” what he said he “got” from one of the wines.) (I have cut a bit of the meandering.)

Me: What's wrong with me? I've tasted two terrific Vilmart wines but only got faint wood in one and zero wood in the other (the '96 Cuvee Creation). I must say that I didn't get the smoky woodsiness you got tho I did get the lunar silvery aspect.

TT: There's nothing wrong with you; I had two entirely different impressions of the last 2 Cuvée Creation `96I've tasted.

Me: Care to share those impressions with me?

TT: I thought one was spiky and unknit and the other was more seamless and more deeply fruity. The awkward one was at the winery last May; the good oneover here in late October.

Me:The one I had was absolutely seamless, deeply fruity but also bracing, cut like a diamond, shimmering with vivacity. BTW, I think I may be going off the deep end right now with Deiss and Zind-Humbrecht!

TT: Easy to see why. I had ZH's 2002 Goldert Muscat a few weeks ago and nearly wept, it was so beautiful.

Me: But I'm getting worried about my Vilmart reactions. (Nothing unusual, I always question myself.) But I had a wonderful champagne -- although not as terroir-driven as the other cuvee I tasted -- and I didn't taste any wood. (I think Andrew Jefford questioned the use of oak combined with lack of malo. But you'll get no such complaints from me. Who is right? Is there a "right"?)

TT: Rhetorical though your question was, I offer an answer nonetheless. And the answer is: NO.

Me: You see, this is where we get into discussions of taste and it's valid, I think. After all, I've seen (famous wine couple) totally disagree about particular wines.

TT: I like to think intelligent tasters of good will are able to agree on broad matters of aesthetic values even when they disagree about individual bottles. And I also hope people like you and I can discern the difference between a matter of toe-may-toe vs. toe-mah-toe and a more fundamental disagreement. I'd say if there's something illuminating in your complex responses to Vilmart, then do please share it with us. I like wines which evoke complex responses!

Me: Well, I've polished off the Vilmart and am about to taste a Margaine rose. (You see, I DRINK all these champagnes.)

TT: If it's the same degorgement I had last May you're gonna have the very sheen charmed off your cheeks by that wine. I tasted it and a nanosecond later I had a huge crush on it.

Me: Well, I don't know if it was the same disgorgement or not. Drinking it was sheer pleasure -- and I have enuf left over for today. I think it's a really, really nice meal champagne. But it didn't do to me what the champagnes from Gimonnet, Vilmart and Larmandier-Bernier (to name just 3) do.

Re Deiss and ZH: I wonder if you agree with me on the following proposition: maybe, just maybe, there are other wines this inspired and heartstopping in the world. But I can't imagine wine being "better" than this. I mean, how much can you demand of a wine? How much can you demand of Bach? Deiss and ZH are making the vinous equivalents of the Mass in B Minor.

TT: In my German catalog {note: TT now quotes part of this discussion in his German catalogue.} I quote David Schildknecht's definition of"perfect" as "better than which cannot be imagined". David's an armchair-philosopher and is interested in the ontological aspect of the question: how can we claim there is a "perfect" wine? I think his locution grounds it in a reasonable subjectivity.

As regards your two Alsaciens, I don't drink either of them often enough to assert my "agreement" with you,but I'm inclined to agree based on my limited experience. And I know whereof you speak; I feel it often at Müller-Catoir and Dönnhoff, to name but two. Again, I'd love to see you answer your own rhetorical question "How much can you demand of a wine?" That's the kind of wine-writing I just can't read enough of. I'd also find it fascinating if you identified your own tipping-point, i.e. what exactly is it that finally convinces you a wine is "perfect"? For me, a wine enters my palate and the first thing I notice is its gestalt, followed by its innate flavor - or Flavor - followed by any intricacy it unfolds, followed by a sense of the harmonies of those elements, followed by a sense of their length. And all of these things can amount to a sort of hypothetical "perfection", but my own tipping point is a feeling of sadness. This is an aspect of my own response to beauty - or,again, Beauty - to which I'm especially sensitive. When I feel the wine has sent me somewhere, or perhaps taken me somewhere, larger, older and deeper than itself, then I feel the presence of the sublime. And that is my marker for perfection. It's no accident your analogy was to religious (i.e. divine) music. Or so I suppose.

Me: Maybe it’s the laywer in me but "better than which cannot be imagined" is flawed: one can have a failure of imagination. Also, I'm not sure that "perfect" is the right word. It's like scoring 100. And it leaves out the very important factor of “context.” I might, for example, find that a certain Touraine Gamay was "perfect" for an autumn Sunday picnic with rillettes and goat cheese on a hill in Candes St Martin overlooking the confluence of the Loire and the Vienne. I think contex may be key, at least when you're using numbers or words like "perfect." is the Mass in B Minor 'perfect'? Is Van Gogh 'perfect'?
One of the problems -- as we all well know -- is finding the words to describe intensely sensual and subjective experiences. I use the word subjective in a restricted sense.

I do believe that there are objective standards -- for painting, music, wine, etc. but once we agree on those, then the value or reaction beyond the basics becomes subjective.

I have just finished the Margaine and have tasted a somewhat disappointing but nevertheless tasty Cote Rotie. So maybe that definition would work with a little tweaking: better than which people with broad, deep experience cannot imagine. But let's ditch the word 'perfect.' it's too loaded and reminds me too much of numbers. Also, think about how we judge beauty in humans: Elle McPherson is "perfect;" Brad Pitt is "perfect."

Are you sorry you started all this?

TT: In a sense I don't care what we call it, and I agree with your wariness about "perfect". But maybe we have to find SOMETHING to call it, I think. And we have to describe it somehow, so that people have a chance to see what we mean. For me it is a quality of incandescence. And you're absolutely right, it isn't like comparing a 100-watt with a 60-watt bulb and saying the 100-watt is X-percent "better" or closer to some notion of perfection. It is something that suddenly blazes into light.

Not sorry at all: this is the most fun I've had in weeks.

Your Feedback Needed

Many people planning to come to the Loire write to me asking which winemakers to visit, which restaurants to go to, which hotels &/​or B&Bs.

Do you think I should propose a pay-as-you-go service for readers (or others) visiting the Loire (or other French wine regions)?

What are the services you would find most useful?

a) Advice on winemakers/​hotels/​restaurants? (Explain, if you like.)

b) Setting up appointments with winemakers? (Ditto.)

c) Making restaurant and/​or hotel reservations? (Ditto.)

d) Conducting a private tasting?

e) How much would you be willing to pay for the above services?

I welcome your thoughts as well as other ideas you may have on the subject.

Thanks,

Jackie

December 24 - 28, 2007 Dear Jackie,

Although I never tasted '97 Banneret, I like your choice for "Wine of the Year." Back in March, I met Madame Vidal by chance and later visited her at the domaine. I knew about this special barrel and the tragic story of her son.

As regards destemming and old-fashioned wine-making (in the best sense), I would put Jean-Paul Versino at the top of my list. His wines have soul. They also have a similar blend as Banneret and Vieux Telegraphe, though the latter destems most grapes.

Merry Xmas and Happy New Year!

All the best,
Lars


Me: I've thanked Lars personally. I've also asked him -- and now you -- to send comments/​reactions concerning so-called traditional methods of vinification.

Jackie,

Thanks, too. I'm glad you posted it. It's a thorny issue to destem or not-to-destem. The other day, I read a review from Clive Coates in regard to Jayer. The latter supposedly felt it brought nothing to the finished wines. Then again, DRC ferments with whole bunches.

In Chateauneuf, I can only think of a handful that still ferment this way: Versino, Banneret, Clos des Brusquieres, and Pegau. Even longtime traditionalists such as Clos des Papes (since '93 vintage), Le Vieux Donjon, or Mont-Olivet destem now.

Although it's not my style and obvious self-promotion, would you add my last name and link http:/​/​moselwinemerchant.com/​ to my earlier post. You never know if a viewer might have an interest in our portfolio.

Sincerely,
Lars

P.S. Clos des Papes: 100% destemmed; Clos du Mont-Olivet: since a few years partial (flexible) destemming; Le Vieux Donjon: roughly half destemmed since '97, '04 all grapes were removed.


Me: What about Henri Bonneau? And are you really sure about Pegau?

Hello

Enjoyed your diary.

I am a relatively small wine importer in Bermuda and import a good number of Loire wines , including several of your favorites. I put on a number of wine dinners each year and wondered whether you would ever consider a visit to talk about the region.

Specifically I was thinking about a few dinners over the course of a few days. Perhaps a visit could be combined with a trip to the US as we are only a couple of hours away from the East Coast. We would provide accomodation and airfare from the US . I also assume you have a speaking fee. Let me have your thoughts on this. My web-site is www.bermudawine.com.

Best regards

John Sharpe


Me: I've responded to John personally but would like to pass on something I said to him: I rarely get to the United States. If you and a group of friends would like me to put together a wine tour of the Loire or another French region for you, let me know.

Dear Jackie

A group wine trip to the Loire sounds interesting. I will sound out a few people. Funnily enough I have only been to the US once since 9/​11 myself. Something to do with George Bush!

All the best

John


Me: Everything to do with George Bush!

December 13, 2007:

Dear Ms. Friedrich, I have enjoyed your books,and articles and now pleased to find your web site. having enjoyed many trips to French wine country, and mail ordering many of those wines from various importers and wine stores around the USA, I became determined to buy and ship some wine home. This required surmounting many obstacles, the state where I live would be impossible, finding a shipping company, and of course finding an estate that would provide the export papers. Of course my complete lack of French didn't help either! One year it was to be an English Antique shipper, but when arriving back in Paris with eight cases of Rhone wine they explained that they didn't have the proper authority to ship wine, and also, I didn't have the export papers anyway. Luckily my wife(she speaks fluently, have been a ballet dance in Ballet du Nord) and I came home thru Chicago and customs charged me 18 dollars to clear the wine. So next year we just took the shipping boxes, got the car at CDG and headed south, and passing thru Chicago, the customs officer said it wasn't even worth creating a bill and waived us thru, (eight cases in luggage, and 18 bottles carry on. But still I wanted to ship wine home, despite everyone in USA and France saying this was impossible! Finally I read a blog where a shipping company was mentioned, and I contacted a V.P. and he directed me to his station chief in Sorgues. Of course he didn't speak English but gave me on of his staff that did. We corresponded for many months, she did not think I could clear the wine, but for some reason never gave up, finally she was able to ship the wine to my chosen port via Lufthansa. Now she told me that I would have to get the export papers to ship the wine. I faxed several wineries in the Rhone, but got no response. Upon arriving in France I called her, and she again expressed doubts that I would be able to get the papers. My wife and I went to a wonderful place in Cairanne, Madame had the fax and apologized for not responding. When my wife explained what we trying to do, she called the shipping company and verified what papers where required and said no problem! I turned to my wife and told her let's just do all 12 cases right here. Picked out the wine, came back two days later, paid, loaded up and drove down to Sorgues. The wine was weighed and the bill presented, and I plucked down 800 Euros, and that's when the head man said no cash! I had been told in emails that no credit cards, but cash would be fine. Immediately, the office erupted with everyone joining in, and all I could do was smile and let my wife handle me through another fine mess! eventually calls where made and the cash accepted, and we returned home a few days later, and I drove eight hours to another state and cleared the wine with no problems. Several questions, does anyone else do this? The only way the company will ship is air freight, and now with the euro this is to much, I need a company to do it via sea shipment, would you have any suggestions? Thanks for reading...Bill Schmitt


Me: Does anyone have any ideas -- short of suggesting that Mr.Schmitt apply for an importers license? Though I think he secretly enjoys these little dramas.

December 7, 2007: First, note to Ed Paladino: No, my publisher never told me about your kind offer to come to your shop for book signings. No surprise there. I've taken to referring to them as Flat Tire Press. But the point is moot as I haven't been to the USA in nine years!

And now Lordtroglodyte follows up:

Bon Jour,

Thank you for your response. Now that I know you are there I will take some time and try and paint a bigger picture. I have spent three months living in Montsoreau and I find having a five liter box of white wine on hand perfect for an occasional glass and for cooking. We got a Brocard Chablis here in a three liter box many years ago but it was a one time thing. It seems to me it would be cheaper to ship BiB then bottles. I found my wines have still good acidity a month later. Between Pierre-Jacques Druet, The Cadys, the Baumards, the Joguets, etc, my baggage is spoken for.

I was in Montsoreau April, May, and September. I was told July and August are the main concert seasons. I will return again in April and will try to return in July this year. With any luck the sewer will be hooked up by April. The lady at the campground charged four euros for a shower but the guy said just wait until she's not looking. Worked for me.

I had wonderful meals at the Unicorn and next to the church in Candes. In Saumur this old cabbie from Paris has a 9 euro 90 meal. The house looks like the Bates motel. [an old brothel as legend has it] It is on the river just west of the main roundabout next to the cinema. Great local flavor but student grub. Not to be missed once and time may be running out. I find from Montsoreau my world goes toward Saumur and not Chinon. In reading your blog I sense you live more towards Chinon.

I will return in April until mid May. I would love to meet you if you are in the area. The Sunday market in Montsoreau is wonderful for an Oyster breakfast by the river. I would also be up for any wine events/​tastings if you would allow me tag along.

Thanks, and talk to you later. Phil


Me: Thanks, Phil. I've been asking around to see if any large-ish structures send BiBs to the USA. No responses as yet. Will keep you posted.

Fontevraud's concert season is fairly long and pretty active around Easter. You might get their schedule. (It's probably available online.)

I suspect panic about finishing Loire #2 will have set in by springtime so I'll be pretty much of a hermit. But you can always reach me here.

December 2, 2007

Hello Ms. Friedrich,

Last year I got lost and bought seven caves behind the gas station in Montsoreau. Why can't I get any Loire box wine here in Los Angeles and what can I do there in the evening except sneak into the campground for a shower? Any help would be appreciated.

Thanks, Phil Ross


Me: (For the purposes of clarification, I take the liberty of revealing Phil Ross’s various akas: Rossputin and Lordtroglodyte.)

Dear Phil,

I’m going to respond on the assumption that your email was serious. First, Bravo! Getting lost behind the gas station at Montsoreau takes talent. I thought I was the only human similarly gifted with a negative sense of direction.

Next, why would you want to buy BagInBox Loire wine in Los Angeles? The cost of transportation alone would make it one of the worst ratios of price-to-quality you’re likely to find. If you really want that Loire BiB, I suggest visiting your caves more often, buying some sur place and schlepping them back to LA with you – in your bag that goes into cargo of course.

Evening activities: if you’re impassioned by troglodyte caves, know that you’re not alone. There are a number of societies with names like Les Amis des Troglodytes who hold reunions, conferences etc. You might meet some like-minded people. Also, Touraine and Anjou have ambitious concert and conference series. Check out the Chateau of Montsoreau, Fontevraud Abbey, Candes St. Martin, Chinon in general and, in summer, les Jeudis Jazz, and so forth. Word of advice: you can probably make a deal with the campground to use their shower while you’re waiting to install plumbing in your cave.

Hope this helps.

August 24, 2007

Dear Ms. Friedrich,

My wife and I are off to the Dordogne for our summer holiday staying just outside Bergerac for a fortnight. We enjoy wine and I have been devouring information from your site and trying to order The Savvy shopper guide in time!!!

We are hoping to visit either Chateau Latour or Lafite Rothschild so we can see what it's like at the "top"end of the industry but were looking for some mid priced (10 to 15 Euros a bottle) to lower priced (5 to 7 Euros) suggestions so we can afford to stock up with a few cases and have something great to drink on a regular basis. We buy between 60 and 100 litres or so, most of which is for drinking over the coming year but will also buy a mixed case (or two if funds allow!!) of better quality (20 Euros upwards) wine for high days and holidays. I have an old favourite from Chateau Peytirat just outside Bergerac and one in St George St Emilion that I will be buying a case from again. We enjoy St. Emilion wines but lack the knowledge to pick out anything from the other domaines in and around Bordeaux.

If you could suggest a good shop in the area who will deal with someone wanting to buy relatively small amounts and a few chateaux who are not yet commanding "top" end prices we would be very grateful.

Many thanks for your help and for the help your site gives.

Chris and Tracey Robinson


Me: Here are twelve recommendations. Most of them will be in the 12 to 20 euro range, though domaines like Chateau la Colline may have entrée de gamme cuvees that cost less.

Offhand I don’t know of good shops in Bergerac but I can try to get some information for you. When are you leaving?

Also, in my recommendations I’ve stayed within the areas you mentioned. There are other possibilities in the Dordogne (and the Lot) for reasonably priced wines. For example, Clos Coutale makes a delicious, under 10 euro Cahors, as do Chateaux La Caminade and Cosse-Maisonneuve.

Details on all of the recommended domaines -- as well as a slew of other possibilities -- are in my book, The Wines of France. Have you tried Amazon or WHSmith?

Bergeracais:
Clos des Verdots
Chateau Moulin Caresse
Chateau Barde les Tendoux (look for this in the local Leclerc)
Domaine de l’Ancienne Cure
Chateau la Colline (owned by a Welsh iconoclast)
Chateau Tour des Gendres

Bordelais:
Domaine de l’A: Cotes de Castillon
Chateau Puygueraud: Cotes de Francs
Chateau Reignac: Bordeaux Superieur
Chateau Clauzet (St. Estephe, very fine and very reasonably priced)
Clos Puy Arnaud: Cotes de Castillon
Chateau la Prade: Cotes de Francs

Bon voyage and happy tastings!

August 2007

Responses to the news that there will be a new edition of the Loire book.

I wake up on my birthday to find that you will have an updated "Loire" book published. One of my all-time favorite books. Wow! I guess it's happy birthday to me! Thanks for all your hard work. I keep both of your books with me everywhere I go and I give them as gifts. A huge fan. John-Ohio P.S. Glad you now have "high speed." You're going to love it.

Me: I do love it (high speed) and thanks for your comment!

On 8/​08/​07 4:38 PM, "Steven Lanum" wrote:
I, for one, would love to see a new edition of this book (asap, before these wines catch fire and their prices increase). I refer to the first edition regularly, even though Loire Valley wines ex-Sancerre are barely available in the Bay Area (though we now seem to have reliable supplies of the likes of Huet, Chidaine, and Alliet). But here's a tip in all seriousness: go to John Livingston-Learmonth's website, www.drinkrhone.com, and read, on the home page, of his experience in revising his tome on Northern Rhone Valley wines. In essence, he devoted years to the project (also published by UC Press) and says that so far he's earned something like $4000 for all his efforts. I don't know if that's a UC Press thing, a Northern Rhone thing, or something else, but I have his book, find it as comprehensive as yours, and was pained to learned that someone worked that hard for what probably equates to about $1 an hour. Obviously I hope you do a lot better.

Your latest book, in which I am still unearthing witty nuggets on a regular basis, will be with me in Paris for the month of October and will make the rounds of most of the wine shops recommended therein (plus La Cave Insolite, about which I have also heard good things). I look forward to many new discoveries.

Cheers and good luck! --Steve Lanum


Me: Steve,

Thanks for the encouragement. A couple of comments:

While waiting for the new version of the Loire book to come out, please check my Loire notes on my website.

I must check out John's website. (I love his Rhone book.) Regarding payment, he said the same thing in the Circle of Wine Writers journal. The amount most of us authors get paid is distressingly low. We clearly wouldn't do what we do for anything but love.

As I'm sure you know, the Cave Insolite is owned and run by Francois Chidaine and his wife.

From Steve
On 8/​8/​07 7:18 PM, "Steven Lanum" wrote:

Two more things:

I'm sure your readers would like to know, if such a thing can be predicted, when they might expect to see the new edition in print. I'll mark my calendar!

Also, your site mentions that you offer to guide visitors on an afternoon's crawl through wine bars in Paris. Please let me know what that runs (for one or two people).

And I hope YOU don't mind, but I recommend your book on a friend's website where I am the so-called wine columnist: http:/​/​www.blissfulkitchen.com/​articles/​article_naturalwines.html


Me: I don't know if the Chidaines are the owners of the Paris shop. I was thinking of the shop in Touraine.

The new Loire book probably won't be out for at least two years. But I'll keep readers up to date on my website. And, of course, you're free to ask questions.

Unless you're a rock star or an oil magnate, the wine bar crawl is probably too expensive for one or two people. If you can put together a group of, say, six, however...

And, please, keep telling people about the book as well as about my website.

From Lars Carlberg:

Jackie,

I'm happy for you and will pass the word to friends who enjoyed reading your older edition. It seems you landed a good publisher, as well. No constraints, I assume.

Suggestions? I don't really have any now. Besides, the Loire is not my expertise. I think it's a great opportunity, because the area is becoming more recognized and admired. Burgundy is too expensive. Bordeaux the same and more commercial. The Rhone has become somewhat popular. As in all regions, alcohol levels are on the rise and northern climes have a better chance with the onset of global warming.

Best,
Lars


June 2007

Hi Jacqueline,

I stopped and picked up a bottle last night and got online to find out more.

It wasn't referenced in your books, but a retailer in Columbus, OH wrote up a nice piece for Memorial Day that seems almost like fiction.

It's at this link: http:/​/​blog.serendipitywineshop.com/​2007/​05/​27/​everyday-is-memorial-day-for-pierre-ragon.aspx Older tasting notes provided by the importer are here at this link: http:/​/​weygandtmetzler.com/​producershtml/​ragon.htm
John-Perrysburg, Ohio

P.S. I received my maps from Anthenaeum the same week I ordered them. Thanks for the help.


Me: Glad to have helped re the maps. I'm sorry I can't yet reproduce the hyper link. I'm learning. I'll get there soon -- I hope.

May 2007 De: "Peter Brown"
A : info@​jacquelinefriedrich.com
Objet : The Wines of France

Dear Jacqueline,
I'm so glad I posted an entry on Jancis Robinson's purple pages quoting your Loire book. Your response alerted me to the existence of "The Wines of France" , which I bought immediately via Amazon UK. Its very good, exteremely well designed and your opinions agree with mine where I can check them. So I'm sure you will lead me to many good things I dont know.

Though Ten Speed Press has done a good job for you I would comment that their UK agent has done a lousy marketing job. I'm an avid reader of all wine related information, scan various websites, read journals and I'd never seen a mention of your book here. I would have picked it out instantly as I've owned the Loire book since shortly after it was published. Anyway, I've got it now and I can see myself buying copies as presents for friends.


Me: Thanks, Peter, for the encouraging words. And advance thanks for getting the word out. I'll send a copy of your e-mail to Ten Speed. I was amused to read the extensive quote on Joly from my Loire book in your post on Jancis's site.

Jacqueline,

Where in the world have I been!

I own and regularly drink a few quality Loire Valley wines when I'm able to get them here in the midwest. Last week, having decided to make this year 2007, (the rest of the year anyway), my "year of the Loire" when drinking wine, I bought your "Wine & Food Guide..." I was blown away. After looking at it for only a half hour I decided to order 2 more copies for friends. Today at my office I received your "Wines of France..." Now somone is going to have to pick me up off of the floor. I can't wait to get home and spend time with it. I may just have to leave the office early!

I read frequently but unfortunately for me, I've overlooked your writings until now. I just wanted to let you know how useful they will be and how much I'll be recommending your books and website to all my friends. I feel like I've just discovered gold in my backyard.

Thank you for all your hard work. I intend to make the best use of it. Forget my "year of the Loire." Your books inspire me to spend a much, much longer time there.

Sincerely,
John-Ohio

P.S. Are you remotely aware of any color "vineyard maps" of the Loire similar to the Pitiot & Poupon maps of the Cotes de Nuits/​Beaune that I might be able to hang on the wall?


Me: Thank you, John. It's always heartening to hear from enthusiastic readers. Regarding the maps, I think the Poupon maps are the best but I'm not sure they're still available. You might try checking with the Atheneum book shop in Beaune. (Let me know if you need the address. But you should be able to get it on internet.) Also, I have a map sitting next to me that is pretty good. The information given is as follows: Atlas de la France Vinicole L. Larmat. 65, rue Montmartre, 75002 Paris. tel: (0)1.42.36.20.83. I don't know whether or not this address is still valid but, again, the internet should help.

Your website is outstanding! It is such a pleasure to read for someone like me who has always loved the Loire, and I plan to very quickly a) get the book b) use your tasting notes extensively and c) take one of your tours. I live in London, so getting to Paris isn't a problem. Do you conduct your wine bar crawls on weekends? How much do you charge?

There is only one wine merchant in London who gives the Loire the credit it deserves: its called RSJ (they have a French restaurant of the same name) and here is the website:

http:/​/​www.rsj.uk.com/​rsjretailintro.htm

They invite growers from the region and hold tasting dinners - would be fantastic if you did one such in London. In fact, I'm going to suggest it to them.

Cheers,
Rajeev Joshi


ME: Many thanks Rajeev. The Loire book is a bit dated by now. I will probably be writing an updated version -- more on that when contracts are signed -- but, in the meantime, The Wines of France is pretty current with regard to producers, particularly when supplemented with info on this site.

Re Tours (of wine regions), Tastings, Wine Bar Crawls: Nothing planned at the moment but, if you can get a group together, contact me and we can work out the details. Price will depend on many factors, eg how many you are, how many wines you want to taste, how many wine bars you want to visit, whether or not a meal should be included. So feel free to get back to me.

Jacqueline,

I have thoroughly enjoyed reading your Wine and Food Guide to the Loire as a reference in advance of a trip a group of us are taking to the region starting next week. I recognize that the edition I have was printed back in 97, and that some of the recommendations regarding restaurants might not apply today. After our group visit Domaine des Baumards next Thursday, I have booked us into Les Tonnelles - largely based on your positive comments and your inviting description of the town of Behuard. Just wondering if you've been there more recently and if you'd still recommend it? I also note that you didn't make any reference to restaurants or shops in the town of Saumur itself - where we are to be based (the Anne d'Anjou). Any suggestions? ( If you more important things to do with you time than respond to some fairly trivial questions I understand! In any event - I love your book and look forward to an updated edition soon!)

Regards,
Cathy Martin


Me: Thanks, Cathy. Let me take things point by point. First, Behuard is not a village but an island, an enchanted island. It's pretty much of a pilgrimage site for me.When I was doing my research in Anjou I always went there to chill out.

Les Tonnelles does have very good food and a very good wine list. For me, however, much of its charm is due to its location. If the weather's fine, ask to sit outside, under the tonnelle. (Service could be better but the food is good enough and the location is magical so you've made the right choice.)

Saumur recommendations are tougher. My feeling about the town is that the best place to eat is outside of it. If you wanted to picnic, Saumur has a great Saturday market and a number of nice food shops. Where eating out is concerned, Saumur has a lot of adequate but unexciting restaurants. For something fun and different, not to mention delicious, my choice would be les Caves de Marson in Rou-Marson, about a fifteen minute drive from the center of Angers. It hasn't changed since I wrote about it in the Loire book -- where you'll find a description on page 356.

I hope to be updating the Loire book. In the meantime, you'll find updated info regarding producers in my new book, The Wines of France.

Have a great trip and give my best to the Baumards!

March 2007

Hi Jacqueline,

I have been enjoying your web site immensely! Way to GO!

After reading both your books, I bought some various bottles of Domaine l’Ecu 2005. We had a bottle of “Cuvee Classique” tonight. If do you see Guy Brossard, would you please give him a hug and thank him!

Happy in Vancouver Canada!
Brian Sohn


Me: Thanks Brian. I expect to see Guy and Annie Bossard in April. Happy to transmit the hugs!

January 2007

Me: Mystery Reader, Reveal Thyself! Some very clever person -- with excellent taste -- has written a review of my book on Amazon. (The title is so good, I wish I'd thought of it myself.) It's signed "A Reader." I think I know who it is but, hey, why not reveal your identity? You'll probably find other dog lovers on this site, including yours truly.

Hello--I am "A Reader" in San Francisco if that's the amazon.com review you are referring to. Every time I dip into the book I am delighted (as well as frustrated by what I'll never be able to find). Based on your recommendation I grabbed a bottle of 1997 Domaine Cady Cuvee Volupte last week ($40 here), and it was sublime. Last weekend I tasted all the 2005 Huet secs and demi-secs and they were otherworldly. Wish I could afford boatloads. And thanks for calling me clever!

Based on your Christmas entry you write about people as well as you write about wine.

Cheers.

P.S. Wow, I must be dense (or the 2004 Foillard Morgon I'm drinking must have gone to my head) but I only just figured out the dog reference--you looked at my other reviews.


Me: Steve Lanum, I knew it was you! Clever is only part of it. For starters, your title (if memory serves, A Wine Guide Hater’s Guide to French Wine) is really brilliant. Sounds like you’re drinking some wonderful stuff. Don’t despair about the wines you think you won’t find. First, they may get to the west coast; second, you may get to France and taste them here.

If I ever finish the Gardening Day entry I’ll move on to New Year’s. I must say that I’m a bit embarrassed that I drink such (relatively) modest stuff compared to the trophy wines other bloggers describe having drunk over the holidays. But not only are these wines scrumptious and well suited to the context, IMHO they also have quite a lot to say. In any event, I should finish both narratives – with, I hope, some good wine recommendations – in time for the Salon des Vins de Loire. (And you can be sure I’ll have plenty to say about that.)

Now about those dogs: Yes, I looked at some of your other reviews and, while I share your appreciation of lieder, I’m nuts about dogs. Since I travel all the time I can’t have a dog and consider myself dog deprived. I have been known to borrow dogs.

December 2006

Hi--

While reading your description of your new book did not particularly pique my interest for some reason, I had the good fortune to see a copy in a bookstore and took a few moments to leaf through it. Thank goodness I did because I've really enjoyed reading your insights
about wines and regions that are both familiar and unfamiliar to me.

If only all of the wines you praise (especially those from the Loire Valley) were available in the U.S. Most 'wine guides' are all but useless drivel but this one makes great reading--so much so that I'm neglecting the rest of the book pile.

Also of interest to me was your reaction to Eric Asimov's review.

I'm in agreement with him in that I, too, feel that you show a marked preference for 'hypernatural' wines as you describe them (along with waterfalls!), but I consider that an extremely positive aspect of the
book. Indeed, if I hadn't sensed such an emphasis I'm not sure it would have been of as much interest to me.

(I can see why Kermit Lynch would write a cover blurb for you--all of his producers are in the book! That's OK; his shop is my no. 1 source for wine.)

Cheers.

--Steve Lanum


(A:Hi Steve,

Thanks for writing.

When you refer to the wimpy description of my book I assume you’re referring to the paragraph that ends with the sophomoric advice to sit back with a glass of pweee fweeesay.

I’m both pleased and chagrined to hear that. Pleased, because I HATE that paragraph too. Chagrined because I have been trying – obviously without success – to get the publisher to remove it.

Moving on to hypernatural wines. I really don’t have a marked preference for them. I spend a lot of time on them because, though you’d never know it from most wine media in the US, it’s an extremely important trend. I also admire what motivates the winemakers in question. But this is a risky form of winemaking – possible problems include rapid oxidation, brettanomyces, refermentation in bottle and on and on. My hope is that these winemakers will keep their idealism but make less fragile wines.

As for waterfall: mea culpa. It’s one of my biggest compliments.

As for Kermit Lynch: it seems we have similar palates. I’m honored to include myself in that “club.” For the record, I knew and loved many of the producers in question before I learning that Kermit imported them. And I think he’d be the first to tell you that I turned him on to Bernard Baudry.)

Mme Friedrich,

While living in southern Belgium on a 5 year military assignment, I accidentally became acquainted with the wines of Loire when someone recommended I might enjoy a bottle of 1997 Françios Pinon Moelleux. Never a great admirer of white wines let alone white sweet wines, the wine was an awakening for me. From that point on I have had been infatuated by the Loire Valley and its wines. Part of that experience was coming across your book in a Belgium book shop. Now residing back in the US, when I am among friends who enjoy nice wines, they are often surprised and puzzled, when I tell them... the greatest wine experiences I’ve had are the wines of Loire and Alsace. Thanks for your book on the wines of Loire, I refer to it constantly. I’m waiting for an equally well written book on Alsace…and hoping it will be written by you.

Regards,

Dan


(A: Dan, thanks for the lovely letter. Francois Pinon is, indeed, a wonderful winemaker -- and his wines offer some of the best values in Vouvray. You'll find him in my new book "The Wines of France" which updates my evaluations of the producers of the Loire. While I'm not planning a book specifically on Alsace, I do spend a lot of time there in "The Wines of France." Like you, I adore the wines from that often overlooked region. Some of the most brilliant and memorable wines I've ever tasted come from its Grand Cru vineyards. And let's hear it for sweet wines, too! I often think that people would fall in love with them if they actually tasted a good one -- just like you did. And they're so useful -- great as an aperitif, super with many, many savory dishes, sublime with lots of cheeses, and occasionally marry well with a desserts though I'm not a big fan of sweet on sweet.)
BESPOKE WINE TOURS

Many people planning to come to the Loire write to me asking which winemakers to visit, which restaurants to go to, which hotels &/​or B&Bs to stay in.

So, I'm wondering: would you like me to:

a) Set up your appointments with winemakers?

b) Make restaurant and/​or hotel reservations?

c) Conduct a private tasting?

d) Arrange a one-day, two-day, or more itinerary?

e) Accompany you on your tasting tour?

If so, please send me an email. Also, read the text below for other possibilities.

Proselytizing doesn’t end with writing. I preach the pleasures of wine in many different ways--in tastings, in wine-oriented tours of Paris and in custom-tailored tours of wine regions.

Sample Tastings include basic wine appreciation (The Pleasures of Wine 101) or themed tastings, focusing on a region, a grape variety and/​or a style of wine. (These can be organized on relatively short notice.)

Sample Wine Tours of Paris:

a) a wine-bar crawl at aperitif hour. We stop in two, three or four wine bars, I explain the mechanics of tasting (if desired) with the first wine at the first bar, we move on and we snack and sip for an hour or two;

b) half day or full day in which we visit a couple of wine bars, wine shops and end with a food-and-wine pairing meal (lunch or dinner) after having met the sommelier and visited the restaurant’s cellars.

Wine tours in wine regions: depending on the destination--and your energy--one, two or three day itineraries in which we visit three to four wineries a day, leaving time for at least one nice, long meal (and, if desired, two). We’ll taste regional specialties and sample the best wines.

We’ll also get special treatment as I know most, if not all, of the people involved. (There will also be ‘down’ time--to nap, shop, meander, and visit major sights.)

Regarding the possibility of events anywhere/​anytime: see my response to Rajeev's letter in TheMailRoom.

Watch this spot. Or contact me.