New Roots Along the Canal du Midi

Ventenac-en-Minervois is a small village in the Languedoc, in the Occitanie department of southern France. The local cave is located on the Canal du Midi, a traveler’s dream of a waterway that was once used to transport wine across the country via barges, such as the Marie-Therese, a restored boat docked outside. Replanting an UNESCO Heritage Site The Canal du Midi…

What We’re Drinking: Wines from the South of France {#Winophiles}

Boomerangs, sunscreen, ice cream, adhesive labels, pianos, violins, scooters, slippers and even pool tables are some of the things that are made in Occitanie. For our purposes, the French Winophiles are more interested in the drink that has our affections: wine. Occitanie is the area that many of us call the Languedoc or Languedoc-Rousillion –…

Merlot: The Busy One

On my kitchen counter, at that very moment, was the collection of Merlot that I planned to feature in this post – all of which hail from either Napa or Sonoma. And I was reminded that while everything is impermanent, wine included, that wine is the essence of moments – the structure of life and vibrancy and nature and work – packaged for us to evoke the actual elements of vitality from any given spot where wine grapes can be grown.

It’s Time for Languedoc Wines

a chance to explore and share the landscape, people, flavors and wine of this beautiful region. Situated near to Provence, Bordeaux and Northern Spain, this region expresses stunning topography and miles and gorgeous vineyards of ever-increasing quality.

Chianti Lessons

Sometimes I wonder if what I read and hear is actually true – especially about wine. It seems that the line between subjective and objective, between opinion and fact, between authenticity and artificiality has been blurred, even rubbed out, at times. And even on this, opinions very. WSET standards are intact to codify taste and…

What Does it Mean to Be Made in France?

Earlier this month, I lined up a set of wine bottles from France. Each one from a unique and stated region, each one bearing a label like a little luggage tag: here is my home. To the French people, their government and producers indication of these regions is of the highest importance. While American consumers…

A Château in Provence

I wrote the book before I’d been there, which may seem a backwards way to craft a novel. But by the time the book had been outlined, characters created, fictional wines made this place had begun to feel like home. My novel isn’t about this place exactly, but it is about the feeling of this…

The Grapemakers: People Behind Napa Valley Harvest

During a recent trip to Napa, I heard this phrase frequently: in the industry – Some of us in the industry get together for a tasting. We offer a special price for others in the industry. My husband are I are both in the industry. People in Napa Valley wine country associate with one another on these…

The Plurality of Portuguese Wine

Earlier this year I had the opportunity to write about The Douro Boys. This is a group of winemakers from five quintas (the Portuguese term for wine estate) that have put their energy together to make wine drinkers more aware of the variety of wine coming out of their UNESCO-recognized region. “Together, they’re putting the…

Growth in Oregon Wine: Here’s Why

The Oregon Wine Board recently released its Oregon Vineyard and Winery Census Report, revealing growth in many aspects of winemaking and grape growing in their state. While the numbers illustrate realities, here are a few wines to try (after all, that is what it’s all about) that bring home salient points from the report. Report…

Ancient + Native: Rural Festival Emilia

Isidoro and Giovanni Lamoretti cultivate indigenous Italian grapes on their hillside farm near Parma, Italy, neighboring the Torrechiara Castle. They maintain dedication to a particular varietal, Lambrusco Maestri, known for soft creamy bubbles. Ancient documentation shows that Lambrusco grapes have been cultivated in the region since 160 BC. To call them ancient is, well, obvious –…

Drink Occitanie: Domaines Paul Mas Winemaker Bastien Lalauze

After a recent trip to the Languedoc (known now, departmentally as Occitanie) I’ve noted several themes running through the wine conversation about the area, present both in southern France and abroad. My recent conversation with Bastien Lalauze, winemaker and estate manager sustainably-farmed Château Martinolles in Limoux, a sparkling wine property in the Domaines Paul Mas family brought to life these themes, illustrating where practice and perception are coming together in a very exciting circuit

Mapping France in Wine Bottles: Where to Get Affordable French Wine

If you have the impression that finding affordable wine in France is hard – it is definitely time to revisit that stance. My husband and I have taken several road-trips through France, meeting winemakers and tasting wine – much of it high-quality, AOP wines with price-tags that need to be forgiven for their modesty. Where…

Find Your New House Wine: French Wine, Priced Right

Before our tastes tended toward the eclectic, my husband and I employed a house wine. A very affordable bottle, a Southern Rhône blend, that we relied upon for nearly any occasion. When recent guests (my cousin and lifelong friend and her husband) came to visit, they asked for recommendations. I shared that lately I’d been…

Affordable French Wine

Affordable is an arbitrary term. We all have our personal price preferences for wine we purchase to drink at home or at a restaurant. For most of us, triple- or quadruple-digit pricetags are out of reach for everyday drinking. Let’s say that around $20 (~€17, ~£15 at the moment) is affordable. Sure, you’ve seen the…