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…

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…

Lessons from a Biodynamic Winemaker in France

I take a notes like a squirrel on the bird feeder – fast and and full, getting it all down before someone changes the subject. You’ll know me by my notebooks. More often than not, however, the stuff that really sticks with me doesn’t require a scribble. My memory serves in certain moments where everything…

The Good Wines of Lirac

Last fall I spent some time with winemakers in Lirac, a cru located across the Rhône River from Châteauneuf-du-Pape. I covered a significant conversation with Rodolphe de Pins, winemaker at Château de Montfaucon and Co-President of Lirac AOP in a recent piece published on Palate Press: I’m in a vineyard on top of a graceful…

15 Years, 5 Houses, 3 Kids and 1 Wine that’s seen it all…

My husband has a pair of jeans that he calls his painting jeans. He’s kept them around for painting projects, each one adding to the mess that makes them the perfect source of memories: here is the Ralph Lauren red from the upstairs hallway; here’s the Phillipsburg blue from the dining room; here’s the pink…

A Gigondas from the Cellar

During a visit to Gigondas last fall, I had lunch with Thierry Faravel, proprietor and winemaker at Domaine le Bouïssière. Thierry and his brother Gilles are second generation vignerons, tending vines planted by their father Antonin, who grew grapes for the co-op for 41 years (not uncommon in Southern France). The family vineyards are in Gigondas,…

Lessons for 2017: Wine writer edition

Poised. That’s what we are. We’ve got 2016 buckled to our backs and 2017 about to pop. Does a new year mean anything to you? Or is the completion of a past year more meaningful as a milestone? I’m in the mix, I always stand looking back (and gushing that it has gone too fast)…

Holiday Wines from Southern Rhône and Provence

  The dishwasher is finally empty. The tablecloths are washed. The tree is up. This means…we’ve wedged between Thanksgiving and Christmas and in my house we are celebrating everything. Whatever comes our way gets decorated, wrapped, sang to. This isn’t just our house, I get the feeling…everywhere you go (it’s beginning to look a lot…

Books for Winelovers

November is National Novel Writing Month, NaNoWriMo in writer-code. During this month, writers are challenged to write a 50,000 word book. The NaNoWriMo community provides support, inspiration and tracking functionality. There have been several years that I’ve participated, and I’ve gone on to complete a partially-prepared-during NaNoWriMo story, the one that has emerged as my favorite…

Winemaker Rendezvous: Bernard Duseigneur of Domaine Duseigneur

  Today we welcome a rendezvous with Bernard Duseigneur, winemaker at Domaine Duseigneur. The 30 hectare estate spans Châteauneuf du Pape, Côtes-du-Rhône Villages Laudun and Lirac. 17 weeks ago I clicked on an Instagram photo of of three bottles of wine from Châteauneuf du Pape. “Wonderful,” I commented. “I’d love to try.” “If you come over here our…

Tour de France: Mount Ventoux Wines

A kindly giant who watches over the aromatic garrigue scrubland and the carefully tended vineyards, Mont Ventoux shelters wines conducive to sharing and close companionship – celebrated with a fragrant, flavourful centrepiece. ~ CHRISTOPHE TASSAN Sommelier and Rhone Ambassador The Tour de France 2016 Stage 12 of the Tour de France will route cyclists from Montpellier…

Will Travel for Wine

L’occasion Passport: what it means to me to move around the world to taste wine and meet winemakers. Contagious: The Travel Bug One of my early wine tasting trips was to a little town in Northwestern Illinois called Galena. Galena is one of those delightful spots, with a historical downtown, a river view, lots of charm. Ulysses S….

Sustainable Wines for Earth Day

April 22, 2016 is Earth Day. Ask any winegrower the number one ‘ingredient’ in their wine and they’ll answer: terroir. The land. The Earth. This post is a round up of some of the recent sustainable and biodynamic (biodynamique in French) wines that I’ve highlighted on L’occasion. (And one recommendation for the beer lovers.) Profile…

Welcome Spring with Fresh Food & Le Ferme Du Mont Côtes du Rhône

“Do not search in a wine for the reflection of an exact science. The formulas of scientific oenology are only a thin competition which does not know how to respect the mysteries of eternal creation.”  ~The late Jacques Perrin, Château Beaucastel, Châteauneuf-du-Pape Eternal creation. The mysteries of eternal creation… is there anything more beautiful? The…