A Stroll Through History On The Roman Road To St.-Emilion

Chapter Sixteen. Part Six.
St Emilion Church behind clos 3The wines of Bordeaux were my first oenological love, a passion I’ve shared with my wife Caroline for over thirty years. To rekindle our premier amour we visited Bordeaux and like the forgotten vignerons, monks and armies before us, we hiked an ancient Roman Road through historic vineyards to get to the higher place known as St.-Emilion.

The Roman Road, built to service a triumphant empire 2000 years ago, is now protected from development and allows travelers to walk through Bordeaux vineyards first planted in the 2nd century. As it passes through the vineyards of Chateau Franc-Mayne it is little more than a path strewn with broken cobblestones, sloping gently upward as if propelling you to a higher purpose. This seems somehow fitting as the road leads to the medieval village named for the Friar Emilion, a reclusive 8th century monk who achieved sainthood

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Bordeaux Has Class

Chapter Sixteen, Part Three.
Don Carter's Take On NapoleonPeople are always asking me to explain the term Classified Bordeaux. I might be in the emergency room and the attending physician will say, “Can you explain Classified Bordeaux, and by the way this thing has got to come out,” or I’ll be buying a bottle of Chateau Lafite-Rothschild and the cashier will say, “What exactly is a Classified Bordeaux and that will be $18,000 please.” Since the Bordeaux Classification rarely changes, my answer is always the same; “I can tell you but then I’ll have to kill you because it’s classified!”

On the other hand, regular readers of WineSnark have already died a thousand deaths by sitting through countless recycled jokes like that one so you deserve to know how Bordeaux got its class.

Back in 1855 when I was just a toddler, Emperor Napoleon III requested an official classification of the Bordeaux wines that were to be presented at the Exposition Universelle de Paris.

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A Look At French Wine Laws

Chapter Sixteen, Part Two.
Donald eyeballing wineFrance has hundreds of wine appellations that are broken down into three quality levels; Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée (AC or AOC), Vin de Pays (VdP), and Vin de Table (VdT). These designations are controlled by the Minister of Agriculture, under the auspices of the Institut National de l’Origine et de la Qualité. Rather than adopt the logical acronym INOQ, the organization retained an earlier acronym INAO (for Institut National des Appellations d’Origine) so they wouldn’t have to replace the stationary.

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Loving Wine, In Spite of Itself.

84th Writers Digest Writing Competition honorable mention copy

Look, I know the drill. I’ve been there myself. You’re in a wine store reading those little signs in front of each wine when you start to feel out of place, kind of like one of those Duck Dynasty guys who mistakenly wandered into a gay pride parade.

Shelf talkers, as they’re known in the trade, tout the virtues of the wine at hand and usually contain a wine review from a magazine or newspaper. As you read something like, “this wine displays aromas of galangal root caressed by nuances of Louisiana road tar,” you find yourself thinking, “I never smell and taste these things in my wine and what the heck is galangal root anyway?”

So I’d like to start by correcting a common misconception caused by these shelf talker wine reviews. No one slipped cat pee into your Sauvignon Blanc or horse manure into your Burgundy. They smell that way on purpose.

Really.

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New Jersey Wineries Are Bringing Home The Bling.

Alba Vineyard in Milford New Jersey.

Alba Vineyard in Milford New Jersey.

I recently picked up a brochure about all the great things happening in New Jersey. It was a very thin brochure. As I perused the pamphlet I was beginning to think there’s not much to do here once you’ve seen Lucy the Elephant (six stories tall in Margate) or visited the world’s largest light bulb (14 feet tall, 8 tons in Edison). But then a section about New Jersey wineries caught my eye.

I was shocked to learn my beloved state is now host to approximately fifty wineries. As recently as the year 2000 there were only a dozen New Jersey wineries and after visiting one a few decades ago I didn’t see any reason to build more. Fifty New Jersey wineries reminded me of that old joke about bad diner food; “This food is horrible, but at least there’s lots of it.”

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