Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Millésime Bio: Three days, too many wines and only one master sommelier

From "the times they are a changing" département

Somewhere in the last few days, here at Millésime Bio 2012, the subject of Gravner came up. Millésime Bio is a three day expo of organic and bio-dynamic wineries from France, Italy, Spain and all the rest who showed up. Pretty impressive showing for the natural yeast, sans sufre, bio-groupies. Nirvana for the hairy armpit lovers.

Oddly enough, friend Alice was nowhere to be seen. I reckon she was off in more fertile pastures, ensconced in egesta, harvesting the fruits of her desire. Still, there was plenty of folk at the show to make three days in Montpellier a time well spent. Outside it was La Californie.

I arrived in a sullied situation. Beat up from traveling in planes, lost connections, too many different climes, temperatures and changes for even this well-honed body, I finally succumbed to 14 hours in my own personal sweat lodge of a room. Not a pleasant way to spend time away from home. There is only one thing worse than being sick in a foreign land; that would be to be in jail in a similar setting. So I set myself a time and made it through the time period. Much better now, thank you.

Devon Broglie, the young wine buyer from Whole Foods and a newly minted Master Sommelier, met up with me and we tasted though a bevy of producers. Our tastes and attitudes are pretty much in synch. If the wine is natural (or not) it has to be 1) Delicious and 2) a good value. That’s where Gravner came into the conversation.

As much as I love the idea of the poet in his dark room with the amphorae, I must admit those wines do not resonate with my soul. Give me I Clivi. Those are wines I can dig into and there is plenty of poetry in the glass for me, with light and clarity. Gravner is too dark and heavy, both metaphorically and in deed.

But the world of the Organic and beyond, it is diverse. And there are plenty of expressions for all kind of takers.

As it stands, the category is growing. Fast. Devon told me he is aiming to grow this category to 25% of his wine sales. If anyone can do it, Whole Foods is perfectly positioned to take the lead. After all, with Wal-Mart converging along those lines in the food department, the trend is now touching massive amount of folks.

And the wines? What has resonated? I went and tasted Fatalone’s wine. While I don’t think their Greco is the best white wine from Apulia (we bloggers sometimes do those kinds of headlines for SEO) it was pleasant enough. But I had a natty Falanghina that Devon and I and Ken Chase, the wine buyer for American Airlines (maybe this will get me an upgrade?) kept going back to again and again. Crisp, some delicate fruit, not too tropical and not cat-scratchy dry and acidic. Well balanced. And tasty. Did I say we kept going back for more?

And that really is the crux of the issue, whether it is mainstream wines or the organics. Wine needs to benefit the drinker with pleasure. After all, if one wants alcohol, they could as easily buy a vodka (regular or organic) and mix it with orange juice (regular or organic) and get the benefit. As I looked around the room of people dedicated to the category of organics, whether they are the cross burning types or the “just do no wrong” version, there was a mellow devotional attachment to offering their best effort and to make it flavorful. Is that asking too much?

A Vita's Gaglioppo was pure joy (and all natty too).
There were more. In fact, I met some wonderful growers, sipped with them, supped with them. More on that if and when I am able. For now France is heading into my rear view mirror as I make my way to Piemonte in the next day or so. Till then make do with this little lagniappe from the Languedoc. Bon nuit, y’all!

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