Thursday, September 23, 2010

Now THAT'S Good Wine Writing

I just got the new Art of Eating, issue number 85. I always enjoy this magazine, Edward Behr's journal in which passionate scholars of food and drink discuss in vivid and personal detail the things that they love. This issue is particularly exciting to me, as it features work by two of NYC's hardest working wine professionals, both of whom I now know at least a little bit.

Levi Dalton, my friend and the head sommelier at Alto, in the monthly column entitled "Why This Bottle, Really?" writes about one of his favorite Fianos, the Pietraculpa Fiano di Avellino. In just a couple of paragraphs he provides context for the wine and describes in detail why it is special. Fiano is a wine that I had never heard of until last year at around this time when I went to Convivio for dinner and put myself in Levi's hands, omakase style. With my grilled sardines he served a glass of Fiano (I don't remember which one), but I remember how the smokiness of the wine and its great clarity made my sardines taste impossibly good.

David Lillie, one of the owners of Chambers Street Wines, one of the finest wine stores on the planet, writes a full length article called "The Flavor of Stone" about the wines and producers of Muscadet. It immediately, in my opinion, becomes the best place to begin reading and learning about those wines, the people who make them, and the place where they are grown.

At the end of the article, David briefly discusses a plan in the works that would change the appellation status of some of the finest wines of the region. Top producers such as Marc Ollivier, Pierre Lunea-Papin, André-Michel Brégeon, and others are making great wines that showcase specific terroirs within Muscadet, and often involve lees aging for longer periods than are allowed under the appellation rules. Ollivier's Granite de Clisson is a prominent example. Growers are petitioning for Grand Cru status for these wines, and it will be interesting (and quite possibly very frustrating) to see the results as they unfold. For anyone interested in Muscadet, this is an absolute must-read.

These great pieces remind me of what it is that separates great wine writing from the more common kind of blogging that I do. In reading these pieces, one learns something of the author and a bit about the way they personally experience the wines, their professional take on the flavors and aromas. But these pieces contain more than just tasting notes, opinions, reminiscences, pairing advice, and other bloggerly type work. There is actual fact in here, fact that frames and perhaps forms the most important part of the stories. One comes away smarter after reading, not simply entertained.

Congratulations Levi and David! I hope that you both find ways to continue writing about wine.

Oh, and by the way, The World of Fine Wine now hosts a blog and my friend Peter Liem, another of the world's finest wine writers, will be a regular contributor. Anyone familiar with WOFW knows that four times a year it is an incredible work of science and art. It attracts some of the finest and most learned wine writers in the world, and it is a well deserved honor for Peter, already a regular contributor to the quarterly journal, to write for the blog.


the vlm said...

OK, so we must be sharing the same alien brain this week or something.

Didn't know about Peter having a new blog, that's great news. Which reminds me I need to get in touch with him.

kosher said...

this magazine looks interesting, gonna check if its still available near us.

Joe Manekin said...

Good to hear about the World of Fine Wine blog. If you will allow me a bit of snark on your fine blog, hopefully this blog will not cost $200 a year to read, and will not include articles composed largely of tasting notes on 50 year verticals of DRC.

[Five minutes later] OK I take that back, the blog looks great, and it's free. And a yearly subscription to the magazine is not $200, it's only $169.

On to the snark free...Indeed, both AoE pieces you mention are enlightening and well written. David's article, in particular, was so informative, concise yet thorough. I wish that David's writing would be published for all to read more often.