“No more wind turbines in Chablis. Both winegrowers and the people have had enough!”
This was the subject line of an email that crossed my desk recently. I’m no stranger to wind turbines — the structures are a common sight across Midwestern farmland — so the email caught my eye and I ended up in touch with Julien Brocard, vice president of the association Vents Contre Air and Chablis vigneron at Domaine Jean-Marc Brocard.
Brocard and his associates at Vents Contre Air oppose the proposed installation of seven new 150-meter-tall (nearly 500 feet) turbines in the village of Prehy, a stone’s throw from Domaine Jean-Marc Brocard. “The main objection is the visual intrusion, but we don’t know the impact on the frost, hail, etc.,” says Brocard.
“The turbines are a risk for wildlife,” says Brocard. “There …
Readers of L’Occasion and my column at Forbes must be interested in biodynamics. It is one of the topics I cover regularly because I have an interest and because I have a background writing about sustainability.
Prior to my exclusive focus on wine (food and travel too), I also covered yoga (I’m a certified teacher in the Iyengar method), mindfulness and ecology. I was the ‘green’ section editor at elephant journal, where I was also a contributor. In that time I interviewed Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein, covered beat poet perspective on the planet, reported on Keystone XL, zero waste, plastics bans, oil addiction, climate change and sustainable businesses (including Guinness, which, in a full circle pattern, I’ve also covered for Forbes).
Moving Into Wine
Why did swap my beat from green to wine? Both topics are interests of mine …
Sicilia DOC is a consortium of 300 Sicilian+ wine producers with a rich history of winemaking and a connection to the ecology of the island via a significant commitment to organics. In fact, Sicily winemakers are responsible for 38% of organically cultivated wine in all of all Italy.
Alberto Tasca is a member of the board of Sicilia DOC. He’s also the seventh-generation of a winemaking family with a legendary history. In his work on his own estates as well as with the consortium, Tasca has a reputation for championing indigenous grapes and preservation of the Sicilian ecosystem. I had the opportunity to converse with Tasca about his perspective.
Jill Barth: What is the landscape for production of indigenous grapes in Sicily? Are producers tending towards native grapes or international varieties?
Earlier this week I read an upsetting story about plastics in the ocean. By no means, the first or the last that will cross my desk, this piece was particularly haunting and it occurred to me that aside from lessening plastic use in my own life, I would make it my goal to highlight wine producers that have their hands in the clay on this issue.
Italian Food, Wine and Travel
Simultaneous to this contemplation, I am in the midst of covering Italian island wines, Sicily in particular, as part of a this month’s Italian Wine, Food and Travel (#ItalianWFT) event. Sicily has a lot going on right now, wine-wise, so I have stumbled upon several totally compelling stories to share with readers.
When I got the opportunity to interview the team from …
I have a new piece on Forbes that I loved researching. An exciting renovation includes tales of forgotten wine, Thomas Jefferson visits and sheep in the vineyards. Read it all here.
The 2018 harvest marked the next phase of life for Burgundy landmark Clos de la Commaraine. Located in the esteemed Côte-d’Or, the property includes 3.75 hectares of Pommard 1er Cru vines which are fixed in a monopole, now operated by an American couple with plans produce biodynamic wines. The last wine made under the single estate Commaraine name was in 2002 — since then the grapes have been sold to Maison Louis Jadot and produced under …
I’ve had the opportunity to cover several aspects of biodynamic and organic winemaking recently on Forbes. I try to cover biodynamics as much as I can, and I’d like to be sure readers of L’Occasion know these stories are available. Thanks for reading, here or at Forbes, and for sharing your stories with me.
Alois Lageder is a 54 hectare (135 acre) family winery in the stunning Alto Adige region of Italy. Here, every function is carried out biodynamically. “Quality is the fruit of many individual, mostly small, often unpredictable details. By paying close attention we can recognize these hidden connections,” says a video produced by the family.
This has only happened to me once, but because this isn’t the first time I promise this is indeed not a habit. Winophiles publish day rolls around and I don’t have what I need to satisfy my planned post. This happened in 2016, when I didn’t get my Jura wines and actually ended up writing a post from France and still without any wine.
This time, it’s a bit different. I have my wines but couldn’t connect with my sources — two women working in the wine industry in Champagne — in order to tell their story. And I’ve promised, based on the title, to offer some advice direct from these professionals.
This month I’m hosting a wine writer’s event centered on the Island Wines of Italy. In researching for the event I’ve learned that there are more than 450 Italian islands. 350 of them are in the sea, either as an element of an archipelago or a singleton. There are 100 lake and lagoon islands, of which Venice comprises 32 of them.
Maybe, when I chose my topic, I should have been more specific?
There’s Sicily, a prominent and significant Italian wine region. There’s Sardinia, a mélange of French and Italian varieties and methods. But what else is out to sea?
Look in the Bay of Naples for Ischia and Capri and Pantelleria reaching off towards Tunisa. The Aeolian Islands produce a signature… but what else is out to sea?
If you know, here is your chance to join in our event which is …
Joško Gravner‘s vineyards and cellars in Oslavia—in the Friuli region of Italy, stitched to the border of Slovenia, where one of Gravner’s vineyards exists—are infused with the philosophy that “nature offers everything we need.”
Gravner’s practices have ascended into highest levels of the cosmic and natural energies of life, elevating the ideas of biodynamics to “let the vine cycle come full circle year after year, calmly.”
“Calm is what we need to live through the season and face hardships,” to quote Gravner from his website. “To watch time go by, knowing that this is the right thing to do for the wine that’s waiting.”
As France’s oldest wine region, Provence is infinitely important to the global history of viticulture. The region was settled by the Phocaeans around 600 BC, and it’s believed that the Greeks were responsible for the dawn of winemaking and grape growing in ancient Provence. These early wines were pale, made in a free-run fashion with a flash maceration.
Provence History and Appellations
By the 2nd century BC, an alliance was formed with the Romans, and evidence of their influence is still felt in modern-day Provence. The Romans began crafting red wines, but rosé still held sway and white and rosé wines were reserved for the aristocracy and clergy.
Rosé is still closely associated with Provence, yet many consumers connect it to a lifestyle of holiday and free-wheeling. …
It was pretty much the full expectation, before my trip to Uruguay, that the country’s signature grape would have to be paired up with grilled meat.
And it’s true, Tannat and Parilla––meat cooked over an open fire––is very much a thing. But, it turns out Tannat from Uruguay is packed with freshness. To a wine, Uruguayan Tannat is not harsh––based on my recent tasting of around 120 wines from Uruguay, a large portion of them Tannat. This makes it an exceptionally food-friendly offering.
Some excerpts from my tasting notes:
“satiating acidity, mineral earth + acid = elevated freshness”
“dried herbs and fruit, elegant and fresh”
“structure that keeps the fruit alive”
“fresh and juicy black fruit integrated with acid”
If you follow along on L’Occasion or our social media, you’ve noticed an uptick in coverage of South American wine, Uruguayan wine in particular. Hopefully, it’s been enjoyable, because this weekend I’m hosting a wine writers’ collaboration event—Wine Pairing Weekend—during which a group of wine, food and travel bloggers zoom in on a particular topic. On Saturday, February 9, 2019, at 10am that topic is Uruguay!
Here’s what to expect…we each write a post and join together for a chat. And YOU are invited, no need to do anything but pop on Twitter and find us to say hello and ask questions.
Join us on our blogs and on twitter with the hashtag #WinePW to go behind the curtain on our discoveries:
Angelo Fongoli of Azienda Agricola Fongoli in Montefalco is a winemaker I’m getting to know in the process of mentally shadowing biodynamic wine growers and makers.
I’ve covered the basics and then some—more on that here if you are new to the topic—so I have a growing interest in how these farms and wineries achieve and maintain balance. It seems to me that the system works unless it doesn’t (or it isn’t attempted) and I’m curious about the tipping point. More to come on this project, but the bottom line is, I’m learning from Angelo Fongoli others that work and think like him.
I’ve sampled his wines, a selection of Sagrantino made in several methods as well as red blends and single varietal whites including Grechetto and Trebbiano. Fongoli also produces grappa and olive oil, which I haven’t tasted.
Montefalco is situated in Umbria, a hillside town that earned …
It’s a 9+hour flight from Miami to Uruguay’s capital city, Montevideo. It’s worth it if you love wine, excellent food, natural beauty and enriching conversation.
Sure you do, right? But if a ticket to Uruguay isn’t in your airline reservation app just yet, join the Wine Pairing Weekend group as we report back. Featuring wines from around the country, we invite you to follow along for our Twitter chat on February 9, 2019 at 10am central.
I’ve recently returned from a trip to the wine regions of Uruguay, peppered with intriguing spots such as Montevideo, Garzón, Punta del Este and José Ignacio. I have tons of gorgeous photos and tasting notes to share with you and I’ll be sampling the wines of El Capricho Winery especially for the #WinePW event.
An American upbringing saves heritage cider for discovery, but now is the ideal time to experience the revitalization of this age-old drink.
I grew up in the country, in a house my dad built by hand. A horseshoe of woods surrounded our place and the front door enjoyed the obligatory Illinois view of a cornfield. It was a life of growing things: two Irish Setters (and the occasional mama cat and her babies), a garden that did better some years than others, a warren of beehives off-limits without supervision, ticks, hummingbirds, mint patches, mosses and anything green that could survive the Midwestern season shift.
The fanciest (or fanciful) sign of life, to me, was an innocent strand of juvenile fruit trees. An orchard, if you like. Overall, it was unproductive, with a few apples enjoyed by the pollinator community when they hit the …
My first visit to South America was last year and I must say that before the trip (it was to Uruguay), I realized that many American wine consumers think that South America is all Malbec.
Well, pretty much all Malbec.
While it is true that Malbec may be a signature grape in Argentina, it isn’t all that grows there. According to Wines of Argentina data, Malbec runs about 36% of red wine. Next up, with about 16.5%, is Bonarda. Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Merlot and trickle down from there.
Flip the script to white wines and the biggest cultivar is Torrontés Riojano at about 20% then Chardonnay with 16%. Following are Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc and Torrontés Sanjuanino. Interestingly, the biggest category for white wines is “other”, socking the system at nearly 43%. Wine friends, you know you want to swim around in the “other” category …
Italian red wines always have a place in one’s cellar. There is such a wide range to choose from, why not have a few on hand? While not all wines are meant to age, many Italian reds have the bones to sit in the cellar until called upon—meanwhile, many can be enjoyed whenever, albeit with a bit of decanting.
How can you tell if your wine is actually meant to age? If you have the luxury of a second bottle of any particular wine, enjoy a glass tonight and come back to the bottle tomorrow (or even the next day). Any improvement or stability in the wine after it has been opened shows structure that indicates potential cellar aging capacity.
You also want to sleuth out tannins. More tannins when young (even if they aren’t quite friendly at the moment) signal the benefits of cellar time. Tannins act as preservers, …
Sauvignon Blanc from Uruguay over-delivers on value, freshness and flavor. It’s affordable, interesting, food-friendly and delicious— balanced white wine for any season.
Where Is It?
Uruguay is located in South America, a country of just under 3.5M people nestled between neighbors Argentina to the west and Brazil to the east. The southern border of the country is coastal, shared with the mouth of the Rio de la Plata and the wide-open Atlantic Ocean into which it empties.
On the opposite side of the river lies Buenos Aires, a ferry ride away. The capital city is Montevideo which is located on the mid-Atlantic coast—drive a couple of hours east and experience Punta del Este, a beach resort city popular with jet-setters around the globe.
Where to Learn More?
I had the opportunity to visit Uruguay recently and in the course of the trip, I met the …
I have a theory about the winter holidays, no matter one’s faith or origin: We need them to warm up our hearts.
I am a certified yoga teacher (in the Iyengar method) and one thing I’ve learned as an instructor is that people are anxious. I estimate that most of my students, at one time or another, considered anxiety a problem in their lives. They came to yoga to escape that feeling, a sense of looking ahead and plotting course against fear and worry.
The holidays seem to provide some element of respite from living in dread. Why? Because the holiday season permits us to pause and enjoy, to savor, to think of others besides ourselves.
That warm feeling is ephemeral, but it is so wholesome and we hope to fill up on it during winter holidays in order to thrive throughout …
Looking for a suitably sophisticated wine selection to serve during winter holidays? Head to Germany, a source of inspiration.
Similar to many western European wine regions, winemaking techniques were carried to Germany by the Romans, along with their other tools of conquest as they set out to claim the Alps over 2,000 years ago. It wasn’t until the 8th century that a solid German wine commerce took hold, under the imprint of Charlemagne and led by the winemaking monks. Many winemaking families trace legacies back generations, and by this I mean way back (14 generations or more—or back to the 16th century, something like this is inherent to nearly all of the wines I studied for this story).
A preference for beer poured into Germanic regions during the middle ages and the decline of vineyards continued through phylloxera, though plantings always remained a part of the …