Joel, Amanda and Gangy

•April 13, 2012 • 1 Comment

The other night, as i was taking my dog Gus out, there were Joel and Amanda standing, as they often do, in the middle of the street. There was no traffic, but i still had to stop a few cars and herd the two of them over to the bush they’ve sleeping under. i was talking to them the whole while as my neighbor looked on, quite perplexed.

Joel and Amanda are two mallards who have taken up residency under my bushes for the spring. Every evening they come off the lake and waddle over to the bushes quacking happily at each like an old married couple. It isn’t quite red-tailed hawks and no one is going to set up a webcam to watch them, but they are my ducks and i’ve grown rather fond of them, and everytime i see them in the middle of the street i instantly start to worry. Perhaps this spring they’ll be leading a troupe of ducklings around. i hope so.

Two months ago my Grandmother Gangy died. Her real name was Carolyn but i never called her anything else, and the only time i ever used the name is when someone asked me what her birth name was. To us Grandkids, she was always Gangy. Gangy was a lifelong birder, the type of serious birder who got excited about all the birds in the sky, not merely the flashy birds, the rare birds. She was perhaps happiest looking out the window of her kitchen to see what birds alighted on her little patch of Earth, and the records of the birds she kept during this time, first in College Station and after in Moab, Utah, are nothing short of amazing.

It’s hard realizing that i have no more Grandmothers left. Gangy left behind 4 children a mess of grandchildren, and she got to know here great grandchildren.

So when my wife gets a little embarrassed because the neighbors watch me talking to the ducks outside, or when I’m patiently herding them out of the street i just think of Gangy. I’m not doing these things for her, but rather because of her. She taught us all by example how to recognize the little things, not just birds but all of it, the sunrises, sunsets, quiet nights alone, a good glass of wine with friends, a walk through the woods.

So as sad as i am, i am happy to have known her. Thanks Gangy.

6 Years

•April 6, 2012 • 1 Comment

So how does one go from being a videogame designer to a wine importer? It’s a question i get asked a lot, and usually i relate the whole story, but the answer is actually quite simple when i think about it. One has to have the best wife in the world beside them.

Working as a game designer i was making quite a lot more than i am, but i was deeply unhappy. The hours are long, the stress is through the roof, and the work at the end of the day was unrewarding. Not something you want from a job many people still describe to me as their dream job.

During this job however, i started to get into wine. And not just get a mild interest, a full blown obsession. i started a blog. i started drinking pineau d’aunis. i discovered the Thierrys, the Ariannas, the Maupertuis, the Texiers, the Beas of the world. i met Guilhaume, Luc and Dagan at Terroir. i had something to keep my mind off work, but my wife still knew that i was unhappy.

So, one day the boys at Terroir offered me a job. This isn’t the sort of thing that you do lightly, take a gigantic pay cut to go tend bar. I was conflicted, obviously, but strangely my wife wasn’t. She told me in no uncertain terms that this was what i should do. That she would support me in this.

Later Guilhaume and i decided that perhaps being bartenders wasn’t the best thing for us. The wine was right, but i am entirely too quiet and him…perhaps the opposite. So one late night over NOPA burgers we opened a magnum of Jerome Lenoir’s Chinon that Guilhaume had carried back from France. It wasn’t imported. Maybe we could actually do this we thought, and Selection Massale was born.

And again, my wife told me in no uncertain terms, that yes, this is what i should do. We put our savings into a business that had no chance of paying off for years. We paid for a warehouse for almost a year while the licensing went through. She was there when i came home with Frantz Saumon and Jerome Lenoir in my pocket. She sat and waited while a volcano grounded me in London for 10 days after 2 months in France. She talked me down when US Customs called me to tell me they were going to fine me 20,000 for a paperwork mistake on our first shipment (luckily they didn’t, and lesson learned). She supported through all the months we weren’t getting paid because we wanted to buy more wine.

Six years ago today we were married in a federal bankruptcy court surrounded by funeral flowers (a story for another time). i thought i was the luckiest guy on Earth that day. Six years later i know i’m the luckiest guy in the world.

Thanks for everything , sweetheart. I love you.


•April 4, 2012 • Leave a Comment

I’ve been lax on the blog for too long, but in the interim I apparently did this interview with Hoke Harden on what spirits I like.

“Making” Wine

•March 15, 2012 • Leave a Comment

This was passed along to me and I thought I’d pass it along to you. It’s a very blunt, interesting take on how you can “make” wine. It’s stripped down and perfect.



•March 12, 2012 • 3 Comments

Last week I learned that Lou in LA is going to be under new ownership. Lou Amdur opened a wine bar in LA that catered to the stranger tastes in wine, the Cour-Chevernys, the Mt. Etnas, The Arbois. It’s a hard job, that, convincing people to try wines they’ve never heard of, to appreciate producers rather than grape varieties or labels, to say for the 1000th time that no, there isn’t any Chardonnay by the glass.

One of the hardest things you can do in wine is come up with a great list with very little money. If you have millions you can make a list that looks like millions, packed with blockbuster auction pieces. It is harder to do with a few thousand dollars, buying wines you believe in but that no one else has heard of.

Lous accomplished this by being honest to his taste. I sold wine to Lou and the thing that impressed me most is Lou bought what he liked. He never asked me prices until he was done tasting, and he only asked prices of the wines he liked. He could have asked for everything, to try and figure out margins, to make more money but then the whole enterprise wouldn’t have been as Lou Amdur, it would’ve just been another wine bar, I wouldn’t have received 60 text message on Friday asking if I knew what was up.

So before Lou ends his time at his bar, stop by and say goodbye, or if you haven’t been say hello for the first time.

Thanks Lou!

The Best Way to Open Wine

•January 11, 2012 • 2 Comments

Guilhaume and i have a problem leaving corkscrews at tastings, which leaves us with nothing at the warehouse. Our solution has been to devise a homemade corkscrew. It works as well as any 120$ device and it’s impossible to lose.

The Ross Test

•January 10, 2012 • 4 Comments

There are a lot of tasting tips on the internet, but really the one you need to follow these days is The Ross Test.

A Generic End of Year Post About Some Good Wines I Drank

•January 6, 2012 • 5 Comments

This is an obligatory end of year post that all wine bloggers have to do as a matter of law. It’s main function is to show off the wines I drank last year and make me look like an asshole. Please pay it no mind.

1990 Gentaz-Dervieux Cote-Rotie. This has long been on my list of wines i wanted to try before I die at the age of 42. Thankfully a friend tracked a bottle down i drank it. Beautiful, beautiful wine.

Olivier Lemasson “Everything Olivier Lemasson Makes” I would have no problem drinking Lemasson’s wines everyday. Seriously, this is where’s it’s at.

1999 Henri Gouges Nuits-St.-George. I have this friend who has the uncanny ability to open wines when they are showing well, even wines as notoriously testy as Gouges wines. When he saw i had this bottle he immediately knew it was good to go. An it was.

1995 Clos Roche Blanche “Eleve en Fut de Chene” Not sure of the exact composition of this one, but it was beautiful.

1989 and 1988 Maximin Grunhauser Spatlese. Sometimes wines can change your whole perception of everything. These were just such wines. Not only did this deepen my respect for riesling, but wine in general. It still seems like this wine is just on the tip of my tongue.

There were other wines, of course, but looking back through the year those are the ones that stood and punched me in the face when i tried them. My next post will be less generic, i promise.

-Cory Cartwright

Buy The Front Label

•December 20, 2011 • 2 Comments

Last Saturday i drank a bottle of wine. i drink lots of bottles of wine, some good, some bad. Some i sell, most i don’t. The good ones are invariably made by someone. This isn’t to say that wine isn’t always made by someone, it’s to say that it is made by someone.

This bottle was made by a gentleman named Marius Gentaz. Marius made wine in the Cote Rotie, which is a rather expensive appellation (well it is now). The Cote Rotie isn’t the important part, the important part is the Gentaz part.

You see there are wines that get by on the strength of something else. There are plenty of wines from Napa for instance that i wouldn’t drink at gunpoint (slight exaggeration, maybe a BB gun) but there is only one Cathy Corison, for instance, whose wines i will drink in a heartbeat.

People always tell me “buy the back label” as in the importers label, but i think we would all be better to actually buy the front label. There’s someone behind that label with their hands in the dirt, that was up until 3am for 3 weeks in a rainy harvest. Someone who was freezing their ass off in January to do the work. Find those people, the ones you like, get to know them. They put a lot of themselves into the wine behind that label. These things are important.

Happy Holidays from all of us at Saignee (well it’s just me).

Back from Hiatus

•September 24, 2011 • 5 Comments

It’s been a minute since i’ve been serious about this blog, but i’m bringing it back. Sometimes it can feel like self-glorifying wankery to write a blog (especially a post like this) but i feel like talking about producers and wines again.