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.

The Muscadet Merchant

•September 19, 2011 • 6 Comments


Joe Dressner and Marc Ollivier

A few years ago Joe changed my life by simply standing behind a winemaker by the name of Eric Nicolas who works as hard as winemaker in a tiny mostly unknown Loire appelation, Jasnieres, with a grape, Pineau d’Aunis, that is even more obscure than the places it is grown in.

With the bottles he brought in he taught a lot of people a lot about wine, and more importantly he taught people about the people that made them.

Joe wasn’t merely working with muscadet, he was working with Marc Ollivier and Pierre et Monique Luneau-Papin. Buying a bottle of wines Joe brought in wasn’t merely buying an AOC or a brand, it was buying the people, the land, the history behind the wine. This is easier to do in Burgundy than in Muscadet where folks fight and fawn over bottles that could be traded for a car rather than a $13.99 bottle of wine from a place known more for supplying vacationing Brits than grand terroirs.

But Joe loved to drink these wines. He loved the people behind these wines. he thought there was a purpose and a force to celebrating what Eric Texier called a “culture of wine” of people farming the land, making wines like people used to when wine was both something to put on the table and a part of something larger, something that connects us all to produce, to work, to food. Before wine became an international commodity dominated by brands and made by laboratories.

Picking up a bottle of wine, turning it over and seeing a Louis/Dressner label is reassuring not because of the back label, but because once you turn the bottle back around you know there are real people behind that label because Joe, Kevin McKenna and Denyse Louis had met them, had talked to them, had seen the vineyards, had seen the work, had drank the wine.

Joe once said “Last night, I drank a beautiful bottle of Bourgueil Clos Sénéchal 2005 from Pierre Breton. It was sublime and reminded me that I used to be healthy. Not only that, the vineyard used to be there before I existed. It exists independently of my having cancer and will continue to exist. You ought to buy some.”

This is important. People oftentimes pass wine as a triviality, but Joe reminded us with every bottle he brought in that thereexists a Thierry, an Eric, a Didier, a Pierre and his succesor Manu, a Marc, an Arianna, a piece of land, grandfathers, sons and daughters, businesses, cultures, work, generations before and generations after, joy, hardship and these things are worth it.

Joe will be missed, but picking up a bottle of humble Muscadet from Marc Ollivier can bring all this back.

Thanks Joe.

The Wine That Was

•May 31, 2011 • 1 Comment

On Saturday night i was at the house of a friend, catching up and drinking wine from his cellar. As happens with these sorts of things the night spilled over into the wee hours of the morning. More friends showed up and more bottles were opened. It was a wine crowd, that thoroughly geeky animal which can argue aglianico for an hour while others say “what the fuck is Aglianico?”

At some point, midway through the discussion my friend hops up and runs down to his cellar for the third or forth time, and brings up one of those wines that, for me, is a sort of holy grail, a wine made by the great Chinon producer Charles Joguet before his retirement. Charles Joguet, for those of you don’t know, was one of the true masters, one of those rare vignerons spoken of in hushed tones even among the truly gifted.

Joguet brought his gifts to bear on an appellation that was, and still is, humble. No one is going to get rich making Chinon in small quantities which makes his gifts all the more impressive. Like a handful of vignerons in Muscadet or Beaujolais he was working in an area where increases in quality can mean very little. This isn’t Burgundy where merely passable can net you outrageous prices, these are areas where quality can often times mean going broke. These are people working the great unknown terroirs of the world and, through force of talent making them great. Hopefully someday the books will record Clisson and Clos de la Dioterie among the greats, but only because Marc Ollivier and Charles Joguet recognized they could be and devoted there life to showing that. Recently i saw these pictures of Cannubi in Barolo taken during a visit to the late, great Bartolo Mascarello’s winery. Cannubi isn’t much more than a humble hill at the end of the day, it exists independently of people, but it is because of people like Bartolo Mascarello we remember these places, they attach meaning.

i have had only a few opportunities to try the wines that Joguet himself made. They are not expensive even now, but the trouble is finding them. People who have them what they are and hang on to them. They are wines with a Schwarzchild radius all their owndrawing in focus for days and weeks afterwards (the first bottle i had is seared on my memory, a part of my vinous memory will always know what Clos de la Dioterie tastes like, at least for one year, while long ago scows have hauled off the detritus left from flashier bottles).

It is a curious legacy, this memory. There are still bottles waiting to be drunk of Joguet’s wine, but like all wines the actuality is over in a single night. We’re peering backwards into what someone did years ago in a different place but we only get to see it briefly and the filter is a bottle of wine, an impermanent thing if there is ever one. All that work, all that history, hardship condensed into something that we simply interpret as pleasurable. Later, when someone mentions the wine we smile. We can talk about the facts, soil types, cellar work all we want but it’s that smile that really counts.

Sadly, this bottle was corked. It is something that happens. It wasn’t the end of the world, and it made me want to get reacquainted with Joguet if i can. The Joguet of 1995. Or maybe the Joguet of 1985, or of 1989. Hopefully i’ll get the chance again, and when the name comes up again, i’ll smile that much more.

-Cory

Hiatus

•April 22, 2011 • 8 Comments

Joe Dressner gave me a call right after i stopped the blog and convinced me to go on hiatus because he was sad to see it go, so i’m heeding his advice. thanks Joe!

Well, I’ve finally decided that I no longer have the want to keep up this blog, so i’ve decided to go on an extended. It’s been fun and i’ve enjoyed it but i need a good break and maybe the blog will never be back, who knows. Thanks for reading and for your feedback and most of all for drinking great wines made by great people who actually give a shit, a rare commodity these days.

Thanks to the Hanks, Erics, Didiers, Steves, Bartolos, Ariannas, Anselmes, Nadys and Charlys, Marcels and Mathieus and all the others who make this all just a bit better.

Cheers,

Cory Cartwright

Natural Cali

•April 18, 2011 • 1 Comment

These two Canadian brothers Martin and Matthieu Carel have been touring California and interviewing winemakers who have started to get back to concepts of terroir instead of technology in winemaking. Here’s the trailer and from what i can tell everything looks tickety-boo (apparently this is something Canadians say, or used to at least).