Monday, February 27, 2012

#WINELOVER’s Travel Log: South of France (February 19-26, 2012) - Part 1


After this last trip to France (I’m writing this on the plane), I thought it would be nice to start to start something new on my blog: a travel log.

Not only it will be good for helping me keep a good record of all my travels and activities (my accountant will be really happy about it), but it will also add some structure to what, at times, seems to be an infinite journey through different wine regions of the world. Pictures help to give people a better understanding of what is going on, so I’ll be including a few here. If you like pictures and have enough time for the entire album, you can always check our Facebook page.

The names of the people who I met and/or visited during my travels are also going to be mentioned (many of them with links to their Facebook pages). They are either good friends or simply people who share the same passion: wine. These #WINELOVER-s from so many different places are probably the reason why I still find a great deal of pleasure in doing what I do. Their twitter handle is included on a list at the end. You can start following them as soon as you are done with this…

I’ll also post articles about the most interesting things that I did (visits, tastings, etc) during these trips (time permitting). So… stay tuned!

A quick disclaimer: A few times I use “we” (or "us") in this article referring to Andre Ribeirinho (Adegga, AVIN) and I during something together. Otherwise, I have included the names.


TRAVEL LOG #WINELOVER: South of France (February 19-26, 2012) - Part 1

02/20 10:00am - Arrival in Barcelona (Spain). There I met my good friend Andre Ribeirinho and we picked up the car for our 3-1/2 hour to Montpellier (France).

02/20 2:00pm – Arrival at Vinisud. The plan was to head straight to the “Pavillion 2.0” (a sort of a “#WINELOVER’s space” at Vinisud), but we ended up meeting  (Le Vin Parfait) on our way. She was pouring an amazing Amarone (Tirinto 2006) at the Sebastiano Ramello stand. In the meantime, Anne-Victoire Jocteur Monrozier (Miss Vicky Wine) showed up accompanied by Frédéric Galtier and we tasted a few wines together.

02/20 3:00pm – We finally made it to Pavilion 2.0. We were received with a big smile by François Demouy (the name behind Pavilion 2.0 and the guy who invited us to attend Vinisud). Some very known #WINELOVER-s were also there (Audrey Domenach, Vincent Pétré, Ryan O'Connell, Onne Wan GC, Gabriella Reynes Opaz, Ivo Pagès, Brett Jones, Carlos Carvajal Castellanos, Ken Payton, and Louise Hurren).

02/20 4:00pm – Meeting with Brigitte Lurton at the “South Entrance”. We had the opportunity to discuss the possibility of having her wines available for American tourists who come to visit wineries in Bordeaux. I explained that my business model of importing wines would only work if a significant number of Americans have the opportunity to taste her wines while in France. She seemed pretty sure that it could be done... I love optimism!

02/20 5:00pm – Presentation by Audrey Domenach, Vincent Pétré on Social Media. They mentioned my group (“My Wine Studies”) on Facebook as an example of how people can interact with a very focused audience using social media. Pretty cool!

02/20 8:00pm – Dinner at Chez Boris (first of 3 nights in a row! Highly recommended. Not only for the delicious food, but also because of the very cozy atmosphere) with Andre Ribeirinho, Anne-Victoire, Audrey Domenach, Vincent Pétré, Elisa Zerilli, and Francee Garcia.

We had a great time as we loved our dishes ("entrecôte" for me) and enjoyed a few bottles of the Mas de L’Oncle Pic St. Loup. We all agreed that it was pretty amazing, with a good structure and a delicious finish (not to mention it was a real bargain at only 31 Euros at the restaurant). 
Did anybody say cowwwwwwwwww? :)

02/21 10:00am – Meeting with Ryan Anderson Opaz (Vrazon). We discussed a couple of things, but the most important issues were Facebook (closed groups versus fan pages being the “hot topic”) and the next EWBC in Turkey. I’m not sure if I can help much with this challenge of making our “class of EWBC 2011” reach a larger audience, but I’m positive that EWBC 2012 will rock! I’ll be t there and I hope you can find some time to join us in Izmir…

 02/21 11:00am – Meeting with Gilles Dumangin (ChampagneDumangin). I know that the #WINELOVER t-shirt is pretty cool… but getting a bottle of his Rose Champagne in exchange for it was sweeeeeet! Thanks Gilles for the wonderful treat!!

02/21 1:00pm – Tasting of “natural enough” wines. An “off Vinisud” event where the wines were not necessarily produced without SO2, but the producers have in mind the idea using as little as possible. I’m a huge fan of this pragmatic approach. Some one once said: “The first obligation of a wine is to be good”.

02/21 5:00pm – Tasting at “Pavillion 2.0”.

02/28 7:00pm – “Côtes du Rhône evening” at Chez Boris. Yes, we were there again for the second night in a row. This time it was not by choice… but by coincidence… The “Côtes du Rhône” evening organized by Inter Rhone took place there, so we had another opportunity to eat and drink very well; meet some producers and other #WINELOVER-s (special note: Christophe Macra MW was there… what a wonderful surprise - he is a guarantee of some good laughs!); and hear to delightful music. The Inter Rhone is one of the best in France and they proved again that they can put together a nice event. Thanks to Matilde Richel for the invitation!

02/21 11:30pm – Late evening tasting with “Port Ambassador” Andre Ribeirinho at “Circus” bar (many thanks to them for not charging us any corkage!). The tradition of bringing bottles of Port wines every time Andre flies out of Portugal continued. This time he shared a bottle of the Niepoort Colheita 1995 with us. Needless to say that we all enjoyed every sip of the precious liquid…

 02/22 11:00am – Visit to Mas Belles Eaux. This is the AXA Millésimes* property on the Languedoc. We had the opportunity to tour their vineyards and winery with their technical director Cédric Loiseau. We finished the visit with a tasting of their entire range of wines followed by a nice lunch at a local restaurant. I cannot thank Marie-Louise Schyler enough. She was so kind that she flew from Bordeaux exclusively to be with us during the visit. I’ll be writing a full article about this visit, but the professionalism of this adorable woman must be mentioned. Thank you so much Marie-Louise!!!

*AXA Millésimes: Today the French insurance company AXA owns several wineries which produce the world’s most exquisite wine, such as Chateau Pichon Longueville, Chateau Suduiraut, Chateau Petit-Village, Chateau Belles Eaux, and two other properties outside France, Disznoko in Tokai and Quinta do Noval in Portugal.

02/22 5:00pm – Vinisud. Back to the show to taste some wines that were on my list and to say “au revoir” to some fellow #WINELOVER-s.

02/22 7:00pm – Dinner at Chez Boris. Yes, you guessed it right… there’s no other restaurant in Montpellier! We (Audrey, Ward de Muynck, Magdalene Beverari, and Andre Ribeirinho) had to go back there… Being so predictable, we had to drink the same wine – our well known (and delicious) Mas de L’Oncle.

Our taste is very similar when it comes to food. We (Magdalene being the exception, as she seems to be a… you know, the “V word”) had "andouillette" as an appetizer and steak tartare as the main dish. It was exactly what my doctor order to keep the cholesterol level under control! J

Then Andre - Mr. “Port Ambassador” - strikes again. This time with the bottle of Quinta do Noval Colheita 1995 that Marie-Louise had given to us (we got one bottle each, but I said I was keeping mine. You know, he lives in Portugal and I don’t!). This Noval was liquid heaven. Precious times!

Second part of this travel log will be posted tomorrow...

List (in alphabetical order) of #WINELOVER-s I know that attended Vinisud. You should definitely follow them!

Amy Lillard @lagramiere
Andre Ribeirinho @andrerib
Audrey Domenach @adomenach
Brett Jones @thewinemaestro
Domaine de Mourchon @MourchonWine
Frédéric Galtier @fredericgaltier
Gabriella Reynes Opaz @gabriellaopaz
Gilles Dumangin @dumangin
Inter Rhône @VINSRHONE
Ken Payton @KenPayton
Louise Hurren @LouiseHurren
Louise Massaux @louisemassaux
Magdalene Beverari @LeVinParfait
Marlene Angeloz @Grenache_Global
Nina Izzo @lostinwine
Olivier Legrand @O_Legrand_IR
Onne Wan GC @onnewan 
Per Karlsson @bkwineper
Ryan O'Connell @mroconnell
Vincent Pétré @vincentpetre
Ward de Muynck @warddem

I’m Luiz Alberto - @thewinehub – and I use the #WINELOVER hashtag when I tweet.

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