Château Angélus Makes an Appearance in Spectre

When Domaine Storage opened their wine storage facility in Washington DC a few years back one of the coolest features of the facility was its tasting room and lounge. It was a great place for entertaining and hosting tastings.

Unfortunately, the tasting area ran afoul of local ABC laws, and was shut down. But the team at Domaine has been working with the local government in Washington DC (and, because of DC weirdness, the federal government) and tasting area has been re-opened.

However, pictures alone cannot describe these Chateaux or relay their history, which is where Anson comes in.

I heard about this while I was in Bordeaux and thought it was a neat idea, but I didn’t have all of the details at the time. The image above is the <> fermenter, created by the team at Tonnellerie Radoux, one of the world’s best-known cooperages. The idea behind the <> fermenter is that it will improve the color and tannins of a wine by allowing winemakers to extract the wine in a more gentle fashion than traditional punchdown methods.

Indulge me for a minute, this post is going to tie in a few threads from different places around the world.  A few years ago I was lucky enough to visit the library at Château Siran in Margaux.  I have actually been to a number of libraries in Bordeaux, but this is the first I have ever seen that was behind a bank vault.

Today marks the greatly anticipated opening of the Cité du Vin in Bordeaux.  Billed by many as “wine theme park”, the Cité du Vin is a monument to wine from all over the world.  The Cité du Vin offers visitors a tour of the 8000+ year history of wine with a mix of temporary and permanent exhibits.  The first of which will open on July 13th and will feature a tour of wine from the Republic of Georgia, which is thought to be the origin of viticulture.

This effort was started up again last year, but fizzled out.

It is always a happy coincidence when Mother Nature cooperates and bud break occurs around En Primeur in Bordeaux. Here are some picture from around Margaux.

Now comes he weather report, with two chances for frost: Tuesday and Saturday.

Most people have never given any thought to the challenges of drinking wine on a space ship, or for that matter drinking anything on a space ship. But, there are unique challenges to drinking in a low gravity environment. Liquid does not flow in a low gravity environment the way it does on earth. Instead, it pools into droplets that look almost like floating bubbles. That is why astronauts drink water, and other drinks, through a straw.

Next week thousands of journalists will be in Bordeaux to celebrate the 2015 vintage, but just a few months after that thousands of people who love Bordeaux will be in town for what is absolutely the best wine tasting event of the year.

Union des Grands Grus de Bordeaux will hold its 11th annual Le Week-End des Grands Crus on June 4th and 5th this year.  This is an incredible tasting of 120 Bordeaux wines and a chance to chat with the Château owners and winemakers.

In 2014 I wrote about the potential creation of the .WINE and .VIN domains thought domain registry Donuts.  Well, you can officially register your own .wine and .vin domains through one of the Donuts-affiliated Registrars!

In fact, one at least one Virginia Winery is already on-board, Stephen Mackey at Notaviva Vineyards has already registered notaviva.wine and NotavivaVineyards.wine.

[Full Disclosure: I received a review copy of this book from the publisher]

Wine and cheese pairing is something that many people, including a surprising number of restaurants get wrong. I think a lot of that has to do with how we in the United States think about how we pair our cheeses.  I have been to restaurants where they offer cheese plates based on region (e.g.

The latest James Bond film, Spectre, has a number of famous stars including a bottle of 2005 Château Angélus.  This is the second Bond film in which Château Angélus has made an appearance, a bottle also appeared in the 2006 Bond film Casino Royale. The bottle appears in an action-packed train scene featuring James Bond (Daniel Craig and Madeleine Swann (Léa Seydoux).

If you would like to drink like Bond you can pick up a bottle of 2005 Château Angélus from Zachys in New York for $439.

Joaquin has been upgraded from a tropical storm to a hurricane and is heading up the east coast toward Virginia.  In fact most of Virginia is expecting heavy rains between now and Tuesday.  This could be a disastrous ending to what has been, to this point, a potentially excellent vintage for Virginia wineries.

Most whites and many reds have already been harvested in Virginia, but there are still late harvest grapes, such as Cabernet Sauvignon, still waiting to be picked.

Every winery that has been around for any length of time develops some signature wines.  These are the wines that the winery owner or winemaker are most passionate about making and these wines develop a signature profile that is reflected from vintage to vintage.  The team at Breaux Vineyards has known this and their Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Nebbiolo verticals are among their most popular events.

How do you celebrate #CabernetDay 2015? By opening a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon, or its father, Cabernet Franc and enjoying it.  Or even better, get a group of friends together and share a couple of bottles.

33entrepreneurs was started in 2014 with goal of investing in start up companies in the food, wine and tourism space.  They wanted to take advantage of their connections and collective knowledge of the people within Bordeaux to guide these startups from their infancy to becoming successful businesses.

I think Bordeaux suffers from the same problem that upstate New York does: when you say New York, people immediately think of New York City. Similarly, in the United States when you France, people immediately think of Paris.

On Saturday I was lucky enough to be invited out to Château Soutard to listen to a performance by Les Trompettes de Lyon. The performance was part of the Grandes Heures de Saint-Émilion series held at various Châteaux throughout Saint-Émilion.

It was a fun event, the room in Château Soutard where Les Trompettes de Lyon was cavernous and beautifully designed, which made the performance by this talented quintet all that more special.

The annual Weekend des Grands Crus is finally this weekend in Bordeaux. I have said it before but this is, by far, my favorite wine event.

There will more than 100 of the greatest Bordeaux estates gathered in downtown Bordeaux showing off their 2012 and one other vintage. In addition to great wine, there is also an opportunity to dine at various Chateau (this is an amazing opportunity, and something that very few people get a chance to do).

Interview with Adam Centamore, Author of Tasting Wine & Cheese

Wine and cheese pairing is something that many people, including a surprising number of restaurants get wrong. I think a lot of that has to do with how we in the United States think about how we pair our cheeses.  I have been to restaurants where they offer cheese plates based on region (e.g. American cheeses vs European cheeses), but there is such a wide variety of cheeses from each region that it makes it difficult to pair a single wine with the plate.  Consumers often have it worse, unless there is a cheese shop around, or a grocery store with a good cheese selection and a knowledgable staff you are often relegated to choosing a pre-made cheese tray with no control over the types of cheeses used.

That is one of the things that Adam Centamore’s new book

Tasting Wine & Cheese 

helps readers overcome: Understanding the different cheese taste profiles and how to match those profiles with the perfect wine.  Adam steps through almost 50 different types of wine ranging from Albariño to Zinfandel and matches them with some excellent cheese selections.  Each wine gets its own section and few cheese suggestions as well as some beautiful pictures to entice the reader to try the pairing (I have already visited igourment.com a couple of times to order some of the suggested cheeses).

One thing I especially liked about the book, especially during this time of holiday parties, was the specificity when it comes to sparkling and dessert wines.  Adam breaks down 7 different sparkling wines and 8 different dessert wines, to ensure each one gets a perfect pairing.

If you host a lot of wine dinners and are looking for some great advice to ensure all of your pairings are perfect this is a great book.  But, it is also a great book if you are like us, where sometimes you want to have a glass of wine and match it to a great cheese.  Frankly, it also makes a really interesting Christmas present for wine lovers on your list.

Adam was nice enough to sit down with me to answer some questions, you can find the interview below:

  1. What first drew you to a career in wine, and how did that translate to a passion for wine and cheese pairing?

My interest in wine, and food in general, comes from growing up in a household where food was everything. When something good happened, we ate & drank. When something bad happened, we ate & drank even more. Food was (and is) such an important part of how my family interacts and relates to each other and life. This foundation has always kept me close to the kitchen, and given me an appreciation for the power of food.
I first fell in love with wine around fifteen years ago when I found myself let go from my job. With part of my severance I bought a case of wine, letting the salesman pick out a variety for me as I didn’t know much at the time. That night, I happened to open a bottle of oaky California Chardonnay to drink with my fish n’ chips. The buttery wine mixing with the crispy batter-fried fish and french fries completely knocked my socks off. It was nothing short of an epiphany. From that moment on, I paid close attention to how what I was eating interacted with what I was drinking. As I’m an avid cheese eater, it wasn’t long until my notebooks had more wine & cheese pairing notes in them than anything else. I kept coming back to those combinations, and revisiting them. Brunch, appetizers, dessert – it didn’t matter. Wine & cheese kept calling me, and I was all too happy to oblige the siren song. Years later, when I completed my cheese certification through Boston University’s Gastronomy program, I was fortunate enough to land an internship at Formaggio Kitchen, a world-renowned cheese shop in Cambridge, Massachusetts. It turned into a full-time job, and from there my pairing acumen just exploded. I was pairing stuff with reckless abandon, and couldn’t have been happier. My fate was set.

  1. I was glad to see dessert wines featured in the book.  As a diabetic, I tend to avoid traditionalist desserts, but a glass of Sauternes with a couple of slices of Roquefort is a perfect end to dinner. However, my experience has been that most Americans aren’t fans of dessert wines. Why do you think that is?

I think most Americans aren’t fans of dessert wines because they aren’t sure what to make of them or what to do with them. The idea of a sweet wine throws people off. History doesn’t help the cause, either. For decades, Americans were subjected to cheaply-made wines that were all sugar and no style. As a nation, we were turned off to the idea of dessert wines. We were doing it wrong.
In many European countries, they don’t do the cake & pie thing like we do. Meals often conclude with a cheese plate, or something small that has a sweetness to it, but not the sugar bombs we consume here. Dessert and fortified wines make total sense for them because they complement the foods they are being consumed with. Sauternes and Roquefort is an excellent example of this logic (and, might I add, a top-shelf favorite of mine). Roquefort is a full-bodied, aromatic, strong cheese with all the subtlety of a monster truck. It needs a wine that can stand up to its broad shoulders, and Sauternes is more than up for the task. Beyond being it’s equal in sheer horsepower, Sauternes also adds a rich honeyed note to the pairing that is just magical with the cheese’s minerality and saltiness. It’s a match made in heaven.
I think half the battle with American palates is getting them to simply try it. Just give it a shot. In many of my classes and seminars I serve some permutation of blue cheese and dessert wine, and I’m always amused by the number of people that haven’t tried it before, but totally love it. And, it extends past dessert wines, I think. Port, Sherry, Madeira – these wines all get the short end of the stick because many Americans think “wine” should be dry and usually red. People are missing out on many amazing combinations to eat, drink and enjoy. I’m hoping I can help!

  1. The book spends a couple of chapters discussing the basics of tasting and providing a high level overview of wine and cheese. These chapters are well-written and informative. But, how much do you feel people need to understand about wine and cheese before experimenting? 

The short answer is not much, really. It doesn’t take any understanding at all to nibble on a piece of cheese, take a sip of wine, and see if you like it. And I think that’s wonderful. Anyone should feel free to just dive right in and see what happens. Be fearless! Now, some combinations will definitely work better together than others, but there are very few utter catastrophes to worry about (except big red wine with super-young, fresh goat cheese and apple slices. That’s a rough road to ride.) The value of understanding wine and cheese on a deeper level, however, is gaining an understanding why a particular combination did or didn’t work. As you become more familiar and comfortable with how the pairings come together, you can repeat outcomes you enjoyed and avoid ones you didn’t care for. From there, you can begin to explore using the principles you’ve learned, and come up with your own combinations (I’m on an iced green tea and Brie kick at the moment. Just lovely.) Understanding how pairings work empowers you to make better choices for your palate and gives you more enjoyment from it. But it’s not necessary.. Damn the torpedoes and full cheese ahead. That’s what I say!

  1. I am a fan of Bordeaux wines and I am curious as to how a blended wine impacts the pairing choices? 

Blended wines are fantastic because they combine aspects of more than one grape, leading to a more complex and perhaps interesting flavor profile. For me, pairing cheeses with blended wines follows the same basic principles as pairing to a monovarietal (single grape) wine. It’s just that blended wines have ‘more instruments in the symphony’, if you will. That complexity may make it a bit more difficult to pick out specific aromas or flavors, but keep in mind the two (or more) grapes were chosen for blending because they have proven to work well together. They share general characteristics. It’s not like a winemaker is trying to force a blend of dark berry-flavored Cabernet Sauvignon and peachy Riesling into the same bottle, and that’s good news! Bordeaux is a great example. Cabernet Sauvignon often has characteristics of red cherry or blackberry, and Merlot usually displays plum or black cherry to some degree. While cherries and plums are not the same, they are both in the same flavor ballpark. There’s a strong probability a cheese that would sing with cherries will be great with plums and black cherry as well. Think of it this way – with a blend, find the broad-stroke characteristics and pair to that. Think “berries”, not “cherry”. Think “white fruit” not “apricots”. You’ll hit way more often than miss.

  1. There seems to be a revolution in cheese, with local creameries producing cheese in almost all 50 states (I guess it is really a return to the way things used to be). How would you recommend someone get started with exploring local cheeses?

It is absolutely wonderful to see the American cheese scene rejuvenated and kicking butt on the global stage. It really is a return to pre-world-war form for us. A lot of people have spent a lot of time and effort reestablishing “American cheese” as something more than just a block of deli cheese that comes in that weird yellowish color. I think technology plays a huge part in that. Not so much cheese-making droids or anything like that, but the incredible wealth of knowledge available to anyone that wants it. An avid cheese lover can easily find websites guiding them to local cheesemakers. Many states even have government-sponsored resources. For example, Massachusetts has a “wine & cheese trail” on their www.mass.gov site. It shows you who makes what, and where.. For someone looking to get started exploring local cheeses and wants a little adventure, check out a resource like that and gas the car up! The best way to explore local cheese is to go where it’s made. Meet the cheese maker. Meet the cows. See the farm. Most cheesemakers I’ve encountered are more than happy to share their passion and products directly with the consumer. For those that would prefer less travel, a great way to explore local cheeses is their local farmer’s market. Many cheese makers sell and market their cheeses themselves, and the farmer’s market is a prime opportunity to expose their cheeses to a large audience. Another excellent resource is your local cheese shop. If it’s a good one, they are aware of (and supportive of) the local cheese scene. If that fails, send me an email and I can give you all sorts of recommendations.

.WINE and .VIN Domains Available for Registration

 

about the potential creation of the .WINE and .VIN domains thought domain registry Donuts.  Well, you can officially register your own .wine and .vin domains through one of the

Donuts-affiliated Registrars

!

In fact, one at least one Virginia Winery is already on-board, Stephen Mackey at Notaviva Vineyards has already registered notaviva.wine and NotavivaVineyards.wine. I asked him why he did it so quickly:

It’s too soon to tell if having a .WINE Generic Top Level Domain (gTLD) will actually boost your search engine rankings, as Google has indicated that the gTLD does not inform your score.  However, other studies from respected search engine experts do seem to indicate that having keyword-rich domain names does in fact boost your SEO scores.  Though the story still seems to be unfolding, it is Mesh Omnimedia’s recommendation that the potential benefits of making the minimal investment required to secure your .WINE gTLD far outweigh the potential risks of losing your brand name to a fan page or cybersquatter.  Once registered to someone else, it can cost thousands of dollars, sometimes tens of thousands of dollars, to re-purchase a domain name not including the legal fees incurred if the situation is centered around a trademark dispute.  As owners of the NOTAVIVA® trademark it was a no-brainer for us to secure Notaviva.wine and NotavivaVineyards.wine.

I also followed up with Jeff Davidoff, CMO of Donuts about going from the idea of .wine and .vin to the actual execution:

In June of 2014 Donuts announced the intention to offer .wine and .vin domains available for registration. In January of 2016 they are finally available.  What was the process to get from June to now?

Wine industry organizations previously expressed concern over protection of certain names at the second level (before the dot) and initiated a process with ICANN (the industry regulator) to address the concerns.  After cooperative consultation with Donuts, however, they withdrew from that process and we proceeded to launch .WINE and .VIN.

What do you see as the advantages for companies that register .wine or .vin domains over traditional .com domains?

Companies that register .wine or .vin domain names will stand out in a crowded field of wine brands and businesses because these names are more meaningful and memorable. They enable wine connoisseurs, and businesses that serve them, to build identities and vibrant communities for marketing, sale and education. Sherry.wine, Port.wine, Champagne.wine and Prosecco.wine are several examples.

The wine industry is not always known for being innovative when it comes to technology, how will you get word to technology-challenged winery owners and convince them to sign up?

With the Internet saturated with website URLs ending in .com and .net, it’s gotten very crowded. With hundreds of new “not-com” domains available, businesses entering the wine market have the opportunity to find the perfect website name for the brand. A ‘dot-wine’ domain name ending immediately tells the world you are in the wine businesses.


For those worried about security are the .wine and .vin domains DNSSEC enabled?

Yes, we support DNSSEC in all of our gTLDs, including .WINE and .VIN.

11th Annual Weekend des Grands Crus

Next week thousands of journalists will be in Bordeaux to celebrate the 2015 vintage, but just a few months after that thousands of people who love Bordeaux will be in town for what is absolutely the best wine tasting event of the year.

Union des Grands Grus de Bordeaux will hold its 11th annual Le Week-End des Grands Crus on June 4th and 5th this year.  This is an incredible tasting of 120 Bordeaux wines and a chance to chat with the Château owners and winemakers.

But, what makes the event special for me is the chance to have dinner at various Château.  These dinners are always an amazing experience, and one of the hostesses this year is Sophie Schyler Thierry, the charming Director of Communication at Château Kirwan who will show off their completely redesigned cellar.

This really is an amazing experience, you will find the many things to do during the weekend listed on the UGCB website.  It is worth getting a group of friends together and heading to Bordeaux for what will undoubtedly be a beautiful weekend.

Château Haut-Bailly Space Bottle | CellarBlog

Most people have never given any thought to the challenges of drinking wine on a space ship, or for that matter drinking anything on a space ship. But, there are unique challenges to drinking in a low gravity environment. Liquid does not flow in a low gravity environment the way it does on earth. Instead, it pools into droplets that look almost like floating bubbles. That is why astronauts drink water, and other drinks, through a straw.

That is fine for water and juice, but it is not a good way to drink wine.  Fortunately, a young designer, Octave de Gaulle, got curious about drinking wine in space and spent a lot of time, studying the problem.  According to him:

 

Nowadays drinking in space is no longer a technical problem. However if you drink alcohol from the existing plastic bags, you ruin everything beautiful and good in wine.

You just have to look at modern wine glasses to understand this. These objects are the result of several centuries of research: they sublime wine and involve our sense of smell in tasting thanks to their balloon shape. These glasses channel wine aromas to the nose… I had to find a shape – contrarily to a straw – which preserves the smell aspect of wine consumption.

For his space bottle, Octave chose a round shape. This prevents the wine from collecting in one part of the bottle to avoid contact with air, and makes it so that the wine will be easy to drink. The ring-like shape also means that the wine will be easy to carry and transport.

Octave has chosen the 2009 vintage of Château Haut-Bailly for his first vintage to space. The wine is an exceptional one, from an exceptional year, making it a perfect complement to a unique design and unique mission.

After entering the artistic residence program at the CNES (Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales,

Observatoire de l’Espace), Octave de Gaulle is currently exhibiting “Civilising Space” at the

Museum
of Decorative Arts and Design of Bordeaux.

Loudoun Wineries Brace for Frost on Tuesday

This is why only the most passionate winemakers make wine in Virginia, you never know what you are going to get. With the recent bit of nice weather the vines are starting to come alive. They have been weeping for a while and some vineyards are even reporting bud break.

Now comes he weather report, with two chances for frost: Tuesday and Saturday. Frost at this stage could seriously damage the vines, a few years back Fabbioli Cellars lost their entire Cabernet Franc crop because of a late frost like this one.

Now, vineyards will be scrambling to build fires, bring in frost abating equipment and even renting helicopters. Though none of these things will help if the temperatures dip down to 22 degrees, as originally predicted. The good news is that the temperature is ticking up a bit, though not enough.

At this point all the winemakers can do is hope that the temperature continues to rise and prepare for a long and sleepless Tuesday night.

If you have a favorite winery in Virginia, stop by Wednesday with some coffee for everyone. They are gong to need it.

Bud break in Bordeaux | CellarBlog

This effort was started up again last year, but fizzled out.

It is always a happy coincidence when Mother Nature cooperates and bud break occurs around En Primeur in Bordeaux. Here are some picture from around Margaux.

Now comes he weather report, with two chances for frost: Tuesday and Saturday.

Most people have never given any thought to the challenges of drinking wine on a space ship, or for that matter drinking anything on a space ship. But, there are unique challenges to drinking in a low gravity environment. Liquid does not flow in a low gravity environment the way it does on earth. Instead, it pools into droplets that look almost like floating bubbles. That is why astronauts drink water, and other drinks, through a straw.

Next week thousands of journalists will be in Bordeaux to celebrate the 2015 vintage, but just a few months after that thousands of people who love Bordeaux will be in town for what is absolutely the best wine tasting event of the year.

Union des Grands Grus de Bordeaux will hold its 11th annual Le Week-End des Grands Crus on June 4th and 5th this year.  This is an incredible tasting of 120 Bordeaux wines and a chance to chat with the Château owners and winemakers.

In 2014 I wrote about the potential creation of the .WINE and .VIN domains thought domain registry Donuts.  Well, you can officially register your own .wine and .vin domains through one of the Donuts-affiliated Registrars!

In fact, one at least one Virginia Winery is already on-board, Stephen Mackey at Notaviva Vineyards has already registered notaviva.wine and NotavivaVineyards.wine.

[Full Disclosure: I received a review copy of this book from the publisher]

Wine and cheese pairing is something that many people, including a surprising number of restaurants get wrong. I think a lot of that has to do with how we in the United States think about how we pair our cheeses.  I have been to restaurants where they offer cheese plates based on region (e.g.

The latest James Bond film, Spectre, has a number of famous stars including a bottle of 2005 Château Angélus.  This is the second Bond film in which Château Angélus has made an appearance, a bottle also appeared in the 2006 Bond film Casino Royale. The bottle appears in an action-packed train scene featuring James Bond (Daniel Craig and Madeleine Swann (Léa Seydoux).

If you would like to drink like Bond you can pick up a bottle of 2005 Château Angélus from Zachys in New York for $439.

Joaquin has been upgraded from a tropical storm to a hurricane and is heading up the east coast toward Virginia.  In fact most of Virginia is expecting heavy rains between now and Tuesday.  This could be a disastrous ending to what has been, to this point, a potentially excellent vintage for Virginia wineries.

Most whites and many reds have already been harvested in Virginia, but there are still late harvest grapes, such as Cabernet Sauvignon, still waiting to be picked.

Every winery that has been around for any length of time develops some signature wines.  These are the wines that the winery owner or winemaker are most passionate about making and these wines develop a signature profile that is reflected from vintage to vintage.  The team at Breaux Vineyards has known this and their Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Nebbiolo verticals are among their most popular events.

How do you celebrate #CabernetDay 2015? By opening a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon, or its father, Cabernet Franc and enjoying it.  Or even better, get a group of friends together and share a couple of bottles.

33entrepreneurs was started in 2014 with goal of investing in start up companies in the food, wine and tourism space.  They wanted to take advantage of their connections and collective knowledge of the people within Bordeaux to guide these startups from their infancy to becoming successful businesses.

I think Bordeaux suffers from the same problem that upstate New York does: when you say New York, people immediately think of New York City. Similarly, in the United States when you France, people immediately think of Paris.

On Saturday I was lucky enough to be invited out to Château Soutard to listen to a performance by Les Trompettes de Lyon. The performance was part of the Grandes Heures de Saint-Émilion series held at various Châteaux throughout Saint-Émilion.

It was a fun event, the room in Château Soutard where Les Trompettes de Lyon was cavernous and beautifully designed, which made the performance by this talented quintet all that more special.

The annual Weekend des Grands Crus is finally this weekend in Bordeaux. I have said it before but this is, by far, my favorite wine event.

There will more than 100 of the greatest Bordeaux estates gathered in downtown Bordeaux showing off their 2012 and one other vintage. In addition to great wine, there is also an opportunity to dine at various Chateau (this is an amazing opportunity, and something that very few people get a chance to do).

Why Can’t Virginia Create a Virginia Wine License Plate?

Back in 2007 the Virginia Wine Industry

launched an effort

to get a customized Virginia Wine License plate. They could not get enough pre-purchases.  In 2011, the effort was

revived

, again to no avail.

This effort was started up again last year, but fizzled out.  So, why can’t Virginia Wine lovers and industry members get organized to enough to create a custom license place?

For those that don’t know, Virginia has dozens of different types of

customized plates

 supporting everything from the Eastern Shore to Harley Davidson.  in order to create a customized plate, all you need is to get 350 people to pre-pay $25 for the plate and the State of Virginia will produce it.

Virginia currently has 270+ wineries, so just in winery owners there are almost enough people to cover the requirement for the custom tags, but it has been to no avail.  If you count all the people who work in the Virginia Wine Industry,

4700+ as of 2014

, there are 10 times the number of people required to pre-order the plates.  Heck, “Friends of Coal”has their own customized license plate and the Coal Industry only employees

3600+ people

in Virginia.

So, why can’t the Virginia Wine Industry, generate the type of interest needed to create a custom license plate?  People are passionate about wine, not just the winemakers and employees, but people all over Virginia love Virginia Wine.  So, why can’t they generate enough pre-orders?  I don’t have an answer, but I think it is worth discussing.

Cité du Vin Opens in Bordeaux

Today marks the greatly anticipated opening of the

Cité du Vin

 in Bordeaux.  Billed by many as “wine theme park”, the Cité du Vin is a monument to wine from all over the world.  The Cité du Vin offers visitors a tour of the 8000+ year history of wine with a mix of temporary and permanent exhibits.  The first of which will open on July 13th and will feature a tour of wine from the Republic of Georgia, which is thought to be the origin of viticulture.

The museum itself towers above Bordeaux and offers beautiful views of the city and the river that divides the left bank from the right.  It has been fun watching the construction of the museum over the last few years, as you can see in the middle left of the picture below, taken in 2015 during the Weekend des Grands Crus.

And the above picture taking during En Primeur this year, where you can see the building was complete, and the plants were just starting to peak through their cover.

The museum hosted a sneak peek for journalists from around the world yesterday and the reviews were overwhelmingly positive.  I cannot wait until my next visit to Bordeaux to check it out.

How a German Soldier Saved Bordeaux Wine During World War II

Indulge me for a minute, this post is going to tie in a few threads from different places around the world.  A few years ago I was lucky enough to visit the library at

Château Siran

 in Margaux.  I have actually been to a number of libraries in Bordeaux, but this is the first I have ever seen that was behind a bank vault.

The library, as with so many libraries in Bordeaux is impressive, with wines going back to the 1800s and probably some, so faded that you can’t read the labels any more, from even earlier.

I am always overwhelmed by the history in these libraries and all of the stories that these bottles hold.  But, it didn’t occur to me until recently that this history almost didn’t exist.

Last year Kris and I toured a few wineries in Oregon.  One of the wineries we visited was

Domaine Drouhin

, a winery with deep ties to the Burgundy region in France.  While there, in addition to tasting some excellent wines, we picked up a copy of the book Wine & War (available everywhere, and you should read it).  The book talks about the struggles of the French to save their wine and their vineyards during the German occupation of World War II.

Call me a stupid American, but it has never occurred to me during all of my library visits that these libraries should not exist.  Bordeaux was part of occupied France during World War II and the Germans plundered everything from the great art of the Louvre to all of the Champagne in Champagne.  But, Bordeaux remained surprisingly in tact.  A lot of that has to do with

Heinz Bömers

, the German soldier who led the occupation of Bordeaux.

Known locally as the Weinfuhrer Bömer worked with the people of Bordeaux, as much as he could, to ensure that their history would not be plundered and their legacy destroyed.

The book is a fascinating one, and one that I highly encourage reading.  Not just to learn more about Bömer but also the brave Château owners that protected their Jewish friends and persevered to ensure their wine was made even during the darkest of times.