Zorik Gharibian is the founder of the Zorah winery, in the Vayots Dzor region of southern Armenia. Zorik discusses the long history of wine production in Armenia, referencing evidence that wine was made in Armenia in the Copper Age (about 6,000 years ago). He talks about the grape remnants and clay storage jars that have been found from that time. And he discusses other wine related finds in Armenia, in both the pre-Christian era and later. Zorik then explains why a hundred year gap occured in the dry wine production of Armenia, and he talks about the situation for wine as he found it in Armenia in the late 1990s. Zorik explains his rationale for beginning his own winery in Armenia, and talks about the different winemaking regions of Armenia. He gives special emphasis to the area that he chose to base his production in, Vayots Dzor. He talks about the native grape family of that region, which is known as Areni, and his experiences with planting a new Areni vineyard. That is contrasted with his comments about a much older vineyard of Areni, which he also works with. Both vineyards are own-rooted, as phylloxera is not present in the region. Zorik also talks about the amphora clay containers that housed wine in Armenia in ancient times, and which he uses today as well. He gives his explanation for why he chose to mature his Areni wine in amphora - known as Karas in Armenia - as opposed to wooden barriques. And he relates details about his search to find amphora that were already existing in Armenia and which he could use, as well as to develop production of new amphora there today. He further gives a summary of the drinking habits of his surrounding region in Armenia, and an outlook on what it is like working in Armenia today. This episode also features commentary from: Katherine Moore, Union Square Wines Lee Campbell, Early Mountain Vineyards Conrad Reddick, Monterey Plaza Hotel and Spa
Jun 30, 2020
Kevin Zraly is the author of "Kevin Zraly's Windows on the World Complete Wine Course". He is also the co-author (with Mike DeSimone and Jeff Jenssen) of the book "Red Wine: The Comprehensive Guide to the 50 Essential Varieties and Styles". Kevin was for decades the Cellar Master of Windows on the World restaurant, located on the top floors of the North Tower of New York City's original World Trade Center. Kevin describes his entry into the world of restaurants as a college student, and how a series of seemingly chance events led him to study and teach about wine. He recalls trips to California, France, Italy, and Spain to visit wineries, and some of the standout moments in those adventures. Then Kevin talks about his short lived career as a wholesale wine salesman in New York City, and explains how that quickly developed into a job opportunity as the Cellar Master at the brand new Windows on the World restaurant in the late 1970s. His role at Windows brought him into contact with legendary restauranteur Joe Baum, whom Kevin talks about at length. Kevin talks about the philosophy behind the wine program at Windows on the World - from the selection to the pricing to the service style - and recalls a key trip to Bordeaux to source wines there with Alexis Lichine. He also explains how working at Windows led to his book deal, and to more and more teaching opportunities. Kevin became famous as a teacher and speaker about wine, and in this interview he discusses how he approaches speaking to a group about wine. He also recalls the origins of the New York Wine Experience, which he founded. The interview with Kevin goes from highs to lows, as Windows on the World is closed by a bombing in 1993, and then totally destroyed as a result of the 9/11 attacks. Kevin shares the pain he has felt as a result, and gives his rationale for why he might have survived while his co-workers perished. He also talks about how he has coped with the aftermath of those terrible events on a personal level, and some of the challenges that he has faced as a parent. This episode also features commentary from: Martin Sinkoff, Martin Sinkoff Associates
May 8, 2020
1 hr 9 min
Christopher Howell is the winemaker and General Manager of the Cain Vineyard and Winery in the Napa Valley of California. Christopher discusses his early wine tastings and home winemaking in the 1970s, and talks about some key relationships that helped form his interest in wine. He explains how he ended up pursuing an oenological and viticultural education in Montpellier, France, highlighting some notable people that he studied with, and how that school work then led to a stagiaire position at Château Mouton Rothschild in Bordeaux. Christopher talks about a chance meeting that he had while working at Mouton, and something that was said to him that has stayed with him for the rest of his life. He also discusses other adventures in other wine cellars in France, notably at Château Rayas in the Rhône Valley. Christopher discusses his return to the United States, and a pivotal meeting with Helen Turley that then led to a job at Peter Michael in the late 1980s. He talks about characteristics of Helen Turley and her husband John Wetlaufer that would contribute to their success in the wine world, and Christopher is frank about what he learned from them both. He further explains how the transition to working at the Cain Vineyard and Winery came about, where he has now been employed for the last thirty years. Christopher is open about his sometimes unconventional winemaking choices, and explains the thought processes behind some idiosyncratic decision making, as well. In particular concerning brettanomyces, reduction, and volatile acidity. He also discusses the evolution of the different wine offerings at Cain, and what he has learned from that progression. He shares a great deal of his philosophy on topics like farming, vineyard trellising, terroir expression, grape variety blending, and wine complexity. He also is frank in his discussion about what his career choices have really entailed. This episode also features commentary from the following people: Cathy Corison, Corison Winery Kelli White, author of "Napa Valley Then and Now" Ehren Jordan, Failla John Lockwood, Enfield Wine Co. Bernard Portet, founding winemaker at Clos Du Val
Apr 15, 2020
2 hr 10 min
Jason Lett is the co-owner of The Eyrie Vineyards, in the Willamette Valley of Oregon. Jason discusses how his father, David Lett, helped transform the Willamette Valley into a growing region for Pinot Noir, acheiving worldwide acclaim for his efforts. Jason, who was born shortly after his father arrived in Oregon, retraces in this conversation the path that led his father there. He also talks about the character of his father, what he was trying to accomplish and why. Jason is clear about the state of winery, the wines, and his relationship with his father at the time of the transition to his own leadership at The Eyrie Vineyards. Jason explains realizations he has made working with other grape varieties besides Pinot Noir in Oregon, such as Chasselas and Trousseau. He also talks about how the farming at the family properties has changed since his father's day. And he discusses how his approach to certain wines is different from his father's practice. Jason is open about how trips to Burgundy and interactions with Burgundians have affected him and his work. He specifically talks about people like Gérard Potel, André Mussy, the Drouhin family, Michel Lafarge, Patrick Bize, and Romain Lignier. Some of Jason's comments about these people are further fleshed out in this episode by additional commentary spliced in from other interviews in the I'll Drink to That! archive. Climate change is also discussed in this episode, as Jason addresses how this reality might be approached in the vineyard. And he talks about how the region that his father made famous for Pinot Noir has itself changed over the decades since. This episode also features commentary from the following people: Mimi Casteel, Hope Well Wine Jacques Seysses, Domaine Dujac Dominique Lafon, Domaine Comtes Lafon Michel Lafarge, Domaine Michel Lafarge Christophe Roumier, Domaine Georges Roumier Becky Wasserman-Hone, Becky Wasserman & Co. Russell Hone, Becky Wasserman & Co.
Mar 10, 2020
1 hr 52 min
Mary Ewing-Mulligan is the President of International Wine Center, located in New York City, and a co-author of the "Wine For Dummies" books. Mary discusses her introduction to working with wine, employed by an Italian government agency responsible for promoting Italian wine. She explains the situation for Italian wines in the United States at the time, the 1970s, and how the Italian wines in the market went about competing with wines from other countries. She also contrasts that situation for Italian wine to the situation for Italian wine in the United States today, and points out what has changed. Mary then talks about her own experiences traveling to Italy, and her friendship with the Currado family of the Vietti winery in Italy's Piemonte. Mary goes on to explain a key decision in her own wine career, leaving a high paying job in public relations to take a more modestly paid position at a wine school. She talks about her struggles to pass the Master of Wine exam, and her eventual triumph as the first woman residing in North America to earn a Master of Wine title. She then discusses her introduction of the Wine and Spirit Education Trust curriculum to the United States. Mary's career takes another turn as she and her husband Ed McCarthy write the very successful "Wine For Dummies" book that led to a number of other wine books in the "Dummies" series being authored by the couple as well. She talks about how she and Ed went about writing the "Dummies" books, in terms of approach. And Mary grapples in this interview with being on the one hand the author of "Wine For Dummies," while on the other hand also being a Master of Wine. She explains how she feels about the pairing, and what her motivations were at each point in her career.
Jan 17, 2020
1 hr 12 min
Christophe Roumier and his family run Domaine Georges Roumier, located in the Burgundy village of Chambolle-Musigny in France. Christophe discusses the arrival of his grandfather in Chambolle-Musigny, and the beginning of the Roumier family history with wine. He talks about his family's work for the Comtes Georges de Vogüé domaine, also in Chambolle-Musigny, and then explains the timeline for estate wines at Domaine Georges Roumier. Christophe further discusses the Roumier and Ponnelle family connections (Christophe's mother was a Ponnelle), and the role that Christophe's father took on at Pierre Ponnelle, as well as at Domaine Georges Roumier. Christophe also details his own route to studying oenology in the late 1970s, and then working at the family domaine beginning in the 1980s. The vineyard holdings of Domaine Georges Roumier are discussed in detail, covering the plots for Bourgogne Rouge and Chambolle-Musigny villages, as well as the Les Cras, Les Combottes, and Les Amoureuses 1er Crus in Chambolle-Musigny, Clos de la Bussière 1er Cru in Morey-Saint-Denis, and the Grand Crus of Ruchottes-Chambertin, Charmes-Chambertin, Bonnes-Mares, and Musigny. Christophe then discusses the Corton-Charlemagne parcel he works, the Clos Vougeot that he used to farm, and the Échezeaux parcel that he recently began working. Christophe addresses both the character of these vineyards, and character of the wines that they produce. Christophe talks about the farming practices at Domaine Georges Roumier, and addresses his move to organic farming methods in the 1980s. He specifically highlights why the move to organic has been important for his wine production. He also talks about topics like vine trellising, and the changing conditions in the Burgundy vineyards today. In terms of winemaking, Christophe discusses aspects like the stages of a fermentation, the role of reduction, the importance of temperature control to his work, lees contact, sulphur addition, and further, Christophe enunciates the ramifications of delaying the start of a malolactic conversion. This episode also features commentary from the following people: Dominique Lafon, Domaine Comtes Lafon Becky Wasserman-Hone, Becky Wasserman & Co. Jacques Seysses, Domaine Dujac Jean-Pierre de Smet, founder of Domaine de l'Arlot Michel Lafarge, Domaine Michel Lafarge Benjamin Leroux, Benjamin Leroux Claude de Nicolay, Chandon de Briailles
Dec 25, 2019
1 hr 46 min
Giacomo Oddero and his family operate Poderi e Cantine Oddero, in the La Morra area of the Barolo appellation in Piemonte, Italy. Giacomo, who was born in the mid-1920s, remembers the difficulties encountered in the Barolo region in the aftermath of World War II, as well as the specific changes that helped set the Barolo area on a path to prosperity. He recalls the challenges posed by families leaving the area in lean times, and the cooperation that was necessary to make region wide changes in wine production standards. Giacomo specifically mentions the process of codifying the Barolo appellation rules, encouraging growers in the area to register their grape production, and the move to make less wine of a higher quality. He also discusses the family purchases of vineyards like Brunate, Rionda, and Rocche di Castiglione, and the differences he finds between single vineyard Barolo and a blended Barolo classico. Giacomo talks about why he chose to stay in the Piemonte during hard times, and the decisions that he and his brother Luigi undertook when the two worked together, when their winery was known as Fratelli Oddero. Giacomo also mentions several other prominent names in the Barolo region, such as Renato Ratti and Battista Rinaldi. Finally, he explains what a public initiative undertaken during his tenure as mayor ultimately entailed for the region. Those who want to understand the culture and history of the Piemonte region will find this interview to be a treasure trove of information.
Nov 5, 2019
Rod Berglund and his family own Joseph Swan Vineyards in Sonoma County, California, where Rod is also the winemaker. Rod explains how he first became interested in wine, and what led him to found his own winery in the late 1970s. He also discusses how he met winemaker Joe Swan, who would eventually become his father-in-law. Rod conveys how Joe in many ways stood apart from his California winermaking contemporaries of the 1970s and 1980s, making choices influenced by the changes Joe had seen in Burgundy, France. Those included the use of French oak barrels, an increasing interest in whole cluster, and a focus on low yields from the vineyard. As Rod explains it, Joe's approach to winemaking was a simple one, but he also took seriously the goal of making great wines of limited production. This extended to Joe's approach to Zinfandel, which he made with an eye to high quality, rather than assuming the grape variety had to have a bulk wine destiny. Rod touches on some of the other people that influenced Joe's vision of wine, including André Tchelistcheff, Jacques Seysses, and Kermit Lynch. This episode also features a clip from IDTT episode 460, wherein Joel Peterson speaks about his experiences working with Joe Swan in the 1970s. As the interview progresses, Rod details the changes he has made at the winery and in the vineyard since Joe Swan passed away, explaining the logic of each adjustment. This conversation also touches on topics like the "Swan clone," extended maceration, whole cluster use, tannin management, malolactic conversion for Chardonnay, the specifics of growing grapes in the Russian River Valley, and the makeup of old Zinfandel vineyards. Those wanting to understand the transition of California winemaking practice from the 1960s to now will benefit tremendously from hearing this episode.
Oct 1, 2019
1 hr 10 min
Tomoko Kuriyama is a partner in Chanterêves, a micro-négociant based in Burgundy, which she runs with her husband Guillaume Bott. Tomoko spent over a decade working in wineries in Germany, then moved to Burgundy in France and started Chanterêves. She explains in this interview the differences between Germany and Burgundy in terms of the winemaking and vineyard work. She also discusses the outlook of the growers in each place, and how those differ. Tomoko worked with growers in Germany like Paul Fürst and Peter Jakob Kühn, and visited German growers like Helmut Dönnhoff and Gernot Kollmann. Then in 2005, she did a harvest at Domaine Simon Bize in Burgundy, which subsequently led her to move to Burgundy and start a micro-négociant there. When addressing topics like botrytis, the nature of a fermentation, brettanomyces, sulphur dose, lees contact, reduction, and tannin management, Tomoko compares and contrasts the approaches in Germany with those in Burgundy. By doing so, she explains both at a deep level. Tomoko also describes how winemaking in Germany and in Burgundy have evolved in the years that she has been making wine. For example, she describes the embrace of infusion instead of extraction in the red winemaking of Burgundy, and why it may be so common today. Those looking to better understand the character of German wine and Burgundy will find a lot of revelatory information in this interview.
Sep 12, 2019
1 hr 20 min
Anthony Hanson wrote the book "Burgundy," which was originally published in 1982, and then subsequently revised by him for another edition published in 1995. He is today a consultant for Haynes Hanson & Clark, as well as The Fine Wine Experience in Hong Kong. Anthony describes his entry into Beaune (via bulldozer) in the 1960s, and his first tasting at the Hospices de Beaune in Burgundy. He discusses his growing awareness of domaine bottled Burgundy at the time, and how he found those domaine wines to differ from the négociant bottlings that were being shipped to England back then. Anthony talks about his tastings at various Burgundy domaines, with personalities like Hubert de Montille, Jacques d'Angerville, Aubert de Villaine, Jacques Seysses, and Becky Wasserman. He then explains why he began to write his book "Burgundy," which was first published in 1982. That book addressed topics such as clones, fertilizers, chaptalization, blending, the influence of Guy Accad, and the growing amount of domaines bottling their own wine for sale. Anthony subsequently revised that book for another edition published in 1995, and in this interview he explains what had changed in Burgundy between 1982 and 1995, described by him as a period of important changes in the region. In addition, Anthony addresses in this interview topics that emerged later for Burgundy, such as premox and a debate around climate change.
Aug 31, 2019
1 hr 19 min