George Skouras is the owner and winemaker at Domaine Skouras, located in the Peloponnese of Greece. George explains how his interest in wine first developed, and discusses his time as a student, working and living in France. He then talks about the early period of his career, making wine on the Greek island of Cephalonia. He describes a key meeting with Spyros Kosmetatos, which would lead to the founding of the Gentilini Winery on Cephalonia, and to market success for a white wine he made there. George shares some of the business philosophies that he developed at that time and which stayed with him later on. George then discusses his return to an area near where he grew up, Nemea, to focus on the production of wines from the red Agiorgitiko and the white Moscofilero grape varieties. He talks about his first vintages of making wine at Domaine Skouras, and about the resistance he faced trying to sell Agiorgitiko wines in the international markets. This last problem was solved by the addition of some Cabernet Sauvignon into the blend of one of the Skouras wines, a wine called Megas Oenos. That blend was a market success, and led to more interest as well in the native Agiorgitiko wines from Nemea. That interest was shared by George, who spent decades examining the different areas in which Agiorgitiko was grown, and exploring the different qualities that the grape possesses. George came to several conclusions about how to grow and to handle Agiorgitiko, and he shares those thoughts in this interview. He also describes the different growing areas for the grape variety. He then touches on a key change, the recent development of virus-free clones of Agiorgitiko. Further, George gives an assessment of his own wines from Agiorgitiko, and their development over time. George frequently discusses how both the Greek wine business and the international markets for wine have changed over time, and he gives an account of his own developments in response. He also summarizes his work with little known native grape varieties like Mavrostifo. And George speaks in some detail about Moscofilero, specifically about a darker colored variant of Moscofilero known as Mavrofilero. George talks about his early learning curve with Moscofilero winemaking, and describes the attributes of a Moscofilero wine from the Peloponnese. Several viticulture and winemaking topics are touched on in this interview, including irrigation, yields, elevation of vineyards, destemming, press wine, cooperage, lees contact, and aging. If you are curious about the development of Greek wine since the 1970s, this is a key perspective to take into account. George is one of a generation of Greek winemakers who have decidedly shaped the Greek wine scene of today.
1 hr 12 min
Robert Vifian is the chef and co-owner of Tan Dinh Restaurant, located in Paris, France. Robert was born in Vietnam in 1948, and lived in Saigon (now Ho Chi Minh City) as a child, experiencing the effects of the Tet Offensive firsthand. He and his family are French, and he moved to Paris, eventually joining his parents there. Robert's mother founded Tan Dinh Restaurant in 1968, and later Robert joined her in the kitchen there. Robert then took over as Chef of that restaurant in 1978. As the 1970s moved in the 1980s, the restaurant became popular with artists, actors, and other cultural types, and became both a chic spot to dine and a destination for wine aficionados. Robert became interested in both cuisine and wine, and was soon searching out rare bottles, organizing private tastings, teaching in a wine school, and visiting cellars in Burgundy and Bordeaux. He visited producers such as Domaine Coche-Dury each year for many years, and developed a lot of familiarity with the wines of Domaine Comtes Lafon, Domaine Georges Roumier, and Domaine Hubert Lignier, tasting every vintage of each for several decades. He shares his reflections and thoughts about this producers in the interview. He also discusses Henri Jayer and Anne-Claude Leflaive, and their wines. Robert also developed a lot of familiarity with Right Bank Bordeaux, specifically Pomerol. And Robert had close friendships with oenologists like Jean-Claude Berrouet and Michel Rolland, as well as wine critics like Robert Parker, Jr., and those friendships lended support to his experiences of Bordeaux. He recalls those relationships in the interview, and shares his views on each person. He also discusses aspects of what he learned about Pomerol over the years. Robert had a friendship and a working relationship with the late Steven Spurrier during the time that Spurrier lived in Paris. Robert recalls the friendship and his different experiences with Spurrier in this interview. He also discusses the California wines that he learned about as a result of his acquaintance with Spurrier, dating back to The Judgement of Paris tasting in 1976. This interview follows the Paris wine scene from the 1970s until the present, and encompasses thoughts on both benchmark wine regions of France and key producers from those places, across the same decades. This episode also features commentary from: Steven Spurrier, formerly a Consulting Editor for "Decanter" Magazine. Becky Wasserman-Hone, Becky Wasserman & Co. Christian Moueix, Etablissements Jean-Pierre Moueix
1 hr 16 min
Erin Scala explores the long history and many recent changes in the area around Lake Garda and in the Bardolino wine zone, in the northeastern Italy. Erin speaks with a number of different winemakers and specialists to clarify the situation around the evolution of winemaking in the Bardolino zone, from Roman times to the present day. She addresses the shift in the area in recent years towards rosé production, and explores both why this has occurred as well as the historical precedents for it. She enunciates how the wineries in the area vary in their choice of technique, and describes the different styles of the resulting wines. Erin examines both the shifting cultural and climatic settings for the wine production of this area. She explains how this Lake area - now well within Italy - was once at the border with Austria, as well as the recent effects of climate change there. She discusses the typical foods of the place, as well as the microclimate created by its defining feature: the lake. Erin also looks ahead to what wine styles may become more prevalent in the zone in the future. If you have not kept up with the rapid changes for wine within the Bardolino zone in recent years, this episode is a complete and crucial overview of the situation on the ground. This episode features commentary from: Gabriele Rausse, Gabrielle Rausse Winery Luca Valetti, Cantina Valetti Roberta Bricolo, Gorgo Francesco Piona, Cavalchina Marco Ruffato, Le Ginestra Matilde Poggi, Le Fraghe Daniele Domenico Delaini, Villa Calicantus Andreas Berger, Weingut Thurnhof Fabio Zenato, Le Morette Franco Christoforetti, Villa Bella Giulio Cosentino, Albino Piona Angelo Peretti, author of the book "Il Bardolino" Katherine Cole, journalist and author of the book "Rosé All Day: The Essential Guide to Your New Favorite Wine" Special Thanks To: Irene Graziotto
Françoise Vannier is a geologist who has studied and mapped the vineyards of Burgundy for multiple decades. She is based in France. Françoise discusses how she began her study of the vineyards of the Côte d'Or, and the surprising results that emerged from her research. She touches on both broad themes and specific, individual instances in her analysis of the rock types and rock weathering in the Côte. For example, she explains how the Côte de Nuits differs from the Côte de Beaune in broad terms, and then gives examples from specific vineyards and villages that illustrate those divergences. She emphasizes the importance of the both the parallel and vertical faults that exist in the Cote d'Or, and explains how the vertical faults are often where combes have developed, which are breaks in the slope (like valleys). Françoise highlights the importance of these combes to understanding the rock distribution of the Côte d'Or. This then plays into her contention that village names are not as helpful as one might think for understanding the vineyards of the area, as it is the combes that are the actual markers of where the rock distribution changes in the Côte d'Or. Françoise also emphasizes the difficulty and complexity of the topic of Côte d'Or geology, enunciating a number of nuances to the different rock types, and how they weather. She also points out that multiple rock types may be found within a single vineyard, as faults do not fall only at the borders of vineyards. Furthermore, the rock types do not nicely match up with the hierarchy of perceived quality of the vineyards, as the same type of rock may be found under both a villages vineyard and a Grand Cru. These realizations prompted Françoise to examine the historical, cultural, or climatic reasons why certain vineyards are in more esteem than others today, and she shares in this interview her thoughts on those subjects. Françoise speaks about numerous areas of the Côte d'Or in some depth, including areas within the boundaries of Marsannay, Gevrey-Chambertin, Morey-Saint-Denis, Chambolle-Musigny, Pommard, and Meursault. She dispels common myths about the topic of Burgundy geology, and she gives examples of specific crus to illustrate many of her points. She also provides an examination of how human activity, in the form of quarries, house building, and clos (walled vineyard) construction has altered the Côte d'Or. Lastly, Françoise describes how the Côte d'Or differs from other areas of France which also feature calcium carbonate deposits, such as Champagne and St. Émilion. Anyone who wishes to understand Burgundy better will benefit from listening to this episode multiple times. This episode also features commentary from: Brenna Quigley, geologist and vineyard consultant Christophe Roumier, Domaine Georges Roumier
1 hr 40 min
Lorenzo Accomasso is a vintner in the La Morra area of Italy's Piemonte region. He has been releasing Barolo and other wines under the Accomasso label for several decades. Lorenzo discusses the increased interest in Barolo and in the wines of the Piemonte that has occurred over the last couple of decades, as well as the increased planting of vineyards in La Morra. Lorenzo talks about helping his parents at the winery in the post-World War II years. He contrasts the current situation for the wines with the period of the 1960s, when people were leaving the countryside to find jobs in factories. He also recalls the difficult growing conditions of the 1970s, and the changes in attitude towards topics like green harvesting and fruit sorting that have occurred over time. Lorenzo is clear about his winemaking stance as a Traditional producer, and touches on some of the techniques that separate his winemaking from those who operate in a Modern style. He talks about the changes in popularity for Modern and Traditional wines from the Piemonte, and how those categories have been perceived in the market over time. He also touches on the difficulty of changing one's winemaking style once it has been set. Vineyard work is discussed, and Lorenzo makes a distinction between his different Barolo vineyards (Rocche, Rocchette, and Le Mie Vigne). He contrasts the different attributes of those vineyard sites. Vintage evaluations are given for many years, stretching back to the 1970s. Lorenzo gives his frank opinions of many vintages, and at times gives his thoughts on ageability as well. Then he discusses some of the difficulties he has experienced when making wines from the Dolcetto grape variety, in contrast to Nebbiolo. This is a rare opportunity to hear from a Piemonte vintner who lived through World War II, and with that in mind, this episode begins with a history of Italy and of the Piemonte in the later years of that war and after. That was a time when fighting between Fascists and Partisans took a huge human toll, with many deaths. The capsule history then transitions into a discussion of the changes the Piemonte experienced in the second half of the 20th century, as emigration and industrialization changed the environment for wine production. Italian cultural commentators Mario Soldati and Luigi Veronelli are also talked about, as are the changes in winemaking that increasingly began to take hold in the late 1970s and into the 2000s. Those changes gave rise to different winemaking camps in the Piemonte, which are discussed. Eventually the market for the Piemonte wines begins to change, and at the same time there arrives a belated realization that climate change has altered the realities for vine growing in the Piemonte. This episode also features commentary from: Martina Barosio, formerly of Scarpa Nicoletta Bocca, San Fereolo Beppe Colla (translated by Federica Colla), the ex-owner of Prunotto Luca Currado, Vietti Umberto Fracassi Ratti Mentone, Umberto Fracassi Angelo Gaja, Gaja Gaia Gaja, Gaja Maria Teresa Mascarello, Cantina Bartolo Mascarello Danilo Nada, Nada Fiorenzo Giacomo Oddero (translated by Isabella Oddero), Poderi Oddero Federico Scarzello, Scarzello Aldo Vaira (translated by Giuseppe Vaira), G.D. Vajra Aldo Vacca, Produttori del Barbaresco Michael Garner, co-author of Barolo: Tar and Roses Victor Hazan, author of Italian Wine Thank You to... Robert Lateiner and Gregory Dal Piaz for the use of the recording of Lorenzo Accomasso Carlotta Rinaldi and Giuseppe Vaira for their translation work Chris Thile for voiceover Bodhisattwa for the whistling of "Bella Ciao"
1 hr 33 min
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