Saturday, July 11, 2009
Alice Feiring, the fearless wine iconoclast and well known writer, graciously granted an interview to MyDailyWine. The links to her recent book and her website are below. Both are essential reading for winelovers.
*THE BATTLE FOR WINE & LOVE
(or how I saved the world from Parkerization) --out now!
New York Times Book Review Section, Summer Reads: "Both lively and sardonic." --Bryan Miller
1)Which wine was your first love?
I still have the bottle. A 1968 Giovanni Scanavino, drunk in 1980.
2)What was your first wine writing assignment?
It was in 1990 on Long Island wine, written for Connoisseur magazine.
3)What is natural wine and why do you champion it?
The Alice definition? Nothing added to the grapes (except maybe a little bit of sulfur before bottling) and nothing taken out (such as alcohol and acidity). The hard-core natural is nothing added ever.
About a decade ago I became fed up with much of the wine I was tasting. The wines I was enjoying, as I later found out, were natural. I became fascinated (and pained) with the ways wine could be manipulated. Dismayed most people believed the marketing crap: wine was made in the vineyard. Many winemakers who were manipulating believed it as well. (Disconnect? I don’t get it.) Like becoming a writer, where I thought I had little choice in the matter, it was this genre of wine that just evolved into my ‘material.’ These are the wine stories, and the issues, that captivate me.
4) You travel quite a bit for your wine writing career. What was your favorite recent wine travel experience and why?
I loved my last visit to Rioja in April. I had never seen the vines there at the very gentle moment of bud break, like a swelling under the bark, for some reason I found it very moving. I also got to drink great old rioja for real cheap and that was thrilling..
5) There has been some discussion on your blog recently about elitism within the natural wine movement.
Do you think natural wine is harder to understand and/or enjoy than so called conventional wine for the average wine consumer?
Many of the wines are vin de soif, easy and can be appreciated by anyone. Many of the hard core natural, the wines that really fit the vin naturel category, like Puzelat, Rimbert, Souhaut, Chaussard, Pacalet…etcetc. can be difficult because the liveliness combined with the translucency is shocking to those who are brought up on 90+ points or commercial wines. Also, there are flavors that the drinker of conventional stuff doesn’t have a vocabulary for, or a context. They can be shocking. But, on the other hand, a favorite story of mine is early on, when Frank Bruni (departing NYTimes restaurant critic) returned to New York for the gig, I gave him a glass of Patapon (made by Chaussard, which was pineau d’aunis).At the time he was still charmed with oak. His reaction? He laughed. And then bought a case. He didn’t have to think twice. That wine changed his relationship to wine. Other people might have spit it out.
6) Why do you write about wine? Is it to share your thoughts or to educate wine lovers or neither?
Good question. Believe me it wasn’t my idea. Only a fool or someone independently wealthy would want to write about wine today. Ach, maybe I’m a fool? I keep on saying I’m getting a job at Whole Foods. I’m moving north and raising goats. There are so few slots and shrinking daily. And frankly, most of what editors want (or people) is what they should drink, save the words and the story, just show me the wine. That’s not what I want to write about. I love writing about the way wine fits into culture. And for some reason even though I’m constantly quitting my blog and pitching stories, I don’t seem to be able to keep my mouth shut or my hands off the keys.
7) Which wine is your current love?
Looking for one! But it’s summer so it’s muscadet. Luneau-Papin, Domaine Pepiere, Guy Bossard and Jo Landron.
But right now I’m feeling older Barolo deprived.
8) What makes you happy?
Oh, Amy, such a question! I’ve been trying to find that one out for decades. I’m just an old Russian Jew in disguise. Being in the moment, being in my skin, writing well, connectedness. Funny, a wine that is transportational shared with someone who ‘gets’ it, delivers that in a sip.
Posted by Amy Atwood at 1:05 PM