Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Jenny & Francois Selections have a well-deserved cult following amongst astute wine lovers and wine trade alike. Jenny Lefcourt and Francois Ecot began importing wines from France in 2000. Their import portfolio focus is terroir driven wines that are grown organically and have minimal intervention in the cellar.
1. What were you doing before you founded Jenny & Francois Selections?
I was an academic. I did a PhD at Harvard in the French department and
taught literature, film and language in France and at Harvard as a
graduate student. I wrote my dissertation on 1920s and 1930s French
film. I spent a lot of time in the Paris archives doing research.
François was a jazz musician and tuned and restored accordions for a
living before going back to school for wine making in Beaune. And lots
of wine tastings for pleasure!
2. When did you become a wine importer and why?
We started our import company in 2000, so we will soon celebrate 10
years as importers! François and I were always going to wine
tastings, vineyards, wine shops, and it
occurred to us that maybe our love of natural wine could turn into our
jobs since we were both ready to move away from our
careers of the time. We see what we do as a political choice: when we
came to NY in the late 1990s, we didn't see any of the natural wines
we were drinking in France. We thought it would be great to introduce
Americans to the beautifully pure wines that we had grown to love and
that are a true expression of the multitude of terroirs, disappearing
varietals and traditions of France. We wanted to defend natural wines
in the world, against big industrial wines with no life, no
personality, no expression of "difference." We wanted to bring the
taste of the varied terroirs of France to the US in the form of these
pure, real, and revolutionary wines.
Francois did apprenticeships in many vineyards (with Hervé Souhaut, Thierry
Puzelat, and Thierry Allemand) to learn literally from the ground up
what wine and wine making is all about. There are very few importers
who have done the work to really understand what goes in to making
3. What do enjoy most and least about being a wine importer?
I enjoy sharing wine with wonderful people. I have met so many great
people in the wine world and it is lovely to share great wine and food
and discussion, both in France and in the US. Putting my nose to a
wine and feeling that thrill of being overwhelmed by something pretty.
Least? Its no fun when a restaurant is doing badly to have to ask for money!
4. How do you and Francois decide which wines you will import?
Luckily we almost always agree! Mostly it is pretty instinctual. If we
find a beautiful wine that speaks to us, we
usually have a moment of "yes! this is it!
5. Please share one of your favorite food and wine pairings.
What is amazing is to be surprised that something works that you
wouldn't imagine could. We did a wine dinner at ICI restaurant in
Brooklyn a few years back with Domaine l'Anglore. They paired his
floral, magical Tavel with a tomato "tatin". When I looked at the menu
I couldn't imagine what that would be like, and it was one of those
pairings that made everything spectacularly pleasurable. It is always a pleasure
to work with great chefs who know wine well: The Farm on Adderley,
Roebling Tea Room, and In Vino have invented lovely pairings recently for wine dinners.
6. What makes you feel happy?
Harvest under the sun, and taking a break to sip something that smells
as good as the Autumn air.
Posted by Amy Atwood at 6:12 PM