About this Blog

The blog focuses on the essence of wine and food, not how many points or stars it receives. The opinions are mine and should be taken only as that, an opinion not gospel.

Like many collectors, initially I was very much influenced by wine ratings. I purchased wines based on points, even if I had never tasted the wine. And it was much worse than that. I would drink a wine with a high rating, not like it, yet since it was highly rated I’d rationalize that I did not yet appreciate the wine, or that my palate was not sophisticated enough to understand the wine. How’s that for lunacy? As a result my cellar grew in all directions while my palate narrowed. By the time I realized the style of wine that I enjoyed, my cellar abounded with wines whose styles I did not enjoy. All of these wines were very highly rated, just not my cup of tea, or glass of wine to be more accurate. Fortunately I was able to sell many of these wines to those who either enjoyed them or wanted highly rated wines. Don’t misunderstand, I am not against wines with high ratings, in fact I own many. It is just that I now purchase wines based on the producer, the style and my palate, not the rating. Nor do I shun reading reviews. I very much respect Antonio Galloni, Alan Meadows, Eric Asimov and John Gilman and read their reviews routinely. I pay attention to what they write, not the points they award.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Joe Dressner

The wine world was saddened with the passing of Joe Dresner from a brain tumor on Saturday night. Joe was the founder of Louis/Dressner Selections based in NYC. The Louis/Dresnner Selections name may be familiar to some of you and not to others. Joe Dressner was extremely passionate about Old World wines, and as you know if you read this blog regularly, I share the same passion. While I never met the man (oh how I wish I had) I am a huge fan of his portfolio of wine producers. In fact my cellar contains more than 20 cases from 15 of his producers. Eric Asimov, wine writer for the NY Times, wrote an excellent article about Joe in today’s Times. You can read the article here. Alice Fiering also wrote a moving piece about him on her blog. You can read it here.

I first learned about Joe Dressner in Alice Fiering’s book The Battle for Love and Wine or How I Saved the World From Parkerization. Her segment on Joe made me sit up and pay attention. As someone who was just beginning to discover wines that were made as a pure expression of the grape, soil and climate of the region, I started to purchase some of his wines and was richly rewarded with how good wines can be when they are produced this way. I would encourage you to consider trying them. One warning however, if you do, they will begin to occupy space in your cellar ( a very good thing if you are serious about wine). Here are a few of my favorites from the Dressner portfolio.

Teobaldo Cappellano Barolo. Baldo, as he was known until his untimely death last year, was one of Piedmont’s iconic old world wine makers. His Barolos are beautifully crafted expressions of the Nebbiolo grape. His Dolcetto and Barabara are equally expressive of their grapes. His wines are reasonably priced and would be a great addition to any cellar. I had the good fortune to visit with Baldo at his estate in 2008. It is a highlight of my wine experiences.

Another Piedmont icon is Luca Roagna. Like Cappellano his Barolos and Barbarescos are gorgeous expressions of pure Nebbiolo. Also reasonably priced for wine of this quality, if you are a fan of Nebbiolo his wines are a must.

Stanislao Radikon from the Friuli Venezia region of Italy at the Slovanian border is another completely natural wine maker. His white or “orange wines” such as Ribolla Gialla & Oslavje (white blend) are stunningly pure and balanced on the palate and provide a remarkable drinking experience. At about $45 a bottle, they represent a fantastic bargain.

The most recent Louis Dressner wines that I tried (and purchased) were a rosé, Clos Roche Blanche Touraine Pineau D'Aunis Rosé, and a red wine, Clos Roche Blanche Touraine L'Arpent Rouge from Clos Roche Blanche from the Loire region of France. To say these wines impressed me would be an understatement. The rosé is one of the best I have ever tasted, pure and peppery on the palate with a wonderfully dry finish. The red exhibited a peppery Grenache-like palate that was also very pure and balanced on the palate. The grape in both of these wines is Pineau D’Aunis, also known as Chinon Noir, a red wine grape variety that is grown primarily in the Loire Valley around Anjou and Touraine. The price, hold on to your hat, $20 a bottle. Unbelievable for wine of this quality.

Other Dressner selections that I own and enjoy include Francois Pinon, Olga Raffault, Bernard Baudry, Domaine de Moor and Dard & Ribo. All are in the $20 to $40 price range. I encourage you to check them out and the rest of the portfolio at Louis/Dressner Selections. I promise you, you will be glad you did. Many of these wines can be purchased at Chambers Street Wines in NYC.

Joe, you will be missed, but I am sure your legacy and portfolio will continue on under the guidance of your family and partner.

My heartfelt condolences to his family and may his soul rest in peace.