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The Nose That Knows: On the road again!

This sponsored column is written by the team at Arrowine & Cheese (4508 Cherry Hill Road in Arlington). Sign up for the email newsletter and receive exclusive discounts and offers. Experience Arrowine’s Tastings & Events. Have a question? Email thenose@arrowine.com.

Hello my friends,

Please excuse my absence during the holiday season. I’m back, well sort of, I’m in Paris concluding my annual “French Death March.” Well, it was annually up until three years ago. Now I can hear you all saying, “Oh that’s rough! Can I carry your bags?” It is usually the comment that follows.

I flew via Amsterdam to Montpellier, France. The Schipol airport is enormous. Luckily I had an eight-hour layover, so there was no need to rush. But, despite the enormity of the place, you can’t find a cup of coffee at 6 a.m. anywhere. So I had to settle for a Heineken, and I thought the Dutch were “coffee people.” So after cooling my heels for eight hours desperately trying not to fall asleep, at the shop-worn bar, in my “get the hell out of my Country Termial,” I was raring to go, albeit exhausted. No glamour here, folks.

Montpellier has been the home to Millésime Bio since 1991, and you guessed it is all about organic wine. It is the place to meet, taste and visit with winemakers who work organically, as most of mine do.

Doug Rosen of Arrowine at Millésime Bio in Montpellier, France. (Photo via Doug Rosen)

It was great to see old friends and have the opportunity to ferret out some “new and interesting” players. The fair is only two days long, and there are also several “off” tastings (located in different venues) before and during the fair. Folks who can’t afford or choose not to participate in the fair seize the opportunity to steal attention while everyone is in town. I stick to my agenda to save precious time.

That was a wise move, and I found some fabulous new winemakers. On the first day, I potentially bagged five. But it’s more challenging than it sounds. You must taste a lot of uninspired, sometimes technically flawed crap to find a winner. But I am always on point and excel at sizing up a winner with just a glance.

I headed to Paris to embark on Phase 2 in Angers, the Salon des Vins de Loire. So why go back to Paris? Driving the 7-plus hours is the only “direct” way to Angers from Montpellier, and the trains take just as long, especially when you are schlepping 2 1/2 weeks’ worth of luggage.

The Loire Salon is my sentimental favorite. The Salon has shrunk over the years. What was once three large halls is now one. And that includes the Bio-Dynamic growers certified by the Federation Demeter International. Biodynamics viticulture goes back to ancient earth healing techniques, with all the processes performed in conjunction with the lunar calendar. So let’s say organic “on steroids.” That was the best I could come up with, but you get the idea.

Like Millésime Bio, there are also “off” tastings. The Salon St. Jean at the Greniers St. Jean is an excellent tasting, started over twenty years ago by winemaker Nicolas Joly, who wrote “the book” on Biodynamics. Based on the works of Rudolph Steiner in 1924, Joly is responsible for bringing Biodynamic practices to the forefront of viticulture, changing the course of winemaking and wine worldwide.

And there is the infamous Dive Boutteille Natural Wine held in Saumur at the Caves Ackermann, and I mean caves. I pass on that one. The caves are cold, dank, and dark. It is impossible to taste well under those conditions. There are good wines with many fine growers, but no thanks.

Wine Paris and Vinexpo start on Monday and run till Wednesday. So I’m here in Paris getting myself ready. Bring it on!

Cheers,
Doug Rosen

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