a day visit to a natural winemaker's home and vineyards in the Loire Valley

I know it's been a while since I last scribbled out a post, completely backsliding on my promise to communicate more often. And have amassed a bit to say, so as not to make this too long post, I'm going to divide it into three :
— a day with a natural winemaker
cooking up and down on the West Coast
torta caprese

Most recently I've been working on a new excursion on my website : a day in the Loire Valley at a natural winemaker's table and in his vineyards. (My dear friend Emily, of Paris Paysanne blog fame, wrote a generous article, recently posted.) I'm excited about this opportunity to take people for the day to one of many passionate natural winemaker friends along the rivers of the Loire Valley, where the day will start with cooking up a great earthen meal in the winemaker's kitchen with seasonal produce and artisan cheeses from the region. Then sitting around the table with the winemaker—a selection of his wines in hand—to enjoy our meal together.

What particularly stirs about this day-trip is the occasion it offers me to talk about, and demonstrate, pairing wines with vegetables (something I'll be doing from now on when posting a recipe)... as all too often the "science" of wine pairing seems only to speak in terms of meat, fish,  perhaps asparagus ('cuz it's so fussy about what one drinks with it) and wild mushrooms (because they're wild mushrooms)... When there's a whole world of savory discovery in paying attention to what one sips with roots, leaves, flowers and shoots.

At the table the winemaker will surely carry on passionately about natural (or raw, or living, or naked) wine, it's history, definition(s)—and controversy. Methods of farming, or tending the vine; harvesting the grape, with hands and bucket; vinification, or accompanying the "jus" as it turns into wine. The meaning of terroir, the importance of a healthy soil, the teeming microbial life within, a healthy grape and thus abundant, healthy natural yeast. Acidity, minerality, the mother rock, le perlant, the "nothing added, nothing taken away" philosophy—striving for an equilibrium, a stability in the juice itself that should allow the winemaker to bottle his wines without the addition of sulfites. So that in your glass you have but the expression of those grapes grown that year in that spot, with that year's wind, sun, shade, rain, slope, river, woods, and the critters inhabiting them all adding their color and flair...

There'll be ample time to ask any and all questions concerning natural wine—all those queries you've pondered. There'll surely even be an "ah" moment or two in the exchange.

Then a walk with the winemaker through vineyards to cup a bit of soil in one's hands, then onto the chai, or cellar, to talk maceration, fermentation, the risks and joys of vinifying "nakedly." A tasting, will be in order, of a wine or two still in the process of "becoming," lying yet low in the barrel. And as the afternoon slowly descends, you'll settle into a train heading back to Paris.

Would love you all to come and join me for a day in the Loire, in the vines, at the table and in the presence of the passionate men and women who make these beautiful wines. And do please pass the word around to all your friends, near and far. Would be such pleasure to have throngs of enthusiastic folks to share in this unique experience!

Below is a imaged resume of the day...
You can visit my web page for more information and... to book a day—with great pleasure!

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