Why is Bandol the only wine region that leads with Mourvèdre? What would surprise you about the northern Italian grape and wine Barbaresco? What would it be like to spend a day picking grapes in a Sauvignon Blanc vineyard?
In this episode of the Unreserved Wine Talk podcast, I’m chatting with Andy James, author of Bandol Wine and the Magic of Mourvèdre.
You can find the wines we discussed here.
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- Why is Bandol the only appellation to lead with Mourvèdre?
- What are Andy’s favourite pairings for Mourvèdre Rosé?
- What was it like to spend half a day picking in a Sauvignon Blanc vineyard?
- Who are some of the famous past residents of Bandol?
- What did Andy learn from interviewing famous Italian winemaker Angelo Gaja?
- How have Barbaresco and Barolo wines changed over the decades?
- What can you expect from Domaine Le Galantin Bandol Rosé?
- Why does Andy like Lehmann’s Synergie and RIEDEL’s Winewings glasses?
- What’s the tasting experience like for G.D. Vajra Barolo Ravera?
- How can you pair G.D. Vajra Barolo Ravera with food?
- What controversial take does Andy have on decanting?
- Which fascinating book can you read to learn about the history of Burgundy?
- Why is a thermometer Andy’s favourite wine gadget?
- Which English writer would Andy love to share a bottle of breakfast Champagne with?
- Andy’s explanation of why Bandol is the only wine region to lead with Mourvèdre was fascinating. As he said, there’s a salinity and freshness in the wines, good Mourvèdre has to see the sea. It gets the salinity, it gets the saltiness, so even if you get very little rain in Bandol, like 400 or 500 millilitres of rain per year, you get the wind blowing all the time. There’s a lot of speculation that the wind carries salt from the sea, which goes over the grapes. So there’s a salinity, there’s a freshness in the wines, even though they don’t have acidity. And it’s particular to the Bandol area.
- I enjoyed his description of the northern Italian grape and wine Barbaresco and the changes it’s experiencing.
- He painted a terrific picture of what it’s like to spend a day picking grapes in a Sauvignon Blanc vineyard.
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There’s a salinity and freshness in the wines, even though they don’t have acidity, and it’s particular to the Bandol area. - Andy James Click to tweet
The difference between a table wine and a Bandol wine is that the grape in a table wine vineyard is a lazy grape, and the Bandol wine grape is a worker. - Andy James Click to tweet
I like to see the wine evolve over two or three hours of drinking a bottle slowly. - Andy James Click to tweet
About Andy James
Andrew James is a Canadian who received a doctorate in 20th century English literature from Ulster University. He is currently a professor in the School of Commerce at Meiji University in Tokyo. He is the author of a monograph on Kingsley Amis and numerous essays on literature, biography and literary theory, but he is also a wine lover. An interest in the evolution of wine language led him to write essays on Robert Parker, the wine Manga The Drops of God and the French wine novel Clochemerle. He contributes articles on French and Italian wine, along with winemaker interviews, to Académie du Vin Library’s online magazine Venosity.
- Connect with Andy James
- Andy James’ Book | Bandol Wine and the Magic of Mourvèdre (get a 40% discount using code bandol at checkout)
- Andy James on Instagram @AndyWine2021
- Wines We Tasted:
- Lehmann | Synergie Glass
- RIEDEL Winewings Pinot Noir/Nebbiolo Glass
- Pascal Philippe’s Book | Nine Centuries in the Heart of Burgundy: The Cellier aux Moines and Its Vineyards
- Upcoming Launch Events for Wine Witch on Fire: Rising from the Ashes of Divorce, Defamation, and Drinking Too Much
- Closson Chase Vineyard Tasting & Book Signing – Prince Edward County on Thursday, September 28th at 5 pm
- The 2023 Toronto International Festival of Authors – Sunday, October 1st at 7 pm at the Harbourfront Centre
- Ottawa Writers Festival – Friday, October 27th at 6 pm
- Diary of a Book Launch: An Insider Peek from Idea to Publication
- Wine Witch on Fire Free Companion Guide for Book Clubs
- My Books:
- Unreserved Wine Talk | Episode 164: Southern Italy’s Wine, Food & Flavour in Robert Camuto’s South of Somewhere Book
- My new class The 5 Wine & Food Pairing Mistakes That Can Ruin Your Dinner And How To Fix Them Forever
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Thirsty for more?
- Sign up for my free online wine video class where I’ll walk you through The 5 Wine & Food Pairing Mistakes That Can Ruin Your Dinner (and how to fix them forever!)
- You’ll find my books here, including Unquenchable: A Tipsy Quest for the World’s Best Bargain Wines and Red, White and Drunk All Over: A Wine-Soaked Journey from Grape to Glass.
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Andy James (00:00):
Good Mourvèdre has to see the sea. It gets the salinity. It gets the saltiness. So even if in Bandol you get very little rain, like 400 or 500 milliliters of rain per year, you get the wind blowing all the time. There’s a lot of speculation that the wind also carries salt from the sea, which goes over the grapes. So there’s a salinity, there’s a freshness in the wines, even though they don’t have acidity and it’s particular to the Bandol area. I also had a very good Mourvèdre recently in South Africa. The winemaker said to me, yeah, because our Mourvèdre can also see the sea. I think that’s a big part of it.
Natalie MacLean (00:46):
Do you have a thirst to learn about wine? Do you love stories about wonderfully obsessive people, hauntingly beautiful places and amusingly awkward social situations? Well, that’s the blend here on the Unreserved Wine Talk podcast. I’m your host, Natalie MacLean, and each week I share with you unfiltered conversations with celebrities in the wine world, as well as confessions from my own tipsy journey as I write my third book on this subject. I’m so glad you’re here. Now pass me that bottle please and let’s get started.
Welcome to episode 250. Why is Bandol the only wine region that leads with the grape Mourvèdre? What would surprise you about the Northern Italian grape and wine Barbaresco? And what would it be like to spend a day picking grapes in a Sauvignon Blanc vineyard? In today’s episode, you’ll hear the stories and tips that answer those questions in Part Two of our chat with Dr. Andy James, who has just published a new book called Bandol All Wine and the Magic of Mourvèdre. You don’t need to have listened to Part One from last week first, but I hope you’ll go back if you missed it after you listened to this one.
Three of you are going to win a personally signed copy of Andy’s new book. All you have to do is email me at [email protected] and tell me that you’d like to win a copy. I’ll choose three people randomly from those who contact me.
I’m excited to share with you that I have three new launch events for Wine Witch on Fire: Rising from the Ashes of Divorce, Defamation, and Drinking Too Much. I’ll be hosting a tasting of three really top-notch Closson Chase Vineyard wines in Prince Edward County on Thursday, September 28th at 5:00 PM Our host is Sonya Smihs, the owner and award-winning actor, whom you may recall from the terrific TV show Street Legal. Signe Langford, columnist for the Toronto Star, will interview me about the issues in the book, and then we’ll have an open Q & A discussion followed by a book signing, followed by more wine. Join me and make it a weekend getaway at this beautiful time of the year in the heart of wine country. Get your tickets at ClossonChase.com.
Then on Sunday, October 1st at 7:00 PM I’ll be hosting an event as part of the Toronto International Festival of Authors. The festival will take place by the water at the lovely Harbour Front Centre and features literary giants such as Margaret Atwood, Vincent Lam, Emma Donoghue, Sarah Polley, Alissa York, Charlotte Gray, and others. I’ll be leading a tasting of two wines and then sommelier and writer Rebecca Muir will interview me about the book followed by a Q &A discussion and signing and more wine. Get your tickets at FestivalOfAuthors.ca. Your ticket includes all events happening that day.
And finally, I’ll be chatting about the book and leading yes, another wine tasting at the Ottawa Writers Festival on Friday, October 27th at 6:00 PM. Registration for that event will go live this Friday at WritersFestival.org. Please let me know if you can join me at one or more of these events. I’d love to hear from you. Also, let your friends, family, and colleagues know about them. I’ll include links to all of the events in the show notes at NatalieMacLean.com/250.
And now here’s a review from Jennifer Kingsbury in Calgary. “This is a heart wrenching and incredibly vulnerable memoir of a person whose life literally went upside down with divorce, health issues and personal and public attacks on her integrity as a woman in a male dominated industry. I am a scientist, so I understand that part and I know the pain that Natalie goes through. Some industries still have a long way to go as far as equality is concerned. This was not an easy read and there are a lot of emotional scenes, but Natalie has the wit and charm to make the reader laugh in those lighter moments”. Thank you, Jennifer.
If you’ve read the book, I’d love to hear from you at [email protected]. If you haven’t got your copy yet and would like to support it and this podcast, please order it from any online book retailer no matter where you live. Every little bit helps spread the message. I’ll put a link in the show notes to all retailers worldwide at NatalieMacLean.com/250. Okay, on with the show.
So why is Bandol the only French appellation where the Mourvèdre grape is dominant? Why aren’t there others? Why is this a specialist of the region?
Andy James (05:52):
Yeah, that’s a good question, Natalie. I didn’t really understand it myself for a long time, but the appellation next door to Bandol is a huge one called Côtes de Provence, as I’m sure you know Côtes de Provence also has Mourvèdre. They can use Mourvèdre and they do, but it’s more Grenache and Syrah and Carignan. And so Mourvèdre from Côte de Provence is not very interesting. I don’t know exactly the reasons why, but one thing for sure is that in Côtes de Provence, for example, they can irrigate and they do irrigate. They have mostly inland vineyards, so they’re flatter and they irrigate. They have higher yields. So Mourvèdre is totally different there. There’s no tension, there’s no power, and sort of how we describe it, it doesn’t really go the distance.
Natalie MacLean (06:43):
Right. They’re watering it down, literally giving it an easy life, whereas you’ve said grapes need to suffer, they need to be challenged.
Andy James (06:49):
And even the ones that don’t get that royal treatment in Côtes de Provence, they just don’t have the complexity that Bandol does. So I think a lot of it has to do with the sea. They have a saying. They say that good Mourvèdre has to see the sea.
Natalie MacLean (07:03):
I wonder what it gets from the sea?
Andy James (07:05):
Or maybe have its feet. Well, it gets the salinity. It gets the saltiness. So even if it doesn’t rain in Bandol, you get very little rain, like 400 or 500 milliliters of rain per year. So a very small rainfall, but you get the wind blowing all the time. And there’s a lot of speculation that the wind also carries salt from the sea, which goes over the grapes. So there’s a salinity, there’s a freshness in the wines, even though they don’t have acidity. And it’s particular to the Bandol area. I also had a very good Mourvèdre recently in South Africa. I was in South Africa for a wine conference and they had Mourvèdre there, and I was very impressed and the winemaker said to me, yeah, because our Mourvèdre can also see the sea.
Natalie MacLean (07:50):
Andy James (07:52):
So I think that’s a big part of it.
Natalie MacLean (07:55):
Yeah. Okay. And what are your favourite pairings when it comes to Mourvèdre? What do you like to have with a glass of Mourvèdre? The red kind?
Andy James (08:04):
Well, if it’s a Rosé.
Natalie MacLean (08:05):
Okay. Start with the Rosé.
Andy James (08:07):
Okay. Well, I have a few. I guess starting with the Rosé, I would say baked fish is a big one. I like to do say baked white fish with lemon and garlic and rosemary. That’s always a favourite. I also like Ratatouille, very nice Ratatouille with that. I also like oysters, all kinds of shellfish, chicken, carbonara pasta. It can really go with a lot of things.
Natalie MacLean (08:36):
Sure. And the big reds?
Andy James (08:37):
Pepper steak is great. What else would be good. Yeah, we had a lot of Margret de Canard, the duck breast in Bandol. That was a real favorite. So duck breast in an orange sauce.
Natalie MacLean (08:49):
That sounds good. And you also had a story when you were picking in the Sauvignon Blanc vineyard. You spent a half day picking. What were you doing there? Was this in Bandol as well?
Andy James (09:02):
Yeah, it was in Bandol. And I was wondering what I was doing there. What had I done to deserve that half day in the vineyard?
Natalie MacLean (09:08):
[laughter] Do you mean hard work, not punishment.
Andy James (09:13):
It was rather trying because I had spent four days picking in a different vineyard with my wife, and we accepted the invitation to try picking in this Sauvignon Blanc IGP, Table wine, vineyard at another winery for a half day. And in Bandol, they only pick for a half day because it’s too hot. So they started seven o’clock in the morning and they go to 12 o’clock or to one o’clock in the afternoon and call it a day because if you keep picking in the afternoon, the acidity in the grapes goes down and it’s so hot, like 30 – 35 degrees that the grapes can also become oxidized before they get to the cellar. So. it wasn’t just my choice to only do a half a day.
It was a full day. So I wanted to experience what things are like in this IGP vineyard, because basically I had been told that Bandol is really special because the yields that the amount of grapes that you can take, that you can grow in a hectare of the vineyard is like 40 hectolitres per hectare. And for an IGP, it’s a hundred, so more than double. You can irrigate in the IGP in the table wine one, but you can’t irrigate in Bandol. Lots of differences like that, the green harvest. So I thought, okay, I’d really like to try harvesting and see what it’s like. So when I got to the vineyard with my wife, it was just a wall of green, which you wouldn’t see in a Bandol vineyard because of course they can’t water, so you don’t get as much foliage, but also you have to do a green harvest.
You have to trim and cut and get rid of a lot more grapes. So it was just a wall of green and I had to penetrate the wall of green, which is really kind of prickly. You’ve got gloves on but still it’s pretty tough. And then try to pry the grapes away from the tree and then cut them and put them into your basket. Now I’m getting old, Natalie, so my back was killing me after four days of picking before. And every time I bent over, it was like just a wall of pain was going through my back. So I tried kneeling, but if you kneel, you have to get up again, and then you have to move over a little more, and that’s tough. So I thought, well I’ll try sitting down and then I can reach out with both arms and I can pick the grapes in say a two meter radius, and then I’ll scuttle over like a crab to the next area. I thought I was onto something here. After about five minutes, the forewoman who’s standing on the back of a flatbed truck with her arms crossed, she bellows out from across the vineyard. She says, no sitting!
Natalie MacLean (11:45):
[laughter] Sounds tough.
Andy James (11:45):
And I turned to the German woman beside me who was picking, and I said, I’m a volunteer. I don’t get paid for this.
Natalie MacLean (11:53):
Andy James (11:54):
She was pretty serious. Doesn’t matter. Yeah, you’re setting a bad example.
So it was a tough experience because really it’s just overgrown with grapes. And you can really see the difference just in the grapes if you eat them, because it’s like eating grapes from the supermarket.
Natalie MacLean (12:11):
So this was a green harvest?
Andy James (12:14):
If you know what I mean? You buy a bunch of green grapes to eat.
Natalie MacLean (12:17):
Yeah. And were you doing it green harvest?
Andy James (12:20):
Grow as many grapes as you can.
Natalie MacLean (12:22):
Wow. So they were going to use this in table wine.
Andy James (12:24):
This was the harvest.
Natalie MacLean (12:25):
Oh, I see. Wow.
Andy James (12:26):
This was going right into the tank.
Natalie MacLean (12:29):
And what does IGP stand for?
Andy James (12:31):
It’s a indication of. It’s Geographique de Protegé. So it’s a protected geographic indication. It means basically table wine. It’s a new fancy name they use in France for table wine. And what it means is that you can grow just about any grapes you want. You can irrigate, you can age it however you want, but they will say it’s IGP from Bandol. It doesn’t say Bandol, but it has the name of the region that includes Bandol.
Natalie MacLean (13:08):
Okay. Okay, great.
Andy James (13:09):
So the region is delimited, but there’s basically no rules. It’s table wine.
Natalie MacLean (13:15):
Okay, gotcha. Alright. And so there were some famous residents who lived in the town of Bandol, some back to writers again, tell us about them.
Andy James (13:24):
So it was interesting for me, this experience. Just to follow that up, just because another wine maker had told me, he said I often tell the visitors to the winery that the difference between a table wine and a Bandol wine is that the grape in a table wine vineyard is a lazy grape. He just sits there and gathers up. The sun is nice and flat and fertile. He gets lots of water. She has an easy life. And then the Bandol grape is the worker. I mean, he has to really work to get his water. He’s living on these extreme slopes with not very much soil. The sun is beating down on her and it’s a tough life. So the Bandol wine grape is the worker and the table wine grape is the lazy couch potato.
Natalie MacLean (14:07):
I love that comparison. And there were a couple famous resident writers in the town. Who were they?
Andy James (14:14):
Yeah, D.H. Lawrence is probably the most famous one for English people because D.H. Lawrence is pretty well known for his novels. But he went to Bandol twice and basically for convalescence, but also because his wife Frida was German. And this was at the time when there was a lot of backlash against Germans in England. So they found it much easier to live in the south of France. And he wrote a few stories and some poems in Bandol. He said something along the lines of, he liked the food a lot, but the people not so much.
Natalie MacLean (14:45):
Give him another glass of wine.
Andy James (14:48):
So he was one. And then Katherine Mansfield. Well, she came 1917 I believe, because her brother had been killed accidentally at the front in World War I by a friendly fire. And so she went to Bandol to recover from the shock of this and spent about three months. But there’s several famous people who have stayed in Bandol for a year or months. And their names and plaques are on various houses around in the town.
Natalie MacLean (15:14):
Wow. Cool. Alright, let’s switch regions. Now you interviewed Angelo Gala famous Italian winemaker from Piedmont. You spent five hours interviewing him in Japan. What did you learn from him? What did you take away from that?
Andy James (15:28):
Yeah. Well actually I interviewed him in Barbaresco. I went to Barbaresco and met him there. So it was five hours. Yeah, it was wonderful. I guess the big thing about Mr. Gaia is that he’s just a very humble person and you don’t meet a lot of people like that who are so humble, so genuine in the wine world. I don’t think he really has an ego. He just is a tireless promoter and a worker for making his Barbaresco wines and the Nebbiolo grape, making them known throughout the world. So he takes time. He’s now 82 years old I believe, and he’s not retired at all, but he was just amazing. He told me all about how much he loved Japan. He told me about coming to Japan and walking through a park and hearing the cicadas and some experiences he’d had with Japanese food. And I just was really impressed with somebody who is so accessible and so passionate. It was a wonderful experience.
Natalie MacLean (16:23):
And how did he talked and tasted about Barbaresco, which is a lighter red wine that among many that he’s famous for. How has it changed?
Andy James (16:33):
Well, I mean Barbaresco and Barolo were the two most famous regions, as you know, that are right next door to each other. And they both use the Nebbiolo grapes. So it has, of course, with global warming, with climate change, the wines have probably gone up one or two notches in alcohol. So maybe 25 years ago, the standard would’ve been 13.5% alcohol. And now you regularly have 15 or 15.5.
I think also what has happened in a good sense, in a really good sense, is that you see that people have really updated their techniques in the vineyard and also in the cellar. So you don’t have your grandfather’s old stinking bulk barrels that should have been discarded decades ago and are infecting your wines with all kinds of crazy bacteria. Those problems have been solved. You have a lot of techniques now in the vineyard to introduce freshness into the wine. You have everybody doing basically organic wine growing, a lot of biodynamic wine growing and wine making as well. So I think the wines are getting better and better, but the challenge still is the extreme weather. They have months and months with not a drop of rain. They have a lot more heat than they used to have. So what do you do? And they’re looking at, say, planting grapes on northern facing slopes that would’ve been considered until now to be areas where you planted say Barbera or a lighter variety or white grapes. And now they’re even thinking about planting maybe Nebbiolo.
Natalie MacLean (18:02):
Yeah, because famously the southern slopes were always the prestigious bottles, whether it was Italy or France or whatever you knew the south facing because it would get the early morning sun, but also not the harsher Western sun or whatever. I’m getting all my geographies mixed up. But yeah, that is changing that they’re actually going to go with northern exposure for less heat, less sun with climate change.
Andy James (18:27):
And a lot of them also are doing a grafting too now. So they graft, they identify really sturdy, good masal selection vines. The vines that are from pre-phyollxera times or are not clones, ones that have been used and have been replant over and over, but they’re not using the clones anymore. They’re trying to get vines that can be drought resistant that have more individuality than the clones. So there’s a lot of things going on that they’re trying to do and they’re doing better and better wine.
Natalie MacLean (18:57):
That’s great. Good to hear. So speaking of wine, let’s taste. What two wines do you have with you today?
Andy James (19:03):
Do you want to start with a Rosé?
Natalie MacLean (19:05):
Sure. Tell us about it. Maybe hold it up to the camera there. We’ll also put a link in the show notes so that people can see which wines and possibly maybe find them. Okay. Oh, nice and pale.
Andy James (19:16):
Okay, so this is the, alright. This is my Bandol. It’s called Le Galantin and its domain, Le Galantin, is from Bandol. And it’s a 2020 rose. So it’s now three years old. Promising. It’s not the Rosé of the year.
Natalie MacLean (19:34):
Right, that’s true. And how does it taste?
Andy James (19:38):
Well, we’ll try it right now and see. I thought I would show you what I usually do with rose. Oh,
Natalie MacLean (19:43):
Oh, that’s a big glass…
Andy James (19:46):
Rosé white is a big, bold glass.
Natalie MacLean (19:46):
that I associate with Pinot noir. But you’re using it for Rosé?
Andy James (19:50):
Yeah. Yeah. This is from Lehman. Lehman’s Synergy White wine glass. And I use this a lot for Rosé and for White, unless it happens to be a Riesling or for example an unoaked chardonnay. I mean something that you want to emphasize the structure more. Minerality, for example. So if you really want to want to expand and to get all the aromas collecting, this is what I like.
Natalie MacLean (20:15):
We’ll have to link to that glass too in the show notes. I’ll follow up with you after our chat because I’m intrigued by that glass. It’s got for those who are just listening to the podcast, nice round bowl, then it comes up a bit more tightly at the top, so it’s concentrating those aromas. Lovely. And so what do you get from this?
Andy James (20:34):
It’s a very nice glass.
Natalie MacLean (20:35):
Yeah. What do you get from that?
Andy James (20:36):
Well, it’s now three years old and what’s happening with a good Bandol always happens with a good Bandol Rosé is that you get the fresh fruits turn into more sort of, I wouldn’t say candied fruits, but almost like an over ripe. This is a peach aroma, but it’s more now like an over ripe peach. So you get that a little bit of candied aroma. And in the mouth, it’s much rounder than it was before. It’s a little bit soft, but there’s still tension there. And it’s really quite round, almost chewy, which is a really indescribably pleasurable experience. Some people who don’t like it so much, they prefer the freshness and the vitality in a one-year-old or two year old Rosé. But as it gets older, it gets round, which I like.
Natalie MacLean (21:20):
And by rounder, is it kind of losing its acidity or the fruit is blossoming more and the acidity or perception of it is going down? Is that what’s happening?
Andy James (21:29):
There’s not much acidity to begin with, and that’s something that’s very hard to understand. Some winemakers would tell me that they would measure the acidity and it’s really quite negligible, but it feels like it has acidity. And this is coming from the minerality, from the salinity. It has a sensation of a mineral freshness, which kind of tricks your mind into thinking it had more acidity than it does. I think it’s probably just the vibrant fresh fruit becomes a little bit plumper over time. I can’t really describe it any better than that.
Natalie MacLean (21:59):
No, that’s good. That gives us a sense of it. And then what is the second wine that you have?
Andy James (22:04):
Oh, this. Moving on so quickly. Well, I’ve going to take another sip by this one. Okay.
Natalie MacLean (22:09):
We’ve got a schedule here to maintain Andy. Just kidding. I’m curious about the other one.
Andy James (22:14):
Okay. The other one is a Barolo. G.D. Vajra. And it’s from Barolo from the Ravera Cru, which is in Novello. So I’ll just pour a little bit of this one.
Natalie MacLean (22:25):
And again, we’ll link to that in the show notes. Now you’ve got another odd looking glass that is fascinating. This one is a bit curvy. Is this the same company?
Andy James (22:36):
This is Riedel’s wine wing series. And this is a glass made for Nebbiolo and also Pinot Noir. They recommend either one. I like it. It’s really good again for letting the wine breathe, which now only Mourvèdre, but also Nebbiolo likes to breathe. But it also collects the aromas quite nicely
Natalie MacLean (22:55):
At the top. Yeah. I wonder why they put that little curvy thing in. It’s almost like there’s a waistline gathering and then it goes out again with the small hips. I don’t what that’s doing for the wine. Maybe agitating it as you swirl it or something. I don’t know.
Andy James (23:09):
Yeah, I think it encourages aeration. But for the listeners out there who are a little bit skeptical, I mean, if you had, say for example, a Pinot Noir glass, that might work okay. I like the Pinot Noirs to sort of go up like this.
Natalie MacLean (23:21):
Yeah, the bowls. Yeah.
Andy James (23:23):
But I think with Nebbiolo it likes to breathe a little more. So I like this one being a little more open
Natalie MacLean (23:28):
At the top. Yeah.
Andy James (23:31):
And if you have a Cabernet Sauvignon glass, it tends to be a little bit narrower and more constricting. And I don’t think it works as well with Nebbiolo. It really needs to stretch out its limbs and express itself.
Natalie MacLean (23:41):
Yeah, absolutely. So you have a taste of that. I think they called Nebbiolo the Pinot Noir of Piedmont. I don’t know if it’s the or if I’m mixing that up with something else, but it’s expressive.
Andy James (23:56):
Yeah, they say Barolo is the king of wines and the wine of kings.
Natalie MacLean (24:00):
Okay. What do you get…
Andy James (24:01):
I feel like a king tonight.
Natalie MacLean (24:03):
Okay. Yes. I know you’re in Tokyo, so you’re 13 hours ahead of me. So it’s morning my time when we’re recording this. So thus I’m sticking to water. But you’re just getting warmed up for your evening.
A wise choice.
Yeah, I just cannot stomach a Barolo before breakfast. That might be a book title, Barolo Before Breakfast.
Andy James (24:27):
Natalie MacLean (24:29):
So what are you getting for that wine?
Andy James (24:31):
Well, this is quite savoury in the nose. It’s quite herbal. Really lovely. Sort of a heather aroma combining with sweet tobacco, cherries. You have, not always, but almost always in Barolo you can find tar and roses. And it sounds like a rock band, right? Tar and Roses,
Yes, it does.
But not quite. But it’s really a nice series of combinations there, sweet and sour. And then in the mouth. What I really love about Barolo the most is in the mouth. Again, it’s quite savoury. It has a balsamic element to it. Good acidity. It’s rich, but it never feels heavy, which is really an incredible thing because this wine is 14.5%, but it doesn’t feel like that. It feels very light until you swallow it and then you get the tannin kicking in and it’s quite a nice drying finish, but it’s a powerful finish. So it’s a lovely wine.
Natalie MacLean (25:23):
Andy James (25:24):
I wish you could join me for a glass.
Natalie MacLean (25:26):
Yes. I wish I could butt later. And what would you pair with that
Andy James (25:32):
For Barolo? I like steak. Again, I like beef, but one of my favorite ones is probably risotto, farro risotto. Mushroom risotto is great with Barolo,
Natalie MacLean (25:42):
Lots of umami and some of the wild feral fungal kind of aromas you sometimes get in Barolo in northern Italian wines. Yeah.
Andy James (25:52):
Natalie MacLean (25:52):
Truffle accented risotto is also beautiful, I find with those wines. Not the chocolate kind of course, but the fungi kind. Okay. So I can’t believe how fast time has flown. So let us go to our lightning round. You can keep sipping if you like Andy. Is there something that you believe about wine which others disagree?
Andy James (26:15):
Well, I guess the one thing that I mentioned earlier is about decanting. I don’t think that decanting really serves much of a purpose. I told you about my grandmother’s theory. With older wines, often you’ll meet Americans, I’m going to say Americans, maybe Canadians are guilty of this too. But there are a lot of Barolo lovers and in Canada and the US and they often talk about double decanting and triple decanting. I guess they really want to make sure the wine is perfectly awake and expressive when they drink it. What I like to do is to see the wine evolve over two or three hours of drinking a bottle slowly with my wife, having it with a meal. And as I said, you can open it up a day before if it’s really a powerful wine, and then drink it slowly. So I become a convert to that way of thinking as opposed to the decanting, except for say, Cabernet Sauvignon, a Bordeaux wine that has a lot of sediment or some wines do benefit from decanting, but not that many.
Natalie MacLean (27:13):
Okay. Alright. I’m going to ask you about your favorite wine book, but first show us your book on screen. For those who are watching the video version, they can see it. For those who are listening, we will put a link in the show notes. So this is your beautiful book on Bandol and Mourvèdre. The Magic of Mourvèdre. Looks beautiful. And you want to do a little flip through the book? Are there any sort of maps or anything like that? Or pictures?
Andy James (27:36):
Yeah, we have a couple of maps in the beginning, but I have a lot of pictures like this of the interviews that I did with people.
Natalie MacLean (27:43):
Oh, lovely. Lovely vineyard shot with…
Andy James (27:45):
And that I have, as you mentioned before, the 25 wines that I like the most.
Natalie MacLean (27:50):
Oh, there they are.
Andy James (27:50):
We did it like this.
Natalie MacLean (27:51):
The bottles. Beautiful shots.
Andy James (27:52):
My wife took these beautiful pictures.
Natalie MacLean (27:54):
Yeah, she is a photographer. That’s lovely. My goodness. Those are beautiful pictures. And you were saying just while we’re looking at the book, that people can order this directly from the publisher and get 40% off the price?
Andy James (28:06):
That’s right. So if you go to Cambridge Scholars Publishing, which is the name of the publisher, and you go to their website and you go ahead and put the book into your basket. Create an account just like you would on Amazon, for example. Then when you check out, you can put in a code, it says discount codes, and you can put in Bandol B A N D O L 4 0. And you get a 40% discount.
Natalie MacLean (28:31):
Awesome. And we will definitely put that all in the show notes as well. And then also, do you have another favorite wine book that you’ve read?
Andy James (28:40):
Yeah, I guess I always think that the last wine book I read is the one I like the most. So I’ve read so many good ones, but I recently read this one big monster here.
Natalie MacLean (28:50):
Wow. On Burgundy. Beautiful cover, Big Illustrated cover. What is it? Nine Centuries in the Heart of Burgundy. Is this about wine or the whole region as a whole?
Andy James (29:02):
Yeah, it’s about this place which means the cellar of the monks. And it’s a vineyard in Gevrey in the south of Burgundy, actually in the Cotes Chalonnaise. And I had a little exchange with the owner of this winery. He bought the winery in 2004. He was a businessman before and he bought it, but he was very interested in the history of it. It’s a 900 year old history and it was owned by monks and the monks built walls around their vineyard and protected it and kept it going. And then it was privatized about 200 years ago. So the current owner was very interested in the history and he teamed up with a French historian to write this book. And it has of course, lots of beautiful illustrations like this.
Natalie MacLean (29:47):
Yeah. Gorgeous grapes and vineyards.
Andy James (29:50):
If you want to know about the history of Burgundy and how the monks, the church contributed to the development of wine. It’s a great book for that.
Natalie MacLean (29:58):
Excellent. Again, we’ll put it in the show notes. And do you have a favourite wine gadget?
Andy James (30:03):
Yes, I do. I brought it right here. Do you know what this is?
Natalie MacLean (30:06):
I do not. It looks like a little pedometer to measure your steps. What is that?
Andy James (30:12):
You got the last part of the word, right? It’s a thermometer.
Natalie MacLean (30:15):
Oh, okay. For your wine temperature.
Andy James (30:18):
Yeah. So what you do is put it into the glass and you just push the button and it tells you temperature.
Natalie MacLean (30:24):
Okay. So you don’t leave it in the glass or touch the wine, but just the temperature above in the air is going to tell you what your wine temperature is.
Andy James (30:33):
So you can see there it’s 23.5, and so it’s quite accurate. You just pointed directly at the wine. And I like this a lot because for example, with the Rosé wine today before I came on to talk with you, I put it in the fridge and chilled it, took it out and poured a half a glass to make sure the wine was okay. And I measured the temperature and it was 6.8 degrees,
Natalie MacLean (30:57):
Bit too cold.
Andy James (30:57):
Which is too cold. Right after 15 minutes when I had finished tasting it and making some notes, it was 17.1 degrees, which is a little bit too warm. So I think people are not always really aware or sensitive to temperatures. I mean, you see people putting on frozen sleeves on their whites and the Rosé and chilling the heck out of it. That doesn’t do any service. And then with red wines, you see them often served at room temperature, but in the summer that could be 25 or 26 degrees.
Natalie MacLean (31:30):
Yeah, you’re right. Temperature’s a big thing. Absolutely.
Andy James (31:31):
I like the Skagit for raising your awareness. That’s all.
Natalie MacLean (31:35):
All. And is there a brand name or an official name for that thermometer?
Andy James (31:40):
Doesn’t seem to be
Natalie MacLean (31:40):
To be okay, but it’s made for wine, is it?
Andy James (31:43):
It is made for wine, yeah.
Natalie MacLean (31:44):
Purpose built. Okay. Alright, cool. And if you could share a bottle of wine with anyone living or dead, who would that be and which wine would you open?
Andy James (31:53):
Yeah, I was thinking of writers because writers are always the people I like to talk to since I spend so much time researching them. Evelyn Waugh was a famous English writer,
Natalie MacLean (32:03):
Andy James (32:05):
Another Misanthrope. He didn’t like anybody, but he liked Champagne and he famously said that he would drink Champagne anytime of the day or night with anything or without anything. So I’d like to have a glass of breakfast Champagne with Evelyn Waugh.
Natalie MacLean (32:19):
Beautiful. Did he write Brideshead Revisited?
Andy James (32:22):
Natalie MacLean (32:23):
And there’s a famous wine scene in that, and they talk about Burgundy being a shy little thing and they go on and they open up because they’re drinking from the parents’ cellar.
Andy James (32:33):
Exactly. It’s a beautiful scene. Yeah, yeah,
Natalie MacLean (32:35):
I love that. Awesome. So yeah, he would be great. But maybe you can the other misanthropes and they could get into a big argument, Graham Greene and Kingsley Amis, and Evelyn Waugh, If you could put up a billboard in downtown Tokyo, what would it say?
Andy James (32:50):
Oh, right now if I could put it up right now, I would say, could you turn down the heat, please?
Natalie MacLean (32:56):
Oh, you want to billboard that the Big Guy in the sky might see?
Andy James (33:00):
Yeah, hopefully I pointed up that way. So it’s about 36 degrees in Tokyo today.
Natalie MacLean (33:05):
Oh my gosh, that’s intense. Intense.
Andy James (33:08):
Natalie MacLean (33:09):
As we wrap up, is there anything that we haven’t covered that you’d like to mention, Andy?
Andy James (33:14):
No, I think that’s everything. Thank you very much for having me, Natalie. It was great talking with you and I really appreciate it.
Natalie MacLean (33:20):
It’s been a delight. Thank you. Great stories, great tips. And let’s just regroup on how people can find you and your book online.
Andy James (33:28):
Yeah, so Cambridge Scholars Publishing is the name of the publisher. And if you go directly to their website, you can get a discount. I apologize for the book being expensive. Because it’s an academic publisher, so they’re targeting university libraries and not bookstores. So that’s the reason for it. But you can at least get a 40% discount, and if you’d like to talk with me or communicate with me or see what I’m drinking, you can go to Instagram AndyWine2021. So that’s where you can find me.
Natalie MacLean (33:59):
Excellent, Andy. Well, I am going to say goodbye for now, but thank you and I hope that we can chat again. We have lots of great stories to share and I really appreciate this.
Andy James (34:09):
Thank you, Natalie.
Natalie MacLean (34:09):
Andy James (34:11):
Natalie MacLean (34:17):
Well there you have it. I hope you enjoyed my chat with Andy. Here are my takeaways. Andy’s explanation on why Bandol is the only wine region to lead with Mourvèdre is fascinating. As he said, there’s a salinity and freshness in these wines. Good Mourvèdre has to see the sea or even have its feet in it, meaning its vine roots. It gets the salinity and saltiness and so that even though there’s very little rain in Bandol only about four, 500 milliliters a year, you get the wind blowing all the time and there’s a lot of wind that’s carrying the salt from the sea, which goes over the grapes. So even though they don’t get acidity naturally because it’s very warm climate, they’re still getting that freshness and salinity that’s particular to the Bandol region. Two, I also enjoyed his description of the Northern Italian grape and wine Barbaresco as well as Barolo and the changes that they’re experiencing.And finally, he painted a terrific picture of what it’s like to spend a day picking grapes in a Sauvignon Blanc vineyard.
In the show notes, you’ll find a full transcript of my conversation with Andy, links to his website and books, the video versions of these conversations on Facebook and YouTube live, where you can order my book online no matter where you live, and links to my three upcoming wine tasting and book launch events. That’s all in the show notes at NatalieMaclean.com/250. Email me if you have a sip, tip, question or would like to win a copy of Andy’s book or if you’ve read my book or in the process of reading it at [email protected]. I would love to hear from you.
If you missed episode 164, go back and take a listen. I chat with Robert Camuto, author of South of Somewhere about Italy’s wine, foods and flavours. I’ll share a short clip with you now to whet your appetite.
Robert Camuto (36:16):
Wine back in the day wasn’t something that it is now. It was an accompaniment. It wasn’t the star of the table. When you look at southern Italy, there’s so many darn flavours there and so much delicious, spicy food and fresh tomatoes, peppers, greens, artichokes. Maybe it’s a little more difficult for wine to be the standout star of that.
Natalie MacLean (36:42):
Because the flavours are so intense.
Robert Camuto (36:44):
There’s so much else going on at the table, so much other intensity. Everybody loves Burgundy, but what does one eat in Burgundy? There’s some nice bourguignon, some nice snails, but it’s not the same thing as having pasta with sea urchins and clams and peppers and all the different sauces. They drank it as a food, as a very simple pairing and did not savour wine to the extent that we do today.
Natalie MacLean (37:17):
If you like this episode, please email or tell one friend about it this week, especially someone who’d be interested in the wines, tips, and stories we shared. You won’t want to miss next week when we chat with Kara Ferreira and Calla Bischoff hosts of the fun and irreverent podcast, the Boozy Bitties. Thank you for taking the time to join me here. I hope something great is in your glass this week, perhaps a juicy mouthwatering, Barbaresco.
You don’t want to miss one juicy episode of this podcast, especially the secret full bodied bonus episodes that I don’t announce on social media. So subscribe for free now at NatalieMacLean.com/subscribe. Meet me here next week. Cheers.