Our guest this evening has been writing about wine for the past 12 years for Forbes, USA Today, Modern Luxury, Decanter and Southern Living. She has traveled from the vineyards of Argentina to the press houses of Champagne.
You can also find her on the CNN Airport Channel as a travel expert and on WSB Atlanta radio talking about wine.
Originally from St. Louis, Missouri, she holds a bachelor’s degree in art history and a master’s degree in education from Vanderbilt University. She holds a WSET Intermediate Level certificate and lives in Atlanta with her three kids, one dog and one very patient husband.
And she joins me live now from her home in Atlanta, Georgia: Welcome to the Sunday Sipper Club Katie Bell!
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You visited Domaine Romanee-Conti in Burgundy, France, which makes benchmark Pinot Noir. Apart from meticulous winemaking, what is it that makes this wine one of the best in the world?
How much does a single bottle of DRC sell for?
When was this vineyard held ransom? By whom? For how much? How did the issue get resolved?
Why is Burgundy, as a wine region, so confusing?
How would you describe DRC?
How do you define elegance and finesse in wine?
Why did Aubert want to get Burgundy and its 1420 climates a UNESCO heritage designation?
Katie has been trotting the globe in pursuit of wine, food and travel stories for Forbes, USA Today, Modern Luxury, Decanter and Southern Living for over 12 years. Her work has also appeared in several in-flight magazines including Delta Sky and Silk Air Silkwinds. In the past she worked as senior editor at The Wine Report and she is the coauthor of The Everything Guide to Ireland. In 2013 her Forbes.com blog post titled, “Is There a Difference Between Cheap and Expensive Wine?” was a finalist for Wine Blog Post of the Year (Wine Blog Awards), and in 2012 she was awarded the MAGS Association Magnolia Award for excellence in writing and editing. She currently holds a WSET Intermediate Level certificate and lives in Atlanta with her three kids, one dog and one very patient husband.
Katie has been writing about food, wine and travel for over a dozen years. Her experiences have taken her from the vineyards of Argentina to the press houses of Champagne. In between she has co-authored a travel guide to Ireland, The Everything Guide to Ireland (Adams Media), written a city guide for Atlanta (Northstar Media) and worked as a Senior Editor at The Wine Report.
To date her work has appeared in: USA Today, Atlanta Magazine, Southern Living, Decanter, The Atlantan, Jezebel, Men’s Book, The Atlanta-Journal Constitution, The Miami Herald, Delta Sky, CHILD, Where Atlanta, Private Air, The Private Journey, FOUR Magazine, MyMidwest, Simply Buckhead, Points North, The Atlantan Bride, and Flavors. She is also a monthly contributor to the Lifestyle section of Forbes.com, where she writes on travel, wine and food.
Katie also works for several custom publishing companies and provides writing services such as website and newsletter copy to local and national corporations. She has served as a food and wine judge in several Atlanta area competitions. In 2008 she made her television debut as a food judge on Fox’s Good Day Atlanta. You can also find her on the CNN Airport Channel as a travel expert and on WSB Atlanta radio talking about wine.
Originally from St. Louis, Missouri, she holds a bachelor’s degree in art history and a master’s degree in education from Vanderbilt University. Prior to her writing career, she spent several years teaching the elementary and middle grades in Gwinnett County, Georgia. Katie currently lives in Atlanta with her husband and three children. When she’s not writing she can usually be found chauffeuring someone somewhere and re-stocking the pantry for her hungry teenagers.
What’s the history of forestry in France? Why are they famous for it?
How are barrels toasted?
You interviewed Bordeaux winemaker Pierre Seillan, of Château Lassègue, next to a 160 year-old oak tree in the Vosges forest. Why?
Why is he fascinated with which forest each of his barrels comes from and how the differences influence his wine?
What’s the best piece of wine advice you’ve ever received?
What’s the most useful wine gadget you’ve come across? How did you discover it?
If you could share a bottle of wine with any person outside the world, living or dead, who would that be? What would you ask them? (Let’s exclude relatives from this please so that viewers can identify the person you pick.)
Natalie: 01:23 Have you ever wondered what it would be like to taste the
world’s best wine and which one is it? More importantly? Well,
we’re going to explore that topic and a whole lot more with our
guest on the Sunday supper club tonight. I’m Natalie MacLean,
editor of Canada’s largest wine review site
@NatalieMacLean.com. And we gather here every Sunday at
6:00 PM eastern. That’s Toronto New York time to talk to the
most interesting people in the world of wine.
Natalie: 03:38 All right, so let me get to our guest. Our guest this evening has
been writing about wine for the past 12 years for Forbes USA
Today, modern luxury Decanter and Southern Living magazine.
She has traveled from the vineyards of Argentina to the press
houses of Champagne. You can also find her on the CNN airport
channel as a travel expert and on WSB Atlanta radio, talking
about wine originally from St Louis, Missouri. She holds a
bachelor’s degree in art history and a master’s degree in
education from Vanderbilt University. She also has her w set
intermediate level certificate and lives in Atlanta with her three
kids, one dog, and one very patient husband, she says, and she
joins me live now from her home in Atlanta. Welcome to the
Sunday supper club. Katie Bell. Hello. Glad to be here. Glad to
have you here. It’s going to be a great chat. Katie and you are a
world traveler, where you back from? Just recently, just
recently back from
Katie: 04:55 Torino. So, the western part of northern Italy, which is a lot of
fun. I was there with Martini and Rossi. They have some new
sparkling wine that they’re getting ready to debut, so we got to
go talk sparkling for a couple of days. It was a lot of fun.
Natalie: 05:08 Oh Wow. Wow. I’m sure there’s lots of folks who wish they had
your job. This is great. And we were talking most recently about
another trip you made to Champagne. What was special about
that? What was different about that trip?
Katie: 05:24 was an incredible experience. I went to Champagne with Isaiah
Thomas, who is an NBA Hall of Famer. He played for the Detroit
Pistons won the National Championship, and Isaiah was
contemporary with Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan, Michael
Jordan, a little bit after him, but an incredible athlete and he is
now making champagne in the region of Champagne and this is
a passion project for him. He’s very excited about bringing what
he considers to be a lower sugar and less sulfite offering to the
The United States. So he, I was his first sort of press guests and we
picked grapes together. We threw the basket. Well, he threw
the basketball and I didn’t touch it. So, yeah, it was, it was an
interesting trip for sure. , and what a great guy. A really
Natalie: 06:15 What sparked his interest in wine? Well, he says
Katie: 06:19 first time you tasted it was when they dumped it on its head
after they won the championship and then he, he started
enjoying it with meals and kind of got introduced to it that way.
And then this company, Cheurlin champagne is the company
that approached him and said, you know, we want to bring our
champagne to America. We know you are an entrepreneur. Do
you want to partner with us? So he went over there and met
with them, love the family and said, you know, I want to buy the
rights to your grapes and we’re going to bottle some
champagnes and, I’m going to set up my own import business
and we’re going to do this. So it’s very much a doer. And
Cheurlin and Isaiah are, are a tremendous team. There’s a lot of
fun to watch them.
Natalie: 07:00 Fantastic. Yeah. Wow. Okay. So you’ve been a globe trotter
yourself? Not to play on the basketball thing. They’re
unintended, well played that was unintentional. But you, in your
travels, you’ve met some very famous people and in the world
of wine, tell me about your trip to taste the world’s best wine,
kind of. Where were you going and, and what, what got you
intrigued about going there?
Katie: 07:31 Well, Domaine de la Romanée-Conti is a wine I have read about
and, and fantasized about as a wine writer. It’s a bucket list.
Wine, it’s absolutely the wine. Every writer, anyone who cares
about wine once to try and it’s not in my budget, so that
$12,000 a bottle. So I was actually through a press contact. I,
was able to get a letter of recommendation, which is what you
generally have to visit the Domaine in Burgundy in April. , so we
set that up probably in January or February and the sort of plan
to thing out way in advance. I was extremely nervous about
going because, you know, it just to me this is the pinnacle of
wine and I didn’t want to ask stupid questions. I didn’t want to
drop my wine glass in the cellar, you know, there were so many
anxieties I had about it.
Katie: 08:21 And the prelude to the trip was nightmarish because Air France
canceled my flight because of strikes. The train to bone was
canceled because of strikes. I’m the actual flight that I got onto
France was delayed for almost five hours. So I missed the
connection when I got to Paris. And at some point I thought,
you know, Karma is telling me you don’t deserve to taste this
wine. Just stay home and you know, I was actually traveling with
my son who just turned 19 and I really wanted it. They told me I
could bring a guest and I said, you know what, this is an
experience you’ll never forget you’re going to come. And he’s
the one who said, mom, you just need to relax and enjoy this.
And so that was the best advice when we got to, the door, of
the Domaine, truly by that time, I was mildly hysterical with all
the delays and the things that have gone wrong, but he was so
gentle and welcoming and just humble and kind and marvelous
like the ultimate grandfather you would ever, you could ever
Katie: 09:25 And just welcomed us in. And we went to the cellar and you
know, he was fussing about he had to have a security code on a
cellar. So he’s typing in this long code and he’s rolling his eyes
and he’s like, oh, the insurance company makes me do this.
Because cellar is priceless. I mean, it’s the most in the world,
I’m sure. I can’t even imagine. Wow. And you were saying in
your story, how much did or the most recent vintage go for?
Well, from my research online around $12,000 a bottle, which
of course you wouldn’t probably I don’t. You don’t buy Domaine
de la Conti it comes to you because it’s usually somebody says I
have a bottle and then you say, yes, of course, I want it there.
So, so little of it made. It’s yes. It’s truly one of the rarest
wines, which of course increases the demand scarcity of
something exceptional is, you know, hard to beat.
Katie: 10:18 So yeah, the prices are stratospheric. It’s amazing. And was the
vineyard held to ransom? Yes. So when I was before it went, I must
have read every article on the winery, I could agree. And one
of the most fascinating stories is 10 years ago, an actually
somebody based in Epernay, a Frenchman travel down. He sort
of had a criminal past and he snuck into the vineyard at night
and injected to the vines at the base of the vine with pesticide.
And then about a few weeks later, he sent a letter and the letter
basically had a map of the vineyard and he circled the two vines
that he poisoned. And he said I’ve poisoned to have your vines.
If you don’t pay me a million euros, I’m going to poison the rest
or I’m going to make it public that your vineyard is. Oh Wow.
Katie: 11:14 Obviously you’re trying to protect your, volunteered reputation.
So if you don’t give me a million euros then your game is over.
That is amazing. So David Lane, of course, is not concerned
about his reputation. He’s, he’s,
know, police officers throughout the region. And he walked,
picked it up and kept going and they nabbed him not long after.
And now he said, yeah, I just, you know, just got out of prison
and this was a way to make some money,
Natalie: 12:04 but he must have had some wine knowledge knowing to target
that. Not like two buck chuck.
Katie: 12:09 Absolutely. And he clearly knew the vineyard. I mean his. He
definitely did his, like he was a super brilliant up until the point
where he asked for the money to be dropped right down the
street and cemetery. Fascinating story.
Natalie: 12:22 That’s a great one.
Natalie: 12:49 Oh, awesome. So let’s keep talking about DRC because it’s got
such a reputation. So apart from meticulous, winemaking. Why
do you think it is such a fun
Katie: 13:33 nominal wine? That’s actually a great question and I asked that
question, like what is it? Right? And the answer he gave me an
in and essentially the vineyard itself has sort of at the center of
a constellation of Burgundy’s best vineyards. So Romaine Conti
the vineyard is the vineyard that sort of enjoys relatives of all the
other vineyards around it. So it’s the soil, it’s the way the
vines are facing, it’s the microorganisms, the yeast and that’s
growing right there. All those things come together in, on those
particular vines. And you know, the hillside slopes in
just one specific kind of way and it isn’t the, sorry, the David
lanes were discovered this and then the monks were there in the
13th century and they figured out this is the best place to grow,
Pinot Noir So it’s been something that has just, you know,
obviously it, it showed its quality well before we ever got here
and David Lane and that family have really the farm
biodynamically so they hear for it in the best possible way and it
really is just the expression of the ultimate of what Burgundy is
Natalie: 14:48 awesome. And you know, the monks as you say, have been, had
been working the land for since, you know, thousands of years
ago, but also that the architecture of that soil must be
magnificent with the old vines and the limestone and everything
just to treasure now. said to you there something like there are
more caves underground that houses above ground or
Katie: 15:17 Burgundy is like an iceberg. So underneath his horse, all the soil.
And the terroir, but it’s also all the caves because then you
know, that’s what they do in Burgandy
make you talk. It is a wine of silence. So how would you describe
Domaine Romanee Conti when you tasted it?
Katie: 18:12 Oh, you know, when I was writing that story it was, that was the
hardest thing to do. It’s like asking someone to describe their
child in one sentence. I mean, you, you know, it was so
voluptuous but so just polished and delightful and spice and
earth and t, everything that I just find captivating in wine was
there. And when we were drinking this, I’m in the cellar, I took
the first sip and I watched it and he closed his eyes and then he
takes it and, and I thought, and that’s exactly what you have
to do. You have to close your eyes and you have to be only
tasting that wine. It just such an extraordinary thing. I mean, I
know it’s just a sip of wine, but it’s a sip of the most amazing
Natalie: 18:55 it is. It truly is. what a lucky thing too, to have visited the
Domaine. Sure. Absolutely. So let’s move on. Now we’re taking
sort of some, we’re looking at some of your stories from your
column in Forbes and I mean there was just so much to choose
from. You’ve covered such great stories, Katie. So let’s, let’s do a
complete turn of a topic right now and go to health. You wrote
about moderation and it was one of your most popular columns
online. How many views or hits or whatever did that?
Katie: 19:28 Yeah, last check it was well over a million.
Natalie: 19:31 A million. Oh my goodness. Right. And why do you think that
Does topic have such resonance with people?
Katie: 19:37 I, you know, when I wrote that story, it was a question I
personally had was how much wine can I have and still be
helpful? And I started asking my friends what were you hearing?
And every answer I got was different and I thought I need to
write a story on this. I need to research this and I need to dig
around and see what the answer is. Of course, I found out that
the answer varies completely from where you live too, whether
you’re a male or a female to what age you are. It was incredible.
So I think that story just for me, it was one that I just personally
needed to find an answer to. And so it was a little frustrating
because I just kept getting different responses and everybody,
every country has different standards for drinking. And you
know, to me there is zero uniformity when it comes to
Natalie: 20:27 And so how widely did that very well, who was the most strict
and who was the most liberal in terms of the countries with
their guidelines for moderation,
Katie: 20:35 right? So I found this fascinating document that listed every
country and what the guidelines were. Of course, the United
States is one for women per day into, for men. And I’m in the
The Basque region of Spain is where we probably all liked to live. It’s
seven a day for everyone. Everybody gets done. So why not?
Sure. And I think Australia and remember this was, I read this a
year ago, two years ago, so these probably have already
changed five times since the time I, I reported Australia was like
for women could have four men, could have five. The UK, we’re
a little bit higher than ours, but not much. France was pretty
generous. Some may distinctions between men and women.
Some did not, which I thought was just deeply frustrating
though because how is it okay in one country, but then it’s not
the other, like who’s who’s telling the truth here?
Katie: 21:24 And is it dependent on the wine culture? Was there a
vested interest, so to speak of a homegrown industry and not
rewarding people away from a domestic product that provided
a lot of jobs? Right, exactly. Fair enough. Who knows, and you
said differences between men and women. We always are. We
mostly hear that women should drink less. Is that because of we
have more water or fat versus muscle with men? Like we had to
do body fat and body water. It’s we have less body water than
men. They have a 20 percent more so of course. If we drink a
drink, it’s going to be more concentrated and so it will have
more effect on our liver and I guess you know, there’s some,
there’s been sort of reporting that breast cancer and drinking
are affiliated, but again, you know, they took the same people
that told me margarine was going to save the world and that
was perfect for people with high cholesterol and it turned out
that Margaret was the worst thing you could possibly consume.
Katie: 22:21 So if it all with a grain of salt and it’s like you have to take
studies in moderation because there’ll be always. It seems
there’ll be a conflicting study will come out and as you know,
the latest one says no level of alcohol is safe, which is just
insane because it’s like saying no level of driving is safe. Right?
It’s just how simple is that? That’s probably true, but yeah, it’s
true. And I, you know, I just, I read that study and what I did find
out I love a bunch of scientists that live around me and I asked
them questions about how they sampled it and one of them
pointed out to me that they didn’t sample teetotallers in that
study. Oh. So teetotaller is actually somebody who is
less healthy than the person who drank some wine or drinks a
day. So if you put the total are in their changes a little bit.
Katie: 23:11 But again, then answer that no level is safe is, is probably
just the best answer they can give us because everything is self-reported
. When you go to the doctor you say, Oh, I only have
one drink a day. Well is it this full or is it this fall? What exactly
is one full glass to you and all the different variables that make
it very difficult for science to really research that in an authentic
way. So it’s probably, you know, I like Michael Pollan said, and
the Omnivore’s dilemma drink, enjoy a little, not a lot and you
know, just being smart about it. I mean, he said that about food,
eat food a little bit every day. Mostly vegetables, you know.
And, and, and I heard one woman tell me, She said, you know
what, I think it’s because I just say keep the stress out of your
life, you know, and don’t worry about what you’re, you know,
whether you had one or two glasses just, you know,
Natalie: 24:08 reduce stress. Absolutely. Because stress is a big killer. Two
and heart disease is the number one killer, which we’ve heard
window can help with in terms of her and vascular disease. And
the other aspect of this whole health thing that you brought out
in your article was wines, as you know, very widely, an alcoholic
content which in turn effects, you know, what is a unit or one
a glass of wine. So how does that interplay with the
recommendations for moderation?
Katie: 24:34 Well, it’s, I think people especially women should pay attention
to that. If you love big powerful, then you’re probably drinking
in 14 points five to 15 point five range and that is significantly
different than maybe a light-bodied Pinot Noir Pinot Grigio,
which is going to be 13. And wine labels, this has gotten a little
bit tightened up a little bit in us, but they do have some
latitude in labeling. They don’t have to put the exact precise
percentage on there, give or take a half percent. So if it’s 15 and
a half, maybe it’s actually 16 percent. So just bear that in
mind. So when you’re enjoying, keep that in mind. And My
strategy is a glass of water, a glass of wine. I just try to match
watering wine so that we know I’m not getting too carried
away. But I’m having a good time and still enjoying my wine and
you know, that’s, that’s life is know. Life is here to be enjoyed
when you can and wine is a big part of that. So
Natalie: 25:33 yeah, and I heard the quote, I’m not giving up wine for five extra
years in the nursing home on. It’s really, that’s what you’re
Katie: 25:45 You know, I don’t need the extra six months if I’m 85.
Natalie: 25:49 Exactly. Oh, this is a great conversation. So just to wrap up that
health topic, Katie, what did your doctor advised you to do? I
Katie: 26:37 my doctor. She said, Katie. It’s the one to one a no more than
two at a time, no more than three days a week. So she was like,
take a couple days off, you know, enjoy your wine but take a
couple days off. So that’s generally what I try to stick to and I
find when I take a couple of days off the wine tastes much
better on that day that I come back to it, you know, let your
pallet kind of rest and you know, have some sparkling water and
then it’s super exciting when you get back to your true. It’s true
in day three or whatever.
Natalie: 27:11 I remember my first glass of wine after my son was born and
everything was over. It’s like, wow, this is amazing.
Katie: 27:20 That’s entirely true. It’s just like a revelation.
Natalie: 27:23 True. It was fantastic. All right. So let’s turn from health now
Katie to your next big topic that intrigued me was Robert
Parker. So for, I think a lot of people are familiar but not
everybody necessarily online with us tonight. So tell us who
Robert Parker is.
Katie: 28:59 So he is the publisher and founder of the wine advocate, which
when he started it, and I think that’s still true today, it was an ad
free publication of, of basically tasting notes and reviews of
wine, so kind of completely unencumbered by ad dollars. And
He, I think his sort of moment of fame when he claimed, I can’t
remember what Bordeaux vintage it was, but everybody had
had just completely bags vintage and Parker said, no, it’s
exceptional. Give it five years or give it whatever amount of
time it needs. And he turned out to be right. So since that time
he is really just an of a high wattage in the wine world. I mean, I
think people consider him the Golden Palette.
Natalie: 29:44 Yes. He really turned the tide on wine reviewing and the scoring
system. He really popularized that he wasn’t the only one using
it, but as you said in your article, he really popularized it and I
think it was the 19, 82 vintage for Bordeaux with a warm one.
Yeah. And so the winds were really ripe and not to the taste
perhaps of European drinkers, but he loved them. And that’s
also where he gets the critic, critic, critic or criticize. What is it?
Criticism. So much of liking these quote fruit bombs. What’s
that all about?
Katie: 30:18 Right. I think, you know, I have great respect for him, but I think
there are people, especially in the wine world who feel that he
very highly scores, very powerful, concentrated high alcohol,
fruity, jammy wines. I don’t think that’s fair because I think he
scores all kinds of wines and he gives them all a fair shake, but
he seems to really love and appreciate those like a super duper
high power that you could stick a fork in.
Natalie: 30:49 Yeah. Wow. Okay. And so, do you think, now you’re balanced in
your comments, but do you think he has influenced the styles of
wines that are made? Like our winemakers trying to please his
Katie: 31:01 Yeah, I have to say yes I do. And I think that’s, that influences
abated. But five, eight years ago, his influence was profound. If
he scored your wine highly, you, you did. Well, I mean it’s a
business. People are still trying to earn a living. And so they
were building wines that they wanted Mr Parker to taste and
hopefully a rate highly and then that’s good for their name.
Their wine itself, their wine, it gets their name out there. So I
just think it would be hard to argue that he didn’t influence
certain, especially in Napa where I feel like that was the most
profound influence. I mean, I don’t, I don’t read enough reviews
to say that isn’t true for all the other regions, but I think Napa
Natalie: 31:41 Yes, absolutely. And I think, you know, what his rise to fame
was, is also a function of just how difficult a product wine is to
buy. Like we can try on a dress, we can read the first chapter of
a book in the store, but we can’t taste the wine, at least not
legally. So we’re relying either on the label, fluffy squirrels,
castles, or a score that’s on there. Right.
Katie: 32:05 Slowly. And that’s, that’s really known. And we’re not talking $5
sometimes talking 5,500. I mean it’s a commitment. I absolutely
appreciate why people like the guidance and you know, there is
a group, there is a bad kind of one at high powered intense
wine. There are a lot of people that love that kind of wine and
there’s nothing wrong with it’s just a taste preference. And you
know, there are people who make it and make it beautiful and
make it very well and, and it, it
feels China’s the, you know, the unsorted underappreciated
wine market, and that, you know, doing videos online and kind
of reaching that huge audience over in the East is something
that he says, you know, if you want the opportunity and in my
book for the next kind of Parker, if you will, is over there is
meaning those people’s needs for information and
knowledge and education. And that, that was really hammered
home, that whole thing. And again, it, you know, it was this was
two years ago or thing. So a lot has happened since then, but I
still, think he might be onto something.
Natalie: 33:52 Yeah. Yeah. I was interested to hear his comments again in your
article about the power of online video wine education. Right.
Which may be very happy because I offer,, but you know, he’s
saying that there is a thirst literally for wine education. Not
everybody can travel to a class at night and not every town city
offers wine courses that we take for granted in larger centers.
But I was fascinated that he made that comment. I’m don is
loving the pictures that were showing. So Katie in between, as
we’re talking, I’m showing the pictures that you sent me some
pictures and places you’ve visited, people you’ve been with. I
was fascinated with the angle that you took Katie, in your story,
you started your story, , in a French forest next to a 160 year old
oak tree. Why were you there and what was the story
Katie: 35:11 He’s a winemaker, in Bordeaux. He also makes verite in Sonoma
and Pierre wanted me to come with him to the forest because
he is very excited about these streets and these are the trees
that he likes to personally select to make his wine barrels. So I
was deeply curious as to why anyone tree would be different
than any other or a wine barrel and why it mattered so much to
him that he actually would travel to the forest with the ecologist
and the other individuals that are part of the, I guess the team
to pick these traits.
Natalie: 35:49 Well, he was, , you were saying it was quite delightful. Your
description. He’s smelling the bark and he’s really intraced with
these trees. He’s the son of a cork farmer. Right? You were
saying, and he,
Katie: 36:03 French, but he, I mean peers, just a man of the land. Who was,
he was sniffing the bark. No, I have dogs, so I know when I say
he was very, like a eagle. Just very fascinated and curious with
everything around him and admiring the spine of the tree and
you know, we’re all here trying to sort of talk about what’s
going on and we’re trying to leave and he wandered off and we
have to go find them and he’s like, have you seen this tree? And
starting to rain, but he doesn’t want to leave. He’s just so in
revolve with what I feel for him was the basis of good wine.
Right. I mean obviously the vineyard is very, very, very, very
critical part of good wine, but so is the hope you’re going to put
it in for 18 months
Natalie: 36:42 and now some people call oak the ketchup of the wine world,
like it hides flaws and so on. But he sort of sees oal as part of
the terroir. That ambiguous French term of climate, soil and
other typography winemaker choices. Why does he see as part
of that whole terroir
Katie: 37:01 views oak as an opportunity to give the wine something that he
feels that it needs and so he’s taking the, taking it down to the
basic level is getting, picking the tree. Then he’s going to the
bridge and he is overseeing the toast, the level of flying they put
on it. He’s overseeing how the staves are cut and then he’s
looking at, okay, well this particular trees, grain is very tight in
this tree’s grains less so. So I’m going to age some and the tight
grain and some of the less tight grain because the oxygen
exchange will be different. So I mean it, it at this point it’s so
scientific. It’s like a chemistry class for me. I can’t even keep up
with all the layers of detail that he’s just so, you know, married
to. And then you know, he identifies every single lot separately
in Bordeaux and then he puts in different barrels to get exactly
what he wants and then he blends to get the tasty ones and I
don’t even know.
Natalie: 37:58 how does the staying in your head? I know exactly what does a
tight grain in general do, like if the grain is tight in the oal, is
that going to be an oakie wine or a less oakie one?
Katie: 38:09 Well, I’m not 100 percent sure about that, but what it does, if
it’s tighter, it allows less oxygen through, during the aging
process so that it does keep the wine in a different condition
like maybe a fresh or condition than if it’s a less tight grain. So
you know, more the more poorest the grain, the more oxygen
comes in and out of the barrel. And so it impacts taste.
Natalie: 38:31 Yes, absolutely. And they call that the angel share , the stuff
that evaporates, Exactly.
Katie: 38:38 He’s thinking of all of that, while standing in a rainy forest
Natalie: 38:43 Yeah. And you know, the history of forestry management in
France was really interesting. You touched on that in your story.
Why does France produced the most famous trees for
cooperage’s, for barrels
Katie: 38:56 in the world? I think it was Louis the 14th, started or street to
build trees to build his navy. I think he was, it was all part of the
French military. It was an infrastructure project, you know the
time of Louis the 14th, so those, some of those trees are 200
Natalie: 39:15 They’re old and they had to be straight right for the ship. The
staves of the ship I guess or whatever they would have called
them the slats, but it staves for a barrel to the side. So
Katie: 39:25 yeah, and they can’t be these big fat round. Like here in the
south, our 200 year old oaks are just these obese monsters.
They’re just huge. You would never use them to make a barrel.
But in, in France they’re not. They’re not very big. They’re just
super tall and the grain is so tight. I just think it takes them a
really long time to grow and so they tightened and they don’t
get wide. In fact they do here in the south.
Natalie: 39:48 Wow. And so how do they toast them? They’ve got these open
ended barrels. The heads on either end, the top of the bottom
or not there. They’ve got these staves. So how are they toasting
Katie: 39:59 When I was there, they were using like a propane torch and just
doing it that way, but sometimes, you know, I know like in a
distillery they send them through a big open flame. I mean
they’re charging them to black stood than the toasts situation
for a wine barrels. A much softer touch. So sorta like making
you’re toast in the morning. I mean, how dark do you want it?
Natalie: 40:21 Yeah, that sounds like creme brulee with the flag. So I visited
Cooper in France too and they had little fires, just little little
mini campfires and they would sit on the floor and they’re
replacing the barrels over them and then they would take them
off, but it looked very tribal. So let’s talk more about sort of
your interests generally here. Katie. what’s Kinda the best piece
of advice that you’ve ever received?
Katie: 40:54 That’s a good question. I thought, well, you know, I think the
best advice I’ve ever received is just enjoy your wine that you
want to enjoy when you want to enjoy it. Don’t feel married to
the rules. Don’t feel, you know that , the prescribed sort of way
you’re supposed to drink it is, it should overrule your
enjoyment, but a practical piece of advice that I got long ago
from a really wonderful solving a was, and I’ve learned this
since, you know, you start writing about wine and tasting wine,
don’t drink warm red wine, take your red and put it in the fridge
30 minutes before you want to serve it. And then when you pull
it out, if you don’t have a cellar and, or temperature controlled
refrigerator and you’re just keep your wine and the wine rack
refrigerated, 30 minutes, pull it out.
Katie: 41:42 It’s the perfect temperature. It’s exactly in down here in the
south where I know it’s hot there today for you all. But here
again, I need 200 degrees many months you have. That’s the
only, you know, otherwise, warm wines, that’s it. It’s such a
warm red wine is an offensive, you know, it takes all of the
things about the wine and it amplifies the Tannin and the
alcohol. And so chill it first. Yeah, and if you’re not, if you didn’t
think ahead then take a one ice cube and I put it in a Ziploc bag
and I just dip it in my wine. Oh, interesting. Yeah. We go
through a lot of Ziploc bags in this house.
Natalie: 42:16 Yes. That’s great. I like that idea. so if you could have, you could
share a bottle of wine with anyone living or dead, who would
that be? In which wine would it be? What would be domain
Romaine de la Conti?
Katie: 42:29 I would have to share that with Thomas Jefferson because that
was the wine region he loved and he’s a redhead, like the, any
likes to read. He’s a big book. He obviously read a lot of books
and he’s a statesman and a politician and I would absolutely
love to, you know, sit down with him and just talk to him about
everything related to wine and to democracy and you know,
humanity. I think he’d be fascinating.
Natalie: 42:53 He would be with me. All right. Well, and do you have a most
useful wine gadget that you’ve come across?
Katie: 43:00 Well I do because I love champagne. I have to have this and I,
you can see it, but it’s basically goes in. I mean it’s nothing
fancy. I think it cost. Oh, there it is. Yep. So you just pop it in
your champagne and then snap it shut and then you, when you.
So you pour your glass because you’re only allowed one glass a
day and you stick it right back in the door of your fridge and
don’t touch it until tomorrow. And if you do that you can get
your champagne. Alas for three, sometimes four days. I’ve
actually left for trips, forgotten. I had a bottle in the fridge and
come home and it’s been fresh after five days. That’s amazing.
So I love the champagne stop or I’m a big fan.
Natalie: 43:42 Good. Awesome. Well that’s great. Yeah, we should all have one
of those were a couple women. You can have it. Absolutely.
Absolutely. Katie this is flown by, but is there anything we
haven’t covered that you’d like to talk about as we wrap up?
Katie: 43:57 We’ve covered all, all the great fun stories that I personally have
had, so yeah. So I really enjoyed that.
atalie: 44:03 So that’s terrific. And where can people find you online?
Katie: 44:06 you can find me on Forbes if you just Google Forbes, Katie Kelly
Bell, I will pop up. Find me on USA Today. You can find me
through wine enthusiast. I’m in there every now and then. And
then modern luxury magazines or distributor in the U. s a pretty
widely. Almost every major city has a modern luxury
publications. So I’m in there quite a bit.
Natalie: 44:28 You are a busy lady. Well thank you so much Katie, for spending
time with us. Yeah, great conversation. I love to talk with you
again. I mean you just, I had to really pare it down because he
had so many great columns on Forbes. So anyway, thanks again
and good luck with your travels and your projects and your
stories that are on the go now. And , we’ll say goodbye for now.
That was good. Thank you. Okay, thanks Katie.