Caveau

A personally culled collection of the best of Burgundy & Grower Champagne, delivered to your door.

Caveau Selections -  from winemaker-importer Scott Paul Wright. We're specialists in the best of Burgundy and Grower Champagne, delivered to your door. Join our mailing list, sign-up for our Burgundy and Champagne Clubs, and take advantage of our exclusive pre-arrival offers. Start drinking hand-selected wines from the top artisanal producers at direct-import prices!

Au revoir Paris, Bonjour Lyon

We had a great stay in Paris - and highly recommend staying in the 10th and not straying too far from there. You get to live like the locals and really get a much better feel for what is truly a great city. Daughter Pirrie is settling into her Fashion Business and Marketing program at IFA, has already landed a styling job for a major commercial shoot, and has already started working as a server at Yard - one of Paris’ ‘it” spots in the bustling 11th.

Today’s lunch menu at  Yard  - hand-written by Pirrie!

Today’s lunch menu at Yard - hand-written by Pirrie!

Before leaving for Lyon we had a great final Paris lunch at Le Servan - wonderful bistronomie owned and run by two young sisters who are killing it.

Gogeous Gravlax at  Le Servan

Gogeous Gravlax at Le Servan

We arrived in Lyon just in time for the annual Street Food Festival - a 4-day event with several dozens of top chefs and restaurants and food trucks on hand serving 4 & 5 Euro dishes that we’re uniformly excellent. Really well done, a first-rate event.

We love our neighborhood here in Lyon’s 2ème. We’re just a block off of the Rhône, and we’ve been running the paths that follow the river every morning. Much like Portland, it’s a city full of runners - so great to see so many people out enjoying this fabulous place.

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The huge farmers market here is open 6 days a week, closed only on Mondays. We stocked up on goods and have the kitchen and pantry in good starting shape. There are more great places to eat here than maybe anywhere, but Martha’s cooking at home is always a treat. We’ll try to balance both for the next three months. And run a lot!

Great Cold-Brew and Lemon cake at  Slake  in Lyon

Great Cold-Brew and Lemon cake at Slake in Lyon

Harvest is now in full swing in both Burgundy and Champagne, and early reports are positive and optimistic all around. It was not an easy season in the vines, but the end result has been a nice crop of healthy fruit, so the potential is there for another good one. I’ll be in the cellars shortly - primarily to take a first good look at the ‘18s post-malo, but will of course take a sneak-peek at some ‘19 fermentations underway…

Rooftop views from our 5th-floor balcony in Lyon 2ème

Rooftop views from our 5th-floor balcony in Lyon 2ème

Yes, they do Chicken & Waffles in Paris now.  Gumbo-Yaya  in the 10th - best fried chicken we’ve ever had anywhere, period!

Yes, they do Chicken & Waffles in Paris now. Gumbo-Yaya in the 10th - best fried chicken we’ve ever had anywhere, period!

France’s love affair with the English language continues…

France’s love affair with the English language continues…



A part-time Ex-Pat - the journey begins...

Greetings from Paris, where we’ve just dropped daughter Pirrie off at school, starting her degree program in Fashion Business & Marketing at IFA. I still don’t really believe it all. But it is indeed really happening, and it’s all good.

Night-time along the Canal St. Martin

Night-time along the Canal St. Martin

Du Pain et des Idées  - brilliant baked-goods in the 10th

Du Pain et des Idées - brilliant baked-goods in the 10th

I haven’t been blogging in quite a while - it seems most people have gone to short-form updates via Instagram these days. While we’re living in France for the rest of the year, I though I’d post some longer stuff here - perhaps a better forum to get into the experience of being a part-time expat, and better for those who are not on social media (and bless you if that’s you - it’s hard to resist the addictive lure of that communication device in the palm of your hand and platforms that are designed to be more addicting than crack, but I’m not convinced it is doing much good when all is said and done!)

Every day, every night - everybody hangs out along the canal

Every day, every night - everybody hangs out along the canal

Obligatory visit to Jim Morrison’s grave at  Père Lachaise

Obligatory visit to Jim Morrison’s grave at Père Lachaise

Arrived in Paris 12 days ago, and have really enjoyed living in the 10th along the Canal St. Martin. It’s a real Paris neighborhood, not the touristy Paris that I’ve spent most of my time here previously. It’s a much better way to appreciate what a wonderful city this is. We’ve made a commitment to basically stay in our quartier and get a feel for what it’s like to really live here. I’m happy to report it’s quite wonderful. It’s made me appreciate Paris so much more. The crowded, crazy tourist-centric Paris is worth seeing, of course. The Louvre, Musée d’Orsay, Marmatton, etc. are musts - but once you’ve done that, there’s a real Paris out there where people actually live, and it is absolutely a joy.

Boeuf Tartare at  Early June  in the 10th

Boeuf Tartare at Early June in the 10th

Breakfast at  Broken Biscuits  in the 11th

Breakfast at Broken Biscuits in the 11th

Deconstructed smores at  6 Paul Bert  in the 11th

Deconstructed smores at 6 Paul Bert in the 11th

Will be a bit sad to leave here on Friday, when we head down to Lyon, where we’ll stay for the rest of the year (I’ll be back in Portland for a few days next month for our Pickup events October 12 & 13), but I’m really looking forward to settling into daily life in Lyon. It’s a magical city I really love, and it could very well be my long-term home one of these days.

Climate change has brought about another mega-early harvest in both Burgundy & Champagne, though different sectors will be starting much later than others. The Aube in Champagne started last week, with most of the Marne and Montagne de Reims kicking off over the next week to 10 days. Similar story in Burgundy, where some folks started on September 1, but others, notably the Côte de Nuits, gearing up for a start around September 21 or so.

In the meantime, we’ve been eating quite well here in Paris, and running a lot. There’s a great path along the canal out through a beautiful park that provides a nice 10K out & back. I’ll be running the Lyon half-marathon on October 6th, so am cranking up the mileage for the next couple of weeks before a nice taper prior to the race.

The morning run along the canal

The morning run along the canal

Burger at  Bon Marché  on the left bank

Burger at Bon Marché on the left bank

Don’t know what to think about the giant billboards on the sides of ancient monuments…

Don’t know what to think about the giant billboards on the sides of ancient monuments…

More updates, photos, and observations as it all happens…





Year-end Wrap-up - 2018 Uncorked!

First and foremost - thank you! We are honored to be your source for great Burgundy and Grower Champagne, thrilled to be your navigator through these two complex and dynamic wine regions, and hugely thankful for your continued support. Our import operations began back in 2005, and many of you have been with us ever since. You have been our best ambassadors, spreading the word to your friends and colleagues, for which we are deeply appreciative.

2018 was a benchmark year for us in so many ways - adding exciting new producers to the portfolio, hosting our biggest and best tasting parties yet, and the release of our feature documentary Three Days of Glory (if you haven’t seen it yet, you can rent or purchase for download now at iTunes or Amazon, or purchase the Special Directors Edition of the DVD.)

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We were on the road a lot this year, starting with a couple of trips to Martha’s hometown of New Orleans - first for Mardi Gras and Martha’s B-day in February, and back again for a family reunion and Easter in March.

Then I was off to Boston to run the Marathon in April - a goal I had been chasing for a few years and finally made it. Of course with my luck it turned out to be the worst weather in history - torrential freezing rain and 30-40MPH headwinds the whole way - but I survived and finished and lived, hopefully to qualify again for the 2020 race.

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The World Premiere of our film happened April 29th at the Newport Beach Film Festival in Southern California, with co-director David Baker joining us for the festivities. We were honored to have leading Burgundy authority Allen Meadows join us for the premiere and a great Q&A after the screening. We went onto screen the film in France at Nice, went to the Cannes Festival, did a special event in Napa Valley, again here in Portland and at the International Pinot Noir Celebration in Oregon and then the Portland Film Festival, all prior to the theatrical release in key markets across the country.

Our annual Insiders Tours of Burgundy and Champagne happened in June, with way too much great wine and food being consumed and a very good time being had by all. (Our 2019 trips are already full - but stay tuned for info on the 2020 tours…)

2018 was the year we unveiled the existence of our micro-negotiant operation in Burgundy - which we launched in 2017 with the production of two Grand Crus - a single barrel each of Chapelle-Chamberlin and Corton-Perrières, which we offered as future in November. There will be some exciting new additions to our Caveau lineup to announce next year, so keep your eyes on your email.

In the fall Martha and I headed for France for two months, first to a film convention in Cannes, then a couple of vacation days in Nice, St. Tropez, and Lyon, and then up to Burgundy and Champagne for my fall tasting rounds, the Trois Glorieuses weekend, and the official Burgundy premiere of our film, with the movie’s featured winemakers and personalities in attendance at the screening and a great after-party at A-F Gros. On the way home we stopped through DC and NYC for more screenings and family events, and are happy to be back in Oregon to re-charge our batteries and get back in the trenches in January.

Wow - what a year! Thanks to you it’s been our best one yet. We’re looking forward to more great wines, meals and adventures in 2019, and most of all to finding more exciting bottles that will make their way on to your table and into your cellar. Again, thanks for your continued support.

Cheers!

Scott & Martha

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Back from the mothership...

I'm back in Oregon after three weeks in France. It was another fabulous visit, hosting a tour in Champagne, another in Burgundy, and a week in between to see more producers and get more work done. It would have been nearly perfect had I not managed to leave my laptop on the plane to Paris - I arrived at my apartment in Reims to discover I was computer-less. Quite a surprise, to say the least! I immediately filed a report and claim, but never had a response from the airline, so I thought it was gone for good. Somehow I managed to function for three weeks doing everything on my iPhone - sending offers, processing orders, writing blog posts - I guess it's good to know it can be done. I am very thankful that all my stuff is backed up in the cloud, otherwise I'd have been sunk, for sure.

Of the 10 customers on the tour in Burgundy, six had been on the Burgundy tour with us before, and one couple was doing the tour for the third time! With so many repeat Burgundy-campers, I altered the itinerary this year to include a number of new producers and restaurants that we hadn't visited in previous outings. One of which was the Michelin 3-star Lameloise in Chagny, Burgundy's only 3-star and a true classic.

Here we are, with very full bellies after a 4-hour lunch at Lameloise

Here we are, with very full bellies after a 4-hour lunch at Lameloise

Just one of about a dozen dishes over the course of lunch...

Just one of about a dozen dishes over the course of lunch...

Getting a vineyard tour from  Thiébault Huber  in Volnay

Getting a vineyard tour from Thiébault Huber in Volnay

Tasting in the cellar with  Vincent Chevrot  in Santenay

Tasting in the cellar with Vincent Chevrot in Santenay

Michel Mallard , putting on an amazing tasting of 25 wines (incl. 12 Grand Crus going back to the 90s!)

Michel Mallard, putting on an amazing tasting of 25 wines (incl. 12 Grand Crus going back to the 90s!)

And the hits just keep on coming at Mallard...

And the hits just keep on coming at Mallard...

Pique-nique lunch in the  Clos du Colombier  vineyard in Pommard

Pique-nique lunch in the Clos du Colombier vineyard in Pommard

In the cellar with  Frédéric Gueguen  in Chablis

In the cellar with Frédéric Gueguen in Chablis

Tasting with the maestro himself,  François Millet  at  Domaine de Vogüé  in Chambolle-Musigny

Tasting with the maestro himself, François Millet at Domaine de Vogüé in Chambolle-Musigny

Conducting a Grand Cru vineyard tour in the Côte de Nuits - here at  Musigny

Conducting a Grand Cru vineyard tour in the Côte de Nuits - here at Musigny

Our annual group shot in the arch at  Chevaliers-Montrachet

Our annual group shot in the arch at Chevaliers-Montrachet

Over 125 wines this week, including these three beauties at  Ma Cuisine  Friday night. The '71 was amazing...

Over 125 wines this week, including these three beauties at Ma Cuisine Friday night. The '71 was amazing...

In all, a totally wonderful week of great food and wine and good times - topped off by the return of my long-lost laptop upon boarding my return flight at Charles de Gaulle! My karma must be pretty good - I thought it was a goner. Now, feeling great to be back in Oregon for the the most beautiful summer on the planet, and geting psyched up for our pre-IPNC screening of Three Days of Glory on July 26th in McMinnville (SOLD OUT!)

Stay tuned for all the updates as they happen..

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Lots of love for the 2017s

I've been tasting up and down the Côte this week, and early indications are that the 2017s are pretty wonderful across the board - both red and white, and across the apellation hierarchy as well. The Bourgogne-level wines are gorgeous, as has been the case for the past several vintages in a row - and that's something that just didn't used to happen. Global warming, better viticulture, and a move toward more reasonable yields have given new life to the entry-level wines - which were often sketchy at best in most vintages.

The frantic vineyard work to keep up with the early season continues, but most growers feel they will be able to catch their breath by the end of the coming week. A couple of windy, cooler days have taken the edge off a bit, and the vines are looking healthy and happy for now.

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Some of my favorite '17s from tastings this week - wines to keep an eye out for next year: Buisson-Charles Meursault Goutte d'Or, Charmes & Puligny Cailerets, Marc Roy Gevrey-Chambertin Vieilles Vignes, Violot-Guillemard Pommard Rugiens and Volnay Fremiets, Heresztyn-Mazzini Clos St. Denis, and a yummy Moulin-à-Vent from A-F Gros. Here’s Florence Heresztyn-Mazzini in Gevrey...

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Speaking of A-F Gros, their new wine-bar and tasting room in Pommard is the best new addition to Burgundy in a long time. It's a must-stop on your next visit - and where else can you get Richebourg by the glass!

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A quick update on our film - Three Days of Glory: We have signed a contract for worldwide distribution, and our official release will hapen in November! Details as they happen...

Our Burgundy tour group arrives tomorrow for a week of intensive hedonism - I'm looking forward to another great one. Stay tuned for all the pics and updates. In the meantime, I'll leave you with this little teaser...

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Bustling Burgundy in Beaune

I keep wanting to turn the corner and walk into the house where we lived for three months last fall. It's wonderful and bizarre at the same time, being back. I have never seen Beaune so incredibly busy and full of energy - it seems like the entire world has descended on this magical little vilage of 25,000 souls. The vignerons are working at a frantic pace, just trying to keep up with the rapid advancement in the vines. Mercifully they have dodged any frost damage this year, and so far no haistorms have caused any damage.

My happy place - the Croque Monsieur at  La Dilletante

My happy place - the Croque Monsieur at La Dilletante

The vineyards are absolutely beautiful - as in Champagne they're several weeks early this year, headed for a September 1st harvest, or thereabouts. It looks like a potentially huge crop - some major green-harvesting will clearly need to be done.

Meursault Perrieres

Meursault Perrieres

So awesome to see that our longtime friend Thiébault Huber has been elected president  of the Burgundy Winegrowers Assoc. - a major post with major implications for the future of Burgundy. Bravo Tib! One can still see evidence of chemical-heavy viticulture all over, but the telltale burnt-orange color of nuked weeds continues to diminish every year. It's now up to Thiébault and the new generation to lead the way for the future...

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Torn between two lovers

When I’m in Champagne I sometimes feel like I’m cheating on Burgundy - and vice-versa when in Burgundy. Is it possible to love two at once? I don’t think they know each other, so I keep getting away with it every time:-) 

I’ve just arrived in Burgundy, have loaded in and unpacked at the Volnay house, and now have a few days before my next tour group arrives. I’ll be checking vineyards, visiting our growers, and tasting any of the 2017s that have already finished malo. 

Last night in Champagne was a blast - a fun dinner with Gaetan Gillet of Champagne MOST in Avise at les Avisés - my 2nd time there in 5 days, and always a great meal.  

Then I was able to stop in and see the always delightful Elodie Marion and her mom Bernadette at Marion-Bosser in Hautvillers. Her new NV cuvées based on 2012 are excellent, and her 2008 Vintage Brut is the best I’ve tasted from her cellar yet.  

Here’s Elodie and Bernadette, and now I’m off to do exciting things like laundry.... 

 

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Another Champagne tour in the books

This is the first chance I’ve had to catch my breath since arriving a week ago. Our annual Insiders tour of Champagne was a massive success, and now I’ve got a week to catch up on work before my next group arrives in Burgundy.  

 

The update from Champagne - there’s a potentially huge crop hanging in the vineyards, with bigger clusters than most producers have ever seen. Some isolated sectors have been hit by hailstorms that have wiped out the crop in limited areas, but everywhere else there’s a big load on the way.  

 

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April and May were much warmer than normal, so the vines got off to an early and vigorous start. Rainstorms, some heavy, have been arriving every few days over the recent weeks. All that together has the crop 3-4 weeks ahead of schedule, causing the vignerons to compress work that would typically spread out until the end of July but now must be finished by the end of June. The frequent rain has been sending them scrambling to spray again and again - one producer reported spraying 8 times in the last three weeks! 

 

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Every year I take the group to one of the Grand Marques, just for perspective. The caves at Ruinart are truly stunning - but it seems like Disneyland compared to the family operations we work with.  

Massive thanks to Cyril Janisson for a great vineyard and winery tour and tasting for the crew yesterday. He’s one of the true characters in Champagne and incredibly generous with his time and the beautiful Janisson-Baradon wines.  

 

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In the Epernay vines with Cyril.  

 

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After days on end of gastronomic delights, it felt right to wrap up the tour with a great burger at the new Sacre Bistro in Epernay - highly recommended! 

 

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Now a few days seeing growers here before heading down to Beaune. More as it happens... 

More hedonistic delights, more bubbles

Yet again, a banner day. I have sent the group back to the hotel in a glorious food coma, with visions of Grand Cru bubbles dancing in their heads.  

No words can do justice to the amazing artistry that is dinner at Racine -  here are five of the 11 dishes from tonight...

 

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Beautiful tastings today at Julien Launois and Pertois-Moriset in Mesnil-sur-Oger, a great lunch at Les Avisés, and we are exhausted and very happy.  

 

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Good night from Reims, city of Kings

Living well, Champagne style

What a day! It’s late here, so I’ll let the pictures do the talking. 

Lunch at 3-star l’Assiette Champenoise -

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Plus killer bottles of Laval Rosé and Egly-Ouriet. 

Tasting with Sophie Cossy - 

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And an amazing bottle of La Parcelle 2012

 

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And of course the Chocolate mousse at Au Bon Manger

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Thank you and good night!

Off and running in Champagne

Had a nice run this morning, lunch at Le Jardin, and a killer dinner at Doko Koko - and a great tasting and seminar with Aurelien Laherte. Good first day - we are not slacking. 

 

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Oh, and nice bottles of Agrapart Complanté and Fleury Rose. Good night... 

Burgers and Bubbles

Thanks to the magic of melatonin, I’m pretty much at full strength 48 hours into it here. A quick stop at my fave burger spot in Reims - Sacre Burger - and all is right with the world. A burger is eaten with a knife and fork here - somehow it’s not quite the same satisfaction as picking it up with two hands and chomping down, but it’s still damn good.  

 

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The first of my tour group arrived yesterday, and we stopped by in Rilly-la-Montage to see Clotilde at Marc Chauvet - a superb lineup as always, with the ‘11 Initiales bottling being a major standout.  

 

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Above - Clotilde Chauvet with Doug and Patty.  

The train strikes are wreaking havoc across France at the moment - everybody’s schedules are getting turned upside down. All we can do is roll with it - and of course continue eating and drinking well. At least we know the chefs and winemakers won’t be striking anytime soon!

Off now to get the rest of our crew and head to lunch at Le Jardin. More soon... 

On the road with Three Days of Glory

I had about a week to recover from Boston (see below) before packing up again to hit the road, this time to launch our movie Three Days of Glory. After two years of filming and post-production, the big day was upon us. Never having made a film before I didn't really know what to expect. I was a mixture of excited and nervous - this was going to be the first time an audience of people who weren't all pre-disposed to like it would see it, and that was a little nerve-wracking, for sure.

Fortunately - the response was really positive! Every screening so far has been sold-out,  both at the Newport Beach Film Festival where we World-Premiered, and at the Cameo Cinema in St. Helena. Thanks for all of your love and support!

With my co-Director/Producer  David Baker  at the World Premiere in Newport Beach

With my co-Director/Producer David Baker at the World Premiere in Newport Beach

With the Burghound himself,  Allen Meadows , at the Newport after-party

With the Burghound himself, Allen Meadows, at the Newport after-party

With Martha at the St. Helena screening

With Martha at the St. Helena screening

Keep an eye on our screenings page for info and tickets to any and all upcoming showings over the spring and summer. Fingers are crossed for a theatrical release and world-wide distribution this fall - stay tuned!

Lesson in Survival

The forecast called for cold temperatures, constant rain, and high winds. We knew it was gonna suck. Nothing could have prepared us for the brutal reality of the conditions for the 2018 Boston Marathon. I can still barely believe it all myself.

We were warned to layer up, wear a bunch of items that we could peel off and abandon at the start, and to wear some old shoes we were willing to throw out, so we could change into a clean & dry pair at the start. Sounded like a good plan. I got on my layers, donned a decrepit old pair of running shoes, packed up my gear-check bag, and headed out the door.

It’s about 3 blocks from my hotel to the T station where I planned to grab the metro to the loading area (they bus everyone from the Boston Commons out to the starting line in Hopkinton, 26 miles away.) I got about 10 steps outside my hotel door when a wind gust blew me up against the building and my face was pelted with icy rain. I immediately had two thoughts: 1. I should just go back to my room, this is insane, no one should try to run a marathon in this. 2. They’re probably going to call off the race - this is really insane, really. And then I had a third thought - ‘well, I'll just head up to the check-in and see what’s going on, what the hell…”

Over the course of the remaining 2.5 blocks to the T station, I managed to get completely soaked to the bone from head to toe. The driving rain had filled my shoes, my “water-proof” jacket and hat and gloves were useless. It was so cold I started shivering uncontrollably. I have a condition known as Reynaud’s syndrome, in which my fingers go painfully numb when exposed to cold, damp conditions - basically anything under 55 degrees. It was 34 when I started out. My fingers turned purple, then black, then white, and swelled up to three times their normal size. They were so numb I couldn’t feel inside my pocket for my train pass. I wasn’t even to the train yet and I was in deep shit.

The train provided a few minutes of respite from the weather, and then I emerged onto Boylston Street into winds and rain that had seemingly intensified already. I dropped my gear-check bag, filled with dry clothes to change into at the end, and boarded the bus for the start line - still not really believing the race was actually going to happen.

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It took about an hour to get to the “Athlete’s Village” - the staging area for runners prior to the start. It’s on athletic fields at a local high school, and the fields were surrounded by snow, merging into a sea of mud in all directions. The rain poured, the wind howled, and I started shaking uncontrollably once again. It was so cold, I was so miserable (as was everyone else, visibly so), and still in denial that this was actually going to happen. I went to the porta-potty and could not undo my pants, my hands were so frozen. I managed to take care of business somehow, and then set about to try and change my shoes and strip off my throw-away layers. The mud and the muck and the refuse of 30,000 runners was everywhere. It was raining and blowing so hard it was raining INSIDE the tented areas. I peeled off my track pants, sat down on an abandoned trash bag in the mud, and changed shoes. We were then called to start the .7 mile march to the start line. About 100 yards into the march my “clean and dry race shoes” were completely soaked through and covered with mud. Oh well…

I tried to put in my earphones, but the pounding rain and gusts of wind blew them right out of my ears. I opted to stick them inside my shirt, figuring I would try again further down the road if the weather let up. We finally made it up to the start line, the gun went off, and I suddenly realized we were actually going to do this. And we were off. Only one problem - my fingers were so numb I could not start my running watch, so I would have no idea of what pace I was running the entire day. No matter, it quickly became apparent that this was going to be a race of survival,  not speed. No watch, no earphones - I just smiled and decided I had no choice but to roll with it.

Fortunately the early miles of Boston are mostly downhill, so it was relatively easy to settle into something resembling a normal running rhythm despite the weather. As we started, I realized that my shoes, socks and feet were so soaked through and cold that my feet had gone numb. I couldn’t really feel my feet until about mile 3 or so. My hands were just absolutely gone. My gloves seemed to make it worse, so I abandoned them early on and just pulled my hands into the sleeves of my running jacket to try and keep them from further exposure.

I was immediately struck by the amazing crowds of people who came out to cheer on the runners. There were 30,000 runners, and must’ve been over a 100,000 supporters out there lining the course every inch of the way, and screaming support and encouragement like nothing I’ve ever witnessed. It is truly amazing - old people, kids, everybody everywhere - I found myself smiling almost non-stop, it was so inspirational. I later learned from locals and Boston veterans that the crowd this year was perhaps even larger than usual - they really came out to support us on this savagely difficult day.

The rain was absolutely relentless. At times it would kick up several notches and rain so hard and the winds would blow us sideways -  it was almost comical. I screamed out loud “you’ve got to be kidding” on a number of occasions. It was as if nature was saying “you think this is bad - try this!”

At about mile 12 or so, I decided to try again to put in my earphones. On long runs I usually listen to podcasts - I find that having something to focus on besides the run helps me lock-in to cruise-control mode, and I knew the daunting Newton Hills were looming a few miles ahead. I stopped at the water station and reached into my shirt for my Bose wireless earphones, only to find that they were gone. Merde! Must’ve fallen out somewhere along the course. Oh well. Keep on pounding, as my coach always reminds me.

Somehow, the conditions were so biblically bad that I was able to ignore them for long stretches at a time and just get into a good rhythm, inspired by the amazing support from the crowds. It turns out the hills - there’s a series of four of them from mile 16-21 - are not as bad as I had led myself to believe. The last one, Heartbreak Hill, is not so steep but it is agonizingly long. And of course the wind gusted up to a 40mph headwind about halfway up. I shouted out loud at Mother Nature yet again, and really had to laugh. It was so off-the-charts brutal that it started getting funny.

After the hills, it was just survival mode. That finisher’s medal at the end was the lure that pulled me on. That and the crowds. Boston - you people rock! When I turned left onto Boylston to head the last half-mile to the finish, I felt like I was winning the Olympics. The crowd was so loud - deafening - it was deeply moving and inspirational and a feeling and a sound I will never forget as long as I live. As neared the finish line I raised both hands in exultation, pumped my fist and screamed out a “Fuck Yes!” in honor of Shalane Flanagan (her husband Steve is my running coach), and hobbled my way through the water and food and medal and blanket stations.

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On the way to pick up my gear-check bag, I saw a line about 3 blocks long for the Changing Tents, so opted to just stay in my soaked togs and hop on the train back to the hotel. it was on the train I leaned that Desiree Linden had won the women’s race, and that the top US male marathoner, Galen Rupp, had dropped out mid-race due to hypothermia. I later learned that the medical tents had treated over a thousand runners for severe hypothermia - I’m sure I made it through by the skin of my teeth. I was shaking and spasming by the time I got back to my hotel room. It must’ve been quite a sight, me trying to wriggle out of my soaked and destroyed garments. I’m glad there’s no video of that. The good news - I found my earphones - they had crawled down my back and were trapped in my wet shirt!

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I took a hot shower, put on warm dry layers, and collapsed. I had worked for years trying to qualify for Boston, finally made it, and of course it had to be THIS year, the most bizarre ever! It was my worst marathon in years, time-wise, but that seemed beside the point yesterday. The wining times by the elite runners yesterday were the slowest in over 40 years.  I survived Boston 2018, and I have learned this - I can do anything I put my mind to, and if 30,000 people can put themselves through a test like this, the human race is truly capable of amazing feats. We are Boston Strong!

Now, onto some Burgers, Beer and Donuts…

 

Huge thanks and massive action...

The first few months of the year are typically the slower, quieter times in the wine business. Here in the Caveau world it has been somehow non-stop action - it seems like my head is spinning on a daily basis!  We've just had our best 1st quarter ever, and I am hugely appreciative and thankful for all of your support, passion, loyalty and enthusiasm. I know you can buy your wines from a million different places. That you choose to do so from us makes me very grateful, and makes me want to work even harder to deliver. It was great to see everyone at our spring tastings last weekend! Enjoy the juice. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

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Our film project, Three Days of Glory, is picking up steam as we head into our official World Premiere at the Newport Beach Film Festival on April 29th, and we've just added a bunch of screenings - Napa Valley, McMinnville, IPNC, Vancouver, Nice, Vero Beach - the list is regularly updated here - if we're going to be near you, grab your tickets and come see us! We should be in theatrical distribution this fall, so stay tuned for all the updates.

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The new issue of Allen Meadows'  Burghound is out - this one covering the 2016 reds from producers in the Côte de Beaune. Gorgeous wines that are in such short supply that many of out favorites barely exist. Yikes! Proud to see great write-ups and scored for the Caveau crew - including A-F Gros, Michel Mallard, Buisson-Charles and Violot-Guillemard. Watch your emails for upcoming offers over the spring and summer - we'll have tiny allocations to offer, so keep your finger on the trigger...

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It's starting to feel like this is real...

When I set out to make a movie about Burgundy back in 2016, it was motivated strictly by my desire to tell the story. It was totally a labor of love. Somehow I was able to convince filmmaker David Baker to join in as co-Producer/co-Director, and several of our customers to support our efforts through a small crowd-funding effort.

I knew absolutely nothing about making a movie. I just knew there was a story to be told that I hadn't seen in any of the Burgundy films that came before, and I wanted people to hear the story and see the real Burgundy that few outsiders ever do. Now, some two years down the line, we've got a finished film that is going to world-premiere at the prestigious Newport Beach Film Festival in April, and we just got our first major national press coverage. This is starting to feel very real!

Filming in the Violot-Guillenard cellars in Pommard

Filming in the Violot-Guillenard cellars in Pommard

We were honored to be included and receive a beautiful review in yesterday's Wall Street Journal - wine writer Lettie Teague wrote a nice piece about the interesting crop of wine documentaries of the last 2-3 years. The full article is available only to WSJ subscribers - but I can share my favorite part here:

"A much better and, yes, more passionate new Burgundy documentary, “Three Days of Glory,” will be released in April. The title is a reference to the three post-harvest days of celebration, and the film features such famous Burgundy names as Dominique Lafon, Veronique Drouhin and Aubert de Villane, as well as some more under-the-radar vignerons who are the true heart of the film.

Co-directed and narrated by Burgundy importer Scott Wright of Oregon-based Caveau Selections, the footage is often gloomy and rainy, and the music is suitably moody. Mr. Wright and his co-director David Baker tell the story of the disastrous 2016 vintage in Burgundy, one so severely reduced that some producers lost 90% of their harvest.

“They’re sitting on some of the most valuable vineyard land on the planet, but none of them are getting what you would call wealthy,” says Mr. Wright. The threat of buyers from outside the region snapping up land looms large. American writer and Burgundy expert Allen Meadows observes, “We very well may see a lot more corporate money coming in because the small landowner can’t afford to buy vineyards.”

While the vignernons describe real hardships, they remain hopeful and proud. Fabio Montrasi, an Italian architect turned winemaker, says of making wine in Burgundy, “It’s one of the most special places in the world, and sometimes miracles happen.” Vignernon Thiebault Huber hopes for “a beautiful baby” after the hardship of 2016, and as the film ends, a title card notes: “The 2017 harvest for most of Burgundy was the best crop in nearly a decade.” Yet the next card reveals: “There have also been three more sales of major grand cru vineyards to multinational buyers.” As the credits roll, the music is a triumphant song from the great chanteuse Régine: “Je survivirai” (“I Will Survive”). And that seems not only possible but perhaps even inevitable.

The best of these films reveal that wine can be a lot more than a bottle on a table in the hands of great winemaker—or a great filmmaker."

Wow - this is really happening! Stay tuned for screening information and all the upcoming news on the movie. Here we go!

Winemaker Thiébault Huber, on the monitor during our shoot in Meursault

Winemaker Thiébault Huber, on the monitor during our shoot in Meursault

2016 Burgundies - "Freshness, Energy and Grace"

Perhaps the most amazing thing about the seven year run of difficult vintages in Burgundy from 2010-2016 (hail, frost, mildew, short crops, and assorted combinations thereof) - is that the quality of the wines produced in each of these years has been generally outstanding. Despite the unprecedented adversity mother nature has thrown at the vignerons, the Burgundians have risen to the occasion time and time again. 2016 was the toughest road of all, with 50-90% crop loss due to a killer spring frost and off-the-charts mildew - and yet the resulting wines are not only good, they’re quite great!

So how, why? While there’s no definitive answer to a very complex issue, we have some ideas. First, that which doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, as the saying goes. The Burgundians have out of necessity had to learn to deal with extreme conditions. It has become apparent that “what has always worked before” is no longer applicable, and the new generation of winegrowers has been willing and able to look at everything anew, thereby adapting and changing according to the conditions thrown at them. 20 years ago, few if any changed their vinification protocols to suit the given vintage - now I’d wager that most of them do.

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Worldwide demand for Burgundy has done nothing but explode during the same time period, a market force that can only cause prices to continue to rise. While none of us want our favorite wines to get more expensive, there is a major benefit to higher prices. Now that they can charge a decent bottle price for the Bourgogne and Village wines, they’re able to keep their yields down in these appellations, which were historically hugely over-cropped in many cases. Thus the quality at these lower levels has vastly improved. As we’ll see below, the frost-ravaged Bourgogne vineyards performed exceptionally well in 2016, thanks to the small crop that was there to begin with.

The first wave of reviews for the 2016s is now out, most importantly the new report from Burghound - Allen Meadows, whose notes and scores carry the most weight in the Burgundy world. Here are some highlights from his vintage overview -

 
“From a wine quality perspective, one of the most important things about the 2016 vintage to appreciate is that very good to excellent wines were made up and down the appellation hierarchy. There were of course many excellent to even great wines made among the grands crus and best premiers crus but there were just as many fine villages and regional examples made as well and particularly so in the latter. Why? Because the frost damage was often the most severe (though certainly not always) in these lower lying vineyards. As such, the too often excessively high yields, which impairs wine quality for regional wines, largely didn’t occur.”

Allen’s key words for the ’16 Côte de Nuits reds - “Freshness, Energy and Grace”

But what you really want to know is, should you buy them, and how deep should you go, right? Here’s Meadows again -

“The best wines are wonderfully refreshing, transparent and graceful with moderately firm tannic spines where the all-important element of balance is supplemented by good but not high acidities. They are balanced wines built for medium to sometimes longer-term aging yet they should also be reasonably approachable young if youthful fruit is your preference. Before I offer more detail, the short answer is yes on both accounts that the 2016s deserve a place in your cellars and there is no reason not to go heavy – I for one will be buying all that I can afford and find. More specifically, there are two aspects that I absolutely love about the 2016s which are those of the crystalline transparency to the underlying terroirs coupled with their refreshing drinkability. One just feels like drinking the 2016s, in fact it’s hard not to like them.”

I spent three months tasting the 2016s throughout Burgundy, and I fully concur with Allen. These wines are really delicious, and great examples of what Burgundy lovers really love about Burgundy. The key, of course, will be getting hold of the wines you want. The quantities are severely diminished, and many of your favorite wines were not even made in ’16 - yields were so drastically small that many single-vineyard 1er Cru or Village wines were blended together.

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We’ll be offering all of the ‘16s from our producers (including a few new members of the family) on pre-arrival offers over the coming weeks and months. Please keep your eyes on your email and respond as quickly as you can when you see something you want (from us or wherever else you may buy your wines). Not on our mailing list yet?  Sign up here!

Thanks for all of your continued support - it’s going to be an exciting year!