Thanks for another amazing year!
First, let me thank you sincerely for making 2016 such a dynamic and exciting year for us. This was only our second year under the Caveau Selections banner, though we’ve been at this since 1999. I am infinitely grateful to you for your support of our producers and their wines. At the end of the day it’s all about small family businesses, people working hard at something they passionately believe in - often without a safety net - and sharing the fruits of those labors with friends and family. We’re proud to be part of that chain, and are very thankful that we get to make a living doing what we love.
We were stoked to introduce you to some new members of the Caveau family this past year, including Stéphanie Chevreux & Julien Bournazel of micro-Champagne producers La Parcelle (only 96 bottles for the entire US - you won’t find this one in your local shops!), and the massively exciting Gilbert & Christine Felettig in Chambolle-Musigny - one of the great Burgundy finds of the last 20 years. I’ve got a few more new additions in the works for 2017, both in Burgundy and Champagne - so keep your eyes on your email for all the scoop to come.
We also introduced our new “House Wine” Clubs just last month, and your response and enrollment has been positive snd swift. Thank You! We currently have slots open in all of our clubs, so please shoot us an email if you’d like to get on board before the next round of shipments in the spring.
There were so many firsts for us this year - the most significant being our first customer tours of Champagne, and of course starting production on our first film, Three Days of Glory! It has been awesome to join forces with filmmaker-author David Baker and get this project rolling. We are presently getting the editing process underway, with literally hundreds of hours of footage in the can and all the pieces of a great documentary in our hands. Now we have the arduous task of making a cohesive and compelling film out of it all. With luck we’ll be ready to debut the movie in November - we’ll keep you in touch with the process all along the way.
It was quite an eventful year on a personal and family level as well. 2016 saw my 2nd-oldest daughter Ally get married in April, my oldest daughter Lindsay made me a grandfather for the 2nd time with the birth of her daughter Leah in November, and Martha & Pirrie & I had a great trip to Sweden in June to search out my roots and meet scads of relatives there for the first time. And then my beloved Chicago Cubs won the World Series! I can now die happy…
It was not a banner year for the planet or humankind. Endless war, violence, vitriol - we are living through difficult times, with no solutions on the table that promise to turn things around anytime soon. All of which serves to remind us that the most important thing - time with those we love - is fleeting and precious, and we truly need to cherish every moment. Friends and family, good food and wine - put those all together and the result is about as good as it gets in this life. I wish you a year full of that goodness, and thank you for letting us be part of it for another year.
As you may know, my other huge passion apart from Burgundy & Champagne is music. Having spent the first 30+ years of my working life in the music biz, it’s a huge part of me. I left that career behind in 1999 to follow my wine muse, but there is literally an endless soundtrack playing in my head, if not throughout the house on the Sonos speakers. I was 10 years old when the Beatles hit the US in 1964, and the world was forever changed.
I admit to listening primarily to the “old stuff”, and don’t find a lot of current artists all that exciting. Of contemporary artists I do especially like First Aid Kit and Sia. I’m also hugely intrigued by a couple of new artists that I expect to surface in the next year - watch out for Swedish singer-songwriter Skött and a scandinavian duo called Good Harvest - I see a lot of potential for both of them.
Mostly I keep mining the vast catalogue of older stuff. Now with Spotify and Apple Music there are endless discoveries to be made - old demo versions, alternate takes, previously unreleased tracks - a treasure trove of goodies from fave artists of the 60s, 70s and 80s.
I was late to really getting into Bob Dylan, only becoming a hard-core fan in the last 10 years or so. That’s probably because I was always attracted to things a bit more tidy and polished. I didn’t start appreciating the more ragged and raw until later in my musical journeys. Once you start to go down the Dylan black-hole, you may never return. There’s so much material, so many thousands of recordings. It’s a fascinating journey through the mind and career of a truly genius, truly crazy human being. It isn’t always pretty, but there’s a lot to learn down there.
For me, the holy trinity of all-time greatest songwriters is Dylan, Joni Mitchell, and Springsteen. I’m often tempted to put Paul Simon and Brian Wilson at that same level - their best songs certainly compete with the best of anyone’s. I know a lot of music geeks and journos who feel that Paul Simon is the best of them all. Ultimately it’s a matter of personal taste, to be sure.
In the past year I’ve really enjoyed reading the new autobiographies from Springsteen and Brian Wilson. Bruce’s is incredibly well written and illuminating. Brian’s is stunning in his candidness of discussing his lifelong struggle with mental illness. Springsteen also reveals his battles with depression and a history of family mental health issues. I’m quite sure it’s no coincidence - so many of the greatest artists from all disciplines walk that razor’s edge of genius vs insanity on a daily basis.
They say that 2016 was the year the music died. We lost so many great artists - the giants Prince and Bowie looming above all. For me personally, the biggest loss was Glenn Frey, as I’ve discussed in these pages before. I still can’t pick up my guitar without strumming through a chorus of New Kid in Town (possibly the best song ever written about the entertainment industry? That’s the subject of another column to come, perhaps.) I was also deeply moved by the passing of comedian Garry Shandling, one of the true genius comedic minds ever. I can (and do) endlessly watch the Larry Sanders Show dvd collection. Nothing has ever made me laugh harder.
So here’s to a great 2017 full of music, wine and laughter. Cheers!