A former sommelier interviews incredibly famous and knowledgeable wine personalities in his tiny apartment. He gets them to talk candidly about their lives and work, and then shares the conversations with you. To see new episodes sooner and to see all of the hundreds of back episodes in your feed, it is important to FOLLOW or SUBSCRIBE the show. It is free to do either, the show is free.
IDTT Wine 487: Dominik Sona and a Conception of Kabinett
Dominik Sona is the General Manager of the Koehler-Ruprecht winery, which is located in the Pfalz region of Germany.
Dominik speaks about his family history in the Pfalz and his winemaking work early in his career for a winery, Villa Wolf, in that area of Germany. He also discusses the situation for the Koehler-Ruprecht winery in 2010, when he began to work at that winery. He references the history of the Koehler-Ruprecht winery, and notes that the previous proprietor, Bernd Philippi, was a pioneer in the production of dry Riesling wines from the Pfalz.
Dominik speaks about the winemaking protocol for wines at Koehler-Ruprecht, and contrasts that with the winemaking at Villa Wolf. He also gives details about the handling of grapes in the winery, and the explains how the wines are aged at Koehler-Ruprecht prior to bottling. He discusses the exit of the winery from the VDP organization of German wineries in 2014, and touches on what led to the decision to leave the VDP. He also stresses what is important for the philosophy of winemaking at Koehler-Ruprecht: a focus on dry Riesling, fermented with native yeasts, aged in old wood barrels for a long period on the lees, and given a limited dose of sulphur.
Dominik refers to method of selection at Koehler-Ruprecht, and notes that choices regarding bottlings, such as determining which lots go into Kabinett Trocken versus Spatlese or Auslese Trocken, are decisions made on tasting the wines, not on analytical numbers or areas of the vineyard. He explains what he is looking for on the palate when he makes those choices, and also describes the aromatics and food pairing potential of those wines. He also speaks about the ageability of the wines, and how they might evolve in bottle. And he gives some insight into the R and RR wines, the rare wines that Koehler-Ruprecht makes in certain years. In relation to these topics, Dominik also discusses climate change, and the likelihood that the vintages in these days tend towards more ripeness than the vintages in the past.
The Saumagen is the most famous vineyard owned by Koehler-Ruprecht, and where the most prestigious wines of the winery emerge from. Dominik discusses the characteristics of that vineyard, including the exposure, the microclimate, and the presence of limestone there. He also discusses what wines from the Saumagen display that other wines of the winery might not. And he makes the connection between the flavors of the Saumagen Riesling wines and what foods they may pair well with.
Spätburgunder (Pinot Noir) is also discussed, in addition to Riesling. Dominik discusses the evolution of Spätburgunder winemaking in the Pfalz, and talks about what has changed and why. He also notes the move to new types of vine material for Spätburgunder, and talks about what the ramifications of that change may be.
This interview represents an excellent opportunity to learn about the specifics of winemaking at a winery that follows its own path, and about which there is somewhat little information generally available. At the same time, the episode provides a large amount of context for understanding some of the changes in German winemaking in general.
This episode also features commentary from:
Florian Lauer, Weingut Peter Lauer
Johannes Selbach, Weingut Selbach-Oster
Egon Müller IV, Weingut Egon Müller-Scharzhof and Château Bela
Katharina Prüm, Weingut Joh. Jos. Prüm
Klaus-Peter Keller, Weingut Keller
IDTT Wine 486: George Skouras and the New Old World
George Skouras is the owner and winemaker at Domaine Skouras, located in the Peloponnese of Greece.
George explains how his interest in wine first developed, and discusses his time as a student, working and living in France. He then talks about the early period of his career, making wine on the Greek island of Cephalonia. He describes a key meeting with Spyros Kosmetatos, which would lead to the founding of the Gentilini Winery on Cephalonia, and to market success for a white wine he made there. George shares some of the business philosophies that he developed at that time and which stayed with him later on.
George then discusses his return to an area near where he grew up, Nemea, to focus on the production of wines from the red Agiorgitiko and the white Moscofilero grape varieties. He talks about his first vintages of making wine at Domaine Skouras, and about the resistance he faced trying to sell Agiorgitiko wines in the international markets. This last problem was solved by the addition of some Cabernet Sauvignon into the blend of one of the Skouras wines, a wine called Megas Oenos. That blend was a market success, and led to more interest as well in the native Agiorgitiko wines from Nemea. That interest was shared by George, who spent decades examining the different areas in which Agiorgitiko was grown, and exploring the different qualities that the grape possesses. George came to several conclusions about how to grow and to handle Agiorgitiko, and he shares those thoughts in this interview. He also describes the different growing areas for the grape variety. He then touches on a key change, the recent development of virus-free clones of Agiorgitiko. Further, George gives an assessment of his own wines from Agiorgitiko, and their development over time.
George frequently discusses how both the Greek wine business and the international markets for wine have changed over time, and he gives an account of his own developments in response. He also summarizes his work with little known native grape varieties like Mavrostifo. And George speaks in some detail about Moscofilero, specifically about a darker colored variant of Moscofilero known as Mavrofilero. George talks about his early learning curve with Moscofilero winemaking, and describes the attributes of a Moscofilero wine from the Peloponnese.
Several viticulture and winemaking topics are touched on in this interview, including irrigation, yields, elevation of vineyards, destemming, press wine, cooperage, lees contact, and aging.
If you are curious about the development of Greek wine since the 1970s, this is a key perspective to take into account. George is one of a generation of Greek winemakers who have decidedly shaped the Greek wine scene of today.
IDTT Wine 485: Robert Vifian and Stories from the Tan Dinh Wine Cellar
Robert Vifian is the chef and co-owner of Tan Dinh Restaurant, located in Paris, France.
Robert was born in Vietnam in 1948, and lived in Saigon (now Ho Chi Minh City) as a child, experiencing the effects of the Tet Offensive firsthand. He and his family are French, and he moved to Paris, eventually joining his parents there. Robert's mother founded Tan Dinh Restaurant in 1968, and later Robert joined her in the kitchen there. Robert then took over as Chef of that restaurant in 1978. As the 1970s moved in the 1980s, the restaurant became popular with artists, actors, and other cultural types, and became both a chic spot to dine and a destination for wine aficionados.
Robert became interested in both cuisine and wine, and was soon searching out rare bottles, organizing private tastings, teaching in a wine school, and visiting cellars in Burgundy and Bordeaux. He visited producers such as Domaine Coche-Dury each year for many years, and developed a lot of familiarity with the wines of Domaine Comtes Lafon, Domaine Georges Roumier, and Domaine Hubert Lignier, tasting every vintage of each for several decades. He shares his reflections and thoughts about this producers in the interview. He also discusses Henri Jayer and Anne-Claude Leflaive, and their wines.
Robert also developed a lot of familiarity with Right Bank Bordeaux, specifically Pomerol. And Robert had close friendships with oenologists like Jean-Claude Berrouet and Michel Rolland, as well as wine critics like Robert Parker, Jr., and those friendships lended support to his experiences of Bordeaux. He recalls those relationships in the interview, and shares his views on each person. He also discusses aspects of what he learned about Pomerol over the years.
Robert had a friendship and a working relationship with the late Steven Spurrier during the time that Spurrier lived in Paris. Robert recalls the friendship and his different experiences with Spurrier in this interview. He also discusses the California wines that he learned about as a result of his acquaintance with Spurrier, dating back to The Judgement of Paris tasting in 1976.
This interview follows the Paris wine scene from the 1970s until the present, and encompasses thoughts on both benchmark wine regions of France and key producers from those places, across the same decades.
This episode also features commentary from:
Steven Spurrier, formerly a Consulting Editor for "Decanter" Magazine
Becky Wasserman-Hone, Becky Wasserman & Co.
Christian Moueix, Etablissements Jean-Pierre Moueix
IDTT Wine 484: Erin Scala Looks Deep Into Lake Garda
Erin Scala explores the long history and many recent changes in the area around Lake Garda and in the Bardolino wine zone, in the northeastern Italy.
Erin speaks with a number of different winemakers and specialists to clarify the situation around the evolution of winemaking in the Bardolino zone, from Roman times to the present day. She addresses the shift in the area in recent years towards rosé production, and explores both why this has occurred as well as the historical precedents for it. She enunciates how the wineries in the area vary in their choice of technique, and describes the different styles of the resulting wines. Erin examines both the shifting cultural and climatic settings for the wine production of this area. She explains how this Lake area - now well within Italy - was once at the border with Austria, as well as the recent effects of climate change there. She discusses the typical foods of the place, as well as the microclimate created by its defining feature: the lake. Erin also looks ahead to what wine styles may become more prevalent in the zone in the future.
If you have not kept up with the rapid changes for wine within the Bardolino zone in recent years, this episode is a complete and crucial overview of the situation on the ground.
This episode features commentary from:
Gabriele Rausse, Gabrielle Rausse Winery
Luca Valetti, Cantina Valetti
Roberta Bricolo, Gorgo
Francesco Piona, Cavalchina
Marco Ruffato, Le Ginestra
Matilde Poggi, Le Fraghe
Daniele Domenico Delaini, Villa Calicantus
Andreas Berger, Weingut Thurnhof
Fabio Zenato, Le Morette
Franco Christoforetti, Villa Bella
Giulio Cosentino, Albino Piona
Angelo Peretti, author of the book "Il Bardolino"
Katherine Cole, journalist and author of the book "Rosé All Day: The Essential Guide to Your New Favorite Wine"
Special Thanks To:
IDTT Wine 483: Listen to Françoise Vannier and Never Look At Burgundy the Same Way Again
Françoise Vannier is a geologist who has studied and mapped the vineyards of Burgundy for multiple decades. She is based in France.
Françoise discusses how she began her study of the vineyards of the Côte d'Or, and the surprising results that emerged from her research. She touches on both broad themes and specific, individual instances in her analysis of the rock types and rock weathering in the Côte. For example, she explains how the Côte de Nuits differs from the Côte de Beaune in broad terms, and then gives examples from specific vineyards and villages that illustrate those divergences. She emphasizes the importance of the both the parallel and vertical faults that exist in the Cote d'Or, and explains how the vertical faults are often where combes have developed, which are breaks in the slope (like valleys). Françoise highlights the importance of these combes to understanding the rock distribution of the Côte d'Or. This then plays into her contention that village names are not as helpful as one might think for understanding the vineyards of the area, as it is the combes that are the actual markers of where the rock distribution changes in the Côte d'Or.
Françoise also emphasizes the difficulty and complexity of the topic of Côte d'Or geology, enunciating a number of nuances to the different rock types, and how they weather. She also points out that multiple rock types may be found within a single vineyard, as faults do not fall only at the borders of vineyards. Furthermore, the rock types do not nicely match up with the hierarchy of perceived quality of the vineyards, as the same type of rock may be found under both a villages vineyard and a Grand Cru. These realizations prompted Françoise to examine the historical, cultural, or climatic reasons why certain vineyards are in more esteem than others today, and she shares in this interview her thoughts on those subjects.
Françoise speaks about numerous areas of the Côte d'Or in some depth, including areas within the boundaries of Marsannay, Gevrey-Chambertin, Morey-Saint-Denis, Chambolle-Musigny, Pommard, and Meursault. She dispels common myths about the topic of Burgundy geology, and she gives examples of specific crus to illustrate many of her points. She also provides an examination of how human activity, in the form of quarries, house building, and clos (walled vineyard) construction has altered the Côte d'Or. Lastly, Françoise describes how the Côte d'Or differs from other areas of France which also feature calcium carbonate deposits, such as Champagne and St. Émilion.
Anyone who wishes to understand Burgundy better will benefit from listening to this episode multiple times.
This episode also features commentary from:
Brenna Quigley, geologist and vineyard consultant
Christophe Roumier, Domaine Georges Roumier
IDTT Wine 482: Lorenzo Accomasso and Barolo from the War Until Now
Lorenzo Accomasso is a vintner in the La Morra area of Italy's Piemonte region. He has been releasing Barolo and other wines under the Accomasso label for several decades.
Lorenzo discusses the increased interest in Barolo and in the wines of the Piemonte that has occurred over the last couple of decades, as well as the increased planting of vineyards in La Morra. Lorenzo talks about helping his parents at the winery in the post-World War II years. He contrasts the current situation for the wines with the period of the 1960s, when people were leaving the countryside to find jobs in factories. He also recalls the difficult growing conditions of the 1970s, and the changes in attitude towards topics like green harvesting and fruit sorting that have occurred over time.
Lorenzo is clear about his winemaking stance as a Traditional producer, and touches on some of the techniques that separate his winemaking from those who operate in a Modern style. He talks about the changes in popularity for Modern and Traditional wines from the Piemonte, and how those categories have been perceived in the market over time. He also touches on the difficulty of changing one's winemaking style once it has been set. Vineyard work is discussed, and Lorenzo makes a distinction between his different Barolo vineyards (Rocche, Rocchette, and Le Mie Vigne). He contrasts the different attributes of those vineyard sites.
Vintage evaluations are given for many years, stretching back to the 1970s. Lorenzo gives his frank opinions of many vintages, and at times gives his thoughts on ageability as well. Then he discusses some of the difficulties he has experienced when making wines from the Dolcetto grape variety, in contrast to Nebbiolo.
This is a rare opportunity to hear from a Piemonte vintner who lived through World War II, and with that in mind, this episode begins with a history of Italy and of the Piemonte in the later years of that war and after. That was a time when fighting between Fascists and Partisans took a huge human toll, with many deaths. The capsule history then transitions into a discussion of the changes the Piemonte experienced in the second half of the 20th century, as emigration and industrialization changed the environment for wine production. Italian cultural commentators Mario Soldati and Luigi Veronelli are also talked about, as are the changes in winemaking that increasingly began to take hold in the late 1970s and into the 2000s. Those changes gave rise to different winemaking camps in the Piemonte, which are discussed. Eventually the market for the Piemonte wines begins to change, and at the same time there arrives a belated realization that climate change has altered the realities for vine growing in the Piemonte.
This episode also features commentary from:
Martina Barosio, formerly of Scarpa
Nicoletta Bocca, San Fereolo
Beppe Colla (translated by Federica Colla), the ex-owner of Prunotto
Luca Currado, Vietti
Umberto Fracassi Ratti Mentone, Umberto Fracassi
Angelo Gaja, Gaja
Gaia Gaja, Gaja
Maria Teresa Mascarello, Cantina Bartolo Mascarello
Danilo Nada, Nada Fiorenzo
Giacomo Oddero (translated by Isabella Oddero), Poderi Oddero
Federico Scarzello, Scarzello
Aldo Vaira (translated by Giuseppe Vaira), G.D. Vajra
Aldo Vacca, Produttori del Barbaresco
Michael Garner, co-author of Barolo: Tar and Roses
Victor Hazan, author of Italian Wine
Thank You to...
Robert Lateiner and Gregory Dal Piaz for the use of the recording of Lorenzo Accomasso
Carlotta Rinaldi and Giuseppe Vaira for their translation work
Chris Thile for voiceover
Bodhisattwa for the whistling of "Bella Ciao"
10 STARS !
Though the shows are astronomical events, they’re worth the wait.
Levi asks a question and gets out of the way allowing his great quest to answer without interrupting them. In his early shows your hear otherwise, interruptions, bad jokes, meanderings but realized it.
Listen and learn all you podcasters.
As a winemaker and wine lover I am thankful for that Levi makes this show. Every guest is different from the last, and his interviews are both informative and soulful.
Best of its kind
Spent a lot of time re listening to and taking notes on these podcasts esp those with vintners/authors with the extra time from the pandemic. Some episodes are just so precious (eg with those that had sadly passed away), informative, and inspirational that I haven’t found any other podcast/forum/anything that could hold a candle to. Thanks so much and keep going!