The grape escape: vigneron indépendent

22 11 2009

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged about wine, but the ‘salon de vin des vignerons indépendents‘ at Lille was a temptation I could not resist. A measly 6 euro buys you a tasting glass and access to some of the finest independent winemakers in France. Here are some of my soul inspired tasting notes.

Rhône wines are like Bill Withers: underestimated yet unparalleled. The Domaine de Chantegut Vacqueyras Tradition 2007 will make any (winter) day a lovely day. And I’ll be sure to enjoy the Domaine La Garrigue Gigondas 2007 magnums I bought with, well, just the twelve of us or so.

I also discovered a white Burgundy oddity in the Domaine Felix Saint-Bris 2008. The Saint-Bris AOC allows sauvignon grapes. That’s the viticultural equivalent of James Brown singing about abstinence. Ain’t it funky? No, it isn’t. It smells of summer and tastes great.

Lastly, I invested in some delicate red Burgundy produced by Domaine Nudant. Now sitting pretty in my wine cellar are three bottles of Vosne Romanée 2007 and three Ladoix 1er Cru La Corvée. I’m saving those for a special occasion, like Bill Withers in concert.

The future of news? Bricks-and-clicks

25 10 2009

The latest trend for ailing news organizations is to adopt a bricks-and-clicks business model. What with evaporating advertising revenues, news organizations such as Corelio in Belgium are dipping their toes in online retailing. For instance, just last week Het Nieuwsblad launched their, hoping to lure their readers into buying wine, DVDs and books.

Visions of violet: Chalten Chardonnay 07

19 08 2009

Here it is: my favorite white wine of the year. A José Jamesesque chardonnay. Personality. Originality. Flavor. Street credibility. All that and then some from a cool Patagonian mountain range. This wine beats the summer heat any day. Available in Belgium at De Heerlyckheid in Berchem. Aloxe recommended.

Mallorca is cool like that

3 05 2009

Back home from 6 days of triathlon training in the Mallorcan sun. Start the day with a light workout, have breakfast, cycle, unwind, watch my children grow up, swim, eat, try out some new wines (Siglo Saco 2005) and repeat. I could get used to this. But it’s back to business for me.

This is Rufus & Chaka Khan’s Sweet Thing

28 02 2009

Some wines are made to be drunk to the conversation analytic rhythm of slowness and smallness. The 2003 Dufouleur Gevrey-Chambertin I savored in the fine company of the ‘130 massive’ is a case in point. I won’t bore you with the top-heavy register of wine language, instead I’ll let Rufus and Chaka Khan express their appreciation.

Rufus feat. Chaka Khan – Sweet thing (ABC Records, 1975)

Indexical orders of commoditized identity

24 02 2009

Today I  learned that you are what you say about what you eat. Michael Silverstein drove this point home in his paper on indexical orders. Without going into much detail, indexicality is the meaning relation which links language use to a particular context.

Consider the catchphrase  ‘Fire in the hole!’, a warning which most people would associate with particular kinds of speakers (soldiers) or contexts of speaking (detonating an explosive device). It is this association between discourse and context which we call indexical, i.e. pointing to a meaning (an imminent explosion).

Indexical meanings are ordered – they are not unstructured – and such ‘indexical orders’ can become emblematic of particular social categories. Case in point is the register I have an on/off relationship with: wine talk. Silverstein argues that wine talk is indexically iconic of (i.e. bears resemblance to) yuppoisie (a 1990s term, we would now speak of ‘millenials’). There is indeed an undeniable link between describing a wine as having ‘a balanced ménage à trois of aroma, depth and finish’ and an elitist/snobbish/posh consumerist social identity. Talking wine indexes socially valued traits in the speaker. So, in Silverstein’s words (2003: 226):

As we consume the wine and properly (ritually) denote that consumption, we become, in performative realtime, the well-bred, characterologically interesting (subtle, balanced, intriguing, winning, etc.) person iconically corresponding to the metaphorical “fashion of speaking” of the perceived register’s figurations of the aesthetic object of connoisseurship, wine.

Note that Silverstein refers to wine as a “perduringly constant prestige comestible”. Scrabble, anyone?

Silverstein, Michael (2003). Indexical order and the dialectics of sociolinguistic life. Language & Communication 23 (3-4): 193-229.

’tis the season to be hopeful. And proud.

9 02 2009

What makes my weekend? Let’s see: on Friday, my son Nicolas, aka Nic the quick, more than lived up to his nickname by acing his first swim training session, having fun throughout and making yours truly proud. Nic was promptly promoted from the beginner ‘zeepaardjes A’ group to the advanced ‘zeepaardjes B’ group.

My missus and I then enjoyed a fine meal in the lovely company of our neighbors and four of their out-stan-ding wines: a 1992 Les Vaillons Chablis Premier Cru, a 1995 Château Peymartin Saint-Julien, a 1990 Château Notton Margaux and to top it all off, a 2002 Château Limbourg Pessac-Léognan.

On Saturday, a very instructive technique session in the pool (narrow leg kicks! body balance! head position!) woke me up, some quality blog posts and more bad news for print journalism in Belgium gave me food for thought during a spirited 5x1000m interval run and Aretha Franklin set the mood for a relaxing evening, followed by some midnight PhD brainstorming and writing.

Lane Lines by Jean-François Lanzarone (

"Lane Lines" by Jean-François Lanzarone (

On Sunday I played with my kids, had a meeting with my fellow triathlon organizers (expect more news shortly), edited a position paper and struggled some more with the theoretical orientation section of my budding PhD. Discourse analysis is a theoretical minefield.

Samuel Pepys was spot on in 1663

29 01 2009

I had the rare pleasure of tasting a First Growth a few days ago. Lured by the prospect of tasting a 2005 Sassicaia –  GP approved btw – I signed up for the weekly wine tasting session at Chai & Bar in Brussels. Little did I know that I was about to be swept off my feet by a 2001 Haut-Brion.

1998 Château Haut-Brion by waynemah (

1998 Château Haut-Brion by waynemah (

Read the rest of this entry »

Hello gorgeous: Sansilvestro Gavi di Gavi

17 01 2009

Impulse wine buying is good, striking oenological gold is better. Introducing: the 2007 Sansilvestro Fossili Gavi del Comune di Gavi. 100% Cortese, D.O.C.G. label, Piemonte heritage, fruity, balanced, simply gahgus. The type of wine you celebrate a PhD with. Cheers Flyss!

Rustenberg Stellenbosch Chardonnay

26 12 2008

My family and I had the good fortune of spending Christmas eve at my folks’ place, wining, dining and dancing. Setting the festive mood was a superb  South African Chardonnay, a 2006 Rustenberg Stellenbosch. According to the Wine Spectator, it is a

typical South African Chardonnay because of its beautiful mineral notes and wonderful oak integration. The aromas have Burgundian characters of flint, peaches, lime and some nuttiness while the palate is elegant with loads of finesse that gives it length and freshness.