Benjamin Lewin was founding editor of the journal Cell before he started writing about wine. He is one of 300 Masters of Wine and has published five books on wine, What Price Bordeaux? (2009), Wine Myths and Reality (2010), In Search of Pinot Noir (2011), Claret & Cabs: the Story of Cabernet Sauvignon (2013), and Wines of Modern France: a Guide to 500 Leading Vineyards.. His objective is to look critically at the factors that determine the character of wine. He also writes the myths and realities column in the World of Fine Wine as well as articles for Decanter magazine, Wine & Spirits, and TONG. His books have been shortlisted for the prestigious Andre Simon and Roederer wine book awards. He divides his time between the East coast of the United States and the wine regions of Europe.
Hello. Are your books offered on kindle or online anywhere?
What Price Bordeaux and Claret & Cabs are on Kindle, so available through Amazon. Afraid Myths and Reality and In search of Pinot Noir are only in print. Wines of France will be available on Kindle soon after print publication (next September).
Hello. I very much enjoyed reading your posts today, especially in regard to Burgundy, premox and oak. Your experiences are similar to mine in may regards.
Your review of Lucien LeMoine is curious since “the story” of these wines doesn’t fit the reality of the wine, in the glass. You are not the only wine professional to recount Mounir Saouma’s winemaking philosophy without challenging it based on the results. His charm is considerable and the pace at which he delivers his commentary and barrel samples leaves little time for quiet reflection.
My most critical analysis of the LeMoine wines is at my kitchen table, knowing full well the price I have paid for the bottle in front of me. I have tasted from many 1er Cru and village le Moine bottles in the past 3 years and the whites always smell or taste of oak, in addition to the substantial fruit and lees character. They are not infrequently premoxed, just 5 years after the vintage. I have yet to detect CO2 in any of them. The reds are also well-seasoned with oak but balanced with the fruit and extract – I look forward to these integrating and maturing into real gems!
If you have you tasted any of the whites after a few years in the bottle I would appreciate hearing your opinion.
I’ve had barrel samples and I’ve had wines from the most recent vintages, but I haven’t had any really old bottles, so hard for me to comment. I did not detect excessive oak in any of these, white or red, so it would be interesting if oak became more prominent later. I did not detect carbon dioxide and did not decant any of the bottles. I do finda great sense of precision in the wines at this stage, but I’ve only had them in the period of two or three years after the vintage before Mounir says they close up for several years. I’d certainly be very intereseted to try some older bottles.
In my experience the whites are mainly showy and even plush from barrel to about 5 years after harvest. They do not lack acid, either. To look beyond my narrow experience I suggest you take a look at tasting notes on Cellartracker; there is much use of the words “oak”, “caramel”, “advanced”, and “oxidized”.
I suggest you can expect Le Moine whites to mature unevenly but quickly overall, like many other heavily oaked whites. In other words the natural winemaking with lees, no racking, 100% new oak and little CO2 is not a pre-mox solution. And the oak and lees taste becomes more apparent after time in the bottle, subjugating the terroir.
At my home, Lucien Le Moine white wines will be consumed and enjoyed before they are 8 years old, similar to most other white Burgs.
I was wondering if one can buy your books directly from you or are they only available via amazon?
I want to have them all! And if itspossible to get them directly from you, even better
Cheers from Bogotá, Colombia!
Sebastian Giraldo, CSW
Delighted to hear that! Unfortunately I do not have any inventory of the books, so cannot supply them directly. Amazon would be the best bet for both the books and the guides (in the latter case there is no inventory anywhere, as they are produced on demand only when ordered, which means they are always up to date).
Dear Benjamin, I recently purchased some of your books (Bordeaux, Rhone etc.) because we don’t have anything that detailed in German. I have to buy your books via Amazon and I don’t know whether I am finding your entire portfolio of books there. My special interest is (Sauvignon Blanc dominated) white Bordeaux – our favourite of this type of wine is Lynch Bages blanc. Have you published anything with that focus? Many thanks and best regards Stefan (from Germany)
All of the books should be on Amazon (most recently in conventional format, Wines of France, and Wine Myths and Reality: there are 17 guides in the series of Wines and Top Vineyards, all in both kindle and print-on-demand formats). Unfortunately, there is not enough enough general interest in white Bordeaux to justify extensive treatment: I mention it in Wines of France and in Wine Myths of Reality, and there is a short discussion in Guide to Bordeaux Left Bank (two pages on Dry White Bordeaux), which includes the “alternative” white wines, which is to say whites from the Medoc or dry whites from Sauternes area. I like Blanc de Lynch Bages also, but I think my favorite from the area is Aile d’Argent from Mouton Rothschild.
Thank you very much for your quick response Benjamin. I read your book about the left bank and the white wines with great interest and joy – that’s why I hoped for more ;-). Normally I do not like the cuvees with more than 25% Semillion too much, but now that you recommended it, I will try Aile d’Argent. If you ever write a book on “white bordeaux” I will be the first buyer. Have a good weekend. Stefan
I am currently planning a brief visit to Northern France to visit a few wine sellers and was wondering if you wouldn’t mind giving me a hand with how to book tours/wine tastings. My spoken French is very poor and so booking on the phone is proving to be very difficult and so far, don’t have any email replies.
Any help would be greatly appreciated!
It is sometimes a problem getting responses to emails. Even when the web site has a form for making enquiries, there isn’t always a response. There’s a site called http://www.vinup.com which lists producers in France, and usually has a link to send them an email: that sometimes gets a better answer than using their direct email address. I usually send an email as my first enquiry, and if there’s no response in, say, three days, follow up with a fax (I give an email address for reply in the fax) and that often elicits a response. If spoken French is a problem I would write in English, because there isn’t much point making an appointment with someone who can’t speak English. Which region are you visiting?
Thank you for your swift reply! (I’m sad to say I don’t know how to use a fax machine or where I could find one but I will definitely look into it over the weekend)
I will have a look on vinup.com and see if the particular vineyards are listed on there. We are looking to visit in and around Chablis.
Thanks again for the advice 🙂
Benjamin I have just come across your article on your visit to Domaine Robert Ampeau which you posted last year I hope you don’t mind my asking but I knew Michel suffered a stroke some years back and I thought he had retired – the reason I ask is that my wife and I visited him a number of times and my last email with him was in 2016 just after he suffered his illness. I would be delighted to know if he is back in his house and making wine again
I guess he’s semi-retired. He said he has some difficulty tasting now, which I guess is an impediment to making wine, but we visited with him for an hour, talked about the domain, and had a long tasting ending with some old wines. He’s still involved at least to that extent.
I am reading your Southern Burgundy, Beaujolais &Jura book in preparation for a trip to the Beaujolais area this Fall for 5-7 days. I’m wondering if you can suggest a Base town for our driving adventures each day? We’ll probably take the train from Geneva to Lyon and pick up a car there.
Your advice is much appreciated!