Interview with Pierre Rovani

Pierre RovaniOccasionally in this always wacky business, I get surprised. Like when I meet someone I’m sure is going to be a complete, arrogant a-hole and they turn out to be stupendously cool.  It’s rare, but it happens. And it happened to me recently when I met Pierre Rovani, ex-wine critic for the legendary Robert Parker of  Wine Advocate Magazine. I’d heard he was a genial guy but I wasn’t sure how righteous until we sat down and had lunch together.

Now, I want to stay up all night and party with the guy.

I’m not exactly a supporter of the fancy wine magazines, looking at them as intimidators rather than educators, a camp where I fit in. So that’s why meeting this Washington D.C. native (yes, with a name like Pierre Rovani, you might assume he’s European) provided some angst. Not needed. This animated, jolly guy is a down-to-earth, walking encyclopedia of French wine, especially Burgundy and Alsace. He spoke admiringly of the biodynamic-farming trend crossing the country, saying a lot of the premises lay on scientific ground. And he knows every speck of dirt in Burgundy, after having critiqued those pinot noirs and chardonnays for 10 years.

I asked him a few questions about his time with Robert Parker, widely regarded as the most influential wine writer in the industry, possessing the ability to make or break a winery’s (and vintage) success.

What does he miss the most? “The honor of tasting entire vintages of wines produced by people I care about.”

What was it like being an arbiter of a winery’s’ success? “When you’re about to give a 56 [out of 100] to something, you think about the repercussions. You don’t do it lightly.”

He left Parker in 2006, burned out after 10 years of the 7-days-a-week, 150-wines-per-day lifestyle. It might sound decadent and fabulous, but it does get old. He looked around for an opportunity and found a home at a family-owned négociant house crafting beautiful Pinot Noir and Chardonnays from Burgundy, Remoissenet Père et Fils. He chose them because “they don’t cut corners.”

It shows. My assessment of his wines:

Remoissenet Père et Fils 2007 Bourgogne Blanc Crisp, tart green apple with a creamy finish. The way Chardonnay should taste. Sw=1 (out of 10). Btw $18-$20. 4 stars. (Tampa folks, this will be available at Bern’s Fine Wines and Spirits)

Remoissenet Père et Fils 2007 Montrachet Soft, elegant and gorgeous, but at $187 for a half-bottle, it should be. Sw=2. $187/375-ml. 5 stars.

Remoissenet Père et Fils 2007 Vosne-Romanée Oh, how I love French Pinot Noir. Red cherry and raspberry with a dash of mushroomy earth and a hefty helping of acidity. Soft tannins and a long, silky finish. Kinda expensive but not really for a Vosne- Romanée. Sw=1. Around $56 retail. 4 stars.

Remoissenet Père et Fils 2007  Chapelle-Chambertin The big, pricey boy of the bunch, and, of course, my favorite of the tasting. Pretty robust with ripe blackberry, blueberry and a layer of vanilla on the finish. Very small production (only 48 cases made). Sw=2.  Retails around $160. 5 stars.

Sweetness = 1 to 10, with 10 being sweetest; stars = out of 5, with 5 being stellar

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