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The Picrate went belly-up, much to the delight of my business partners, before we had a chance to import the wine.

This was a winery that was an exciting new discovery last February for me in the Loire Valley. The owner, Eric Calcutt, was a hipster who had developed a specialty in declassified Coteaux-du-Layons made in an oxidative fashion, following the inspiration of his spiritual leader in life Pierre Overnoy of the Jura (see several postings below). Obviously, these wines were rejected by the French wine authorities as being untypical representations of Coteaux-du-Layons and were declassified into Table Wines. Thusly, the name The Picrate, which literally means 'the shitty wines.' Actually, it means wines so shitty that no one would ever want to drink them, the type of wine you would give bums on the street.

I found the wines charming and quickly grabbed as big an allocation as I could to import into America. In order to import wines, an importer must register labels with America's Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. These labels must conform to various restrictions in terms of type size and wording that correspond to American legistlation. The BATF kept rejecting all our applications for The Picrate labels, which (in all fairness) looked as if they had been drawn by a child of five on the grounds that they needed final examples of the label, not the rough design. We kept returning amended applications that mentioned these were in fact the final versions of the labels.

In the midst of this, I received a panicked call from Eric Calcutt in Angers. He told me that he was back in France for two weeks and I had to pick-up the wine quickly or he could not ship them as he was definitively returning to Israel. Naturally, I asked him what he was doing in Isreal. It turned out that Calcutt had gotten rid of the estate and was studying modern dance and movement with a ballet troupe in Jersulem. At this point, I had no choice but to cancel our order on the grounds that there were just too many administrative difficulties and if he was no longer making wine it made little sense for my firm to do a one year promotion of The Picrate and turn it into a popular brand throughout America if there was to be no follow-through.

Simultaneously, with my of of The Picrate, I reserved 25 cases of Vouvray from cultist Christian Chaussard at the Domaine de la Saboterie. Chaussard is also a specialist in oxidized Chenin Blanc, an also a disciple of Pierre Overnoy of the Jura. I should mention here that Pierre Overnoy, whom I once spent a morning and lunch with along with Robert Callahan, is perhaps one of the most charming men I have ever met. Chaussard also worships Robert Plageolles in Gaillac, another iconoclast winemaker. Chaussard's Vouvray's seemed fabulous to me, but my customers and colleagues all seemed to hate the man and his wines. Anyhow, along with Calcutt, Chaussard has recently gone bankrupt and unfortunately had to sell his domaine.

Please note, someone has posted a link further up the board, which features Manuel Camblor's new apartment in the Trump Tower. Frankly, it looks nice to me!

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