French Wine Made Facil

Well, not really. If the 600-plus page book I have, grandly entitled “An Encyclopedia of the Wines and Domaines of France”, is any indication, simple is not a word that leaps readily to mind in this context. But if there were anyone to get the juices flowing and the process of appreciation going, that would be British wine writer Clive Coates MW (the MW stands for Master of Wine), the book's author.

Mr. Coates, a gentleman of impressive bearing and physical presence, would be imposing enough without his, er, encyclopedic knowledge, but add to that his numerous other books on French wines, his Chevalier de la Ordre du Mérite Agricole award from the French government, the years of publication of his own wine magazine, and the gentleman can be almost intimidating. My approach, I have to confess, is to let all the ignorance hang out there.

We will both have the opportunity to do just that on Saturday, April 17 from 1-4 p.m. at Saglimbeni Fine Wines where Mr. Coats will be holding courtâ??along with signing books and dispensing vintage-worthy wisdom. This is the chance to ask about those moldering bottles of Bordeaux or Burgundy bequeathed to you by dear-departed uncle Rodney, to inquire about the potential of current vintages, or simply to listen up at the knee of a master. We don't know what wines will be on the usual Saturday tasting bars at Saglimbeni for the occasion, but we trust they won't embarrass him or the staff.

As an aside, since neither you nor I can now take advantage, he is also hosting a sold-out dinner at the Fig Tree during his San Antonio sojourn. The cost of the dinner and wines was $300, and places apparently went almost immediately upon release of information. This speaks well both for Mr. Coates and for the Fig Tree, which also recently put together a very impressive dinner featuring the wines of Louis Jadot. This one I did attend, and admit that it was good to be reminded of the kitchen's depth of talent. In the absence of Le Rêve (one of whose former chefs is now at Fig Tree), and assuming Fig Tree seeks to fill the gap, perhaps giving a fig may soon take on new meaning.


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