I’ll Drink to That: Winemaker George Skouras

Episode 486 of I’ll Drink to That! features George Skouras of Domaine Skouras. Domaine Skouras is a winery located in the Peloponnese of Greece.

When George Skouras began his winemaking career in the 1980s, there was a total of 70 wineries in all of Greece. Today there are over one thousand. The big growth in the number of Greek wineries has, over the decades, been accompanied by wholesale changes of technique in the same period of time. Lowering grape yields. Picking earlier to preserve freshness. Putting grapes in a cold room overnight. Being very mindful about skin contact. Being observant of pressing regimes. Fermenting in stainless steel. Élevage in French oak barrique. Blending international grape varieties with local ones. To listen to George Skouras talk about the development of his winemaking protocol is to hear about a kind of winemaking that is totally different from what had existed in Greece before the War. And totally different from the Retsina-soaked stereotype of rustic Greek wine. The innovations of George and other Greek winemakers of his generation would become the dominant model for Greek winemaking all across the country. As George phrases it, the changes were like a fire, and they spread quickly. Today George is ready to put some of that change in context, to re-evaluate some of his choices, and to consider whether the present moment asks for something a bit different. It is the kind of conversation you can only have with someone who has witnessed profound changes close up as a participant for decades, and is now ready to tell you what he knows.

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Photograph by Costas Mitropoulos courtesy of Domaine Skouras.

I’ll Drink to That is the world’s most listened-to wine podcast, hosted by Levi Dalton. Levi has had a long career working as a sommelier in some of the most distinguished and acclaimed dining rooms in America. He has served wine to guests of Restaurant Daniel, Masa, and Alto, all in Manhattan. Levi has also contributed articles on wine themes to publications such as The Art of Eating, Wine & Spirits magazine, Bon Appetit online, and Eater NY. Check out his pictures on Instagram and follow him on Twitter: @leviopenswine

The post I’ll Drink to That: Winemaker George Skouras appeared first on Vinography.

I’ll Drink To That: Chef Robert Vifian

Episode 485 of I’ll Drink to That! features Chef Robert Vifian. Robert is the chef and co-owner of Tan Dinh, a Vietnamese restaurant located in Paris, France.

Robert Vifian was born in Vietnam, in 1948. As a young man living in what was then known as Saigon, he focused on playing the hits of The Beatles and The Kinks, rather than dwelling on the nearby threat of the Tet Offensive. His family having moved to Paris, he would move to meet them there. He joined his mother in the kitchen of the Paris restaurant she had begun in 1968, known as Tan Dinh. Today Robert is the Chef of Tan Dinh, and the restaurant’s wine cellar is packed in every possible direction with bottles of rare Burgundy, Bordeaux, and California wines. Robert, having developed a passion for wine in France, soon began organizing tastings, and searching shops for extraordinary bottles. In this interview, Robert gives his thoughts about producers whose wines he has tasted for decades, including Domaine Coche-Dury, Domaine Comtes Lafon, Domaine Leflaive, Domaine Henri Jayer, and many others. He also discusses Bordeaux’s Right Bank wines and remembers early meetings with Jean-Claude Berrouet and Michel Rolland. Plus, he shares his memories of Steven Spurrier, the person who first introduced him to American wines.

The period of the 1960s, 70s, and 80s was a period of change for Robert, and for top French wines in general. As each changed, they grew closer together. A happy circumstance for both.

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Photograph courtesy of Robert Vifian. Photographer unknown.

I’ll Drink to That is the world’s most listened-to wine podcast, hosted by Levi Dalton. Levi has had a long career working as a sommelier in some of the most distinguished and acclaimed dining rooms in America. He has served wine to guests of Restaurant Daniel, Masa, and Alto, all in Manhattan. Levi has also contributed articles on wine themes to publications such as The Art of Eating, Wine & Spirits magazine, Bon Appetit online, and Eater NY. Check out his pictures on Instagram and follow him on Twitter: @leviopenswine

The post I’ll Drink To That: Chef Robert Vifian appeared first on Vinography.

I’ll Drink to That: All About Lake Garda

Episode 484 of I’ll Drink to That! features a deep dive into Italy’s Lake Garda, and the wines produced along its shores. Erin Scala leads a tour of the wineries of the Lake Garda environs, examining the history of the area as well as the recent changes in winemaking there.


The popularity of pale pink rosé wines has united wine areas around the world in a shift towards their greater production. But what if an agreement about the efficacy of such wines was found in multiple regions of the world back even in Imperial Roman times? While examining the history of Bardolino, Erin Scala came across a common connection between the wines of Lake Garda in what is now Italy, and the wines of Provence, now a region of France. And that connection is rosé. The Romans, she relates to us in this episode, brought to both areas the idea of pressing grapes off their skins early in the maceration period. While those areas of Europe have been subsequently divided into different countries during the march of time, they share a common winemaking history dating back to the 3rd century AD. And the producers of Bardolino are referencing that history more and more as they move to embrace making rosé wines today. Erin found dramatic changes in the methods of wine production in the area, a general turn dating back less than a decade. Sweeping change, with an ancient historical precedent, buffered by the crosscurrents of modern nation-states? Who better to tell that story in a fun, engaging, and panoramic way than Erin Scala? Check out episode 484 of I’ll Drink to That! to hear her, as well as many of the producers of Bardolino wine today.

The photo by Erin Scala above shows Roberta Bricolo of Cantina Gorgo, one of several winery owners featured in the episode.

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I’ll Drink to That is the world’s most listened-to wine podcast, hosted by Levi Dalton. Levi has had a long career working as a sommelier in some of the most distinguished and acclaimed dining rooms in America. He has served wine to guests of Restaurant Daniel, Masa, and Alto, all in Manhattan. Levi has also contributed articles on wine themes to publications such as The Art of Eating, Wine & Spirits magazine, Bon Appetit online, and Eater NY. Check out his pictures on Instagram and follow him on Twitter: @leviopenswine

The post I’ll Drink to That: All About Lake Garda appeared first on Vinography.

I’ll Drink To That: Geologist Françoise Vannier

Episode 483 of I’ll Drink to That! features Françoise Vannier, a French geologist who has made a multi-decade study of the vineyards of Burgundy. In this interview, she shares the unexpected findings she has unearthed in the course of her research.

What if I told you that most everything you thought about Burgundy vineyards was wrong? Defined hierarchies of quality that are based on rocks. Cru boundaries that are defined by fault lines. Clos walls that are more picturesque than consequential. Villages with a unified character. Vineyard soil undisturbed by man. And an unbroken slope of vineyards all facing east? Yep, those ideas are all in fact… incorrect. These and other mountains of misunderstanding are broken down by Françoise, one after another, in an interview that will change your very conception of Burgundy. In their place, she presents a map of the Côte d’Or that is defined by features that are often overlooked. A map that is the result of decades of research into the small details and minutiae of vineyards, and work at a scale that had never been completed before. Every Burgundy lover should be thankful to Françoise for this study. Every Burgundy lover should listen to this interview.

The wonderfully distinctive image of Françoise Vannier above was shot by photographer Michel Joly.

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I’ll Drink to That is the world’s most listened-to wine podcast, hosted by Levi Dalton. Levi has had a long career working as a sommelier in some of the most distinguished and acclaimed dining rooms in America. He has served wine to guests of Restaurant Daniel, Masa, and Alto, all in Manhattan. Levi has also contributed articles on wine themes to publications such as The Art of Eating, Wine & Spirits magazine, Bon Appetit online, and Eater NY. Check out his pictures on Instagram and follow him on Twitter: @leviopenswine

The post I’ll Drink To That: Geologist Françoise Vannier appeared first on Vinography.

I’ll Drink to That: Winemaker Lorenzo Accomasso

Episode 482 of I’ll Drink to That! features legendary Barolo producer Lorenzo Accomasso, along with a deep lesson in the history of the Piedmont region’s journey from World War II until now.

Italy experienced a civil war in the 20th century, specifically in 1943 through 1945. In those years Fascists backed by Nazi Germany held territory in the north of the country, while Allied troops controlled Sicily and fought to move up the peninsula from the south. At that time, guerrilla warfare was waged by Italian resistance fighters known as Partisans. Italians attacked Italians as well as foreign armies, as Partisans battled the remnants of Benito Mussolini’s Fascists. That period of strife is still within living memory for people such as Lorenzo Accomasso. Accomasso is a vintner in Piemonte’s La Morra area who experienced the Second World War as a child, and the war between the Modern and Traditional Barolo as an adult. Perhaps those two conflicts had more connections than we might first suppose, a thought which occurred to me after listening through episode 482 of the I’ll Drink to That! podcast. That episode contains both a deep dive into the history of the Piemonte in the latter half of the twentieth century and an encounter with the elderly Accomasso, still hard at working making wine each year from his small parcels of vines. Accomasso speaks at length about the changes he has witnessed over the years, sometimes expressing more acceptance of the differences than approval. What wisdom should we take from Accomasso to apply to our own period of massive disruption? “Everyone must stay in their own garden” he tells us, “and I stay in mine.” Accomasso is ready to take responsibility for what he can, leaving us to do the same.

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I’ll Drink to That is the world’s most listened-to wine podcast, hosted by Levi Dalton. Levi has had a long career working as a sommelier in some of the most distinguished and acclaimed dining rooms in America. He has served wine to guests of Restaurant Daniel, Masa, and Alto, all in Manhattan. Levi has also contributed articles on wine themes to publications such as The Art of Eating, Wine & Spirits magazine, Bon Appetit online, and Eater NY. Check out his pictures on Instagram and follow him on Twitter: @leviopenswine

The post I’ll Drink to That: Winemaker Lorenzo Accomasso appeared first on Vinography.

I’ll Drink to That: Wine Before and After Genocide

Episode 481 of I’ll Drink to That! features Zorik Gharibian of the Zorah winery in Armenia. The episode is based on a recording that occurred before the 2020 war between Armenia and Azerbaijan, but foreshadowing of that conflict is present in several moments.

Each year scientists discover new evidence of ancient winemaking and redraw the boundaries of what we know about our human history with wine. And each year vintners reclaim areas that have gone unplanted for years. Both chapters of the story of wine are expanding: prelude and present. This interview with Zorik Gharibian addresses both and serves as a meditation on what wine has meant to humans at different times. Zorik speaks of the Areni-1 cave, a site for winemaking dating back over six thousand years. In that era, wine was a part of sacrifices to spiritual authority. Of propitiation. He also discusses an isolated mountain vineyard, hidden from invaders, and grapes grown there as a concealed store of potential nourishment in times of distress. Wine as preservation. And he talks of reclaiming his cultural roots by reclaiming vineyard areas in rural Armenia. Wine as connection. While a cycle of strife and conflict only repeats through millennia, our concept of what sustains us repeatedly changes.

Listen to this episode:

I’ll Drink to That is the world’s most listened-to wine podcast, hosted by Levi Dalton. Levi has had a long career working as a sommelier in some of the most distinguished and acclaimed dining rooms in America. He has served wine to guests of Restaurant Daniel, Masa, and Alto, all in Manhattan. Levi has also contributed articles on wine themes to publications such as The Art of Eating, Wine & Spirits magazine, Bon Appetit online, and Eater NY. Check out his pictures on Instagram and follow him on Twitter: @leviopenswine

The post I’ll Drink to That: Wine Before and After Genocide appeared first on Vinography.

I’ll Drink to That: Wine Educator and Sommelier Kevin Zraly

Episode 480 of I’ll Drink to That! was released recently, and it features Kevin Zraly. Kevin is the former Cellar Master of the Windows on the World, the restaurant that was once on the top floors of the North Tower of New York City’s World Trade Center. He also wrote the book Kevin Zraly’s Windows on the World Complete Wine Course, and co-authored Red Wine: The Comprehensive Guide to the 50 Essential Varieties and Styles.

A kid who has never seen a wine bottle in his own home becomes intrigued by the subject and goes all in, studying every detail he can and planning out long trips to wine country despite limited funds. He finds he has a gift for teaching about wine and getting other people excited about it. He is in the right place at the right time and lands a deam job at a young age, buying the wine for one of the top grossing restaurants in the world, a position that he keeps for decades. And along the way he writes a wine book that ends up selling millions of copies in multiple editions. But then the disasters start. A terrorist bombing at the restaurant closes it for years. His daughter develops leukemia. He has a tumor in his own leg. The family house burns to the ground. And 9/11. Amongst the 72 employees of the restaurant who were killed that day, “there were five people working in the wine cellar. Uh, two died. And, uh, me.” Almost twenty years later, Kevin Zraly is still coming to terms with what happened to his co-workers at Windows on the World on September 11th, 2001. And he is still grappling with the fact that he survived when so many of his friends did not. But the therapy sessions have become more spaced out lately. “You never get over it, but you move on,” Zraly says about what has happened. During the period of another immense disaster, and amidst the loss of life and jobs brought about by COVID-19, what advice might Zraly give to those listening who are trying to cope on their own terms? “If you don’t continue to do what you like, you will die too,” he says, in a powerful interview that lays bare both the joy of the early days and the pain of what happened later.

Listen to the stream above, or check it out on Apple Podcasts, YouTube or Spotify.

I’ll Drink to That is the world’s most listened-to wine podcast, hosted by Levi Dalton. Levi has had a long career working as a sommelier in some of the most distinguished and acclaimed dining rooms in America. He has served wine to guests of Restaurant Daniel, Masa, and Alto, all in Manhattan. Levi has also contributed articles on wine themes to publications such as The Art of Eating, Wine & Spirits magazine, Bon Appetit online, and Eater NY. Check out his pictures on Instagram and follow him on Twitter: @leviopenswine

The post I’ll Drink to That: Wine Educator and Sommelier Kevin Zraly appeared first on Vinography: A Wine Blog.

I’ll Drink to That: Wine Educator and Sommelier Kevin Zraly

Episode 480 of I’ll Drink to That! was released recently, and it features Kevin Zraly. Kevin is the former Cellar Master of the Windows on the World, the restaurant that was once on the top floors of the North Tower of New York City’s World Trade Center. He also wrote the book Kevin Zraly’s Windows on the World Complete Wine Course, and co-authored Red Wine: The Comprehensive Guide to the 50 Essential Varieties and Styles.

A kid who has never seen a wine bottle in his own home becomes intrigued by the subject and goes all in, studying every detail he can and planning out long trips to wine country despite limited funds. He finds he has a gift for teaching about wine and getting other people excited about it. He is in the right place at the right time and lands a deam job at a young age, buying the wine for one of the top grossing restaurants in the world, a position that he keeps for decades. And along the way he writes a wine book that ends up selling millions of copies in multiple editions. But then the disasters start. A terrorist bombing at the restaurant closes it for years. His daughter develops leukemia. He has a tumor in his own leg. The family house burns to the ground. And 9/11. Amongst the 72 employees of the restaurant who were killed that day, “there were five people working in the wine cellar. Uh, two died. And, uh, me.” Almost twenty years later, Kevin Zraly is still coming to terms with what happened to his co-workers at Windows on the World on September 11th, 2001. And he is still grappling with the fact that he survived when so many of his friends did not. But the therapy sessions have become more spaced out lately. “You never get over it, but you move on,” Zraly says about what has happened. During the period of another immense disaster, and amidst the loss of life and jobs brought about by COVID-19, what advice might Zraly give to those listening who are trying to cope on their own terms? “If you don’t continue to do what you like, you will die too,” he says, in a powerful interview that lays bare both the joy of the early days and the pain of what happened later.

Listen to the stream above, or check it out on Apple Podcasts, YouTube or Spotify.

I’ll Drink to That is the world’s most listened-to wine podcast, hosted by Levi Dalton. Levi has had a long career working as a sommelier in some of the most distinguished and acclaimed dining rooms in America. He has served wine to guests of Restaurant Daniel, Masa, and Alto, all in Manhattan. Levi has also contributed articles on wine themes to publications such as The Art of Eating, Wine & Spirits magazine, Bon Appetit online, and Eater NY. Check out his pictures on Instagram and follow him on Twitter: @leviopenswine

The post I’ll Drink to That: Wine Educator and Sommelier Kevin Zraly appeared first on Vinography: A Wine Blog.

I’ll Drink to That: Winemaker Christopher Howell

Episode 479 of I'll Drink to That! was released recently, and it features Christopher Howell. Howell is the winemaker and General Manager of Cain Vineyard and Winery, in the Napa Valley of California.

Chris Howell's core belief - that the quality of a wine is determined in the vineyard, not the winery, and that interesting wines speak to their place of origin, not a winemaking process - is easy enough to voice agreement with, and many wine fans today would do so. But Howell is at heart an iconoclast, not a conventional thinker, believing that we've lost more than we've gained from the wine world innovations of the last fifty plus years. While some winemakers may feel that we've got wine quality finally figured out, Howell isn't one of them. He states in this interview that the really important things about wine were discovered long before our own time. That doesn't align with a view of the past as a mere prologue to an enlightened understanding of wine quality today, but is rather more in keeping with the idea of the past as the main event, to which we are now supplying the footnotes. In regards to many aspects of wine that Howell cares about, he also glimpses a lingering uncertainty. What actually causes brettanomyces to take hold in a fermentation? What would proper vine trellising look like in an environment that is getting warmer? What is a correct amount of ripeness? Can some volatile acidity be a good thing? These are not settled questions for Howell. And while the prospect of listening to an interview with someone repeatedly wondering aloud may seem unusual and even challenging, it is in fact stimulating. Howell is the sort of speaker that encourages deeper thinking, and even flights of imagination, in those listening. That those are desirable outcomes is something that most people would agree with.

Listen to the stream above, or check it out on Apple Podcasts, YouTube or Spotify.

I'll Drink to That is the world's most listened-to wine podcast, hosted by Levi Dalton. Levi has had a long career working as a sommelier in some of the most distinguished and acclaimed dining rooms in America. He has served wine to guests of Restaurant Daniel, Masa, and Alto, all in Manhattan. Levi has also contributed articles on wine themes to publications such as The Art of Eating, Wine & Spirits magazine, Bon Appetit online, and Eater NY. Check out his pictures on Instagram and follow him on Twitter: @leviopenswine



I’ll Drink to That: Winemaker Christopher Howell

Episode 479 of I’ll Drink to That! was released recently, and it features Christopher Howell. Howell is the winemaker and General Manager of Cain Vineyard and Winery, in the Napa Valley of California.

Chris Howell’s core belief – that the quality of a wine is determined in the vineyard, not the winery, and that interesting wines speak to their place of origin, not a winemaking process – is easy enough to voice agreement with, and many wine fans today would do so. But Howell is at heart an iconoclast, not a conventional thinker, believing that we’ve lost more than we’ve gained from the wine world innovations of the last fifty plus years. While some winemakers may feel that we’ve got wine quality finally figured out, Howell isn’t one of them. He states in this interview that the really important things about wine were discovered long before our own time. That doesn’t align with a view of the past as a mere prologue to an enlightened understanding of wine quality today, but is rather more in keeping with the idea of the past as the main event, to which we are now supplying the footnotes. In regards to many aspects of wine that Howell cares about, he also glimpses a lingering uncertainty. What actually causes brettanomyces to take hold in a fermentation? What would proper vine trellising look like in an environment that is getting warmer? What is a correct amount of ripeness? Can some volatile acidity be a good thing? These are not settled questions for Howell. And while the prospect of listening to an interview with someone repeatedly wondering aloud may seem unusual and even challenging, it is in fact stimulating. Howell is the sort of speaker that encourages deeper thinking, and even flights of imagination, in those listening. That those are desirable outcomes is something that most people would agree with.

Listen to the stream above, or check it out on Apple Podcasts, YouTube or Spotify.

I’ll Drink to That is the world’s most listened-to wine podcast, hosted by Levi Dalton. Levi has had a long career working as a sommelier in some of the most distinguished and acclaimed dining rooms in America. He has served wine to guests of Restaurant Daniel, Masa, and Alto, all in Manhattan. Levi has also contributed articles on wine themes to publications such as The Art of Eating, Wine & Spirits magazine, Bon Appetit online, and Eater NY. Check out his pictures on Instagram and follow him on Twitter: @leviopenswine

The post I’ll Drink to That: Winemaker Christopher Howell appeared first on Vinography: A Wine Blog.