Due to lockdown and the inability to taste 2019 vintages at different Bordeaux châteaux this year, I’ve held two Instagram livestream ‘virtual en primeur’ tastings in the past 10 days. There, I’ve tasted wine samples (échantillons) sent directly by châteaux.

These 30-minute events have included interviews with winemakers, wine tastings, and brief overviews of technical input and stories regarding the vintage. Participants join from multiple countries (including France, U.S., Canada, U.K, Italy, Spain, Netherlands, South Africa, Argentina and Armenia), including renowned winemakers and wine critics. It has worked well, far beyond expectations!

Below are recordings of the first two events.

These are followed by information about the next three events this week – on three notices.

Livestream 1. What Is A Virtual En Primeur?

Livestream 2: Bordeaux’s 2019 Saint-Émilion Vintage.


I will host and co-host THREE wine livestreams this week: two via Instagram (Wednesday and Friday) about Bordeaux wines (right bank and left bank). These will each include a general discussion of the 2019 vintage, an interview with at least one renowned winemaker and a live tasting and discussion of at least six wines.

The third event is a Zoom conference that will be hosted by the Vine and Wine Foundation of Armenia on Thursday. This will include talks with three legendary wine producers within Armenia, and a tasting of at least three Armenian wines.

The notices for these three events are here:

Wednesday Instagram Livestream – Right Bank Bordeaux
Thursday Zoom Livestream – Armenian Wines
Friday Instagram Livestream – Left Bank Bordeaux Wines

Now, back to our usual Vino Voices format which includes a chef, their dish with paired wines, and general insights.

1. CHEF.

Chiara Gullo is a polymath working on wine sales and promotion at Firriato Wines on the island of Sicily in Italy. When I asked her for a Sicilian recipe recommendation, she suggested stuffed eggplants (or what are called aubergines in Europe)—or Melenzane-alla-Siciliana.

Chiara at Firriato Winery in Sicily

2. DISH.


Basically you cut four egglplants in half (I cut them longitudinally), scoop out the pulp, then fry the pulp with chili peppers and olive oil. Let it cool, then add breadcrumbs, tomato sauce, canned tuna in oil, capers, chopped green olives, crushed garlic and fresh mint leaves. Season with Oregano, black pepper and salt. Add to the hollowed eggplant shells, dollop with parmesan or goat cheese, and cook in the oven at low-medium heat for a half hour.

Ready for the oven


Chiara writes:

“If you want to pair it with a Sicilian wine, I suggest a young red (Frappato is okay) or a smooth white wine with low acidity (Catarratto for instance).”

Local wine stores had no Sicilian wines, and being a time of lockdown, I instead paired this dish with a few French wines. Although the second wine is not light, the acidity does match that of this dish.

Both wines photographed below are échantillons or samples from the 2019 vintage. The year is handwritten on labels, because these wines have not yet completed aging and are not yet available commercially. However, you can try an earlier vintage of the same wines.

The first is a 100% Cabernet Franc from winery owner and wine consultant Hubert de Boüard. This Bordeaux appellation wine is a buzzing garden of bramble fruit aromas, and in the mouth includes brittle, crackling herbal tastes—including that of oregano and rosemary—combined with an orange like sliver of acidity and a deep substantial, hearty taste that includes that of Dutch licorice.

The second wine is a Château Croix de Labrie 90/10 Merlot/Cabernet Franc blend from Axelle and Pierre Courdurié. This organic wine includes energetic aromas of boysenberries and blueberries, cocoa powder and eucalyptus. In the mouth a ribbon of acidity splits green garden herbal flavors (including mint) from a dark and attractive matrix of licorice and chocolate tastes.


Matching local foods with local wines is ideal, but sometimes many of us cannot do so—especially if we do not live near a wine region. Be creative. What about matching Italian food with French wine? Not a problem! Especially during lockdown where choices are limited. Life, cooking, and pairing wine with food revolves around experimentation and creativity.

A piece of excellent news: after being closed for a month, our local open air market (which is usually open on Wednesday and Saturday mornings) will re-open tomorrow. The number of purchases will be restricted, visitors must be solo, and the amount of people allowed in at any time will be restricted. Still – it is a move in a positive direction.

Thanks for tuning in again. Do try to attend one of these livestream events this week.

Can’t visit vine country, but the local parks are beautiful

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Nice videos Tom! That aubergine dish sounds delish, and I happen to have two Sicilian wines ordered right before lockdown. Will try to make room on my Thursday calendar, your Armenian live session is of interest.

  2. Sounds great Lynn! Enjoy the Sicilian wines … and if you can join one of the livestreams, fantastic! Best, Tom

  3. It is with great pleasure that I follow your site because you are so delightfully telling us about the various subtleties of winemaking and the rules for choosing wine.

    1. Thanks for tuning in and am glad you enjoy the site …

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