Friday, January 31, 2014

18 Julius Caesar Veneris Happy Julius Caesar Friday

18.  JULIUS CAESAR VENERIS:  Happy Julius Caesar Friday!


From: Military Tribune, Gaius Volusenus
                To:  The Empire

TIDINGS, citizens.  Ave Socii.
                Today Imperial General CAIUS JULIUS CAESAR rides again. 

His history, as told in
                The Night Julius Caesar Invented Champagne
                is now published and available to all within the Empire, and those without too,

SIGNED: Gaius Volusenus, IV, Commander of Caesar’s cavalry.
Ave, et vale.

Below a synopsis of The Night Julius Caesar Invented Champagne:
Rebecca, modern-day wine-expert and ‘nose’, never dreamed she’d become a wine-detective too. But when Doctor ‘47 and his dark forces continue saturating the market with chemically made copy-wines, ready to decimate anyone in their way, especially Rebecca, she travels across time and space—escorted by Julius Caesar, Wolfgang Puck and Julia Child—to find the first vine. Will Rebecca prevail and save wine for Pharaoh Narmer to sign peace treaties with it in 3000 B.C.; for King Nestor to inherit wine and with it postpone the Trojan War in 1250 B.C.? Indeed will Rebecca with Caesar invent Champagne in 50 B.C. and foil Doctor ‘47?
The Night Julius Caesar Invented Champagne takes you on a dramatic adventure over eleven thousand years to the birth of Dionysos.
Praise for Madeleine de Jean’s The Night Julius Caesar Invented Champagne
“Through the lens of a Champagne flute Madeleine broadens the scope of our culture’s history and the roots of our taste for great wines.” John Scharffenberger, Scharffenberger Sparkling and
Scharffen Berger Chocolates.
When Madeleine de Jean opened the first wine bar in the US in New Orleans with Chef Paul Prudhomme and became the first woman sommelier in the world, she was expanding her dramatic talents from stage and screen which had been honed at The Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and Paris’s Comedie Francaise Conservatoire. Her detecting and tasting in archives and vineyards for decades results in The Night Julius Caesar Invented Champagne, in which ‘Madam Champagne’ continues sharing her beliefs in the civilizing effects of wine and Champagne.
Nunc bibendum est.
Please find more on Madeleine de Jean's Author's page
The Night Julius Caesar Invented Champagne
now released on:
Hail Caesar!




Tuesday, January 28, 2014



Gosset has been making red wines in Champagne, in Ay, since before Champagne’s bubbles were gotten under control.  In 1584 Pierre Gosset made slightly sparkling red wines from his Pinot Noir vineyards in Ay.  Ay is unusual in that, situated between the Montagne de Reims and the Cote des Blancs, it is a vineyard commune in Champagne where both Grand Cru Pinot and Chardonnay vines are grown.   

Today the Gosset family’s original properties remain intact and have grown.  Owned now by the Cointreau family, Champagne Gosset takes pride of place as the oldest family-owned Champagne house in continual existence.

As from the start Gosset’s vines in Ay produce on their chalky soil Champagnes of delicate but pronounced minerality which melds into the floral, almost rose flavored Pinot juice to produce Rose Champagnes of complexity and brilliant color which is brightened by the chalky soil.  The Grand Rose Brut Champagne is one which should be sought in the market.  While the Cointreau family has increased the vineyard holdings of Champagne Gossset and do plant the three currently acceptable vines, Chardonnay, Pinot Meunier and Pinot Noir, this Rose is composed of 55% Chardonnay and 45% Pinot Noir.  Of the Pinot some 11% is from Pinot grapes vinified on the skins to offer the final assemblage a brilliant pink-orange color.   Because Gosset remains one of the few Champagne houses that does not allow malolactic fermentation in order to enhance less fruity characteristics and underline their Champagnes’ formal style.  The resulting Grand Rose is a truly regal Rose Champagne, one certainly the flamboyant Sun-King, Bourbon Louis XIV enjoyed.  Let your eyes enjoy it first as the color is sun-like and with the small persistent bubbles is joy in a glass.  Be kingly-daring and use a wide old-fashioned coupe to perceive its color and tiny bubbles.  The aromas of roses and oranges is one to dream of when the bottle is finished.


Did you know Julius Caesar’s vineyardists brought from the Allobrogians many vines they planted it in Champagne, among them an almost mythical one soon they called Rose Champagne?  Read about this in my novel, The Nght Julius Caesar Invented Champagne.;

Sunday, January 26, 2014

16 TAKETO KANO Speaks Out for Japanese Cuisine

    16    TAKETO KANO, President of Kiku-Masamune Sake Brewery in Kobe, Japan.

The President of traditionally made Kiku Masamune sake, Taketo Kano, speaks out for keeping the traditional Japanese diet.    

Above  please read his winter holiday card's message in which he gives some details about how he and his company stand with UNESCO’s registration of Japanese cuisine as a cultural heritage that needs to be recognized, cherished and returned to. 

Taketo is descended from the Kano family which began Kiku-Masamune sake brewing company in 1659, making Kiku-Masamune (“finest chrysanthemum”) the oldest family-owned and operated sake company in Kobe, Nada, Japan.   The 1995 Kobe earthquake which destroyed many Frank Lloyd Wright homes also destroyed the Kano family's beautifully made and old sake brewery, along with the family's sake-making museum.

Today Taketo is also speaking out for traditional sake and describes how his company’s sakes are made with Miyamizu water from the mountains of Nada; this water is considered “holy” water, water from the gods; water free of turbidity and any contamination; water containing no iron but rich in potassium, calcium, magnesium and phosphorus, all minerals needed for a healthy, robust fermentation process, one which yields a refreshingly dry sake.  Sake brewed with Miyamizu water matures over the summer, taking on a “well-rounded” character of aromas and flavors by autumn.  These sakes are known as “akibare”, maturing in the fall, and synonymous with delicious sake.

In the photo above you see the traditional "Kimoto" method of brewing sake that produces the smooth, dry character of Kiku Masamune's sakes. The process requires at least four weeks to complete. Kimoto is difficult-to-accomplish in a stable, consistent manner and has been passed from one generation of sake brew masters to the next at Kiku.  Today only a few of the 1000 sake brewers in Japan use this Kimoto method.  The sake-brewers themselves are considered a sort-of Shinto priest, and must reside at the brewery during all the fermentation.  They sing traditional sake brewing songs while making the brew.  This is a tradition worth traveling to experience.

Kiku Masamune produces several traditional sakes, but one of my favorites is “Taru” sake.  This ceremonial sake is a sake of Yoshino cedar as it is aged in barrels of this cedar which grows in Yoshino, Nada.  Kiku-Masamune uses only products of its region:  ‘holy water” also from Nada in Kobe, and Yamada-nishiki brewer’s rice grown in Hyogo, Honshu, near Kobe, and barrels of Yoshino cedar. 

I call Taru a ceremonial sake because often large barrels of Taru are offered at weddings and other festivities, and religious ceremonies.  Shinto ceremonies which link present-day Japan to its ancient past often begin with the beating of drums and the breaking open a cedar barrel of Kiku-Masamune Taru sake.  Served cold this sake is most refreshing in taste with the slight hint of cedar making it delectable and enhancing to traditional Japanese cuisine.  I also love it with most fresh cuisine.   It is available only on order. 

I champion Taketo’s speaking out for maintaining the traditional diet in Japan.  In doing this he is trying not only to preserve the ceremonies of the past, but also reaching out against encroaching Western fast-foods, which processed diet compromises health.  He is speaking out for maintaining rituals of family meals, for rituals of seasonal ceremonies, for celebrating historic arts.   It would be too sad for us in the West and for our children’s memories if our own rituals of family meals at the table, when possible set with Grandmother’s china, went the way of the poor Dodo bird. 

In celebrating Taketo Kano’s speaking out, I know Julius Caesar joins me in proclaiming Taketo Kano a Champagne personality.  …. By the way, Caesar, Taketo enjoys a well-made Cesar salad too.  Taketo and I once shared one, and he brought all what was necessary back to Kobe so he could spread Cesar salad-making in Kobe.  Bubbles away! Sante!,  Taketo.

The cup used to taste sake at breweries and analysis laboratories is called a
kikichoko. This is a 180 ml white porcelain vessel with two concentric cobalt blue
circles on the inside bottom. The white color highlights differences in sake color.
If there is turbidity, the edges of the two blue concentric circles become blurred,
enabling detection of slight differences in turbidity. Breweries and analysis
laboratories look very carefully for turbidity in sake while it is in storage, as this
can indicate either inadequate filtration or contamination by lactic acid bacilli.

4.2 Procedure
Sake tasting involves the following sequence of steps. The procedure is basically
the same as for wine tasting.
(1) Observe the appearance, including color and clarity.
(2) Evaluate the uwadachika (orthonasal aroma) by bringing the vessel up to
the nose and smelling the aroma given off directly by the sake.
(3) Take about 5 ml of sake into the mouth, spread it around on the tongue,
breathe in air through the mouth and mix it with the sake.
(4) Evaluate the fukumika (retronasal aroma), which is the aroma that reaches
the nose via the mouth.
(5) Slowly evaluate the taste on the tongue.
(6) After expectorating the sake, quietly sip more sake and allow it to pass
down the throat in order to evaluate the aftertaste.
It is important to evaluate both the orthonasal aroma, which is the aroma
sensed when the vessel is brought near the nose before tasting, and the
retronasal aroma, which is the aroma sensed while the sake is in the mouth.
The entire tongue should be used to evaluate the taste. This is because the tip of the tongue is sensitive to all tastes, and the back of the tongue is sensitive to acidity and bitterness.
Please look on the Internet for a photo of the traditional white cup with a blue swirl.  I was unable to insert a photo here.


Monday, January 20, 2014



In ancient Egypt bees were known to have flown into being from the tears of sungod, RA.   Wax candles were used on cakes to celebrate birthdays, sending honeyed smoke back to the creator asking RA for favors (or that ‘wishes may come true.’)  1400 B.C.

Do you ever wonder which birthdays we should be celebrating for delices we enjoy without counting the years?  Staples that spice up our meals; staples we toss into our market baskets without further thought?   Well here are a few to whom we can all offer Big Birthday toast of Champagne.  SANTE!

Bonne Anniversaire to:
Pepsi Cola, 121 years old
Dr. Pepper, 110 years old
French’s Mustard, 110 years old, born at the St. Louis World Fair, 1904
A-1 Steak Sauce, 119 years in the USA
Kellogg’s Corn Flakes, 118
Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Bar, 114
Hershey’s Kisses, 107
Nabisco’s Barnum Animal Crackers in that circus box, 112.  They originally were created at Christmas time, and the strap at the top was to hang on the tree.
Peter Pan Peanut Butter was born in 1928 and put into cans.  But metal shortages in World War II introduced the change into glass bottles.
Beaulieu Vineyards is also 100 years old:  “When you know fine wine, you know B.V.”  the old radio commercial ran.
Ice-cream in cones, 86 years old.
Now here are some really old-timers:
Bananas, lemons, limes and oranges, 6000 years old, born in the Indus Valley.
Cinnamon brought by Phoenician traders to the Peloponnesos, 1250 B.C.
Fois Gras brought to Greece by armies from China where fattened geese provided such a luxury, 450 B.C.
Sake produced in the Nada area of Japan by a special rice and Miyamizu or ‘holy’ water, 225 B.C.
Bread is produced and sold en masse in bakeries in Rome, 190 B.C.
Kiku-Masamune sake, 1659 A.D., Kobe, Japan.
(I am working on a next blog featuring Taketo Kano, owner, Kiku-Masamune traditional sake.)
When you see and re-taste such dear old friends, please raise a frothing Champagne glass and toast them with appreciation for the joys brought into our lives by their flavors and aromas and goodness gracious, that je ne sais quoi that brightens our eyes and sparks taste buds, much as Champagne does. 
Soon Imperial General Julius Caesar will stride onto these pages and tell us all about marvels that we enjoy today that were born even farther back in time and space.  Soon.  Just not quite yet, Caesar.
Madam Champagne,
The Night Julius Caesar Invented Champagne
20 January, 2014

Saturday, January 11, 2014

14 Antonio Mastroberardino retrieves and spreads the bubbles of time


In the foothills of Mount Vesuvius lives and works a brave and foresighted historic wine-maker:  Antonio Mastroberardino.  When, after the 1914 and 1939 world wars, vineyards of inherited ancient vines were being pulled up throughout Europe to replant with modern varieties from America, which were in turn sprayed with the new DDT to prevent any of the pesky vine problems, Antonio stood firm and refused.  He loved his heritage of these ancient vines, through which he walked reading Pliny Senior’s Naturalis Historia, seeing how he could make his vineyards better by reverting instead to practices from 60 AD.   He knew he and Italy could not afford to lose this patrimony from his ancestors.

Going against what was considered to be the future was not easy, but gradually he made converts:  the wines were too delicious and unusual not to stand out; vines whose names showed their antique Latin and Greek DNAs, called Fiano, Greco, Aglianico, Piedirosso, Sciacinoso, Coda di Volpe, Falanghina, Falernian; all planted in the shadow of and thriving upon the tufo-rich soils of Mount Vesuvius.  

By the 1980s his winery was standing taller and firmer amidst his blossoming vineyards. 

In fact Antonio had been able to put aside from his profits enough to reconstruct and create a larger winery, using the technology he was inventing for his ancient varieties, over the current winery which had cellars dating from Roman times, from before Pliny Senior, the over-structure of which dated from the 1700s.   

Then on November 23, as the harvest was fermenting, and Antonio was planning his new winery, all hell broke loose:  an earthquake of 7.2 magnitude, devastated 25,000 kilometers of Campania, killing 4900, injuring 7500, and leaving homeless 250,000, many of all these categories were neighbors and friends of the  Mastroberardinos.   This hellish devastation also destroyed the winery Mastroberardino was planning to renovate. 

So what did Antonio Mastroberardino do?  A master of  how the present informs the future,  Mastroberardino gave what he had saved for a new winery to help alleviate the homelessness and sufferings of his neighbors throughout Irpinia, Campania.
(In the 1984 photo below Antonio shows a group how the destruction uncovered the Roman foundations under what had been his winery.)

And this made him think even more about the past, and how it had created his present and future. While he continued developing his thesis of ancient ways in viticulture and in clonal varieties, making what was old new again, he turned to another site where Vesuvius had spewed destruction before: Pompeii.  In 62 A.D. a violent earthquake destroyed Pompeii.  But by 79 A.D. the city had been rebuilt better than before.   Then on August 24, 79 AD, Vesuvis erupted, covering Pompeii with lethal sulphur fumes, suffocating all.  Then it rained lava and pumice stones for three days, buying everything under tweny feet of mud and lava.   Having seen often in his rambles the uncovered and restored wine bars in Pompeii, Antonio knew that those Romans who used to walk these once-again streets were no different from any Campanian-Italians today:  they too loved their wines.  
So, with the Ministers of Archaeological sites and of Agriculture, Antonio helped in the search for to find where those vineyards had been waiting for harvesters to arrive on that scorching August day in 79 AD.  Their searches proved to be correct, and, with DNA of the pits uncovered from 79 AD, Mastroberardino began his project of reconstituting those vineyards, planting them with those same varietals from the past (Piedirosso and Sciascinoso, inserting the same Chestnut wooden stakes inserted into the same post holes  from 79 AD, to support the vines.  And today, as you see in the photo below, several vineyards in ancient Pompeii are again thriving and producing wines.   What a moment that must have been for Antonio Mastroberardino, when he tasted that first harvest of Villa dei Misteri wines, the first taste of and from these vineyards in 1935 years; the first taste of wines made from vineyards that had never suffered the indignities of man-made and dispersed poisonous gases and destructive forces meted in war upon planet earth in all those years, protected by the destruction that buried them long ago; the first taste of a divinity of wines offering fragrances and flavors never experienced in 1935 years, that Antonio's work and faith in his friend Pliny was offering him.  And to us too, today.

Here  you see below workers in Pompeii vineyards.
And below that photo you see a group of us with Antonio in Pompeii before he began this project, in 1984, showing us found wine-bars.

And below is the rest of the story.
Today Mastroberardino’s hundreds of acres of vineyards planted on the slopes of Mount Vesuvius, planted in ancient varietals most of us have never yet tasted, are certainly being inspired not only by the forward thinking of Antonio Mastroberardino's sons Piero and Carlo, but by his friend from the past, Pliny Senior.  If you look closely in the foreground of the photo below you will see an R2D2-like robot, a little SIAP.  This robot talks to his manifold companions situated throughout all of the hectares of Mastroberardino Radici estates, talking in their robotic language, telling Dr. Piero-Spock-Mastrobearino how the temperatures are, how the ground stability is, how the coming weather will influence, what the atmosphere is saying is all being relayed by these robotic friends of historic vines.   (Click on the photo to zoom in onto the face of the little robot)

Long may Mastroberardino continue his planet-saving work in viticulture which influences so much of the rest of our lives.  Not only is Mastroberardino a great friend of Pliny Senior, but certainly of the god Dionysos. And therefore what he is spreading is Co2, The Gas of Life, that which makes us giddy when we drink Champagne.  Mastroberardino and his sons Piero and Carlo, are all truly Champagne.
Have you had your Fiano di Avelino today?
Have you enjoyed Falinghina?
Are you about to open a Mastroberardino Lacryma Christi del Vesuvio Rosso or perhaps the Lacrimyrosa?
What about Mastroberardino Taurasi?

Sadly, not long after this blog was first written,  on January 28, 2014, Antonio Mastroberardino went to meet his friend Pliny Senior.  Surely they will be chatting for many millennia about clones and varieties, about the past and the future, about Robotic vineyardists, about tastes, in their vineyards as well as those all over this planet, before they decide it is time to start with the other planets in the Universe.  Long live Antonio Mastroberardino and his pal Pliny Senior. 
I had so longed to meet with him again in his Pompeii vineyards over a glass of Villa Dei Misteri.  I am sure one day we will.
In fact, in my mind's eye, I spent the last three years living in those vineyards with Antonio  while I wrote The Night Julius Caesar Invented Champagne. 
So much of my book is a tribute to Antonio, his heritage, and his vines. 
Thank you Piero for sharing with him my messages and book. 
Antonio, if you liked this one, the sequel you will love.
Well we remember that first meeting in the United States with our guest, Wine Spectator's newest writer,James Suckling, in Yosemite National Park.  At the end of a wine-tastng and teaching weekend we were having a parting lunch, a picnic spread under the trees soughing in the winds alongside the Merced River.  Looking through the foliage at Halfdome Antonio said,”I feel so small in front of the sheer force of nature like is Yosemite.”   Antonio, you were a force for nature such as can raise us up to champion as you did your heritage of vines.  Long live the wines of Pliny Senior and of Antonio Mastroberardino.
Nunc bibendum est Appianum in toast to Antonio Mastroberardino without whom this world would be so small.
His loyal friend,
Soon Commanding General Julius Caesar will stride onto this blog and make his vinous desires known.  Soon.  Just not today, Caesar.  Hush.

Madam Champagne,
The Night Julius Caesar Invented Champagne,
first written on
10 January, 2014

Coming: information on Mastroberardino's robotic VIVA labeling tool which will detect and report on the entire earth-sustaining life cycle of each bottle of his wines one purchases.