Thursday, February 26, 2009

Marc, Anne Marie Tempe of TEMPE, Alsace Visit Cleveland Park Wines Today, Thurs. Feb. 26th with Roy Cloud( VINT. 59 ), Taste P. Blanc, P. Gris, Gewuu

" ... Ries. and Gewurztraminer " my headline should read! Sorry, ran out of room ...

I was in the office this morning composing my day - actually - dashing through a string of things that I wanted to get done or partially accomplished before the day came crashing down all around me and I started to realize some of the enormity of it! It's always more than I conceived or bargained for : and yet I am always wanting and willing to accept and enjoy whatever does come my / our way. Today was no exception!

I was typing some of my Morning Poems onto my blog site : : or perhaps downloading some of the pictures from my Olympus camera onto our Apple computer at work. I was frantic and absorbed and I see Roy Cloud come from around the corner and say to me simply " Tony! Do you have a moment? " I responded immediately in the affirmative as I secretly wondered when did Roy ever have anything to do with me that just took " a moment"? It just did not seem that anything worth doing concerning Roy and his excellent arsenal of fighting organic or organic ( mostly French ) wine would take only a moment?!? Maybe several and normally I am always happy to indulge him because I will ultimately be the better for having done so!

This was no exception. I said to give me a moment as I saved whatever it was that I was actually working on at that specific moment. Having done so I exited from my lair and came out looking for Roy and whatever " goodies " he had tucked into his magic hat for us. Ohhh, what would it be today? I simply had no idea at all!

I looked to my left out into the store and not seeing him looked to my right where I saw him and two figures just past him : a man and a woman. I shook Roy's hand and the other two approached as Roy introduced me to Marc and Anne Marie Tempe of the great TEMPE vineyard in Alsace, France. I immediately said " Bonjour " and started to speak a mile a minute in French, trying to relax these two and put them at almost complete ease. Saying that it is easier said than done and I often make my job doing that much more difficult than it has to be : I try and engage them with my words, images and comparisons. This can easily put people on their guard as they have to try and follow me and figure out where the hell I am going with all my images and part-stories/songs/poems - whatever.

That's okay. I get really inspired by these moments and simply try and share some of this enthusiasm. Also, let it be said that these owners and wine-makers are like my/the wine world's " super stars " and I do like to make them feel more than welcome as well as special, too. They deserve it, someone should say how special their contributions are - and how much they are appreciated. It's not only about scores and reviews : it's a bout real people making real wine and that wine having made real impressions on a lot of people and their friends and colleagues when shared at the various meals made all over the world that want wine as much as food to feed their souls and bodies both physically as well as mentally/spiritually. Hurray to them : to the Marc and Anne Marie Tempe's of the world that more than facilitate this : they grow and multiply and doubly-triply satisfy so many of our impatient hungers!

I was thrilled to be finally meeting Marc Tempe as I have now for many years sold quite a number of his cases of wines. In the year 2001 and 2002 I believe we sold over a hundred of them if not more. That's an interesting story in and of itself.

It all began when there was a consolidation of the various inventories and warehouses for the Michel Schlumberger portfolio of wines that then Roy Cloud and his partner from California bought the existing inventory. They had many different vintages and wines all made by Marc Tempe and little by little ( including the Sylvaner he made then : does Marc still make Sylvaner Roy? ) we at Cleveland Park Wines & Spirits must have bought around a hundred cases assorted of TEMPE ( it might have been less but it was still quite a lot ). It was a great time to seel TEMPE and we made lots of friends as I recall, especially for those that know, love and understang great Alsace white wines.

It was both a treat and an honor to buy and so many of Marc's wines and I have to say that we gave a lot of our customers extraordinary bargains and wines with some bottle age to show how wonderfully they grow, expand, develop and show all their sometimes subtle, sometimes screaming personalities, nuances, guts and soulful liquid stories of lives well-lived and complete with scraped elbows and won medals and prizes gathered along the way.

Recently Roy brought some 2005 " Zellenberg " Pinot Blanc to taste us on at the store ( I was off that day ) and Mike Martin tasted it with Roy. Mike fell in love with it and started to buy a lot and sell it to many of our customers. I think we bought all that Roy had and it was one of our last great successes with the TEMPE wines.

When I told Mike earlier today that Marc and Anne Marie Tempe had been to the store he was visibly sad to have missed them as he had heard a lot about Marc. Oh well, it will have to wait till the next time. Hopefully they will both return and do an in-store winetasting of their wines with our customers at some point in the near-future? They both liked the idea when I mentioned it earlier today.

Roy introduced me to them in very nice words all of which I have now forgotten. He added that I was the writer of a long letter to Robert Parker, Jr. He knows about this nineteen page hand-written letter that I wrote to Bob Parker and which I was waiting for some response. I never got any.

I asked them if they had any wine for me to taste as I am a fan of Marc's wines. As I said I have sold many cases over the years. As we gather around our round tasting table I realize that I need all of my armor for this special moment : my Reidel tasting-glass, my Olympus camera, my business card, a piece of white paper for Marc and Anne Marie to sign, the winemaker/owner poster for them to sign, and the book to show them where I put and gather what people sign on each of these pieces of papers to which I attach their business cards.

Roy poured me some of the 2006 Pinot Blanc " Zellenberg " which I see is a lovely golden bright sun color that is like a delicate shade of honey or yellow amber. Wow, I was just smelling the wine and looking at it's color for the longest time. Marc was telling me about the wine : that it was 60% Auxerrois and 40% Pinot BLanc I believe? Do I Have that right? I was too busy submerging myself into this liquid Alsace golden color. It was mesmerizing me, really it was ; pulling me into it's depths and surrounding me completely. I loved the taste once I Finally put some onto my tongue and bathed it completely : lovely. I was speaking again a mile-a-minute here in French and saying that it was like a smiling liquid that was happy to see and welcome me and my palate : it would be a great way to die - one would be happy completely submerged with their eyes open at first and then when ready to take one's last breath of liquid Tempe Pinot Blanc 2006 in stead of air , dying happily and closing their eyes on this last intake...

I think that they were following me pretty well, really though I do believe everything I said and did at this moment was like a truck rolling over them and near-to-crushing them in both weight and surprise. I was being sincere in all of this. I meant every word in a flattering way.

I was also taking pictures as I spoke and sampled these four great white TEMPE wines. Roy then poured for me some of the excellent " Zellenberg " Pint Gris 2005. Again it was even more golden in color : but unlike the Pinot Blanc 2006 there was effervescent and lovely bubbles popping up here and there and unexpectedly. I asked Roy as I left to answer the phone for me whether this was the way it was supposed to be? I did not hear his answer as I disappeared back into our lair.

I came out and Roy was waiting for me and answered my question in the affirmative : that it was indeed Marc's intention to have the wine with a bit of bubble and sparkle. I smelled it and it had a strong bouquet that caught my rapt attention as it was so foreign to what I had just had with the Pinot Blanc. I was paying close attention now. How would it taste?

I loved the taste of this denser, more edgy, more linear 2005 Pinot Gris " Zellenberg " that filled my mouth nicely and a bit more slowly took up full residence there. I welcomed it. I welcomed this bit more muscular version of molten, lavas of warm, soothing honeys. Wow. It sure did feel nice to have it engulping my entire palate with more liquid sunshine. Impressive.

I was really starting to dig the moment. I was listening to Anne Marie and to Marc. I was trying to get them to interact with me and also get wrapped up into our moment here and now and completely our an no other's! They were, too. I was taking pictures and showing them to them : of Marc, of Anne Marie and of Roy.

Roy poured me the third TEMPE : a 2005 Gewurztraminer " Zellenberg " and again I noticed it's deep golden ambered color. What had gotten trapped inside it, when would it harden, when would it happily take it's last breath - sacrifice it's life willingly for this liquid bliss?!?

I always want to see what I can get my guests to share with me ? I was feeling very good now and the wine was beginning to work it's magic and make me just a bit more mischievous, too. I threw out a question as I was luxuriating in the subtle yet enriched flavors of this liquid gold Gewurztraminer : what wine would you drink here, or would this one be the one to drink while making love, or before or after ? I smiled and waited : what would these two respond?

Marc was pretty quick with his response and I simply cannot now remember his exact words : sorry Marc! Maybe you can tell me later again in an email response to this blog? I would like that very much.

Anne Marie answered that the Pinot Blanc would be the one to enjoy before love-making because it would inspire and set the mood while the Pinot Gris would be great during the love-making because it would fortify and provide the necessary level of energy : and a Grand Cru would be great afterwards. They both smiled and I could sense their energy and level of commitment now to our shared dialogue.

Roy, I am not sure what you were thinking or showing facially as I was keenly looking at both Marc and Anne Marie. Sorry, maybe later you can share your thoughts with me? I would like that as well. It all happened so quickly and then you were saying Roy that we had to wrap things up as you had another appointment to get to.

I berated you Roy and said that you always needed to plan more time when you called on us at Cleveland Park Wines & Spirits. I said : " How can you expect me to absorb so much, so quickly, etcetera in such a small space of time - the " moment " I guess that you wanted with me when you first came? I can't! This was cruel : too much fun ! I need more time!

I quickly asked them both to sign my poster and my sheet of white, virgin paper. They did. I had to get Marc to do a bit more than simply put his signature on the paper. Anne Marie was more prepared. Marc said he was bad at this sort of thing.

Roy, I loved your comment that you made somewhere during our tasting that you were glad that you had decided to stop : that it was a good decision on your part, Thank you Roy, I appreciate this visit more than you know. And I gave you an order for the first three out of the four wines I tried.

Oh, the fourth, the " Rodelsberg " was a 2004 white blend of one third Pinot Gris and two thirds Gewurztraminer. I have to go check my sheet to continue. It was so different from the others : paler and so much more reserved. I had to work at it more than at the others. It was not as flattering as the others : it was more delicate, more closed and retiring and the one that definitely asked more of me and all of my faculties. It was the one of the three that I would definitely want o enjoy with a meal to help draw it out and show me more of it's submerged charms that were there but not quite as eager to come out and be engaged by my palate or anybody else's?!? I think I have that right, at least for my palate at this particular time and place.

" ... P. Gris, and Gewurztraminer " the heading should finish above! I ran out of space! It always happens! I always have too much to say and include!

We tasted the : 2006 Pinot Blanc " Zellenberg " ( $28.99 ), the 2005 Pinot Gris " Zellenberg " ( $36.49 ), the 2005 Gewurztraminer " Zellenberg " ( $36.49 ) and the 2004 " Rodelsberg " ( one-third Pinot Gris and two thirds Gewurztraminer ) ( $47.99 ). Incredible. Here are the pictures that I took earlier this morning of Marc and Anne Marie Tempe with Roy Cloud. Roy called this tour ( said it on his price list : " Road Day With The Bear ( Marc Tempe ) ".

I hope you like this story. I am sure that I will add to it with time. It's hard to recollect everything now : it all happened so wonderfully fast!

I want to thank Roy, Marc and Anne Marie for coming to our store. I found out that they have two children named Marie and Simon. That's all I know. I will have to ask more about them the next visit.

When we first met I got off on the tangent of what is real and what is not. It was something that Marc said to get me started. I said " Is Tempe real, is there really something behind Tempe, the man, the wines, the biodynamics?!? I was just making conversation to see where it would go. " Is it all advertizing and made-up by someone in some office trying to make money" I asked , or something to that effect? I wanted to just start an open, frank bit of conversation between myself and them.

It worked : they immediately said that it was " all very Real> Of course I knew all the time that it was. Anne Marie said that she could personally assure me that it was " all very real ". She smiled as she said this in earnest.

That's when I asked if they had children? They said that they did : two, one of each. And I responded that when they told me that they had children that I knew without a doubt that it was " all very real". How could it be any other way?

The children are our futures as well as the future of wine and the wine business. They will become our next rock-stars. I look forward to meeting these two : Marie and Simon someday.

Before leaving I got Marc to write something and this is what he wrote : " Le main de l'ours ( bear ) d'Alsace que l'energie de mes vins passe par cette main ". I like that a lot : " the hand of the bear of Alsace, and the energy of my wines passes through this hand ". Marc traced his right hand on this piece of paper that he signed earlier with Anne Marie.

Anne Marie wrote " " Merci pour ce moment passe avec nous. Votre energie est extraordinaire ". Translated to English she said : " Thanks for this moment spent with us. Your energy is extraordinary ". Thank you Anne Marie.

At some point in our early conversation I spoke about this moment that we shared that was ours. You can either chose to live and really get into it or not. I choose wholeheartedly to get into it/ live it/ suit-up in it and in wee parts, too won or at least borrow it!

In these artsy photos I like to take you can hopefully see the beautiful color of these four wines that have inspired/fire me so much this whole Thursday. It's now 11:27 PM at home in northern Virginia as I type these last words and check for typos, etcetera before sending it, February 26th, 2009 the same day we met. I want the whole world to know immediately what a wonderful moment this was for me. And by the way Roy, it is the 26th and not the 25th, 2009! You better change your watch or your computer because one of them is wrong.

Merci Marc et Anne Marie. Ca m'a plut enormement de faire votre connaisaance ce matin au magasin. Vous-etes vous deux magnifiques : beaucoup du caractere est esprit et courage et amour pour ce que vous fetes ensemble. Vous etes une belle equipe. Et comme j'ai deja dis a Marc tu es tres sage aussi Anne Marie. Marc a bien fait de vous marie amon avis. Passe-nous voir la prochaine fois. Vous etes toujours bienvenues n'importa quand chez nous ici a Washington D.C. Emmenez vos enfants la prochaine fois aussi. A binetot j'esper et bon voyages ici Aux Etats Unis et un bon retour en France. Excuzes-moi pour mes fautes d'autograph. A votre sante, TONY

P.S. One last thing that Marc said that I simply must share with everyone : I said to him how smart his wife was and he responded that you have to be aware of and be on the look-out for redheads : that they are strong and real forces to be reckoned with! He said this with a broad grin and smile that went from one ear stretching all the way over to the other. I didn't know before this, but now I know. Thanks for sharing that detail with me Marc. You are the bear ....

Two more notes : I just posted the blog and checked it and as I was looking at the pictures I took and enlarged to see better on the whole monitor screen two things came back to me. One was the picture of Marc's hands. I told him as he was speaking with them as well as with his voice that I wanted a photograph. I got a good one, too and it includes the one hand of his wife ( as well as mine ). I like all of that. Marc quickly said that the hands were important ( remember he drew his right one on the sheet of paper ) and quickly added that here at this moment they were both clean.

Second, if you enlarge the second to the last picture here that I took of him through the Reidel glass you will see that part of his face is also reflected below a bit lower in another part of the glass? See it? I really like that. It's great what you often get by welcome surprise this way. Do you agree? Hope you liked these photos. I also noticed Anne Marie's red hair in some of the photos ... nice. It was all so nice. Why did it have to end?

And thirdly, when I took the first picture seen here on this blog I asked Roy to put his hand back so that we could see it in the picture with the bottles ( with my left hand, too holding the glass with Marc's wine in it so you could also see it's color and clarity, etc ) because it would make the picture more personal and make it " our picture and story ". He smiled and said something to the effect that I was crazy. Oh well, so be it : I can - have lived with that for much of my life : no turning back now ...

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