Episode 397 of I’ll Drink to That! was released recently, and it features David White, the founder of Terroirist.com and the author of But First Champagne, A Modern Guide to the World’s Favorite Wine.
David White’s look at the world of Champagne is one part history and another part field guide to recognizing favorite bottles. The first part is where most of the conversation of this interview is focused, and the episode goes into some of the broader tenets and more striking moments of Champagne’s history. How did Champagne first become associated with celebration? David believes the pairing goes back to 496, and the crowning of the first French king. What are the repeating trends for the region over time? David sees one in the back and forth with Burgundy, as the two regions struggle for market share — first among French royalty, then with Parisians. Were the bubbles in Champagne a secret of the monks or a marketing advantage in the desire to differentiate from Burgundy? David suggests the later. And what about the wars that swept over the region? David provides some striking anecdotes from the years of hostility — like that of the Resistance fighter who also was in day to day contact with the Wine Führer.
But this history doesn’t stop in the past. David devotes a chapter of his book, and a significant part of the conversation in this episode, to the rise of Grower Champagne, helped along by some key wine importers. And now that Growers have captured so much attention, David hazards some guesses as to where the market for Champagne might be headed. As it is the holidays, you will no doubt be drinking some Champagne. If you’d like to hear more of the back story behind the bubbles, this episode is a great place to start.
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