Napa Wine legend visits Beaufort

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By Lanier Laney

I’m always amazed that little old Beaufort is able to attract such world-class visitors!

Last week it was movie star Toby McGuire, this week it’s one of the world’s foremost wine experts — Joel-Noel Fourmeaux. Joel-Noel’s family has been making wine in their Chateau in France for 900

Rick Toomey, Linda Hawes and Joel-Noel Fourmeaux.

years and his tasting skills are so renowned, he was hired by the French government to be France’s “Official Taster” of Grand Cru Bordeauxs.  When France sent him to spy on the emerging Napa Valley in 1976, he and his wife (after tasting 2000 California wines) fell in love with Napa and decided to stay and build their own winery, high on Mt. Veder above the Hess Winery. Joel-Noel named it after his family’s “Chateau Potelle.” Thirty-two years later, he is producing some of the most highly regarded Zinfandels, Chardonnays, and red blends in the world. Produced in such small amounts they are not available in stores,  you can order directly from www.vgschateaupotelle.com.

Joel-Noel brought his own wonderful joie de vivre and love of wine to a wine tasting of his wines at Wanda and Ricky Park’s beautiful home on Lucy Creek this past weekend. It was hosted by Rick

Sarah, Ricky and Wanda Parks.

Toomey and Linda Hawes, who had visited Joel-Noel’s Napa winery on an anniversary many years ago, where they met him, and fell in love with his wines.

Joel-Noel’s approach to wine has absolutely none of the wine snobbery one would assume to be at his level of expertise. His philosophy? “Wine is pleasure.” And he says, “It only matters what you think” and “what do you like?” regarding a certain wine. He believes that good, well made wines are complex like people and that you should take time to get to know a certain wine, by studying the color first, smelling the fragrance, and savoring all the tastes.  Then you decide if that wine is for you or not.  If not, it does not make the wine wrong, just not for you. A nice philosophy to also have about people, I would think.

Here are some pics from the event for you, which featured outstanding food by Southern Graces.

Curt and Marti Mostellar with Matthew Regan, from Napa.
Brad and Cindy Collins.