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What spirit were the Three Musketeers drinking back in the 17th century? Armagnac! On this episode of A Taste of the Past, Linda Pelaccio is joined in the studio by David Lincoln Ross, a food writer and armagnac expert. Learn about the ancient roots of the spirit in Egypt, and the differences between cognac and armagnac. Learn about the regional grapes used to make traditional armagnacs, and the importance of oak from the Mon Lunzon forest in the aging process. How does one choose a bottle of armagnac? Learn about the different characteristics of armagnac that can be used to determine what quality spirit to buy. How does armagnac pair with food? Learn about the culinary landscape of Gascony, France, and how armagnac plays a significant role in its food culture. This program has been brought to you by Cain Vineyard & Winery.

"Cognac, in the most simple terms, is distilled twice. It yields a more refined spirit with a higher level of alcohol when it comes out of the still. It's called double distillation. Armagnac has a simpler or continuous distillation process so the spirit that comes out after the distillation process is at a lower proof, but because it has only been distilled once, it has a more fragrant and flavorful result." [6:40]

-- David Lincoln Ross on A Taste of the Past


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This week on In the Drink, Joe Campanale invites Hugh Davies, proprietor of Schramsberg Vineyards in Calistoga, California. Tune into this episode to hear Joe and Hugh discuss Schramsberg's legacy, and why the wines have been championed by so many United States presidents. Find out how Hugh's wines are produced using the same methods used for making champagne, and why these California bubbles rival their French counterparts. Learn more about site-specific wines, and Schramsberg's export market. What issues plague Napa Valley winemakers? Is a lack of water truly a threat to California's wine industry? Find out all of this and more on this week's edition of In the Drink! This program has been brought to you by Michter's. Music by SNOWMINE.

"We're making a wine very much like a champagne... As we've evolved, we've actually moved closer to the coast where the grapes have a lower sugar and a higher acidity... We're always trying to make a better product." [6:35]

"I want to taste that one acre... and that's it! Every year, we're doing some site-specific bottling." [9:00]

"If the regulations were not decided upon in the 60s, we wouldn't have the Napa Valley that we have today." [22:30]

"We're losing 30,000 acres of agricultural land a year, and none of that is in the Napa Valley." [26:00]

-- Hugh Davies on In the Drink


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Michel Richard is an author, industry advocate, philanthropist, and legendary chef. Known as a pioneer of French food in America, the Brittany native knew he wanted to be a chef at 8, when he first glimpsed a restaurant kitchen. At 14, Richard apprenticed at a patisserie in Champagne, moving to Paris three years later, where he quickly rose to the top position at Gaston Lenotre’s esteemed pastry shop. In 1974, he moved to America to help open a Manhattan shop with Lenotre and found himself at home in a new country. Three years later, he opened Michel Richard in Los Angeles—it was an instantaneous success. A decade later, Richard opened the stylized and quintessentially French-Californian Citrus and the following year was inducted into James Beard’s “Who’s Who of Food and Beverage in America.” Richard then opened a series of restaurants across the country, and even in Japan. Find out what it took to transition from pastry to savory chef and hear the legendary Michel Richard reflect on his career with Dorothy Cann Hamilton on Chef's Story. This program was sponsored by Heritage Foods USA.

[Savory cooking] is fun because you have to come up with something different every day. You get to create an emotion with your cooking." [15:00]

"In 10 years America will be the best. All the young chefs want to move to America." [27:00]

--Michel Richard on Chef's Story


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