Thiery Desseauve for years has been one of the leading French wine critics along with his business partner Michel Bettane. Having worked for years at La Revue du vin de France, he left the publication in 2004 with Bettane and later founded Bettane + Desseauve with Michel.
In the interview, the formidable critic looked back and revealed how his father’s cellar sparked his love for wine; the joy of cycling to visit vineyards and a peculiar Thai Syrah that got the critic intrigued. With his usual wit, the critic also suggested a sodden solution to woo American president Trump that might get him to roll back tax on French wine.
How many years have you been aged so far?
1958. Ok, I know, not a memorable vintage…
What led you to wine?
My father’s cellar! Each year during the seventies and beginning of the eighties, he bought some cases of classified growth. I used to pick up (without telling anything to my parents…) one bottle of each case and taste it with some friend in my little apartment. I remember of my first ‘coup de foudre’, Ducru Beaucaillou 1970.
What’s your pet peeves about wine?
Describe what’s an alcohol-free day like for you?
It’s a tasting day: when you taste two hundred different wines and spit all of them, you don’t want to drink even a glass of alcohol!
What’s your secret passion?
My secret passions need to stay secret, but I love cycling, and specially riding my bike with some good friends to visit vineyards areas. When you’re on a bicycle, it’s easy to understand the effects of the sun exposure or a slope on the grape maturation…
What kind of wines are in your wine fridge?
Champagne. Have a bottle of Champagne in your fridge. Always!
What’s the weirdest wine you’ve tasted so far that you actually liked?
Maybe a Thai Syrah [I tried] a couple of weeks ago…
If you can recommend one wine to any leader in the world, who would it be and what would you recommend?
Of course a good French wine to President Trump, so he will say,”Wow! It’s much better than a Coke! Let’s stop immediately the tax against French wines!”
If you can drink any wine in the world, which wine would you like to have?
Right now, those I am going to introduce in a masterclass next Saturday for our 14th edition of Paris Le Grand Tasting: Promontory from California, Viña Seña from Chile, Kanonkop from South Africa, Henschke Mount Edelstone from Barossa Valley and Biondi Santi from Tuscany. Fantastic wines, amazing terroirs, great people.
If you are a wine, how would you imagine your tasting note would be like?
Sixty years old, still young!
What makes you happy?
Life (and sometimes it makes me sad).
If you can only drink one wine for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Comtes de Champagne blanc de blancs. To finish on the elegant and happy side of life !