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Admin Note:
No daily editions this week

Because of my work and travel schedule, we have to put the daily Wine Advisor Express on a brief vacation again this week. Today's edition will be our last communication until regular publication resumes next Monday. See you then!

30 Second Wine Tasting Tip:
Calling all Placomusophiles

A small but growing number of collectors - most of them apparently in France, judging from a thorough Web search - are getting involved in one of the more unusual hobbies associated with the world of wine.

Call them "placomusephiles" (or "plaquomusophiles" or "plaquemusephiles" - the hobby remains obscure enough that the name has apparently not yet standardized), they take the name from the object of their acquisitive affections: They save and display plaques de muselet, the dome-shaped, decorative metal circles that protect the tops of Champagne bottles.

If you think this sounds a lot like collecting pennies or buttons or other small objects that all look alike, you may not have been paying close attention the last time you uncorked a bottle of bubbly.

Take a closer look next time: After you peel off the foil capsule and untwist the protective wire cage (sometimes called "muselage" after a dog's muzzle, but that's another story), check the metal cap that fits closely over the top of the cork. This is the "plaque de muselet." Enameled and shiny, it is often brightly colored; many carry the wine producer's trademark or logo.

They're a relatively modern innovation, according to host John Holland of, whose comprehensive Website covers all things Champagne and is one of the few English-language sources of placomusophilia on the Internet. Early Champagne bottles were stoppered with wood and sealing wax. Corks tied down with string persisted well into the 1800s before a Frenchman named Adolphe Jacquesson patented the wire cage and metal capsule in 1844, and it was only in the early 20th century that Champagne makers started putting slogans and trademarks on the small metal disk, turning a functional item into a potential collectible.

"Today, with technological innovations in printing and stamping, some plaques de muselet really are small works of art," Holland says. Many collectors build neat wooden display cases to display plaques by the dozens, often categorized by subject matter (portraits, coats of arms, slogans) or color. Some enthusiasts haunt tastings and bombard producers with letters requesting free, unused plaques; others like to display only the plaques from bottles that the collector has personally enjoyed.

Holland's Plaquemusephilia page is on his site at Here's a collection of other enthusiast sites of note; they're all in French, but the pictures speak a thousand words in any language:

If you would like to comment on this week's subject, you're welcome to post a message on our interactive Wine Lovers' Discussion Group, Or write me at I regret that the growing circulation of the "Wine Advisor" makes it difficult for me to reply individually to every note. But I'll respond to as many as I can and do my best to address specific questions. Please be assured that all your input helps me do a better job of writing about wine.

Please tell your wine-loving friends about The 30 Second Wine Advisor, and invite them to register for their own free subscription at

30 Second Tasting Notes:
Another artisanal Champagne
Gosset-Brabant Champagne Gosset-Brabant Cuvee de Reserve Brut ($32.99)
As promised two weeks ago, here's another in a series of artisanal Champagnes of uncommon quality to take us up to the holidays. (And for those who resist wines in the $30-plus range even for special occasions, stay tuned; next week we'll feature a lower-cost bargain.) A pale but distinctly gold color suggests the presence of Pinot Noir in the blend, and persistent streams of pinpoint bubbles swirl in the glass. Ripe and full aromas bear rich, almost opulent fruit, honey-dipped apples and a delicate scent of milk chocolate - a sampler box of candies. Full-bodied and dry, a pleasantly prickly mouthfeel precedes flavors consistent with the nose. Chocolate and crisp apples linger in a long finish. Don't forget to save the plaque! U.S. importer: Vintner Select in Cincinnati and other regional importers. (Oct. 28, 2001)

FOOD MATCH: It makes a surprisingly good partner with a meatless but flavorful vegetarian risotto with celery, red onions and radicchio.

Acker Merrall:
November Online Wine Auction

Fellow Wine Lover ...

We're baaaack ... over 1,000 lots are available for your bidding pleasure during the first 12 days of November, as Acker Merrall kicks into Holiday gear and gets ready for two live auctions on two coasts in the next two months! Go straight to the action for our online auction at Please note that all new lots begin with lot 2941.

By the way, Saturday (Nov. 10) is our first live auction in Los Angeles, and it is looking like a spectacular weekend! Our pre-auction tasting is already sold-out, but there is still room left at our BYOB dinner on Saturday night, although not much.

We are still accepting wines for our Dec. 15 New York live auction, with a deadline of Nov. 15...ish. Get us those lists ASAP. We can receive wines for this sale on both coasts.

We wish every one a safe, happy, and healthy Fall season, with lots of holiday cheer and many reasons to deplete those cellars!

Wine Tasting 101:
Beaujolais for November
The Nouveau Beaujolais arrives Nov. 15, amid publicity and hype that may or may not be justified by reality. This month we're going to find out for ourselves, as we focus Wine Tasting 101 on Beaujolais. We'll taste two widely available Beaujolais-Villages:

  • Louis Jadot 2000 Beaujolais-Villages
  • Georges Duboeuf 2000 Beaujolais-Villages

For more information about Wine Tasting 101 and this month's feature, click to

Wine Toon Calendar 2002:
A year of wine and laughter

Here's a way to please yourself and friends with a wine-related holiday "stocking stuffer" and support at the same time: You can't go wrong with our new Wine Toon Calendar! This monthly wall calendar, exclusive from, contains a chuckle-worthy collection of cartoonist Chuck Stoudt's zany wine 'toons ... plus dozens of favorite wine quotes for every season, AND more than 100 highlighted Wine Web Links, two every week!

Buy one for your wine cellar and another for your office ... and they make great gifts! Offer them in your wine store, your catalog, or your wine club (contact us by E-mail for information about wholesale prices for re-selling).

While supplies last, order the Wine Toon Calendar at It's only $11.99 (plus $2 shipping and handling for U.S. shipments, $4 for all other countries). Buy one for yourself, and more for your wine-loving friends, and you'll be all set for holiday giving.

And don't forget: Your purchase helps support and The 30 Second Wine Advisor!

Join me on a trip to
the Rhone and Provence

I invite you to join me next June in a seven-day journey through the southern Rhone Valley and Provence, sponsored by French Wine Explorers, a high-quality American tour company that specializes in wine tours of France.

Lauriann Greene and Jean-Pierre Sollin, sommeliers-conseil who live in France, will join me to present this tour, which will feature a week of in-depth exploration of the wines of these two beautiful regions.

The tour is limited to 16 participants, so reservations will remain open only until these places are filled. For more information, click to the details at

30 Second Administrivia
This free E-mail publication is distributed to subscribers every Monday, and our daily Wine Advisor Express is E-mailed Tuesday through Friday. Previous editions are archived at

You are on the subscription list because you registered during a visit to Robin Garr's Wine Lovers' Page. To change your E-mail address, switch from the weekly (Mondays only) to daily distribution, or for any other administrative matters, E-mail In the unhappy event that you must leave us, please take a moment to let us know how we could have served you better. In all administrative communications, please be sure to include the exact E-mail address that you used when you subscribed, so we can find your record.

We welcome feedback, suggestions, and ideas for future columns. We do not use this list for any other purpose and will never give or sell your name or E-mail to anyone.

All the wine-tasting reports posted here are consumer-oriented. In order to maintain objectivity and avoid conflicts of interest, I purchase all the wines I rate at my own expense in retail stores and accept no samples, gifts or other gratuities from the wine industry.

More time for wine?
You don't need to wait for Mondays to read about wine! Drop in any time at the Wine Lovers' Page,, where we add new tasting notes several times each week and frequently expand our selection of wine-appreciation articles, tips and tutorials. If you'd like to talk about wine online with fellow wine enthusiasts around the world, click to our interactive, international Wine Lovers' Discussion Group forums,

Vol. 3, No. 42, Monday, Nov. 5, 2001

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