Joe Dressner, importer of “real” wines, dies at 60

Whenever my wife sees that a wine’s back label is from importer Louis/Dressner, she gets excited about the wine to follow. Rightfully so: Louis/Dressner has a portfolio bursting with terrific wines, from vineyard owners making their own wines with few, if any, interventions in the cellar. While Joe Dressner touted this side of his wines, calling his portfolio one of “real” wines, one aspect that receives less attention is that the book of his wines includes some of the best values on the planet, particularly in the $12 – $20 range. Jean-Paul Brun. Marc Ollivier (Dom de la Pepiere). Bernard Baudry. The Puzelat brothers. These vignerons have brought me great joy at reasonable prices. Thus it is sad that Joe Dressner died over the weekend.

Since I was always a fan of his wines, it was hurtful when Joe started leaving caustic comments on this blog in late 2008, a practice that he continued for about a year. It bugged me–and my wife. During that time, his wines became less fun to us. Joe had a brain tumor at that time and used a blog, The Amazing Adventures of Captain Tumor Man, as a way to cope. Eventually, he did apologize to me on Twitter. I was sorry not to have been able to penetrate his prickly, irascible persona better since I know that he had a razor-sharp, irony-drenched wit and was a man of conviction.

He was a pioneer in popularizing natural wines in this country. I offer my condolences to his family and his business associates. I look forward to raising a glass in his honor tonight.

A remembrance at Diner’s Journal

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6 Responses to “Joe Dressner, importer of “real” wines, dies at 60”

  1. He never met me, but he also never apologized to me either. You were one of the lucky ones. Defaming the character of strangers shouldn’t be a hobby just because you have cancer.

  2. A brave, forgiving post. I enjoyed reading it and am sad to hear of the loss.

  3. […] of wonderful tributes have now been written, including postings from Jon Bonné, Eric Asimov, Tyler Colman, Mike Steinberger, Alice Feiring, Lyle Fass, and Tom […]

  4. They guy was a great wine importer.. and sometimes not such a nice guy.

  5. Joe was my favorite importer. Partly because he recognized the value and greatness of Loire and Beaujolais. His portfolio is dominated by well-priced, food-friendly wines. Not brands or trophy wines.

    Granted, he was not the most diplomatic, but many top importers have unique personalities. I loved his quirky sense of humor as seen in many of his web entries. I liked that he stood up for real wine.

    Being from outside of Manhattan, I regularly engaged in brief conversation just to let him know that there is life outside of NYC. In my world, I just wanted to get a piece of his pie. All the other stuff is secondary. I sure did enjoy the generosity of the exquisite food at his in-office tastings. I still remember that smoked duck.

    Here is my all time favorite wine posting:

  6. […] from people he wasn’t that close with included Dr. Vino and Tom […]


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