I hope you don't mind this sharing. But I was really stunned and honored when Imbibe magazine chose me as their wine person of the year. And so a little love doesn't come by that often, I had to post. There's more on their FB page and website, but this is a profile, I'll definitely cherish. Thanks, Imbibe. I think you're pretty terrific too!
Picking up the car at Enterprise I was asked, the SUV or this?
So what was the matter with the 'this?" (my girlfriend Ronni and me up in Shelburne--see next post). So I fired up the black Mustang convertible and even though it took me 8.5 hours to get to Vermont for my wine dinner, I didn't mind; it was the Grateful Dead radio all the way up for a special dinner from the dynamic duo, Deirdre (do check out her wonderful book, Libations, a bitter alchemy) and husband Caleb of Pane e Saluté resto in Woodstock.
They closed the restaurant and staged this event at their their picture perfect cottage out in the gorgeous Vermont night, La Garagista, where they are also making Vermont's only organic grown and naturally made wine. Her Le Crescent rosé -like wine was startling with a strong, precise strawberry perfume--direct from foot-press. Hard work but someone has got to do it.
On the Solstice I held forth at the Princeton Club. I did a tapdance and a talk.
Here's what we sipped.
+ Heaule, Reynald 2009 A Contre-Courant Pinot Meunier (was a little off, I expected it needed a day out of the bottle to jump up)
+ Puzelat-Bonhomme 2011 Touraine Sauvignon Blanc (huge hit sipped besides the NZ sauvignon. Out of the mouth of the innocent, "This artificial wine, we were taught was good. It was what I expect. But this other one, is delicious."
+ Mendall (Laureano Serres) 2010 Vino de Taula Poc a Poc (huge hit with 18 out of 20. Worth the $28.)
+ Ducroux 2011 Regnie --No SO2 (Mixed. One grimmace. But for about 15 people in the room, the wine of the night)
+ Grolet 2009 Cote du Bourg Tete de Cuvee (good value for merlot drinkers.)
+ Casa Coste Piane 2010 Prosecco di Valdobbiadene (off the charts acclaim, no one has trouble with the $22 price point.)
Some Cheap Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand (see Puzelat)
Dinner at Vedge was great. For once there was a wine dinner I was presiding over where I was eating the same food the wine pairings were intended for. The setting was romantic, the food was fantastic. Full flavorful and masterful. The owners, Rich the savory chef and Kate who runs the front of the house as well as working double duty as the pastry chef, are sweet and the kind that inspire loyalty. They've been at this for quite a while and tend to see their restaurant as one devoted to vegetables rather than a vegan resto, but it is.
We started with the Ulysse Collin Champagne Blanc de Blancs, NV. One reaction was, "I never tasted a champagne like this, help!" I told her to think of it as whips and chains, a little sdbm in a glass, that will change as soon as she has one of them crispy, rosemary flecked potatoes. Worked.
grilled eggplant, green olive persillade, gazpacho jus Domaine de la Pépière Muscadet Sèvre et Maine sur lie, 2010
Verdict? Pretty good match. But the Muscadet can do no wrong. I regaled them about how people in the Muscadet used to be so depressed they were committing suicide all the time, like it was 1929, every day, but now, they're in renaissance thanks to the people like Marc Olivier.
Second Course chilled English pea & arugula soup, tarragon, almond picada Clos du Tue-Boeuf Touraine Blanc "Le Brin de Chèvre," 2010
Paulo said, "I never smelled anything like this." He was in love. Big love. Actually if the wines had been reversed, might have worked better.
Third Course:Roasted Maitake Mushroom, potato herb salad, charred broccoli Chandon de Briailles Pernand-Vergelesses 1er Cru "Île des Vergelesses," 2006
This course was drop dead delicious. And the wine, which worked better for me with the cauliflower (truly going against conventional wisdom) was stellar. At first I thought it was going to sleep, but it sure woke up at the end of the glass. I talked stems and biodynamics. Alice held forth on the beauty of limestone.
Fourth Course: Wood grilled cauliflower, bbq black lentils, smoked onion slaw Eric Texier Côtes du Rhône Brézème Vieilles Vignes “Domaine de Pergaud,” 2009
You'd think this would be brilliant with the tight and rugged VV, but it begged for the burg. Go figure. The room was split on which wine they preferred.
Fifth cheesecake, lavender buttercream, berries Vittorio Bera Moscato d'Asti, 2010
In honor of this beautiful Moscato I tasted some cheap shit earlier in the day, Allegro or something like that. What a relief.
Verdict? Lots in the room had never experienced wines like these, so common to me I often take them for granted. I delighted in the reminder.
Thanks to Dave McDuff for hijacking me to Philly, to Kate and Richard for their food and space and care, and to all of those excellent folk I enjoyed meeting last night.
If you had told me in 2008 that I was going to be presenting American wines with pride to the London wine scene, I would not have believed you. But I did. The assortment were laid out on the American table which I mostly manned, and I presented six in a loose, tutored tasting, to a packed audience, standing room only (okay, it was a small room) to normal folk, press, importers and sommeliers. The response was surprise, delight and ....are they available here?
There wasn't one wine out of the bunch that met with blasé palates.
On tap were:
+Clos Saron, Stone Soup 2009
+Clos Saron, Heart of Soup 2006
+Clos Saron, Carte Blanche 2011 (crowd split, each one had its fans, the Carte Blanche-mostly albarino was wildly popular)
La Clarine Farm:
Home Vineyard 2010
Syrah “Sumu Kaw” 2010 ( So, where does this guy make wine? )
Arnot Roberts North Coast Syrah 2010 (reaction: double takes)
+Dundee Hills Pinot Noir 2010
+Pinot Noir Sans Soufre 2010 (Crazy for this one. Much more expressive.)
+Black Cap Chardonnay 2009 (10-year old meursault, from great terroir)
+Black Cap Pinot Noir 2009 (elegant and gorgeous)
A Tribute to Grace, Santa Barbera Highland Vineyards
+Grenache 2010 (a certain critic with the initials JR, "that's quite nice, isn't it.")
Martian Ranch & Vineyard;
+‘Mother Ship’ Grenache Blanc 2011 ("I'd take that over most Rhone white wines.")
+‘Red Shift’ Red Wine 2011 ("No sulfur, really?" (double-take)
+‘Ground Control’ Grenache Noir 2011 (This too had it's fans)
Prince in his Caves 2006 (Is that from Friuli? Tremendously popular )
If you were there, and tasted the wines, please let us know what you thought.
Sommelier, John Szabo chatted me up the other day, http://bit.ly/HWRHtF as I'll be speaking at the Terroir Symposium this coming Monday. The theme? The New Radicals. And so I am especially honored to be included. Sounds like it's going to be terrific. If you're in town, and food/wine centric, this should be on your radar.
If you're at the VinNatur tasting in Zurich, please say hi. And if you're a reader of mine in London, come hang on Thursday night, November 17th. The event will be staged at Soif, the newest winebar in London. Buy a book, let's talk and drink and Q&A, and schmooze, because I tell you, Kate Thal knows how to put on a show. It's going to be terrific! And in the spirit of Nouveau Day, come and take back Gamay! The real deal for real people.
Hey tricksters, I'll be hanging with Martha Radio Living Today radio host Thomas Farley (twitter handle, @mistermanners) o talk about the fabulous pairings between Halloween Candy and wine. I'm hoping to poke some holes in the stereotypes and provide some tricks and treats.
I'm hunting the Leon Trotskys, the Philip Roths, the Chaucers and the Edith Whartons of the wine world. I want them natural and most of all, I want them to speak the truth even if we argue. With this messiah thing going on, I'm trying to swell the ranks of those who crave the differences in each vintage, celebrate nuance and desire wines that make them think, laugh, and feel. Welcome.
And, if you'd like a signed copy, feel free to contact me directly.