“I’m not the first person you think of when you think of Blue Ribbon, unless you’re a customer who’s been coming in for a long time and you see my face when you first come in the door.” It’s been 22 years since James Shrum, bartender extraordinaire, helped demolish the walls of what was then the Crystal Room on Sullivan Street in Soho. As one of the foundational members of Blue Ribbon, James, along with owners Eric and Bruce Bromberg and General Manager Sean Sant Amour, opened and closed the Crystal Room in four short months.
“In 1998, he told me everything about the Tenuta Fiorano estate. He told me everything about the vineyard, the wine, the vines. The method of producing wines,” said Alessandrojacopo Boncompagni Ludovisi, of his cousin Prince Alberico. “So, in this moment, I started this relationship with my cousin, getting closer each year.” After he tore up his vines, he began to recognize himself in his younger cousin. And while no one can say at exactly what point Prince Alberico realized he would pass his estate to Prince Alessandrojacopo, in retrospect, the latter realized that he was being tested and trained. Read more
As the vines near budbreak, we stole a moment to catch up with Patrick Burke (#ExPat), our French Portfolio Manager, who’s been living with his ear and palate close to the terroir for the past eight months. “I’ve spent a lot of time with our existing producers and it’s deepened the existing friendships,” he said. “When you see them once or twice a year, it’s business. But being able to see them more often, in a casual setting, it’s allowed me quality time that’s not the standard of a winery visit. It’s strengthened relationships.” Such immediate access has also given Patrick a more intimate understanding of each producer’s winemaking style, he said. “You see how they relate to other people in their villages, you get more insider information.” On the road seven to ten days a month, Patrick recently introduced Chateau de Lavernette, a historic property that straddles Beaujolais and Maconnais, and just joined our ranks. “His family has owned the property since they bought it from the Tournus monks, in 1596,” he said. “They have vineyards all around the chateau and Xavier [de Boissieu] is the latest to take over the estate.” Read more
“We didn’t think we’d have great wine so soon,” said David Gollnick, of Mindego Ridge Vineyard. “We thought it’d be 7-8 years before we got something so expressive. “ Yet, at this year’s In Pursuit of Balance, winemakers kept referring tasters to their table. “We’d asked Ehren [Jordan, the winemaker] if we should send the wines to critics and he let us know that 200 wines were submitted to fill four slots at the IPOB tasting, where Jon Bonné was one of the blind tasters. ‘What more do you need?’ Ehren asked,” added David and laughed. Read more
Big thanks to all who came out to taste. This week’s Rosé Tasting was our best yet, with over 150 in attendance! After a long winter’s crawl, we couldn’t have asked for more – sunny blue skies, an extra hour of daylight, and 40 rosé wines from some of our top producers, from all over the globe. Finally…it’s safe to say, spring is near.
“I wanted to open my own wine bar,” said Francesco Grosso, the soft-spoken Beverage Director at Marea. “I fell in love with wine and there was a place on the Lower East Side called ‘inoteca. I went a few times and said I’d love to open a place like this. It was my then plan to go to school and open a place like that, but instead I said, why don’t I keep my money in savings and work for the people that know how to do it. I got a job there after completing my degree at the Culinary Institute of Education and took it from there.” Read more
Like an artist that masters figurative drawing before approaching the abstract, Tiffany Short of The Library at the Public, learned the classics while tending bar at The Inn at Little Washington, before she resurrected the Shrub, a colonial cocktail, at the Library. Hired as a bar manager at PS7, Tiffany assembled a cocktail there that started to garner attention. “That’s when I started putting effort into it,” she said. “I read a couple of books for inspiration…I [came to] think of drinks like a dish. You have the main at the center, the meat, and then the accents.” Inspired by food at the time, she’d mimic certain plates in a cocktail, like the enchilada, using ingredients such as tequila, cilantro and chili. Nowadays, she said, “I lean towards classic ways of doing things with little twists. I take something like a Gin Fizz and give it a tweak. No one is reinventing, it’s just variations of the theme. It’s where the creativity lies.” Read more
“People would look on their phones for Parker points,” said Natalie Tapken of her early days at Lure. Nowadays, thankfully, the “Parker Universe” has imploded and guests no longer scan their phones while considering what to order. “I think the younger generation of drinkers are willing to go anywhere on the list. I think you can see that trend in wine anywhere, including California. Matthew [Rorick] is a great example of working with varietals in California, like Ribolla. His Verdelho is insane. I think Steve [Matthiasson] does a great job of mentoring the [younger] producers. It’s exciting that you have these varietals in California. Ten years ago it would have been a hand-sell on the list. Now it’s, How many can I have?” Read more