A harvest report is just in from Domaine Fichet, one of only three producers in the village of Ige in Maconnais. With original plantings that are over 30-years-old, Domaine Fichet is owned and operated by Oliver and Pierre-Yves Fichet, who’s father, Francis Fichet, first started bottling the family’s wines in 1976. Francis was also one of the first to plant Pinot Noir in the Chardonnay dominant region, and the family’s lieu-dit “Chateau London” is one of the oldest and most reputable terroir in the Maconnais. Big thanks to likemyvillage for the images and text.
To start harvest season I went to visit the team at Domaine Fichet. Listening to winemaker Olivier Fichet you sense the impatience of getting a year’s worth of work harvested in safety. Read more
Bryan Flewelling of Hugo’s
As the older sister of its west coast namesake, Portland, Maine is no Portlandia, but an old-school New England town that has a nation of eaters all a flutter and plate chasing. With an urban appetite and a farmer’s flair, Portland’s dining scene has come of age and is ready for courting. From Hugo’s on Middle Street that first opened in 1999, to Central Provisions and Vinland, both opened just this year, Portland has become a destination for everything local on the plate from umami to briny, to supple creams and tart berries.
In the Vineyard with Julien Peyras
Byron Bates of Goatboy Selections is back from the field with a few notes from his trip. Thanks Byron!
The south of France is magic in August. It’s easy to see why hordes of semi-hard working Parisians flock here every summer. The sun, sea, food and wine. We had a list of vignerons we have been wanting to visit and we also needed to pay our respects to our current friends. We hit the Fete du Vin et Valvigneres where we tasted with Sylvain Bock and Gerald Oustric of Le Mazel then partied at the gorgeous domaine of Andrea Calek. Valvigneres is stunning. It’s easy to see why so many top-tier natural wine producers (Oustric, Azzoni, Bock, Calek) hail from this slice of heaven and if you’ve never been, go!! This valley is as important as Morgon, Pouille, or Coteaux du Loir for vin nature enthusiasts. And Bock and Oustric are leading the way. Real, kick ass expression and winemaking from the soul.
In honor of Labor Day, David Hautzig, our upstate Sales Rep, writes about feeding his family year-round with bounty from the family’s home garden. Thanks David!
“Dad. Why am I lying on the floor next to a zucchini?” my son Sam asked, quite predictably under the circumstances. I mean, I asked him to lie on our living room rug with three gargantuan zucchini’s at his side. It’s not something Child Protective Services would be up in arms over, but it’s not an average request from Daddy.
These are not your average zucchinis either. They look like small tactical warheads. They had been lying under leaves at the bottom of the raised garden bed we dedicated to this wonderful and highly versatile veggie. My wife Terri simply hadn’t seen them until the other day. From a sheer visual standpoint, they are the highlight of our 2014 harvest. Read more
Chef George Mendes at the center of Aldea’s kitchen
Anticipating the arrival of Chef George Mendes’ My Portugal: Recipes and Stories (soon-to-be-released on October 7th), we couldn’t wait for last Monday night’s Ameztoi Txakolina Dinner at Aldea. Seated at the chef’s counter, we watched Mendes pirouette from one side of the kitchen to the other, spoon, bowl or pan in hand, with the members of his troop supporting and shadowing his every move. On view to all who were seated in the dining room, Mendes prepared plates with a surgeon’s precision, placing a single black trumpet mushroom just right. Closed for the event that night, Aldea buzzed with its attentive staff coursing through its intimate space, pouring Ameztoi and bearing paired plates.
Gretchen Thomas of Barcelona Wine Bar and Restaurants
“It’s not easy to sell Bobal from Manchuela,” said Gretchen Thomas, the Wine and Spirits Director at the Barcelona Wine Bar and Restaurants, “but if you bring the staff to meet Juan Antonio Ponce, you can’t not sell Bobal for the man.” At Barcelona since 2005, Gretchen began as the assistant manager and six months later was given the opportunity to develop the wine program for Barcelona’s five restaurants. Currently with nine locations, and another on the horizon, Gretchen revamped a wine program that was initially 80% Cabernet from California. “Staff training is the number one most important part of my job,” she added, as she spoke about the sommelier training classes that she conducts every Saturday. “I’ll teach the same wine class until I get through to every restaurant. It helps me put a face to the staff. When you read reviews about our staff, people are impressed with what they know about the wines.” Read more
Gabriela Davogustto of Vinateria
Celebrating their one-year anniversary in April, Vinateria is home to the most courageous wine list in Harlem. Curated by Gabriela Davogustto, who is also responsible for the cocktail menu, the list compliments the seasonal offerings from the kitchen, where her husband Gustavo Lopez is the chef. “People are used to wine lists in Harlem that lack innovation,” said Gabriela. “They don’t bring the bottle and let you taste it and discuss it with you. I feel that people are amazingly receptive to it [here] maybe because they’re tired of places that don’t put much adventure or love into their wine lists. The whole experience should be friendly and not to intimidate. Bring the bottle. Talk to them. This has to be a presentation. Respect the customer.” Read more
Jennifer Lim & Ben Sandler, wife & husband team at The Queens Kickshaw
“Modern cider-making realizes that the quality of fruit is important,” said Jennifer Lim of The Queens Kickshaw. “We like to be able to ask our cider makers what apples they use and not get a run around answer,” added Ben Sandler, her business partner and husband. “For us, it’s less about buying a sellable product, [and more about] something that expresses what the true nature of cider is.” And with 35 ciders on their menu, from the U.S., to Basque Country, France, Spain and the UK, The Queens Kickshaw is pioneering cider in Queens to the whistle of Johnny Appleseed. Read more
Piera and Giuilo Pastura (3rd and 2nd from right) outside the family’s vinacola
“Barbera, in my opinion, has nothing less than Nebbiolo,” said Massimo Pastura of Cascina la Ghersa, “with great respect…It has great potential.” And so, beginning in 1989 when Asti was focused on mass production, Massimo (then 19) joined his parents at the winery and sought inspiration from Giacomo Bologna who in 1982 was known for his Barbera from Monferrato, which at the time surpassed many a Barolo in quality. “Everyone was talking about his expensive Barbera,” said Massimo, “like a Barolo. But tasting it, you could see the difference.” Read more
Recently, we visited Left Bank in the West Village where we asked Beverage Director David Clift to select a song to accompany our video and here’s what he wrote. Thanks David for the amazing dishes and wine, and for the introduction to Orange Juice! (We love the tune!)