This week, we hosted a luncheon to toast the arrival of Wahaka Mezcal to our spirits portfolio. An artisanal distiller from the Central Valley of Oaxaca, the Mendez family tended agave fields five generations ago, and now Alberto “Beto” Morales Mendez is the maestro mezcalero at Wahaka Mezcal. Farmers who organically grow Espadin agave alongside fava beans, barley and tomatoes, they also forage Madre-Cuishe and Tobala, two additional species that grow wild in the forests near their farm.
Named for his grandfather, whose father who had a general store in old Savoie on the Annecy Lake, De Maison Selections is returning to its French roots. “A long time ago,” said André Tamers, “we had quite a bit of French wines. But then I realized I had to let it all go and focus on Spain, because Spain, for obvious reasons, was just red hot. And since I’d lived there for three years, I thought I’d take the opportunity and run with it.” Read more
In the less than five years since they’ve opened, Maison Premiere has been nominated twice for a James Beard Award, for their Outstanding Bar Program. The result of a symbiotic relationship between their guests and the changes that have occurred since 2011, Maison Premiere exemplifies the qualities that the Foundation seeks in a nominee. And while it was an honor and an acknowledgement for the team to be short listed, their time in Chicago at the Awards demonstrated just what the nomination means. “It was fantastic to be surrounded by that degree of talent,” said Will Elliott of Maison Premiere. “You realize all of a sudden, that it’s not a competition at all, it’s an accolade. For many people, it’s a culmination of a lifetime. So to be four years and change old here, it was spectacular. It was a heady experience to be surrounded by all of those people. There’s no hierarchical thing of oh, you’re just a bar. It doesn’t matter. Nominees are nominees and everybody treated each other with the highest degree of hospitality. It’s the best hospitality people in the world, rising even higher above the occasion and treating each other with even more hospitality,” he continued. “It’s not about who made the best drinks of the year. It’s about so much more than that. It’s a combination of all of these factors that offer people a great day in and day our experience.” Which is exactly what you’ll experience when you cross through the threshold on Bedford Street.
We sat with Brendan Tracey to discuss his red wine vinifications and the designing of his labels. Here’s Brendan in his own words:
“Entre deux chaises. It’s like sitting on two chairs at the same time. It’s like the best of both worlds or the worst of two worlds. It’s a blend of rosé, direct press with the carbonic maceration. The idea is to get the excitement, the energy and the thirst wine of the rosé and the carbonic maceration, which is just one-third. It structures and it gives it the color so it won’t be a rosé. Yeah it’s the best of both worlds. A mix between carbonic maceration, which will get the flavors, with the skin contact, and enzymatic extraction of the flavors and the taste. It’s for three of the red wines. I don’t have any left because it gets sold out right away. It’s called Pour Une Poignee de Bouteilles, A Handle for Bottles, and so the label is like the poster for the Sergio Leone film, but I replaced the gun with Capitalisme Rouge. It’s made from Pinot Noir, and that always gets bought directly by the Japanese. Read more
“We’d been trying to connect culture and agriculture, and getting back to the land without jumping out,” said Ellen Cavalli of Tilded Shed Ciderworks. “We’re really into localization of agriculture and learning how to grow our own food, and by way of that, you also start to grow your own drink. Scott [Heath] has done a lot of beer making, wine making; what ever you can make booze with, he will.” And so when living on a small farm in northern New Mexico, where there were apple orchids all around, Ellen and Scott decided to try their hands at cider.
“Everybody always wonders what’s up with Blue Ribbon and T. Edward Wines,” said Sean Sant Amour. “We started at the same time. The TEW evolution has gone hand in hand with ours. As your book grew, our list grew as well. One of my pivotal wine moments was when Tom invited me on my first wine trip. I was bunking with this guy who wanted to be a photographer and got duped into the wine business by his dad. His name is Rob Sinskey. He tried to explain to me why Pinot Noir is the most noble grape. It was kind of crazy,” he added and laughed.
Recently, we had the honor of celebrating ten years of Robert Sinskey Abraxas at The Modern with Maria Sinskey. “A once in a life time event, even for me,” said Maria, “with so little reserves at the winery.” A white vin de terroir from Robert Sinskey’s organic Scintilla Sonoma Vineyard that is planted to three of the four noble grapes of Alsace (Riesling, Pinot Gris, and Gewurztraminer with a touch of Pinot Blanc), Abraxas is a blend whose composition depends on how each varietal reacts to the vintage. As Maria discussed the history and inspiration of the wine along with Sinskey’s commitment to organic and biodynamic viticulture, we tasted through the vintages, beginning with the first, Abraxas 2003. Read more
“When I was a child, I wanted to be God,” said Andrea Calek, and laughed. “Not president or a winemaker. President is nothing. It’s so small. I wanted to be God.” And while he doesn’t consider his work in the cellar or vineyards to be god-like in any way, he has found a slice of paradise in Ardèche, living in a trailer amongst his 5ha of Ecocert certified vines. Read more
On Sunday, a few of us rode La Provençale Sainte-Victoire, a 95KM ride in Provence. A stunning course that included three pretty serious climbs (totaling 4,130 feet), and some harrowing descents, it was the most beautiful 95K that I have ever ridden, scented with lilacs, lavender and shrub Provencal herbs. And while my training had been pretty threadbare, I dug the paced commitment required to reach the top of Sainte Victoire, Côte de Bèdes and Col du Sambuc (a 6.5 mile climb). The guys fared a bit faster, pace-lining with some winter training to their legs. But we all loved riding in France, where cycling is a revered spectator sport. Read more
“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.