“Our idea of wine in Spain is just Rioja,” began Andre Tamers of De Maison Selections to a group who’d gathered at Toro‘s Backbar Room to taste with Tamers. “Dusty, earthy, classic, old school Rioja…I’m gonna take that and throw it all out the window. Spain has incredible history and terroir. There’s a lot of misconceptions. Caitlin [Doonan, Beverage Director at Toro] and I have talked a lot about Rioja as a place of microclimates and terroir.” And so it began, with a rant and a brief history of how the region’s independent producers were rolled over by industrialization, followed by a tasting that demonstrated Tamer’s efforts to resurrect the families who make wines of true Rioja terroir.
As most of you know, Patrick Burke, our French Portfolio Manager is living the year in Lyon. He spent the past couple of weeks harvesting the rounds with our producers in Burgundy before heading to Barolo for Barolo Camp with Greg Reeves, our Italian Portfolio Manager, and a few reps. What follows is Patrick’s (#ExPat) report from the field. Merci Patrick! Read more
Chantal Tortochot sent us the following report for her 2014 harvest at Domaine Tortochot, along with these stunning photographs. Thanks Chantal!
There was no winter in Burgundy with a lot of rain in autumn.
The months of February, March and April were mild, sunny, and dry. This allows an early development of the vines. June has been very beautiful, largely dry, and warm sometimes quite hot. So the flower time passed with some north Wind that made some millerandage. There was no risk of mildew and any other disease. Read more
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
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.
“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
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