Wines by Lady Winemakers at Alder
When Siobhan Lowe began managing the 40-bottle wine list at Wylie Dufresne’s Alder the emphasis was then on an affordable but interesting wines. “Then one day,” said Siobhan, “Kevin, our bar manager, said he’d been to Dover and they had a similar list–heavy on Old World with a sporadic [selection of] New World producers. It’s not a competition, so I thought…that’s cool…a lot of restaurants are looking for small producers. But then I started thinking about how I could bring focus to the list.
“When you have a big list, like at Estela, you have Burgundy,” she continued. “Or at wd~50, you have vintages. Lee Campbell. I love what she does. It’s focused and you know what she’s into. I started thinking about Robert Bohr. He’s a class act. But we’re not a French restaurant. And I’m not going to do all natural wines. Then it occurred to me that picking a different focus could work.”
With a food menu that is structured but always evolving, Siobhan sought a concept that might mirror the menu’s spontaneity. And since she used to own an art gallery, curating is an intuitive act. When she proposed the idea to Wylie of a focused list that would transform over time, he let her run with it.
With acidity and versatility in mind, Siobhan began with a list of “Mountain Wines,” which she then chose to follow with a list of wines “Made by Women”. Currently, the two lists co-exist, but as the “Mountain Wines” sell out, she replaces them with wines that are made by lady winemakers. “It’s the point of all these different focuses to start a conversation, to have a list that requires people to talk to me,” she said.
“When it was Mountain Wines, no one really noticed,” she added. “But now that I’ve done the women thing, I get a lot of comments, especially from women who love it…I should have known people would pay attention to it. It’s not a feminist statement or a marketing ploy. This to me is just another category, another common denominator, but now that I’m doing it, I’m thinking, Yeah, fuck that! Let’s support women winemakers!”
Wines Made by Women at Alder
Seeking wines that will not overwhelm the dishes, Siobhan notes that her own personal palate lends itself to “elegance, freshness and acidity. I hate to say feminine…” she added and laughed.
Featured on the list from one of the highest vineyards in Rioja, Sandra Bravo Marin makes Sierra de Toloño 2012, a single vineyard, natural wine. Fermented in concrete tanks with natural yeast, the wine is bottled unfiltered, after spending six months in French oak. “I love the Sierra de Toloño Rioja because it’s really fresh, lively and approachable for a young Rioja,” said Siobhan. “It has great structure, while still being juicy and bright. A great summer red at a really nice price point.”
Also appearing on the list is Cesca Vicent ‘Lo Piot’ Priorat 2006, a terroir driven wine that comes from one of the oldest Priorato vineyards, which has been organically farmed since 1999. Made by Francesca Vicent, a fifth generation producer, “The Cesca Vicent Priorat is a bigger wine,” said Siobhan, “but with great brightness and acidity. It appeals to those looking for a full and ripe Priorat, but it’s very balanced, not overpowering and really delicious!”
With the ladies on the list for a few more months, from regions that include Sicily, Galicia, Loire, Burgenland and Santa Barbara, there’s still time to make your way to Alder for a bottle and a sip of conversation.