Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Louis/Dressner Tasting in New York

We sat in the airport terminal, reluctantly eating a greasy, overly-processed breakfast from one of the vendors. Suffering through a soggy "panino," I knew I'd soon redeem my crappy meal by tasting a portfolio of all natural, honest expressions of earth. I work a few shifts a week and hang-out part time at J. Emerson Fine Wine down in Richmond, Virginia. On April 22nd my manager and I joined forces with the natural wine guys from Williams Corner to take a quick day trip up to New York for the Louis/Dressner tasting. Though excited to taste some of my hero's wines I wondered how bittersweet the visit would be for me, having just left New York after living there for 10 years. I got over any sentimentality after sitting in traffic for an hour on the Williamsburg bridge.

We were greeted by a geeky sign coded for those in the wine business. Out of 29 vignerons, only 16 could escape the erruption of the un-pronounceable Eyjafjallajokull that interrupted European air travel. Along with rain, sleet, snow and drought, the volcano was just another element that the winemakers had to deal with and made for some fun conversations.
Lost between three distributers, the wines of Roagna got their own sealed off Luca Lounge. Polaner will still handle the wines in New York and New Jersey and not be a part of the move to David Bowler. Nationally they will sell through Louis/Dressner, or something like that. Anyway, the whole lineup was there from the 05 Bianca Solea, little Dolcetto and Barbera, the 03 Lange Rosso, the 'what's in it?' Opera Prima XVII and bottlings from both Barbaresco and Barolo.

A man on a mission. Franck Peillot of Franck Peillot raced to escape the volcanic cloud by driving 800 miles from Bugey to Madrid to catch a flight to get to New York. His non-vintage Montagnieu Brut was bottled, bubbly herbs that can take on anything from Champagne. The 08 Rousette de Bugey Altese tart and nutty, and the 08 Mondeuse was like warm wool in the mouth. What's not to love?

Manuela & Francois Chidaine of Vouvray and the stones throw Montloius had maybe the prettiest wines on the table. Maybe a little riper than other current releases from that part of the Loire, easily enjoyable in their youth.

The wines of Clos du Tue-Boeuf are always a favorite. From the lean, crystal scented Le P'tit Blanc, the wonderfully raspy 09 La Butte, to the mysterious cloudy colored, crushed violet scented 09 Cheverny Rouge.

Pierrot Bonhomme, Thierry's business partner has vines of his own. His unfortunately named 08 Touraine Rouge "KO In Cot We Trust" was a show stopper, proving that Malbec is just a grape, not a flavor in its self but more a communication device to show off some really distinct dirt. I could have this on the dinner table everynight.

Cascina degli Ulivi was one of the volcano victims. Alessandra Bera of Bera Vittorio & Figli was around to see us all marvel at their 09 Moscato d'Asti.

Here's Scott Bridi overseeing animals in all forms. He runs the charcuterie program at Marlowe & Daughters. Before that he headed the kitchen at the rustic Lot 2 in Brooklyn and also did meat at the famous Gramercy Tavern for 2 years. We were in good hands.

My biggest surprise of the day were the wines of Radikon. I was prepared to dislike these mythical monstrosities, thinking they were unobtainable, super sexed up oxidized trophies. I was so wrong, they were super cool. Maybe it was the context with all the other wines of the day but they were so bizzare, so different, lush and vibrant with bulletproof zip.

Sasa Radikon was on hand to explain the farming, vinification and their approach to bottling. The farming like most of the other vignerons on hand is biodynamic and natural, hand harvested, low yields all that. What is interesting is the 90 days of skin maceration and the 3 years in large Slavonian oak that make them somewhat indestructible. The 500 ml bottles are used to house the skinny little corks they have specially made which they feel ages the wine at just the right pace.

These beautiful cider and tea colored wines can justify the high prices.

Natural wine enthusiast Alice Feiring chatting up Olivier Riviere about his un-Rioja like wines. The 09 Rayos Uva and the 07-08 Ganko and the 08 Gabacho had a bright red freshness that contrasted the oaky, roasted norm.

The man himself keeping everything under control.

The crew from Williams Corner Wine getting the V.I.P. treatment with Luca Roagna.

Even with all the spitting, trying to taste one hundred wines can take a toll on ones constitution. I made a turbo escape for Gimme! Coffee down in Soho. One of the things I miss about New York is good espresso, though outstanding coffee didn't exsist in New York untill 2001. I'm hoping it is just a matter of time before it trickles down to Richmond. Gimme! does it right.

The crime scene that was Mathieu Baudry. Les Grange was delicious in its youth, the 08 Clos Guillot and the 08 Croix Boisee were like buried treasure.

Francesca Padovani of Campi di Fonterenza was on hand with pink wine, a vertical of little Sangiovese, up through the 07 Rosso di Montalcino and a surprisingly elegant and restrained but mouth drying 04 Brunello. I had to run back to the meat table in between pours.

Also on hand was Jean-Paul Brun of Terre Dorees in Beaujolais. I was to intimidated to take his picture. It was a pleasure though shaking his meaty farmer hand. His wines might of been the days winner. The place was nuts over superstar Eric Texier, he was pouring flavors from Cote-Rotie and Chateauneuf-du-Pape, and of course his greatest discovery of Brezeme.

Our last stop before flying home was Peking Duck House Midtown. We were able to sneak in a bunch of Dressner wines to see how they could handle two whole ducks.
Afterwards our palates were beat, we finished off the night with a $9 Peroni at the airport. Thank you Louis/Dressner for doing what you do.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Josh, my husband & I also did a switch---we moved from Richmond to Boston about 6 months ago. Glad to see you're taking the time to explore Richmond! It looks like you, Nicolas, and the rest of the kids had a great time up in NYC. Say hi to Matt Adkins for me!
    McLean Oakeson