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Champagne Odyssey: Veuve Clicquot

White glove courtesy at Veuve Clicquot Veuve Cliquot has over 400 still wines in reserve to use in the intricate composition of its flagship Yellow label champagne In October 2011, I was invited to Champagne by Veuve Clicquot, along with 3 champagne-o-phile friends from Nantucket.  As I mentioned in...

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Six Degrees to Sean Larkin

Posted by admin | Posted in currentVintage, Events, Nantucket, Wine | Posted on 27-05-2009

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Sean Larkin at NWF Gala

Sean Larkin at NWF Gala

How can it be that Memorial Day Weekend has come and gone?  It seems like yesterday we were setting up the currentVintage table at the Nantucket Wine Festival Yacht Club Grand Tasting.  With over 100 wineries, dozens of food booths, live cooking demos, etc, the Grand Tasting is a tremendous event—and a logistical marvel.  Our table featured vintage grape jewelry—truly, much more tasteful than it sounds!  1930s celluloid, 1950s Mexican sterling, 1960s Lucite; a collection of amazing, interesting pieces, both novelty and collectibles.  Anyway, the patrons and the vendors loved it and we had a super weekend.

I was delighted to find our table right across from the charming Scotsman, Sean Larkin.  We sell his yummy Larkin cab franc and Jack Larkin merlot.  I feel a certain connection to Sean, because he was the first winemaker to visit currentVintage the week we first opened.  I might not have known it was him, had we not had a bottle of Larkin prominently featured on the shelf, to which Sean proudly & loudly responded, “I’m Sean Larkin!”. He brought in his buddies (fellow winemakers Jim Barbour, Ray Coursen and John Arns) to show off and we became fast friends.

Last Fall, at an auction to benefit the Nantucket New School, we bought a dinner catered by Sarah Leah Chase and a bottle of Jack Larkin Merlot.  One memorable night this spring, the dinner was realized at the home of Chris & Greg Bourbeau, where Sarah prepared a spectacular, world class dinner for us.  Beginning with a sensual warm olive and grape appetizer and featuring lamb with lavender honey, every course was flawless.  We poured the Jack Larkin and all agreed it was like a first-rate right bank Bordeaux. Sarah emailed the next day that the JL merlot was” truly among the top 10 wine-tastings epiphanies I have experienced in my lifetime”—high praise from a world-renowned author and caterer who has published cookbooks of her wine and dining experiences pedaling through Burgundy and Provence!

Another great night was in New York:  opening week of the swank re-gussified Minetta Tavern.  It being the hot new Keith McNally boite, all the beautiful people were there…Jennifer Creel was next to us in silver sequins; I was in jeans (thankfully black).  Curiously, the beautiful people across from us had an unopened bottle of Jack Larkin on the table.  We spoke to the waiter and then the sommelier, only to learn that the wine was not on the wine list.  Disappointed, we finally asked the beautiful woman where she got the coveted bottle, and she replied, “I’m Stephanie, Jack Larkin’s Mother.”  The bottle was a gift for her dinner friends, but in a brilliant marketing move, she had the wine perched on the edge of the table unwrapped, for all to see.  And so, luckily for us, wherever we go there seem to be far fewer than six degrees of separation from Sean Larkin.

Gushing Frank Bruni Minetta Tavern review: http://tinyurl.com/o6sapr

Cousin Todd English

Posted by admin | Posted in currentVintage, Events, Food, Nantucket, Wine | Posted on 24-05-2009

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Todd English & Elisabeth English...long lost cousins?

Opening Night of Figs at the old Woodbox was terrific.
An 8:30 reservation was civilized after a crazy Figawi work day and the cozy back room full of “Sconseters” (including Tracy Root, as our server) was intimate and clubby.  The tables were jammed with those lucky enough to get a resy—Marian & Russ Morash of WGBH & PBS fame, Dunn Gifford, Gene Mahon & Amanda Morgan (a bombshell in black 50s-inspired assymetrical chiffon), Bruce & Lisa from Orange St, Janice Rohlf (Editor of Cape Cod Life), photographer Terry Pommett, Toronto atty Michael Hartrick, the Forsters, et al.  At least one guest was spotted wearing currentVintage…!

Highlights:  Fig, Prosciutto & Arugula Salad, Old School Bolognese (a signature dish, but instead of resting on laurels, it rests on fontina burro buso) = outstanding!!  White chocolate bread pudding = elegant and ooohh inducing.  Once it’s on the table, it’s impossible to deny…

Dimlights:  Spaghettini w/ tomatoes, lobster & hot peppers

thePour: Whetstone 06 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
Cloudy, unfiltered; bright fruit, slightly sour cherry, spice on finish, $80
Our neighbors enjoyed numerous bottles of Sea Smoke @ $155

Awesome Highlight of Night:
Joking with handsome “Cousin” Todd and wondering if he really thinks I’m his cousin…

theVerdict:  The ceilings are still low, the floors crooked and the candles lit.  Cheers to Danielle and Peter…I think Dexter would be pleased.

Elisabeth, Todd & Mark Donato

Elisabeth, Todd & Mark Donato (Photos Terry Pommett)


NWF Day 3, Pt 2: Grand Cru!

Posted by admin | Posted in currentVintage, Events, Food, Nantucket, Wine | Posted on 21-05-2009

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09 Nantucket Wine Festival Maison Louis Latour Dinner

Just when you think you can no longer be dazzled…an invitation to a Burgundy dinner at the East Brick comes along…

1er & Grand Cru wines of Louis Latour:  check
Winemaker Jean Charles in attendance: check
Handsome Celebrity French Chef:  check
Glorious renovated historical mansion:  check
Gracious hosts celebrating 5th wedding anniversary:  check

Rushing into the foyer to escape the drizzle, I was greeted with a glass of 05 Chassagne-Montrachet “Cailleret” and all was right with the world.  We progressed into the magnificent dining room, with its 1950s sepia whaling era Nantucket harbor wall murals and elaborate candelabras, to enjoy Maine halibut and pea risotto with 03 Corton-Charlemagne.  Chef Olivier Muller of DB Bistro Moderne in New York and Jenny, the sommelier from DB Palm Beach are professionals par exellence, and the Daniel sophistication was apparent in every course.
And on and on…the hosts were warm, the guests were interesting, the conversation lively.  An aprés dinner cellar tour was the icing on the gateau.  I knew the night had all the ingredients for a special, intimate evening of a lifetime—yet, the whole was even greater than the sum of its parts!

Friday was actually a 4 event day;  in addition to the Sultans seminar, Andy Peay event, and Latour dinner, I squeezed in a tasting of Gundlach Bundschu and Mark Kenward’s performance of Towle’s Hill at Bennett Hall.  The story of Towle Bundschu and his 1970s dilemna of whether to sell Rhinefarm, the family estate, was insightful and made even more moving by the presence of his grandson, Jeff Bundschu, who hosted the evening.  Jeff was visibly emotional after the show and we all felt like we had experienced an important moment in this 4 generation winery history.

A lot to pack in a day, but hey, it’s not like we can do this next week…

Watch Olivier Muller in action and get a tour of the East Brick!  Plum TV link:  http://tinyurl.com/ptje94

NWF Day 3…Peay Sera Sera

Posted by admin | Posted in currentVintage, Events, Nantucket, Wine | Posted on 20-05-2009

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Amy Peay wearing currentVintage

Amy Peay wearing currentVintage

The “Sultans of Sonoma Coast”.  That is the name Denis Toner coined for the all-star panel of vintners Ehren Jordan (Failla), David (Hirsch) and Andy (Peay).  I’m not sure how they felt about it, but it still makes me smile every time I think of it.  I attended the seminar on Friday of the Nantucket Wine Festival and was not disappointed.  To hear David Hirsch, Father of the “true” Sonoma Coast, so to speak, was impressive; what was he thinking, farming grapes way up there way back when?  All three chardonnays showed amazingly well, but the nuanced Peay 07 Estate Chardonnay was the favorite at my table.  This type of wine festival event makes the festival, in my opinion.  Comparing and contrasting flights of wines from similar grapes and soils is so interesting!  Discerning what part Mother Nature played vs what took place and in the cellar to produce such distinctive wines from such similar base ingredients—that’s exciting stuff to me!

A half hour later, Andy Peay migrated over to currentVintage for a store tasting.  I am sentimental about Peay wines because Andy Peay was our first in store tasting at currentVintage. It was during the 2008 NWF and it was the first week we were open. He was/is so cool and really seemed to get my store.  I am also a great admirer of the wines—they are elegant, sophisticated and quite feminine.  I understood this better after meeting the winemaker, Vanessa Wong at a Peay dinner at Cyrus in Healdsburg this past winter.  She is tiny and lovely, yet projects the strength and composure of her years of experience.  Those years, by the way, include being the winemaker at Peter Michael.  Vanessa is married to Nick Peay, Andy’s brother, who is in charge of the vineyard.  Serious talent, serious wines.
Anyway, the tasting was a huge success.  Old fans turned up and new ones were made. Eric Munson of Dancing Bear Cellars stopped by for a signed bottle—I love how winemakers support each other, at least at our festival.  Andy and Ehren Jordan came to the cV Sinskey tasting the day before—how cool is that?

09 Nantucket Wine Festival Day 2

Posted by admin | Posted in currentVintage, Events, Nantucket, Wine | Posted on 20-05-2009

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Andy Peay & Ehren Jordan at currentVintage Sinskey Wine Tasting

Andy Peay & Ehren Jordan at currentVintage Sinskey Wine Tasting

Thursday, we had Rob Sinskey, Napa legend, do a tasting at currentVintage.  The fact that Rob even does store tastings amazes me!  He has been established for 20+ years; he was organic before it was popular.  His wife, Maria, is a celebrated chef and cookbook author.  Yet, here they are, in my store, with their adorable daughters.  It’s all about passion and it’s contagious!  People turned out by the dozens; Rob talked to every single person about the wines, as he sampled them and signed the bottles of POV that are labeled with his own b&w photographs. All the while, his girls modeled angel-sleeve dresses and Candies.  Pinch me!

Thank God someone did, or I might not have snapped out of Sinskey-adoration mode and into my mauve ultrasuede maxi skirt adorned with felt grape bunch appliqués.  I quickly paired it with a Cheryl Fudge pink silk scarf halter and Lucite grapes necklace and moments later made my entrance to the NWF Gala, one of my favorite events of the year.  Within four minutes, I had lost my friend Robin and begun the 4 hour journey of international wine and food solo…ceviche and aligoté…duck confit and Alex Gambal Savigny les Beaune, Caymus and chocolate…

Nearly a week later, over all the flavors and voices and bottles that were swirling under that tent,  I most fondly remember Miner Family 07 Viognier  and John Arns 05 cab.  The viognier was remarkable, especially for the price (will be a mere $20 at currentVintage)—plump with honeysuckle, yet thoughtfully balanced.  Dangerous, really.  The Arns cab was sturdy, but lush, rich and velvety.  I was tentative in extending my glass—a big cab seemed like too much on a night of so many sips, but I was rewarded with a big smooch as soon as it hit my lips.

One would think that after the gala all would be sated and ready for bed, but not this crowd!  Ray Coursen (NWF Luminary of the Year) ordered several bottles of his Elyse Korte Ranch Zin, which is big and spicy and berry red, much like its charismatic maker.
And an hour later, there I was, belting out show tunes at the Club Car.  It was opening night, after all, and that only comes once a year☺


Elisabeth English & Maria Helm Sinskey at NWF Gala

(life)Style & Terroir has Launched!

Posted by admin | Posted in currentVintage, Nantucket, Wine | Posted on 18-05-2009

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Wine Cellar

Welcome to the inaugural (life)Style & Terroir blog post from currentVintage!

In general, blog posts are made in close proximity to real time–more like tweets—but in my world, there will almost always be a 7-second delay.  Not to censor or edit, just to process all of these amazing life experiences that I find myself in every day! This week,  I’m recounting some of the highlights of the 2009 Nantucket Wine Festival, which ended Sunday and already feels like 6 weeks ago…

Wednesday morning upon arriving at work, I was greeted by Comte Philippe Senard and his fashionable wife, Beatrice, who offered me a taste of their Corton-Charlemagne.  It was only 10:30a.m., but these Grand Cru opportunities do not present themselves to me every day, so I happily accepted.  It was fun talking with the Senards and showing them currentVintage.  And fascinating how that glass of Burgundy nectar evolved every few minutes, from the initial distinct minerality of CC to the honeyed finish a half hour later…sublime.

That night was the tremendous Ambroise dinner at Oran Mor.  Think Brut Cremant with Island Creek oysters and caviar, ‘04 Nuits St. Georges “Les Vaucrains” with decadent braised short ribs…served in the intimate, candle-lit warmth of one of Nantucket’s most beautiful restaurants. The charming Bertrand Ambroise spoke of each wine, each vintage with candor, wit, knowledge and affection…And Wednesday was just the warm up.