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Guess Who’s Coming to the Nantucket Wine Fest 2011?!

In the vineyard with Tim Mondavi, daughter Carissa, and Bayla of Continuum GUESS WHO’S COMING TO THE NANTUCKET WINE FESTIVAL 2011?! Oh, how we love the Nantucket Wine Festival…the annual ritual of welcoming old friends and making new ones—meaning, of course, people AND wines.  We’ve made...

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Love Letters to Veuve

Posted by admin | Posted in Culture, currentVintage, Events, Food, Nantucket, Wine | Posted on 27-05-2010

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Veuve Girls with Dominique at currentVintage

Veuve Girls with Dominique at currentVintage

Veuve Clicquot was on island in force last week, celebrating the the 200th anniversary of the release of the first Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin (VCP) vintage champagne at the 14th annual Nantucket Wine Festival.

Dominique Demarville on Nantucket Island

Dominique Demarville on Nantucket Island

Dominique Demarville, the charismatic and handsome Chef-du-Cave or Cellar Master, was the guest of honor at numerous fetes, large and small, and never failed to dazzle all in attendance.  At barely 40 years old and only the tenth Cellar Master in over 230 years, Dominique is most likely at the beginning of a long reign at the illustrious, iconic label.

Barbe-Nicole Ponsardin, aka “The Widow Clicquot”, was nothing short of a visionary, in that she released the first “vintage” champagne, changed the way champagne was made by developing the riddling rack to remove sediment, and created an international market for VCP by sending 10,000 bottles to Russia post-Napoleon.  Her  motto, “one quality only, the finest”, and entrepreneurial skills have been inspirational for generations—read all about her in the book, “The Widow Clicquot” by Tilar J. Mazzeo. It has been called “…an intoxicating business biography.” by Julia Flynn Siler of The Wall Street Journal.  Pun intended?

Not surprisingly, the plethora of events and opportunities to rub shoulders and clink glasses with Dominique left us at a loss for words, and so, we send him these love letters…and lift a glass to Madame Clicquot and her empire of bubbles.

Christina lunch vcpCher Dominique,

I so enjoyed your company throughout the Nantucket Wine Festival this past week.  The “Women of Nantucket in Wine” garden luncheon was a glorious treat—the elegant wines, the decadent meal, the spectacular setting and the powerful company combined with your charm and knowledge for a most memorable day.  Not to mention, the unforgettable 1985 Rare Vintage rosé with herbed lamb chops—sensationnel.

lamb vcp lunch

We were delighted to host you at currentVintage and appreciated you signing bottle after bottle for so many Veuve admirers.  The energy was contagious and the photos are a testament to how much fun we had!

The clambake was a lovely, casual way to wind-down-while-continuing-to-celebrate the week of wine. Lobster and La Grande Dame 1998?  Magnifique–I hope to repeat that one again soon!

Please know how much we admire your effort for artistry and quality on such a grand scale.  We look forward to the release of the Vintage 2007!

Avec toute mon affection,


Dear Dominique,
May I offer that Champagne Veuve Clicquot was precisely the fitting way to celebrate and savor the finale of 14th annual Nantucket Wine Festival Great Wines in Grand Houses events?

The memory of the wines savored during yesterday’s brunch will bring pleasure to our guests (and me!) for a long time to come. Your passion and absolute dedication to both the House and your craft made each and every detail that you shared with us come to life!  The whole seemed to be coming straight from your heart, as you lead your guests to better understand and appreciate the subtleties of the superbly crafted wines being poured. I know we all will envision you, Chef du Cave going about your work, when next we uncork a bottle!
Thank you very sincerely for a truly unforgettable morning!
Best wishes for a delightful reunion with your family upon your return home.  I will hope to see you here on Nantucket again next year!



Nantucket Wine Festival Great Wines in Grand Houses

May 23, 2010

Champagne Veuve Clicquot

Presented by Dominique Demarville, Cellar Master

Chef E. J. Harvey

The Seagrille, Nantucket

Dorothy Slover and Doug Kenward, Hosts


Island Creek Oysters, La Petite Pearle Caviar

Alaska Dungeness crab salad, pâte á choux

Beet and horseradish cured smoked salmon, cucumber crème fraîche, sesame cone

Nantucket egg scramble, asparagus, black truffle hollandaise

Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label

1st Course

Seared diver scallop

orange and carrot juice gastrique, pancetta, parmesan crisp

La Grande Dame 1998

2nd course

Lobster, asparagus, Vermont goat cheese timbale

thyme and chive butter

Veuve Clicquot Vintage 2002 Rose

3rd course

Seared veal tenderloin

Vermont morels, fiddleheads, roasted tomato cream

Grainy mustard späetzle

Veuve Clicquot Rare Vintage 1988 Blanc

Dessert course

Petite Pavlova

lemon curd crème fraîche, fresh berries, mint

Veuve Clicquot Demi Sec

Veuve Clicquot poolside luncheon

Veuve Clicquot poolside luncheon

Napa, Unplugged

Posted by admin | Posted in Culture, currentVintage, Food, Napa/Sonoma, travel, Wine | Posted on 18-05-2010

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Napa Cadi

Napa Cadi

When traveling, it’s not unusual to wonder what it would be like to live somewhere else, especially if that place is particularly horrible or desirable.  Not surprisingly, when I’m in wine country (which is decidedly desirable), I often wonder what it would be like to live there and I savor any glimpse into the Napa lifestyle.

In the wine trade, a visit to wine country can be punishing, ie  six tasting appointments a day.  Beginning with barrel tasting at 9am (followed by a tour of the vineyard, the tank room, the cave, the tasting room, repeat) and culminating in a lavish dinner of too much food and wine–the day is long.  Multiply that times 7 and you get serious fatigue and more than a few pounds in the course of a week.  My Napa Valley lifestyle would definitely not include six wine appointments a day and would only involve barrel tasting once I had my own winery.  What it would include is some of the amazing food that we have had and which contributes greatly to the quality of life there, as well as weekly mud baths and lots of time hanging with friends and friends’ dogs.

Sunshine Grocery

Sunshine Grocery

I would base myself in Yountville, central to Napa town and Calistoga, for easy access to restaurants and shops.  Imagine arising every morning and heading to  Thomas (French Laundry) Keller’s  Bouchon Bakery in Yountville for a pistachio brioche…Shopping every day at the Sunshine Foods market in St. Helena—choosing which loaf of fresh baked bread and selecting a local olive oil to go with.  For lunch, I would have a BLT from Oakville Grocery every other day, because on the even days, I would be at Taylor’s Refresher for shrimp tacos or a tex-mex burger.  That is, except for Fridays, where I might join the boys—Ray Coursen, John Arns, Herb Lamb—for a bite & bottle at Mustard’s or Redd.  I might even have to have that BLT for breakfast occasionally, in order to fit in all these good places to eat.

Lunch at Taylor's Refresher, St Helena

Lunch at Taylor's Refresher, St Helena

More often than not, nights would be spent at Bottega (in Yountville), rather than the French Laundry.  Not because it’s the best food, but because it’s the most comfortable—and I might not be alone in that assessment, because the place is always packed.  Not, however, in an elbow to elbow way, but in an every-table-is-full way that lets you know Michael Chiarello has hit upon the perfect formula of good food and cozy atmosphere—and on a grand scale, which is hard to pull off in such a big place.  Another indication of Chiarello’s brilliance is that he only marks up the wines the slightest bit and charges a nominal corkage.  Genious!  One can enjoy top Napa wines for not much over retail, or, if you’re a winemaker, bring your own to share with friends.

Lunching, spa-ing, sharing wine with friends–that is my idea of Napa: Unplugged.  As we move into our busy season on Nantucket, doesn’t that sound appealing?!

For inspirational images of the characters that make up the real Napa Valley, check out Bill Tucker’s book, NAPA:  Behind the Bottle.  http://www.flickr.com/photos/42404405@N06/


Mark & I with Denis Toner of the Nantucket Wine Fest, and Ray Coursen of Elyse, at Bottega

Guess Who’s Coming to Wine Fest?

Posted by admin | Posted in currentVintage, Events, Food, Nantucket, Napa/Sonoma, travel, Wine | Posted on 11-05-2010

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David Hirsch

David Hirsch

David Hirsch in vineyard

David Hirsch in vineyard

Lunch with David and Jasmine Hirsch

Lunch with David and Jasmine Hirsch

The Nantucket Wine Festival Who’s Who:  Alex Gambal, Bertrand Ambroise, Michel Anglada, John Arns, Alis Arrowood, Beaux Freres, Jack Bittner of Cliff Lede and Franz Hill, Chateau d’Esclans, Donelan, Ray Coursen of Elyse, Kristine Ashe Vineyards, Sean Larkin of Larkin, Jack Larkin & Tinknocker, Hall, Hirsch, Hourglass, Jordan, Justin Baldwin of Justin, Carissa Mondavi, Miner Family, Eric Munson of Dancing Bear Cellars, Jorge Ordonez of Fine Estates from Spain, Damaris Colhoun of Landmark, Martin Estate, Michael & Fiona Ragg of Mischief and Mayhem, Pride Mountain, Regan Wines, Comte Philippe & Beatrice Senard, Robert Sinskey, Bill ‘DANCING BEAR’ Bishop of Steele & Shooting Star, Tariquet, Dominique Demarville of Veuve Clicquot, Villa Sparina, Wishing Tree…

These are but a few of the all-star cast that is the 2010 Nantucket Wine Festival, but they, in particular, are near and dear to our hearts.  Some of them you hear about a lot, others fly under the radar.  Most, we sell their wines;  some, we just admire.  All will contribute to a stellar 4-day wine experience–I know, because I’ve spent time with almost all of them!

Just this winter, I was in Sonoma, lunching with David Hirsch and his daughter, Jasmine, at their new home on the rugged Sonoma Coast.  It is a 2+ hour drive from Sonoma, over hill and dale, and thus, we named it “Outward Bound” day.  It was a treat hanging with David, a pioneer of this appellation.  Hirsch makes pure, Burgundian-style Pinot Noir and sells his grapes to others such as Littorai, Failla and Siduri.  His Saturday seminar on “The True Sonoma Coast” will be very worthwhile.

Lunch with the Arrowoods

Lunch with the Arrowoods

We (meaning Denis Toner of the Nantucket Wine Festival, our friend David Kuhn, Mark Donato and I) also lunched with Alis & Dick Arrowood of Arrowood and Amapola Creek in Glen Ellen.  The Arrowoods are a true wine country success story, in that they built up their label Arrowood, sold to Kendall Jackson (who retained Dick as winemaker), and now they’ve started a boutique label, Amapola Creek.

Ray Coursen & Kristine Ashe

Ray Coursen & Kristine Ashe

We had dinner with Ray Coursen (Elyse) at Michael Chiarello’s Bottega in Yountville and again enjoyed his company at a winter feast in his home with veteran winemakers Sandy Belcher and John Arns, plus newbie Kristine Ashe.  On other nights, we dined with the Donelan Family team at Cyrus in Healdsburg and had a glass of wine with Carissa Mondavi of Continuum.

I’ve visited many beautiful properties, large and small, and having some of these wineries come to Nantucket brings back wonderful memories.  The vineyards and state–of-the-art caves at Hourglass and Hall are stunning and Justin is by far the most luxurious winery to spend the night in (except for, perhaps, Jordan!).  Pride Mountain is also a special property–Its high elevation, straddling Napa and Sonoma Counties offers terrific views and yields tremendous wines.  And in November, we’ll be back in Beaune to see old friends like Alex Gambal, Michel Anglada and the Senards.

Lunching with Michel Anglada in Burgundy

With Michel Anglada at La Ferme de Rolle in Burgundy

Several luminaries I have had the pleasure of hosting at currentVintageEric Munson, Jorge Ordonez and Robert Sinskey have all done store tastings in the past, and this year, we welcome Michael & Fiona Ragg of Mischief & Mayhem and Dominique Demarville, Cellarmaster of Veuve Clicquot.  The Raggs have the distinction of being British winemakers in Burgundy and Demarville made history as the youngest champagne Cellarmaster ever at age 36.

I am such a fan of Bertrand Ambroise and Jack Bittner that I selected the Ambroise Cremant and a Zinfandel from Franz Hill for a spring dinner pairing in a recent issue of Nantucket Today.  Jack is the General Manager of Cliff Lede (where all the parcels are named after rock bands and albums, eg Dark Side of the Moon) and Franz Hill is his own project.  Wines from Shooting Star, Wishing Tree and Domaine de Tariquet are among the value gems of the currentVintage wine collection.

Yes, it’s an all-star cast–Don’t miss these wineries and winemakers at the NWF next week…!

Alex Gambal

Alex Gambal

Alex Gambal is a festival favorite–As an American in Burgundy, he seems sort of like a hometown hero, even though he’s from D.C.  Here is a bit on Alex from a previous cV Lifestyle post:


Dinner with Kristine Ashe, Ray Coursen and John Arns

Napa dinner with Kristine Ashe, Ray Coursen, John Arns & Elisabeth English

Ray Coursen of Elyse Winery is another NWF regular and was also featured in the above post.  Ray was deservingly honored as NWF Luminary of the Year in 2009.  I had a couple of excellent dinners with Ray in Yountville this winter, including this fun evening with fellow winemakers Kristine Ashe, maker of Entre Nous and John Arns, maker of outstanding cabs from Arns Winery .

Tasting Amapola Creek wines with Alis & Richard Arrowood

Tasting Amapola Creek wines with Alis & Richard Arrowood

Elisabeth at Cyrus with winemaker Tyler Thomas and Tripp and Joe Donelan of Donelan Family Wines

Elisabeth at Cyrus with winemaker Tyler Thomas and Tripp and Joe Donelan of Donelan Family Wines

n of Dancing Bear Cellars with Andy Peay of Peay Vineyards at currentVintage

Eric Munson of Dancing Bear Cellars & Eos with Andy Peay of Peay Vineyards at currentVintage

Elisabeth with Jorge Ordonez in currentVintage

Elisabeth with Jorge Ordonez (Founder, Fine Estates from Spain) at currentVintage


Hourglass vineyards

Hourglass vineyards

Sean Larkin of Larkin Wines

Sean Larkin of Larkin Wines


Luxurious suite at Jordan Winery

Luxurious suite at Jordan Winery

Amapola plates

Amapola plates 2

Amapola plates2

Amapola plates 1