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*Diagnosis: Benefit Burnout

currentVintage Fashion Show for A Safe Place Having just attended or hosted or participated in or donated to 20 or so non-profits in the last month, I think I could be diagnosed with the debilitating condition we shall call “benefit burnout”. Symptons are emotional and physical and include, but are...

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Priorat

Posted by admin | Posted in Culture, currentVintage, travel, Wine | Posted on 02-12-2014

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Porrera, Priorat, Catalonia, Spain

Porrera, Priorat, Catalonia, Spain

While one can have a wine tour of Spain via the tapas bars of Barcelona (which we most certainly did), nothing beats standing in the vineyard with a winemaker in understanding a wine.

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Much of our travel to wine regions is appointment driven; each year we go to Napa & Sonoma,  Paso & Santa Barbara, and somewhere in Europe, usually Burgundy, with the purpose of wine discovery for currentVintage.  Our two weeks in Spain, much like our time in Sicily last year, was much more cultural adventure than wine mission.  We spent equal amounts of time on food, drink and sights and more time in city than country.  This has been a refreshing change for me–now I don’t fall in love with just a wine, but a region.

Priorat is arguably the most prestigious wine region of Spain;  one of only 2 DOQ, the other being the larger, more famous Rioja.  The renaissance of the region has become  legendary in recent times.  Five friends, led by Rene Barbier of Clos Mogador, bought land in the late 80s, gambling that the old vines of Priorat, with proper attention and vineyard management would yield amazing juice.  They planted Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, etc, to complement the existing Carignan and Grenache growing in the distinct slate “llicorella”, and the rest is history.  Check the prices for L’Ermita and Clos Erasmus on winesearcher.com to get an idea of their success.

I clearly remember my first sip of Clos Erasmus (by Daphne Glorian, one of the five aforementioned) on the deck of the Sconset Market a few years back, so there was no way I was going to Barcelona and not visiting this part of Catalonia, however briefly.  We invited friends on holiday in Barcelona to join us and other friends drove down from Toulouse, France.  It was a fun-filled couple of days, to say the least.  We enjoyed famous wines, such as Clos Mogador and made new discoveries, such as the honest wines of Capafons-Osso.  We visited folks my husband, Mark, met when a doing film with the Nantucket Wine Festival and Plum TV on some of the wine regions of Spain awhile back.  We had a fabulous morning and lunch with Roger Simo of Vall LLach in the charming village of Porrera.  We four-wheeled through the lovingly tended organic vineyards of Capafons-Osso.  We swooned over everything by the Esther Nin.  She is now the winemaker for Clos Erasmus, but her own biodynamic wines, Nit de Nin and Planetes de Nin were the ones that touched me most.  I got to meet Jordi Vidal, who makes the compelling “Les Brugueres” Garnacha Blanxa (a rare & acclaimed white from the Priorat) that we sell at cV.  The winery is La Conreria d’ Scala Dei in the tiny northern hamlet of Escaladei and it was a strikingly different perspective on Priorat, eg white vines and more clay.

Escaladei

Escaladei

I love this video of Rene Barbier, Daphne Glorian, Alvaro Palacios & Josep Lluis Perez looking back on 25 years in the region and how they took the leap of faith that has re-invigorated the Priorat.  It is a truly great story.

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Vall LLach

Another great story is that of Lluis Llach, a famous Catalan folk singer and songwriter.  He retreated to Porrera, where he had spent much time growing up, to write music around the same time the Band of Five was planting like crazy on the other side of hills.  His saw that his tiny village was dying and that the local cooperative could not employ the next generation.  He founded the winery Vall Llach, which was followed by a dozen more in recent years, and ow the whole community is living the life of wine, once again.  It is impossible to visit Vall Llach and not feel the love Lluis has for Priorat, for Porrera, for his founding partner Enric Costa and for his dear friend, the late poet Miquel Martí i Pol.  It is a winery based on quality and community and I was profoundly impressed.  Now that Porrera is back on its feet, Lluis is investing his time and treasure in Senegal.  He is a shining star in the world of wine.

Wine Tasting on Etna…

Posted by admin | Posted in currentVintage, Etna, Nantucket, travel, Wine | Posted on 04-12-2013

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Marc de Grazia & Elisabeth English of currentVintage at Terre Nere

Marc de Grazia & Elisabeth English of currentVintage at Terre Nere

Et-NA!  Et-NA!  Et-NA!  Yes, I drank the kool-aid, the grape kool-aid, if you will, and I have now joined the wild pack of Etna-obsessed wine lovers.  Specifically, the red grape Nerello Mascalese and white Carricante.  These are the indigenous varietals of Sicily’s Mt. Etna, now an official D.O.C. (Denominazione di Origine Controllata, ie. appellation) and oh, how I love them.  Nerello Mascalese is a kindred spirit to Pinot Noir and Nebbiolo, my other two preferred vines.  Carricante is really like no other;  with its long growing season, it offers generous, round, complex fruit flavors, such as green apple, quince and pear plus balancing acidity…true love.

Etna Wine Country

Etna Wine Country

During a mere 30 hours on the north side of Etna, we had several remarkable visits.  One was a half day with Marco de Grazia of Tenuta Terre Nere, who could claim to be the unofficial brand ambassador for Etna wines, as he has done so much for the elevation of quality on Etna as well as for global recognition in the wine world.  His passion is truly contagious and while we learned so much, it was hard to keep up with his narration as we 4-wheeled up and over through the various “cru”, the meticulous high-elevation single vineyards of Terre Nere.  A barrel sample of the 2012 “Santo Spirito” revealed a lush, sensuous, velvety, sheer wine that I cannot wait to taste again.

Val Cerasa/Bonaccorsi

Val Cerasa/Bonaccorsi

We walked the vineyards of Val Cerasa, with Rosario Pappalardo, owner and husband of owner-winemaker Alice Bonaccorsi.  Rosario showed us the old palmento (winery) on the property, which he unlocked with the original, nearly ancient, old key…it was so enchanting to see the rock-walled ‘clos’ being farmed just as they have been for generations and so on.  I cannot help slipping in the French references–the vintners on Etna see their terroir as similar to Burgundy if not equal.  The stony vineyards, harsh climate and sheer, transparent reds that vary so distinctively from parcel to parcel do invite comparison…One sip of his 2010 Etna Rosso and Rosario, a native, pronounced “This is Etna”.

Elisabeth at Bonaccorsi

Elisabeth at Bonaccorsi

We sampled a few PASSOPISCIARO wines over lunch and dinner, including their Etna Rosso, a stunning Burgundian-style chardonnay and the gorgeous Contrada “Rampante” from their 3000+ ft. elevation contrada (vineyard).  Owner Andrea Franchetti bottles four single vineyard Etna Rosso, clearly also a believer in the value of unique vineyard expression on Etna.  The 80yr. old vines of Rampante produce deep, concentrated flavors with smooth silky tannins.  The abundant minerality and acidity lifts the wine and there is no oppressive weight or sense of heaviness.  By the way, this was the first week of November and Andrea was still harvesting.

Down in Vittoria a few days later, we had a marvelous dinner with Patricia Toth, winemaker of PLANETA, and sampled her lovely Etna Bianco…and many more.  It was a treat to get yet another passionate take on the potential of Etna, this time from a smart, talented young Hungarian beauty who majored in fermentation.

As we continued our tasting on and around Etna and in restaurants all over Sicily, there were other loves…GRACI, RUSSO, OCCHIPINTI…Yes, I could go on and on…

Meanwhile, we have a number of wines from the above producers available at currentVintage, including TERRE NERE “Santo Spirito” 2011 and Pre-Phylloxera 2011…To be continued!

Click on photo thumbnail for full size image:

SIPPING IN SAN SEBASTIAN

Posted by admin | Posted in Culture, Food, travel, Wine | Posted on 28-11-2012

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San Sebastian

Most people look to food, art & architecture for insight into a culture when they travel.  I also like to get out into the suburbs to see how the middle class live and possibly pop into a shopping center or mall.  In France, LeClerc is a lot of fun–a Home Depot and Walmart Superstore rolled into one, but way better.  Advertising and local products are also of interest;  I find that monuments and historical sites don’t always photograph well, but at least I am amused by a snapshot of a billboard or pack of cigarettes.

San Sebastian, Spain, is just beyond the resort towns of Biarritz and St. Jean-de-Luz, over the Southwest France border–Basque country.  Fiercely independent, we actually saw a separatist protest when we were there–but for all we know, they happen daily.  San Sebastian is known for food and beaches, but the bigger attraction in the off season is definitely the restaurant scene–two very different scenes, actually.  The first is the local Basque tapas known as “pintxos” (pronounced “peenchos”).  The old town is chockablock with little and large bars with platters of pintxos displayed on counter tops and blackboard menus listing others.  Each generally has a specialty, eg Iberico ham or spider crab or eels, but there are number of more modern bar/restaurants often bigger and more inventive menus.  Like much of Spain, there is one foot in the new world and one foot squarely in the old.

It may be known for sunning in season, but in November it was cold and rainy, so we did a lot of sipping.  When in Basque, drink as the Basque.  While that could also mean beer, cider or Rioja, to me it meant Txakoli (pronounced Chokali; sp. Txakolina in Basque), the local white wine with a bit of effervescence.  You can buy a bottle of Txacoli at currentVintage, but to get the full effect, you will need to pour it from at least two feet above your glass or as high as your arm can reach.  Skip the wine glass and use a tumbler to decrease your (spilled) wine loss–they generally do.

The other restaurant scene San Sebastian is famous for is of the Michelin-starred variety–more stars per square meter than any other city in Europe!  It is the birthplace of “Cuisine Molecular”;  El Bulli, the most famous, was considered the best restaurant in the world for nearly fifteen years until they closed their doors last year, apparently exhausted form being booked a year in advance for so long.  There are a number of pioneering chefs still in the kitchen, cooking alongside the next generation, as well as a new wave of chefs who learned form the old guard and are now doing their own thing.  One such is Mugaritz, a 2*, where we had a leisurely 4.5 hour lunch.  It was 11 or 13 courses–I lost count.  I will never forget the fist course, however–a piece of “paper” presented in an envelope, after opening which we dipped in a lovely tapenade and then ate.  The amuse bouche of pigeon-blood pudding guised as a chocolate macaron made an impression, as well.  So clever, so imaginative, so expensive, but only sometimes delicious.  The highlight for us was trying a series of unusual Spanish varietal wines thoughtfully chosen by sommelier, Nic–priceless!

A visit to Bilbao is a must, if only to see the spectacular Guggenheim.  Four days in San Sebastian and I felt we hardly made a dent in it or Bilbao, and there is the port of Getaria, home of Txakoli, in between.  Perhaps we did to too much sipping?

San Sebastian

San Sebastian

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Me in San Sebastian

Me in San Sebastian

Jorge Otoiza sculpture on Paseo Nuevo promenade

Jorge Otoiza sculpture on Paseo Nuevo promenade

Mention of Nantucket in Basque!

Mention of Nantucket in Basque!

Whaling Exhibit at Naval Museum

Whaling Exhibit at Naval Museum

La Concha Beach

Playa de La Concha

San Sebastian

San Sebastian

Pomegranate ceviche, A Fuego Negro

Pomegranate ceviche, A Fuego Negro

Modern Pinxos

Modern Pintxos

Kobe slider

Kobe slider

Tempura at A Fuego Negro

Tempura at A Fuego Negro

Iberico Ham
Old school pinxos

Old school pintxos

Fresh cod

Fresh cod

Txakolina

Txakolina

Working for our lunch at Mugaritz

Working for our lunch at Mugaritz

First course, Mugaritz

First course, Mugaritz

Mugaritz

Mugaritz

Mugaritz

Mugaritz

Local vino

Local vino

Decanting is fun

Decanting is fun

Louise Bourgeois "Maman"

Louise Bourgeois "Maman"

Puppy

Jeff Koons "Puppy"

Kapoor "Tall Tree & the Eye"

Kapoor "Tall Tree & the Eye"

Guggenheim Bilbao

Guggenheim Bilbao

Guggenheim Bilbao

Guggenheim Bilbao

Daniel Buren "Arcos Rojos"

Daniel Buren "Arcos Rojos"

Bilbao Bride

Bilbao Bride

Old Town Bilbao

Old Town Bilbao

Smoking--Not good for teeth?

Smoking--Not good for teeth?

Smoking kills

Smoking kills

BILBAO Silken Gran Hotel Domine

Fountain in Silken Gran Hotel Domine BILBAO

Anti-bullfighting ad

Anti-bullfighting ad

Bordeaux…right bank charm

Posted by admin | Posted in Bordeaux, currentVintage, Food, travel, Wine | Posted on 20-11-2012

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Chateau Canon

Chateau Canon

On the left bank, the chateaux are big, the vineyards are big and the wines are big.  On the right bank, many properties, especially in Pomerol and Saint-Emilion, are darn-near Burgundian in comparison, eg 10-20 hectare vs 100.  If I had to pick just one spot in Bordeaux to visit, I would vote for charming Saint-Emilion over bustling Bordeaux city or the sleepy villages of the Medoc.  Its cobblestoned streets, fabulous restaurants and proximity to great wine make it a place to spend some quality time–Anyone coming from Nantucket or Beaune will feel right at home.  Just be sure to enjoy wine from both banks!

NWF Denis Toner at Chateau Canon

NWF Denis Toner at Chateau Canon

Wearing bordeaux at Chateau Canon

Wearing bordeaux at Chateau Canon

Wallcovering at Chateau Canon

Wallcovering at Chateau Canon

Fall at Chateau Canon

Fall at Chateau Canon

In the kitchen at Ch. Canon

In the kitchen at Ch. Canon

Chateau Canon

Chateau Canon

TV restored, finally

TV restored, finally

Desperately trying to get election results

Desperately trying to get election results

Saint-Emilion

Saint-Emilion

Historical Saint-Emilion

Historical Saint-Emilion

Limestone bell tower Saint-Emilion

Limestone bell tower Saint-Emilion

Saint-Emilion

Saint-Emilion

limestone caves at Beauséjour Duffau

Rare limestone caves at Beauséjour Duffau

Château Beauséjour Duffau

Château Beauséjour Duffau

Lard et Bouchon bar à vins

Lard et Bouchon bar à vins

Convent in Saint-Emilion

Convent in Saint-Emilion

Chocolate in Saint-Emilion

Chocolate in Saint-Emilion

My kind of deli

My kind of deli

Saint-Emilion from Troplong Mondot

Saint-Emilion from Troplong Mondot

Chateau Troplong Mondot

Chateau Troplong Mondot

Great wine!

Great wine!

Luncheon at Troplong Mondot

Luncheon at Troplong Mondot

with Myriam at Troplong Mondot

with Myriam at Troplong Mondot

The Nantucket team

The Nantucket team

Denis Toner with Xavier Pariente

Denis Toner with Xavier Pariente

Elisabeth & Mark at Troplong Mondot

Elisabeth & Mark at Troplong Mondot

Creme Brulee!

Creme Brulee!

Super-sized carafe

Super-sized carafe

L'Enver du Decor

L'Envers du Decor, Saint-Emilion

Restaurant L'Envers du Decor

Restaurant L'Envers du Decor

Old basket press at Figeac

Old basket press at Figeac

Chateau Figeac

Chateau Figeac

Chateau Figeac

Chateau Figeac

Chateau Figeac

Chateau Figeac

Entering Pomerol:)

Entering Pomerol:)

Chateau Cheval Blanc

Chateau Cheval Blanc

On site at Angelus

On site at Angelus

new carillon at Chateau Angelus

New carillon at Chateau Angelus

La Fleur-Petrus

La Fleur-Petrus

Chateau Magdelaine

Chateau Magdelaine

Chateau Hosanna

Chateau Hosanna

Chateau Hosanna

Chateau Hosanna

Chateau Canon

Chateau Canon

Nicolas Thienpoint/Pavie-Macquin

Nicolas Thienpont/Pavie Macquin in NWF tie

Pavie Macquin

Pavie Macquin

Bélair-Monange

Bélair-Monange

Bélair-Monange

Bélair-Monange
Chateau Pavie-Macquin

Chateau Pavie Macquin

Bordeaux…left bank grandeur

Posted by admin | Posted in Bordeaux, currentVintage, travel, Wine | Posted on 19-11-2012

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Chateau Margaux

Chateau Margaux

Pichon-Longuevile

Pichon-Longueville

There are pros & cons to any travel destination.  With left bank Bordeaux, it is hellish city traffic and great distances to cover between towns in the Medoc and perhaps a little rain–this is France, after all.  However, the majesty of the great chateau and beauty of the vineyards  more than rewarded the early a.m. wake-ups to get to far flung appointments.  We even got to stay in a few…

Chateau Palmer

Chateau Palmer

Elisabeth at Beychevelle

Elisabeth at Beychevelle

Margaux

Margaux

...to Chateau Margaux

...to Chateau Margaux

Rainbow from Chateau Palmer...

Rainbow from Chateau Palmer...

Cos d'Estournel

Cos d'Estournel

Cos d'Estournel

Cos d'Estournel

Saint-Estephe

Saint-Estephe

St.-Estephe

St.-Estephe

Pontet-Canet

Pontet-Canet

Pontet-Canet

Pontet-Canet

Beychevelle

Beychevelle

Chateau Beychevelle

Chateau Beychevelle

Chateau Beychevelle

Chateau Beychevelle

Ferry to Blaye

Ferry to Blaye

Lamargue Ferry to Blaye

Lamargue Ferry to Blaye

Pauillac

Pauillac

Summer on Nantucket

Posted by admin | Posted in Culture, currentVintage, Events, Nantucket, travel | Posted on 28-06-2012

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Straight Wharf sunset, Nantucket

Straight Wharf sunset, Nantucket

Summertime on Nantucket…and the living is Busy.

There is an endless calendar of social events, a dizzying number of fine dining destinations–and countless tranquil locations to get away from it all when you need a break.

If you need to know what’s happening, check out Nantucket’s newest website, NantucketChronicle.com.  It is all things Nantucket–Dining, Real Estate, Arts, Wellness, Commerce…There are recipes, a community calendar, restaurant write-ups, photo contests, and so on.   It is becoming a terrific resource, as well as a whole lot of fun!  The recipe below can also be found on NantucketChronicle.com in the Dining section.

The Mahon About Town Social calendar is a comprehensive listing of Island happenings from films to fundraisers to music to tastings.  Reading through it, I am always struck by how many amazing cultural opportunities we have on any given day–even in the dead of winter!

But it’s summer now, so why not enjoy as much the island has to offer as you possibly can, beginning with this perennial favorite from Nantucket chef-author Sarah Leah Chase.  It is a savory mouthful of summer:)

Nantucket double rainbow

Nantucket double rainbow-- More Nantucket photos by http://womaninfield.tumblr.com/

NantucketChronicle.com

Mahon About Town

TOMATO BRUSCHETTA

“I was first introduced to this simple yet truly irresistible Italian appetizer not in Italy, but on Nantucket where my friend Elena Latici localized a recipe learned from relatives back in Italy by using vine-ripened tomatoes from Bartlett’s Farm and toasted Portuguese bread from the Nantucket Bake Shop. I’ve since had bruschetta many times in the course of travels through Tuscany and can testify this Nantucket version, made in season, is as good as it gets.’–Sarah Leah Chase
3 cups seeded and diced vine-ripened tomatoes

1 tablespoon minced garlic

5 tablespoons slivered fresh basil leaves

1⁄3 cup really good extra virgin olive oil

Sea salt and freshly-ground pepper to taste

6 thick (half- to three-quarter-inch) slices Portuguese bread, either grilled or toasted

Combine the tomatoes, garlic, basil and olive oil in a mixing bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Let marinate at room temperature for 45 minutes.
Place the slices of grilled or toasted bread on six individual salad plates. Spoon the tomato mixture equally over the bread, letting all the wonderful juices soak in. Serve with a knife and fork as an appetizer or antipasto.
Serves 6.

Suggested Pairing:
Merry Edwards Sauvignon Blanc 2011

Flowers and footprints on the beach

Flowers & footprints on the beach

Champagne Odyssey: Veuve Clicquot

Posted by admin | Posted in Culture, currentVintage, Food, Nantucket, travel, Wine | Posted on 14-05-2012

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White glove courtesy at 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

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 my previous post, we did not waste a minute from the moment our chauffered car arrived…Day 1 was sightseeing and tastings with grower champagnes Pierre Peters and Rene Geoffroy;  Day 2 was a lavish luncheon at Veuve Clicquot & a tasting + dinner with Ruinart;  Day 3 was Piper-Heidsieck & lunch in Reims before our happy, bubbly-filled bellies departed for Beaune.

The VCP hospitality was most grande pour les dames!  Undoubtedly, one of the highlights of my 2+ week trip to France was our time spent with Dominique Demarville, Cellar Master of Veuve Clicquot.   It’s hard to say which was more interesting–the tasting of still wines with Dominique in the lab or the magnificent luncheon in our honor at Clicquot’s newly renovated Hotel du Marc.  We started with La Grande Dame 2004 and hors d’oeuvres in the study and, mon Dieu, it was “pinch me” at every course.  The wines, the food, the company, the sumptuous surroundings, the engaging conversation–it was an epic occasion.

As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words…

A tasting of still wines including the 2011 vintage of chardonnay, pinot noir and pinot meunier and numerous others, including a remarkably vibrant 1988 Cramant Grand Cru

A tasting of still wines including the 2011 vintage of chardonnay, pinot noir and pinot meunier and numerous others, including a remarkably vibrant 1988 Cramant Grand Cru

Grafitti covered bottles of La Grand Dame

Grafitti covered bottles of La Grand Dame

Hôtel du Marc luncheon with Dominique Demarville

Hôtel du Marc luncheon with Dominique Demarville

VCP luncheon at Hotel du Marc

VCP luncheon at Hotel du Marc

Decanting (!) into Baccarat

Decanting (!) into Baccarat

1980!!

1980!!

Susan Handy, proprietor of The Chanticleer, Nantucket

Susan Handy, proprietor of The Chanticleer, Nantucket

Foosball at Veuve Clicquot

Foosball at Veuve Clicquot

Epic luncheon at Veuve Clicquot

Epic luncheon at Veuve Clicquot

La Grande Dame 2004 with Dominique Demarville

La Grande Dame 2004 with Dominique Demarville

Veuve Clicquot's Hotel du Marc

Veuve Clicquot's Hotel du Marc

Menu of an epic luncheon...

Menu of an epic luncheon...

Crayeres of Veuve Clicquot

Crayeres of Veuve Clicquot

Vintage champagne crates at Veuve Clicquot

Vintage champagne crates at Veuve Clicquot

Fun at Veuve Clicquot:)

Fun at Veuve Clicquot:)

Time for a cold bottle at Veuve Clicquot

Time for a cold bottle at Veuve Clicquot

Amazing graphics at Veuve Clicquot

Amazing graphics at Veuve Clicquot

Veuve Clicquot stairway of vintages

Veuve Clicquot stairway of vintages

Champagne Odyssey: Grower Champagnes

Posted by admin | Posted in currentVintage, Nantucket, travel, Wine | Posted on 10-05-2012

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Champagne Crossing

Champagne Crossing

In October, I flew overnight to France, where I met up with 3 champagne-savvy friends from Nantucket and off we sped to the city of Reims for an epic Champagne adventure…We dropped our bags at Hotel du la Paix and Carlos, our driver, delivered us to La Banque in Epernay, for a bit of sustenance for our impending journey.

Le déjeuner

Le déjeuner

It was only 6am Eastern Time and I was deliriously tired, but, when in Rome…we had champagne with lunch.  Fortified in more ways than one, we were ready for our first appointment in the Valle de la Marne, with Jean-Baptiste Geoffroy of Champagne House RENE GEOFFROY, a grower-producer in in Ay.

Nantucket girls with Jean-Baptiste Geoffroy

Nantucket girls with Jean-Baptiste Geoffroy

The Geoffroy family established their champagne house in the 17th century, yet even with such a legacy of tradition, Jean-Baptiste is an innovator.  J-B showed us the rather un-embellished facility, which included a cool old-school wooden press and a fully automated bottling line, and then the important work of champagne tasting through the seven cuvées began…including two stellar and distinctly different Rosés–different from each other and from most other champagnes!  Neither is a blend, as is traditional in Champagne;  one is a rosé de saignée, made from bleeding off the juice during the maceration of pinot noir grapes.

Geoffroy Blanc de Rose

Geoffroy Blanc de Rose

The other, “Blanc de Rose”, is a one of a kind–a maceration of pinot noir and chardonnay, together in the same tank. The marriage of the chardonnay and pinot noir juices in contact with the skins of the two varietals is a first of its kind in Champagne!  The former (available at currentVintage) is a serious and seductive wine, deserving of a fine food pairing;  the latter is fresher and lighter, although far from simple–a lovely summer sipper.  The other bottlings we tried were various blends of the three champagne varietals:  Pinot noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay.  Making champagne, even more so than wine, is equal parts chemistry and artistry.  This “business” of tasting just doesn’t get old!

Rodolphe Peters, 4th generation winemaker

Rodolphe Peters, 4th generation winemaker

From there, Carlos ferried us down to Champagne Pierre Peters in Le Mesnil sur Oger.  There, the story is Grand Cru chardonnay.  The wines are pure and sophisticated;  they stood in equally complex but delightful contrast to the blends at Geoffroy.   Rodolphe Peters, a fourth generation winemaker (and seventh generation grower), hosted our visit.  It began routinely, with polite introductions, but soon our enthusiasm for bubbles sent him back to the cellar for bottle after bottle–including an enchanting mystery wine, which we happily puzzled over (a golden, honeyed 1990!).  The champagnes at Pierre Peters include from 14-20 vintages of still wine, however the goal is to produce a wine that speaks of the vintage, rather than a house style.  It was fascinating sampling two cuvees from the same four plots only a year apart.  One was tart, lithe & sexy, the other smoky with cinnamon spice.  The % of each vineyard varied significantly, as well as the dosage, but the side by sides were still an excellent example in what the different plots bring to the ultimate blend and the influence of Mother Nature.  The blanc des blancs at Peters were all weighty & yeasty, but not at all dense.  They had a lightness that was counter-intuitive to the first sip.  Rodolphe was full of pithy quotes and I could hardly scribble them fast enough…He said, “My best job is in the vineyard, not in the cellar”, referring to the importance of growing.  “Champagne is white wine made with red berries.  We are not looking for the same maturity as Burgundy.”–(This from a chardonnay grower).  “Behind every wine, there is a soil and a local man who makes it”.  And thus is the point of “Grower Champagnes”.  From vineyard to lab to cellar to bottle, these are hands-on, nurtured, cultivated & crafted expressions of place with a kiss of winemaker style.

Rodolphe said ‘you have to walk alone’–a path happily more and more growers seem to be following.  To be continued…!

Nantucket girls being tourists

Nantucket girls being tourists

Dom Perignon Tombstone

Dom Perignon Tombstone

Original label art by Jean-Baptiste's wife

Original label art by Jean-Baptiste's wife

Lab at Geoffroy

Lab at Geoffroy

Temps at Geoffroy

Temps at Geoffroy

Bottling in action

Bottling in action

Pierre Peters

Pierre Peters

Ready to ship to cV

Ready to ship to cV

By appt only

By appt only

Press at Rene Geoffroy

Press at Rene Geoffroy

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Jean-Baptiste Geoffroy

corks at Pierre Peters

corks at Pierre Peters

Champagne Pierre Peters

Champagne Pierre Peters

Cramant

Cramant

Fall in Champagne

Fall in Champagne

The Food & Wine Hall of Fame

Posted by admin | Posted in Burgundy, California Wine, currentVintage, Food, Napa/Sonoma, travel, Wine | Posted on 24-04-2012

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First quarter 2012 has been off to an epic eating, drinking and traveling start…Nantucket, Napa, Sonoma, San Francisco, Carmel, Santa Barbara, Santa Monica/LA, NYC, Boston, Charlotte & Beyond! Here are few snaps of some of my favorite currentVintage experiences YTD…Actually, this was just January! Salut et Bon Appetit!

Rudi Rudi Rudi

Posted by admin | Posted in Culture, currentVintage, Events, Fashion, travel, Vintage | Posted on 06-10-2011

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Rudi Rudi Rudi…I like to say Rudi three times fast, not unlike Barney Phife.

1963 Rudi Gernreich wool knit swimsuit

1963 Rudi Gernreich wool knit swimsuit

And there are at least three things that you probably already know about controversial 1960s designer Rudi Gernreich.  His muse was the raccoon-eyed gamine Peggy Moffitt.  He’s the one that created the “Monokini” (think topless) swimsuit–see iconic photo of Peggy below.  He was famous for his futuristic clothing using vinyl & plastic before even Paco Rabanne.

Last week, I visited the “Sporting Life” exhibit at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) in NYC (AND the jaw-dropping Daphne Guinness show).  The sporting exhibit showed both the origins of women’s athletic and swimwear (not pretty) and the influence sports have had on fashion (think duck boot Manolos).  As they point out, why do you think it is called “Sportswear”.  Imagine my delight when, among the woolen knickers and tunics, there was a Rudi Gernreich patchwork knit tanksuit, dated 1963.  As a lover of 1960s and Rudi and Courreges and the gang, I was elated to see the cool swimsuit included.  Even more exciting was the fact that we have a Rudi Gernreich dress at cV from the same 1963 collection!  I was able to assemble a few other images from that season’s lookbook.  Let’s hope that next year FIT will feature an all Rudi show…

1963 Rudi dress at cV!

1963 Rudi dress at cV!

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1963 RG Collection

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Rudi Gernreich swimsuit 1963

Rudi Gernreich swimsuit 1963

TIME 1967

TIME 1967

Rudi Gernreich's Monokini

Rudi Gernreich's Monokini