Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Local Wine Luminaries visit European Winemakers

How do you imagine we are lucky enough to have these wines available to us?  You may or may not know that they come to us through a multi-tiered system of importers, suppliers and distributors, as well as those responsible for logistics and legal compliance.  We have a dedicated group of wine folks working here locally every day to ensure that this flow of wine to us keeps happening.  It’s an exciting and complex system that essentially begins with the “terroir” of a place (referring to soil and other unique climatic conditions that influence the quality of the wine), to winemakers, until it ends up here in our stores and restaurants.

Let’s talk Europe.  Let’s consider these three individuals who have either gone there recently, are in the process of being there, or getting ready to go ... to taste wines, meet with winemakers, visit the vineyards, even go to a huge wine expo.

Tabitha Blake (front left in photo), principle/co-owner of CRUSH Distributors (along with John Naylor, Rosemont Market, 3rd from left) recently embarked on a trip to Wachau, Austria, exploring a myriad of winemakers - just under a dozen in fact!  To name a few ... Anton Bauer is ranked among the top 10 Austrian white wine producers.  We’re talking Grüner Veltliner and Riesling.  For more info:  One of her other favorites is the Weingut Steininger DAC Grüner Veltliner from the family-run winery Steininger, situated in the wine growing village of Langenlois in the Kamptal Valley.  Grüner Veltliner represents over 50% of their production and is expressed in different styles, from light summer wine to powerful, voluminous and full-bodied wines as well as dessert wines.  She also loved the Tegernseerhof Zweigelt Rose’ from the Tegernseerhof/Mittelbach family, which they describe as “Strawberry and cherry fruits with lively acidity. Smooth and juicy with an amazing dry finish.”  I can’t wait to try them for myself!  There is much more to explore with what she found there.  Stay tuned!

Ned Swain (raising glass to taste), principle of Devenish Wines is currently (this week!) exploring some selected sites in the Loire region of France.  Here we are talking about mainly Cabernet Franc (red varietal) or Chenin Blanc (white varietal).  So far he has met with Jean Francois Rouet (pictured in photo to left), a sixth generation wine maker who farms biodynamically and Bernard Baudry (, considered to be one of the finest producers in Chinon.  He also farms his vines in an environmentally friendly way, using no herbicides or chemical products.  And grapes are hand harvested.  The Devenish Manifesto states, “We believe wines should taste like where they come from —wines that in some way embody the unique climate and environment from which their grapes were produced. To that end, we seek out smaller family owned wineries that take pride in the wines they produce, grow their grapes more naturally, and have a real relationship with the land they work on. The wines we represent are the antithesis of industrially produced homogenized wines.”  I for one, can’t wait to try some of the wines he brings back ... especially the Rose’s!  I remember drinking a Chinon wine when in Paris and literally thought I’d died and gone to heaven! 

For more in depth descriptions from Ned’s trip to the Loire, see his blog:

 Michael Burke, sales representative for VIAS Imports (a small to mid-sized importer based out of New York, although he resides in Portland) travels this week to Italy to attend Vinitaly (a huge wine expo) and touch base with the winemakers and wines he currently represents.  Vinitaly, is the largest wine show in the world, hosted by the beautiful city of Verona.  Thousands of exhibitors are present, with thousands of wines to taste.  Vine-growing, wine making, food & wine pairings, high cuisine and a myriad of wine connections.  Slightly overwhelming?!  We’ll have to wait and see where else his travels lead him this trip, but a couple of the producers of wine available to us that he represents include:  Damilano in the Piedmont region or Terredora di Paolo down in Southern Italy’s Campania.  In this case we’re talking varietals such as Arneis, Barbera, Fiano or Piedirosso as in the wine Lacryma Christi.  Don’t worry ... I’ll break it down for you in coming articles.  You’ll LOVE it!

For more info on VIAS wines (through Pine State distributors here in Maine):

While the Devenish Manifesto articulated well the relationship between winemaker and purveyor of wines, this can equally be applied to both CRUSH Distributors and VIAS Imports.

CHEERS Everyone!

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