Friday, April 30, 2010

Josh George: Straight Outta Richmond

For today's post, I'm handing over the reins to a guest blogger: Josh George. A regular reader and semi-regular commenter here at MFWT, Josh is a guy I think of as a friend even though we've met only via the blogosphere. By way of intro, I asked him to write a few words about himself. Take it away, Josh.

My wife and I left New York six months ago to head south to the small town of Richmond, Virginia. I wanted space to paint big and she wanted peace and quiet to focus on her writing. We started a blog — Who's Afraid of Virginia? — to document our new life and new changes. We want to show the rest of the world how pretty and vibrant Richmond is, with its historic neighborhoods and the local art and food scene. After a few posts my wife became too busy with her writing but I try to keep it alive by posting photos of food and wine porn.

As Josh hinted at only modestly above, he's an accomplished painter, who shows regularly in New York and has done album cover art for jazz guitarist Pat Metheny — yet another of our common interests.

Please check out Josh's portfolio at his official website,, and follow his news and works in progress at his painterly blog,

Though I wasn't able to make it to New York last week for the annual Louis/Dressner portfolio tasting and Euro-invasion extravaganza, Josh jetted up to NYC for the day just to be there. Here's his report....

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 22, 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 ten 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 eruption of the unpronounceable 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 distributors, 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 Langhe 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 Roussette de Bugey Altesse tart and nutty, and the '08 Mondeuse was like warm wool in the mouth. What's not to love?

Manuela & François Chidaine of Vouvray and the stones throw Montlouis had maybe the prettiest wines in the room. 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 Puzelat'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 itself but more a communication device to show off some really distinct dirt. I could have this on the dinner table every night.

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 two 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 bizarre, 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 one's 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 exist in New York until 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 Matthieu Baudry. Les Granges was delicious in its youth; the '08 Clos Guillot and the '08 Croix Boisée 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 Dorées in Beaujolais. I was too intimidated to take his picture. It was a pleasure, though, shaking his meaty farmer hand. His wines might have been the day's winner. The place was nuts over superstar Eric Texier; he was pouring flavors from Côte-Rôtie and Châteauneuf-du-Pape, and of course his greatest discovery of Brézème.

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. Afterward 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.

No comments:

Blog Widget by LinkWithin