Stella Hernandez on Wine

Wine & Spirits checked in with Stella Hernandez at Lolita about how some of the selections on her wine list.

Stella Hernandez and her husband were working as architects until 12 years ago, when they left St. Louis for, Maine. Despite the fact that they barely had enough experience to get insurance and the city’s restaurant scene hadn’t exploded yet, they opened a small restaurant, Bar Lola. “It was like the wild west,” says Hernandez. Four years ago, they closed Lola to open Lolita, an even smaller place with the kitchen, wine and ingredients on display. Just one block from their original spot, the duo have been introducing Portlandians to bottles from both hemispheres.

Rhubarb Wine

The Press Herald reports that a company called Eighteen Twenty will begin selling a locally produced rhubarb wine later this year.

Pete Dubuc and Amanda O’Brien are out to change that. Co-founders of eighteen twenty, they’ve been experimenting with their unconventional product for a few years now, “bootleg style,” as Dubuc told me, but they’re planning to go live and legal later in 2016. As we eagerly await the first burst of rhubarb growth, one of spring’s first and most welcome signs that a bright, bounteous new food season is upon us, it’s a good time to look at how a wine from this plant comes to be.

Masa Miyake, Natural Wine

This week’s Portland Phoenix includes an interview with Masa Miyake,

LO: What would you say is your most popular dish on the menu, and what’s your personal favorite?
MM: The hamayaki (which the menu describes as “lobster, crab and scallop over sushi rice with truffle oil and spicy kewpie”) is very popular. I like Sashimi. I’m excited about local fish and [prepping] it. People also really like the daily Bento Box, which is chef’s choice. (The Bento Box consists of “six different small tastes, from sashimi to meat and vegetables,” according to the menu, and it’s served with miso soup.)

and an article about the emerging interest in natural wine in Portland.

“There’s definitely something afoot,” says Peter [Hale]. Though it gets a lot of attention from high-end publications, natural wine is mostly only popular in “tiny pockets within larger markets” like New York City or the Bay Area. That means Portland, “proportionally, is way ahead of the game” with its single dedicated shop, and Maine is even home to a cutting edge producer in Oyster River Winegrowers, based in Warren.

Thanksgiving Wine Recommendations

Unsure of what wine to serve with your Thanksgiving dinner? Wine writer Joe Appel has it covered. For his weekly article he gathered recommendations from eight local wine experts, learning what they plan to serve their family next week.

Erica Archer, sommelier at Wine Wise, a wine education program featuring wine walks, sails and cruises, and private and corporate events: “The 2008 Mount Langi Ghiran ‘Cliff Edge’ Riesling ($19), from Grampians, Australia, is a gorgeous and developed riesling that is drinking absolutely beautifully right now. It’s loaded with aromatic developed fruits: tropical – mango, pineapple, papaya; citrus – lemon, lime; and ripe orchard fruits – apple, pear, juicy peach. It has this bold minerality that shines through, and zesty acidity that balances out the fruitiness and alcohol. There’s a lot going on in this wine, just as there’s a lot going on on a traditional Thanksgiving plate.

Scott Tyree

Congratulations to Scott Tyree who recently passed the Theory Exam as part of his efforts to complete his certification as a Master Sommelier. Of the 120 Advanced Sommeliers who took the exam a scant 20 passed this very demanding exam.

Tyree and the others will be in Aspen this May for the final step in the process, the blind tasting and services tests. For the blind tasting candidates will need to successfully identify the “grape varieties, country of origin, district and appellation of origin, and vintages” of 6 different wines within 25 minutes.

There are currently 140 Master Sommeliers in all of North America.

5-star Easy-Bake Oven Pastry Chefs

For today’s edition of the Press Herald, columnist Meredith Goad handed out Easy-Bake Ovens to the pastry chefs at Hugo’s, Five Fifty-Five and Fore Street. Chefs Kim Rodgers, Addie Davis and Brant Dadaleares were challenged to create a great dessert using the purple toy from Hasbro instead of their usual professional grade equipment.

“That’s perfect for custard,” Dadaleares said. So the chef made six custards, topped them with some turbinado sugar and torched them. (It took 15 to 20 minutes for each custard to bake.) He chose the three best, and layered them with vanilla rice pudding, caramelized Rice Krispies, candied pecans, port-poached pears and cherries. He topped his Easy-Bake napoleon with sweetened whipped cream.

Dadaleares also made a persimmon pudding with the oven. It worked, he said, “but I liked the flavor combinations of this (the napoleon) a little bit more.”

Today’s Food & Wine section also includes a column by local wine expert Joe Appel on Champagne and sparkling wine.

If you want to drink a truly expressive nonvintage Champagne, one to make your eyes widen and your heart race, you need to work for it. And it will cost you (though not much more than generic big-house Champagne will). Some of the best available in Maine are Gimmonet, Egly-Ouriet, Aubry, Beaudoin, Vilmart & Cie, and Maillart.

Wine Request List for 2014 & MOFGA Field Guide Poetry

libby_bookThe Food & Dining section in today’s Press Herald includes an article about a book of poetry by Russell Libby the deceased former director of MOFGA entitled What You Should Know: A Field Guide to Three Sisters Farm,

The poems are about the future of Libby’s land at Three Sisters Farm in Mount Vernon, and the role his family will play in taking care of that land. The underlying theme is mortality. The last in the collection, “Things You Should Know,” begins with the lines: “If I could, I would walk with you long enough that you, too, might find your way about without a map or guide, but I am certain it will take a while to share what I have learned these past three decades, and the time to start is now.”

and columnist Joe Appel shares a wish list for changes he’d like to see in wine consumers, servers and producers,

Drinkers, Again
Hold feet to fire. You ask your grocer where the broccoli came from; you ask your clothier the age of the Bangladeshi child who knit your socks. Wine is a consumable, and ought to be held to the same standards we apply to other aspects of our lives.

Harvest on the Harbor & Portland’s Wine Culture

The Food & Dining section in today’s Press Herald includes an overview of Harvest on the Harbor (HotH website) and some observations on how it could be improved,

Once again, there’s much to love about this year’s Harvest on the Harbor food and wine festival.

There’s also a little to be annoyed about, and some things that make you go hmmmm.

So, before I dive into the delicious details, here’s what I think they get right this year, and areas I think could be improved upon in the future…

and in his column this week Joe Appel calls for Portland to take a step forward in its appreciation, knowledge and love of wine.

There are two plausible reasons for this passivity: chefs, servers and critics don’t know anything, and/or they don’t care. The new program being offered in Portland by American Sommelier, a New York-based wine-education institute that hosts seminars and course series, is a terrific step toward addressing the former problem. The latter challenge has a more complicated but not insurmountable set of solutions, and more on that below.

Joe Appel in Saveur

saveur_appel

Rosemont manager and Press Herald wine columnist Joe Appel has authored an article for the new issue of Saveur. The article is entitled Urban Grapes, and in it Appel writes about the urban wineries of Vienna that produce field blended wines.

It’s a tradition that dates back at least to Roman times, when grapevines grew together on family farms. Whereas other cities gradually lost vineyards as they urbanized, an 18th-century decree stipulated that Vienna’s crazy-quilt winemaking districts were to remain in perpetuity.

The article isn’t yet available online but you can pick-up a copy of Saveur at Longfellow Books.

For more of Appel’s writing visit his website, Soul of Wine.

Freedom from Wine Censorship

Joe Appel pleads his case against Maine’s wine importing and distribution system in his column today in the Press Herald.

…why should we change the laws to bring in a Jura Poulsard?

Because it’s beautiful. Because it’s unique. Because it exists. That’s enough.

We don’t deny this country’s residents the right to read, view or listen to the literature and art they desire just because a particular work doesn’t fit some program of maximal business efficiency or satisfy the morals police. We don’t say, “Ah, no need for y’all to read the novels of Roberto Bolano; just read Haruki Murakami or Jonathan Franzen instead.”

Censorship of wine, or disregard for the importance of its diversity, is just as absurd.