American Fizz has published an interview with Coco O’Neil and Ed Lutgens from Bluet Winery. Bluet is a Maine business that makes wine from wild Maine blueberries.
The Bluet winery is in a warehouse in Scarborough just out of town, and immediately gives you the sense that something interesting is happening here. Originally located in an 1820s barn in Jefferson, Maine, Bluet needed a bit more of a temperature-friendly location for their fermentations—too cold in those old Maine wooden barns. I was welcomed by Coco O’Neill, the sales lead for Bluet, and Ed Lutjens, assistant winemaker and sometimes-cooper for the winery. We talked about the inherent nature of blueberries, supporting the local Maine agriculture community, and the joys and hardships of making fruit wine.
Eighteen Twenty Wines has received 2 silver and one bronze medal from the American Wine Society 2020 awards competition.
The two silver medals were for Bloom (a blueberry and rhubarb wine) and Victoria (a rhubarb wine), and the bronze medal was for Fete, a rhubarb wine created for the 2019 Portland Wine Week.
An article in Vinepair makes mention of two blueberry wine producers in Maine: Bluet, and RAS Wines—a new business co-owned by Joe Appel.
Terrien’s first protégé is RAS Wines, set to release the inaugural vintage of its Arkadia sparkling blueberry wine in March 2021. Co-owner Joe Appel, along with partners Dan Roche and Emily Smith, took their learnings from Terrien, but they approach vinification slightly differently. They plan to do longer macerations — anywhere from two-and-a-half to four weeks — and will focus on a Pét-Nat style, where the wine won’t be disgorged after second fermentation. Unlike Terrien, they work with frozen fruit. “The freezing process makes the cell structure break down,” says Appel, “so it’s easier to ferment.”
More information from RAS Wines,
It’s terrific to see and be a part of so much new energy in winemaking, especially all the producers looking to the full spectrum of their regions’ native fruits. While we at R A S have been experimenting in small batches with frozen wild Maine blueberries, with excellent results, the vast majority of the wines we produce for sale will be from fresh wild berries from the 2020 harvest. (Anticipated release is March 2021.)
Wine shops, like all food businesses, have had to adapt to the current reality. Many offer curbside pick-up and a number of them have launched delivery services including Maine & Loire, Eighteen Twenty Wines, Lorne Wine. Just this weekend, Wine Wise, a wine tour and education company, launched its own retail wine delivery business Wine Wise at Home.
If beer and spirits are more to your tastes check with your favorite brewers and distillers. You might also want to visit delivery services CarHop and Drizly for other options.
The Press Herald has published an article on the tariffs on wine and specialty food being considered that would have a major impact on restaurants, specialty food shops and the wine industry in Maine.
“Literally, our wine shop would cease to exist if this happens, within a matter of months. Our restaurant would not be the restaurant we want it to be – its heart would be ripped out,” Peter Hale [co-owner of Drifters Wife and Maine & Loire] said in an interview. “That goes for a number of our peers in the community.”
Individual can voice their opposition to the tariffs by posting comments on regulations.gov.
Additional reporting can be found on the Bangor Daily News, Food & Wine and Wine Spectator websites.
Joe Appel has written an article for the New York Times Magazine about Terry Theise wine catalogs and how the “[e]uphoric, adjectival Romanticism” language Theise employs “got me to start wondering how this behavior — my “taste” — came into being and why it acts the way it does.”
Appel was the longtime wine seller for Rosemont, a former Press Herald wine columnist. His bio line for this article states that he is now a “writer and winemaker living in Portland, Maine”. I expect any wine he produces will have more than a bit of that “[e]uphoric, adjectival Romanticism” of a Theise catalog. I can hardly wait.
The New York Times has published an article on Bluet, the sparkling wine produced from Maine low bush blueberries.
The bottle-fermented wine, packaged like Champagne in a cork-topped bottle, is more contemplative. The 2017 was deeper, subtler, lightly savory and quietly complex. It, too, was about 7 percent alcohol, near the upper limit for blueberry wines. The two bottles made me wonder, why has this never been done before?
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.
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.
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.