Just got the news that last week Berkeley Wine importer, merchant and living legend Kermit Lynch was bestowed with the Chevalier of the Legion of Honor, one of the highest awards given by the French government. If you've read his Adventures on the Wine Trail, one of the most inspiring wine books ever written, you'd know that Lynch is a true rock star of wine. But this award puts him in the company of the likes of Duke Ellington, Clint Eastwood and Julia Child.
While traveling in Sicily, it was hard not to think of wine director Shelley Lindgren and her restaurant A16. Shelley’s done more for the reputation and profile of Southern Italian wines than anyone in the city, perhaps the country. There are lots of regions you’ve never heard of, strange sounding grape varieties, wines with flavors and aromas like you’ve never experienced.
Cameron Hughes is not your ordinary winemaker. He doesn’t drive a tractor, lovingly prune his vines, and soulfully dip into his barrels. Rather, he sits behind a cluttered desk on his phone lines or his email or both searching for great wine that hasn’t been bottled.
As baseball season approaches we’re all aware of the myriad places around the ballpark to drink Vodka drinks (e.g. Paragon), stand and chatter in claustrophobic throngs (Momo’s), etc. But just a block down from where you can guzzle margaritas (Tres Agaves), there is now a place to sip Sauvignon Blanc, munch on risotto balls and rhapsodize about Pinot Noir. The name of the place is District and it brings a touch of sophistication to a neighborhood that needed it.
The good times always roll when Ales Kristancic (ah-lesh Kris-TON-chitch) of the Slovenian winery Movia comes to town to promote his wine. He is a bald, Baltic ball of fun and brings his lively spirit, passion for wine, and inimitable use of the phrase “tzak, tzak” to town (“tzak” has no real translation, but he uses it when he doesn’t know the proper English verb).
I’m down here in New Zealand for this big international Pinot Noir conference, but as an added bonus for coming all the way across the earth, the good kiwi people decided to throw a one-day conference on cool-climate Syrah. The conference was set in an upcoming wine region here in NZ called the Gimblett Gravels (www.gimblettgravels.com). A unique area of land inside the larger appellation of Hawke’s Bay on NZ’s North Island, Gimblett Gravels has some of the stoniest soil you’ll ever see anywhere.