The Tasting Panel magazine

August 2015

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Page 52 of 120

52  /  the tasting panel  / august 2015 FRANCE A great wine can make any night of the week a special occasion, especially when paired with the right food and when there's a memorable story behind it. On a Wednesday night in the late spring at Livello at L'Ermitage in Beverly Hills, Champagnes, spirited whites and soulful reds from Private Cask Imports transported a group of California wine writers and members of the trade to the heart of France. The Palm Beach–based company showcased its Grand Cru, Cru Classé and Cru Exceptionnel selections against the backdrop of a lavish tasting dinner. Manny Burnichon, Private Cask Import's President and CEO, was an effective, jovial master of ceremonies, introducing the winemakers from Ernest Remy (Champagne), Château Saint-Maur (Côtes du Provence), Louis Baisinbert Corton (Burgundy) and Château Labastide Orliac (Brulhois, Aquitaine—a town and appel- lation south and east of Bordeaux) to the group. He also explained that of the 60 brands in the PCImports portfolio, 18 were Grand Cru selections that merited a place on the most selective wine lists in town. "Dinners like this are a chance for us to let our portfolio, and its producers, speak for themselves, as nobody can tell a wine's story better than the people who made it," says Burnichon. "It is even better when these professionals share a meal, converse directly with the winemakers and allow wines to evolve in the glass and interact with food. Plus, we love meeting with potential customers and media, as their feedback is critical to our future success." To set the stage for the perfect, impression-making evening, Burnichon (with an assist from Deussen Global Communications, his PR company) collaborated with Sean Van Straatum, Food and Beverage Manager at L'Ermitage, and Livello's Chef Roger Thomas to create the perfect tasting menus. "You really have to look at the ingredients (of the dishes) to make sure there's not too much going on to overwhelm the wines," continues Burnichon. "For this dinner, the two rosés from Château Saint-Maur are fairly delicate, so the salmon tartare with some subtle garnishes was just right. We also asked Sean to decant the white and red Burgundy of Louis Basinbert, as the Corton Charlemagne and Corton "Les Perrières" were young (2011 and 2012 vintages, respectively) and benefitted from decanting. The last two reds of the evening from Château Labastide Orliac (Le Prince 2009 and Royal Heritage '1780' 2008) are very big wines, and they also became more expressive with extra aeration." By allowing the wines and the winemakers to work their magic with the guests, Burnichon feels he did more than accomplish his goals to brand build for Private Cask's top tier wines. He brought his passion and the winemakers' to the party. "My mission as an importer is to take something completely unknown and help it grow," he said. "Wines and spirits in the Private Cask portfolio all start out as essentially unknown in the U.S. Professionals have to prioritize how they spend their time, and the fact that so many great media and trade choose to spend their evening here means the future is wide open." Une Soirée "Exceptionnel" Arnaud Baillot, Louis Baisinbert (Burgundy); Manny Burnichon, Private Cask Imports; Benoit Ferré, Private Cask Imports; Marc Monroe, Château Saint-Maur (Côtes de Provence). Clos de Capelune 2014, the prestige cuvée of Château Saint-Maur, on ice. Isabelle and Catherine Orliac, Château Labastide Orliac, proudly displaying a bottle of Royal Heritage "1780" from their family's domaine. EXTRAORDINARY NEW RELEASES FROM ESTEEMED FRENCH WINEMAKERS by Elyse Glickman / photos by Vivian Best PHOTO: VIVIEN BEST PHOTO: VIVIEN BEST

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