The Tasting Panel magazine

March 2016

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24  /  the tasting panel  /  march 2016 NYC SIPS T hree French wine regions recently made a play for New York media attention, hosting dinners that introduced regions that sometimes lie in the shadows of their higher-profile neighbors. The first AOC in Loire Valley, Quincy, is a speck of a region (691 acres) in the Centre-Loire, where 80 percent of its vines are dedicated to Sauvignon Blanc, produced from the region's famously chalky soils. Most unusual about the appellation: the woman-driven winemaking here. Of 33 estates here, women manage 14. There was perhaps no one better to speak of the phenomenon than Pascaline Lepeltie, MS, Head Sommelier at Rouge Tomate and herself a daughter of Loire Valley. "It is one of the best and most exacting regions of the world because of its diversity and value," she told the audience at OCabanon, a French wine bar and restau- rant near Penn Station. Noting that the region has produced wine for more than 2,000 years, she said, "Quincy is known as the 'cradle of the Sauvignon grape.'" Lubéron AOC, the value-oriented appellation in the Rhône Valley, is coming up on the radar as a region of quality, too. To show the wines' compatibility with high-end food, Sylvain Morey of Bastide du Claux presented four white and four red wines from the AOC, paired with a traditional Christmas dinner (yes, we are slightly behind in reporting!) and 13 desserts. "The wines are normally fresh and crisp," Morey said, thanks to the mountainous topography of the appellation. The winemaker noted the region is known for its innovative winemaking, allowing vignerons to experiment with picking times and fermentation. "You can make what you want," he said. What we sampled were good representations of the area with a little more complexity and interest than the run-of-the-mill GSM blends that are common in the S outh. No one cried "Sacre bleu!" at The Waverly Inn, where Wine Director Jeff Harding presented a vegetarian dinner paired exclusively with Bordeaux wines. Chef Jeff Teller created a "Heart of Winter Vegetables" theme, featuring celery root aioli, heirloom bean and chickpea stew and ash-roasted Kabocha squash with burrata. The dishes stood up to reds from St. Emilion as well as St. Estèphe and Pauillac—even the more mus- cular Médoc found its match. Harding said he was inspired by the trend of high-end restaurants offering more vegetarian options. "I think this is a good thing, but in the wine world where does that leave Bordeaux red wines? Here in the States, I feel Bordeaux has become a bit of a steakhouse wine, and as a hardcore Bordeaux lover, I'm trying to challenge that notion in my small way." French Ties by Lana Bortolot Sylvain Morey of Bastide du Claux, hosted a dinner featuring the wines of the Lubéron AOC at Bar Boulud. Chef Jeff Teller makes a point with canelés, the traditional custard pastry from Bordeaux. PHOTO: JEFF HARDING PHOTO: LANA BORTOLOT PHOTO: LYDIA LEE PHOTO: LYDIA LEE At OCabanon Restaurant, Albin Roux of Domaine Roux (Vins de Centre Loire) and Pascaline Lepeltie, MS, Head Sommelier at Rouge Tomate. East Coast Editor Lana Bortolot sniffs a Sauvignon Blanc from Quincy.

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