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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Terroir, and Traveling Via the Glass

“How would you like to make snowballs in the summertime?  Or drive a big bus right down 5th Avenue?  How would you like to have a ship all to yourself that makes daily trips to China and Australia?  How would you like to be the Statue of Liberty in the morning, and in the afternoon, fly south with a flock of geese?  It’s very simple.”

This is one of my favorite quotes from Miracle on 34th Street, where Kris Kringle (Santa Claus) describes imagination.

I’m not a particularly well traveled person in real life, but in my mind, I travel every night, all over the world, mostly to Europe.  How?  In terroir driven wines, we can experience climates and soils via the wine.  That sense of place in a terroir wine can transport us to any time, any place.

For my 30th birthday this past November, I hosted a party for myself, and opened all vintage 1983 bottles, the year I was born.  It made me think about what was going on in 1983, and how the bottle of German Riesling was labeled “West Germany,” indicating a different political climate, and I thought of the people who planted the vines, grew the grapes, harvested, made wine, bottled, and shipped.  I thought about this for each of the wines I opened at the party that night, and how when it all took place, I was only just being born.
But even with young wines, while we don’t have to think about time (although we can when we compare vintage to vintage - see my Champagne Taste post on this past January’s UGC, comparing vintage 2011 to 2009 and 2010, and how spoiled we were with those 2 back to back extraordinary yet different vintages, and how it felt to face the 2011s in light of those previous vintages), we still think about place.  Feel, taste, and smell the differences.  Sometimes, you might even imagine you’re there, in a vineyard in Burgundy, or Piemonte, or Ribera del Duero.  Is the wine telling you about hot summers, or intense sunshine, or the fog lifting off the hills in the morning, or iron rich soil farmed for generations of the same family?

The wines bring us on a tremendous journey of time, place, and emotion.

At Madiran, the customers will have the ability to travel via the glass every night.

I’ve been having such fun while doing my homework, picking wines that demonstrate uniqueness and tell fascinating stories.  At any time, Madiran’s customers will be able to travel to the rugged vineyards of Irouleguy, the ancient vines of Rioja, the romantic hills of Tuscany, the steep slopes of Mosel - anywhere, really, if the wines speak to them.

I want to make that possible.

Friday, July 25, 2014

A New Beginning

I think Madiran will be my final blog - you’ve probably already read my wine blog, Champagne Taste, which I began in 2011, and my food blog, Here, Taste This!, which I began over a year ago.  I’ll continue to post to those two blogs, but a friend suggested I create a fresh blog for Madiran, so here it is.

Madiran is my wine bar.  Or, at least, it will be, hopefully no later than the coming spring.  I went public about the news of the wine bar plan a few weeks ago, to lots of excitement from family and friends.  I don’t think anyone is particularly surprised that I’m doing it, but still it’s generated plenty of excitement so far.

If you’d like to know more about Madiran, please check out my blog post from July 9 on Champagne Taste - which explains what Madiran’s concept is comprised of, such as wine philosophy and inspiration.  And please note - assuming Madiran opens as planned, the address will be 209 Route 25A in East Setauket, my hometown on Long Island, New York.  The concept is an appreciation of excellent wines, representing their grape types and growing regions, at very reasonable prices, depending on the product, as well as somewhat simple yet delicious foods, and an opportunity for Madiran’s customers to find their place on the wine spectrum, all the while celebrating each culture as represented in our glasses.  Madiran is the wine producing region in South West France (Sud-Ouest) near the Pyrenees, which specializes in production of bold, tannic red wines made from the Tannat grape.

What else?

I’m well underway with the planning process.  To explain: for a few years, I poured the weekly wine tastings at Lake Side Emotions Wine Boutique in Stony Brook, where I learned a tremendous amount about both classic and esoteric wines (and remember, just because we aren’t familiar with certain wines in our area, doesn’t mean that another area doesn’t consider it perfectly normal!), I put in a few years also as the Long Island sales representative for AP Wine Imports, a Manhattan based importer and distributor of fine European wines, mainly from France but also from Italy, Germany, and Croatia, with a strong emphasis on small production and focus on terroir.  In addition, I am temporarily “moonlighting” - bar tending and serving at Molto Vino, an Italian focused wine bar in Babylon Village, as one of my final preparations for the opening of Madiran.

It might sound like lots of fun.  Some of it has been lots of fun, for sure, especially pouring the tastings at Lake Side Emotions.  I’ve gotten to understand the wine needs and desires of lots of the locals in our community, and I look forward to the opportunity to provide for their wine needs.  Some of it hasn’t been much fun, though.  I had actually hoped to take some more time before building Madiran and opening, but due to certain developments in the past year, the decision was practically made for me, to move forward with the plan sooner than I had expected.

Thank goodness for a support system of my family, friends, and boyfriend.  I could not launch Madiran without them.

On the happy side, I’ve been tasting so many wines and putting together what I believe will be a very exciting and inspired wine list.  There will be a lot of wines to choose from by the glass, and quite a lot by the bottle.  Variety is essential and it is also very important to me that Madiran be individualistic and different from other wine bars.  I want to provide Madiran’s customers with the chance to travel to a new part of the world every evening via the wine.  The wine lists are looking good so far, and I’ve been making my selections based on wines I’ve purchased from some of the best shops on Long Island, as well as having wines shipped to me from some of the most respected retailers in Manhattan, as well as attending industry tastings and Guild of Sommeliers master classes, and also seeking out older vintages of special wines.  In addition, I’ve been enjoying working with the local architect I’ve retained and we’ve been putting some creativity into the concept.  And finally, I’ve been deviating from just wine, selecting everything from fun music for Madiran’s playlists, all the way to selecting vintage posters for the walls and beautiful candle holders for the bar and tables.

What is important to me is that I have fun with Madiran.  If I have fun, the energy will flow to the rest of the staff, and consequently to the customers.  It’s like I quip to lots of people these days, people don’t seem to take the “pursuit of happiness” thing seriously enough.  After all, it’s mentioned right up there with life and liberty, so happiness really is quite important.  I want to be happy with it, I want the people closest to me to be happy, I want my staff to be happy, and I want my customers to be happy.  It’s wine.  Wine isn’t supposed to be unapproachable and snobby.  Some people make it that way on purpose, some by accident, but while it’s venerable, it’s also supposed to be fun, a nourishment for the mind, body, heart, and soul.  I’d like to keep it that way, all the while giving it the respect and admiration it deserves.

So on this Madiran blog, which eventually will be linked up to a Madiran website and Facebook page, I’ll be keeping you posted on the happenings in my development and consequently what’s going on once the wine bar is open.  And I’ll still be posting to my other two blogs as well.