The past few months have been a whirlwind, to say the least. Nearly every industry has been devastated by the global pandemic, and the hospitality world is no exception. While most of us have been stuck at home, countless food and beverage establishments across the country have been forced to shutter their doors for good. As someone who has spent the majority of their life working in restaurants, I can’t even begin to express how this makes me feel.
This month, I want to honor some of my restaurant colleagues by highlighting their various winemaking projects across the globe. The wines featured in this box are made by people who are more than just incredibly seasoned sommeliers, they’re close friends who I hold near and dear to my heart. If drinking their wines is one of the few ways that we can spread the love and support them, I’m in.
First up, we’ve got a varietal Grüner Veltliner produced by my friend Aldo Sohm. Aldo is such a legend. After getting bit by the wine bug in Vienna in 1998, he came to the States in 2004 (winning countless ‘Best Sommelier’ titles along the way) and grew his success even further. His eponymous wine bar in New York City is one of my favorite places to sit and have a glass. As life slowly picks up pace in NYC, I can’t recommend this bar to my fellow urban dwellers enough. Aldo’s wines are some of the most thirst-quenching and delicious expressions of Grüner that I’ve had in awhile. Pop this bottle on a warm day while sitting outside. Better yet, order in some fish tacos and really let this wine show its best.
Next, we’ve got a mouthwatering rosé from my friend Sally Kim over at Delfina. San Francisco and Northern California residents know that this restaurant group needs no introduction. Although I find myself on the West Coast less and less these days, rest assured that when I do make it over, Delfina is always one of my first stops upon arriving. This rosé of Barbera is produced in the heart of Mendocino and is everything you want out of a bottle of pink: it’s dry, it’s easy-drinking, and it’s delicious with a variety of snacks. Lovers of Italian varieties, New World juice, and all things rosé will love this bottle.
The first red in this shipment is produced by one of my best pals, Thomas Pastuszak, and his wife Jessica Brown. These two seasoned sommeliers have worked at some of New York’s greatest restaurants, including The NoMad, where Thomas is still Beverage Director today. Thomas and Jess recently took the plunge and created Terrassen, a project that highlights the often overlooked potential for great wine in New York State. Their varietal Cabernet Franc is medium-bodied, peppery, and super high in acid. I love drinking this wine slightly chilled alongside grilled meats and veggies. It all comes full circle if Thomas happens to be the one cooking! I have to be honest, this wine really opened my eyes to just how great wines from New York can be. East Coasters, there’s no need to consistently look west anymore. Delicious wine really is produced in our own backyard!
Last but not least, we’ve got an amazing bottle of Aglianico from my friend Jeff Porter. Jeff is an absolute gem. After working his way to the top at Napa’s Tra Vigne Ristorante, Jeff moved to New York to oversee the entire beverage program for the Bastianich Hospitality Group. Aside from having an amazing palate, Jeff is one of the most down-to-earth guys I’ve ever met. His passion for good wine and great food (especially barbecue!) knows no limits. I cherish any chance I get to eat and drink in his company.
This shipment represents more than just a few good bottles of wine – it represents family. To me, building solid relationships, supporting great friends, and enjoying delicious wine has always been what the industry is all about. This box embodies all of those things (and may just be the most special one yet).
I really hope you enjoy getting to know my friends and their wines through this shipment as much as I’ve enjoyed sharing them with you. As life slowly begins to return to normal, remember to support your local restaurant industry in as many ways as you
Dustin Wilson, Master Sommelier
Sohm & Kracher ‘Liter’ Grüner Veltliner - Aldo Sohm
Sohm & Kracher was founded by Austrian sommeliers Gerhard Kracher and Aldo Sohm back in 2008. The pair first met in New York four years prior, and they quickly recognized their shared passion for great food and delicious wine, as well as their desire to produce varietal Grüner Veltliners in their homeland. Today, the duo produces varietal wines from indigenous grapes in Austria’s Weinviertel and Burgenland regions. ‘Lion’ is a steel-vinified and lees-aged Grüner Veltliner that is loaded with thirst-quenching flavors of green apple, pear, and white pepper. We can’t think of a better bottle to pop on a sunny evening after work.
PAIRING IDEAS: Although this wine is super delicious on its own, we recommend serving it with crisp salads, crudité platters, or fish tacos to really let the juice show its best.
KPOP Rosé of Barbera ‘Testa Vineyard’ - Sally Kim
This rosé of Barbera is produced in the heart of Mendocino by our friend Sally Kim, the Beverage Director of Delfina Restaurant Group in San Francisco. Made from 100% Barbera, this bright and easy-drinking pink is perfect for sipping year-round, though we certainly don’t blame you if you can’t resist popping it sooner rather than later. Notes of wild strawberries, tart cranberries, and pomegranate lead to a saline-tinged finish. If you love varietal Barbera in its many red forms, we can’t recommend this rosé enough.
PAIRING IDEAS: This savory and food-friendly bottle comes to life when served with grilled salmon, soft cheeses, or Italian-inspired antipasti.
Terrassen Cabernet Franc - Thomas Pastuszak
Founded by our sommelier friends Thomas Pastuszak and Jessica Brown, Terrassen hones in on the often overlooked potential of cool-climate red varieties in New York’s Finger Lakes region. This varietal Cabernet Franc is produced from 30-year-old vines cultivated on the east side of Seneca Lake. After a 10-day cold soak, the wine undergoes partial carbonic maceration and 50% whole-cluster fermentation in open-top fermenters, followed by eight months of elevage in old barriques. The wine is loaded with flavors of strawberry skin, pepper, potting soil, and savory herbs. This bottle is perfect for Loire Valley lovers looking to dive into New World expressions of classic grape varieties
PAIRING IDEAS: This juicy Cabernet Franc’s bright acid and approachable tannins make it the perfect match for earthy lentils, grilled portobello mushrooms, and poultry-based dishes. Serve slightly chilled.
IGNI Aglianico del Vulture - Jeff Porter
After discovering their shared passion for the volcanic soils of Italy, sommeliers Jeff Porter and Shelley Lindgren combined forces to found IGNI. Together, the duo highlights the unique and often overlooked growing sites of southern Italy’s most exciting regions. Fruit for this varietal Aglianico is hand-harvested and skin-macerated for ten days. After spontaneous fermentation in steel, the wine ages for 12 months in used barriques, followed by an additional 18 months in bottle. This balanced yet robust wine is loaded with flavors of black cherries, ash, crushed violets, and roasted herbs.
PAIRING IDEAS: This volcanic-influenced bottle is perfect for pairing with pizza, pasta, and other Italian-inspired favorites. #SundaySupper at home never tasted so good!