Food Obsessed Wine Bar or Wine Obsessed Restaurant?




Before a recent trip to France’s Burgundy region, I asked one of Tannin’s dear friends Debra Lewis of Vintage ’59 Imports for a few recommendations.  A visit to Elise Villiers just outside of Vezelay is a must, she said, and beyond that make some time to enjoy the village of Vezelay as well.  This recommendation surprised me a bit because, while I knew Elise’s reputation, I’d rarely had the opportunity to taste her wines as she makes very limited quantities.  Additionally, Elise lives a bit off the beaten path of the Burgundy wine route.  There wouldn’t be any other growers near Elise that we could visit before or after.  We’d likely have to cut appointments short that day in Chablis to arrive at her place at a reasonable hour and it would delay our arrival to Dijon, gateway from the north to the great Cote d’Or vineyards until late (we didn’t realize how late) that night.  I was all for it.

As much fun as it is to visit producers that we know and work with everyday at Tannin, a lot of the joy of travelling is experiencing new things and meeting new people.  We’d arrived in France the day before and, having a day free of appointments and we spent much of the afternoon travelling the back roads of the northern most Burgundy looking for tasting rooms that might be open in villages like St. Bris (the only Burgundy village known for Sauvignon Blanc) and Irancy (an unusually northern locale for Pinot Noirs that tend to be – er- rustic and not always in a positive way).  So going to Vezelay to meet Elise and taste her wines was really just as exciting to us as stops at the most famous Grand Crus.

Vezelay is a hilltop village that has a serious wine growing tradition dating back to the ninth century.  The town itself is stunning with narrow winding streets that lead to the top of the hill, where one finds the 11th century Benedictine Basillica of Saint Magdelene.

 

However, after phyloxera destroyed vineyards all over Europe in the second half of the nineteenth century, most Vezelay vineyards were not replanted.  Instead, while the replanted vineyards to the north in Chablis and south in the Cote d’Or produced wines that cemeneted the reputations of those respective regions, Vezelay became largely forgotten in the world of wine.  In the 1970s as Vezelay began to be replanted, mostly to Chardonnay. Since then, the reputation of Vezelay has rather rapidly re-emerged thanks to the efforts of a few dedicated growers such as Elise and Domaine de la Cadette.  Until 1997, wines from Vezelay we only entitled to generic “Bourgogne” appellation.  From that year to 2012 the more prestigious Bourgogne-Vezelay designation would adorn the label.  With the 2012 vintage Vezelay is now entitled to its name to stand alone on labels of Vezelay, just like its great neighbor to the north Chablis or Meursault to the south.

Elise Villiers wasn’t born into a winemaking family.  Her interest in making wine began through an uncle who was a wine merchant.  In 1989 she acquired her first vineyard and began her education as a vigneron, or wine grower.  She studied with the great Jean-Pierre Charlot at the viticultural school in Beaune, and later at the Institute of Vine and Wine and Dijon.  Today she makes three wines, two Chardonnays from distinctive parcels on the hillside slopes of Vezelay and a Bourgogne Rouge Pinot Noir, which, unfortunately, isn’t currently shipped to the United States.  She has two employees who help her with work in the vineyard and all of the winemaking is done at home by Elise.  The vineyards are in conversion to organic viticulture.

Tasting with Elise in Vezelay really highlighted what makes these wines so unique and enjoyable.  The region is a natural geographic extension of Chablis but the wines are quite distinct from their neighbors.  Although it’s further south, Vezelay is actually the cooler of the two regions.  Whereas Chablis is grown on the famous clay rich limestone Kimmeridge soils, Vezelay has diverse blue, grey and red soils in addition to parcels that are almost pure limestone.  Consequently the wines of Vezelay have intense definition and primary rock minerality.

We met Elise after arriving at her gate several minutes early.  Assuming that she was still working in the vineyards we hung around until an enthusiastic bicyclist pulled up to the gate and introduced herself.  By the time we left, a few hours later, we had asked to purchase a couple of bottles of her Bourgogne Rouge because we really liked it and knew that we’d never find it back in the U.S (also, it was getting late and we were beginning to be skeptical about finding a great restaurant open once we arrived in Dijon).  Of her two Chardonnays, we were able to acquire a few cases of Le Clos for Tannin.  The wine is produced from about three acres of vines planted in 1976 on the hillside and aged in roughly 1/3 new and old, large oak barrels.  It is intense and delicious stuff with briny minerality, really great texture and plenty of fruit.  Please join us for a glass while it lasts as you won’t find it anywhere else in Missouri!

Bottles of Elise's Le Clos in the cellar at Tannin.

Le Clos, ready to pour by the glass!

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We’re thrilled to have Brian Harlan of  Loosen Bros. USA back in Kansas City for another Riesling-filled event on Saturday June 21!  Brian represents the legendary Dr. Loosen in the Mosel Valley as well as a number of top Riesling producers in the Mosel, Rheingau and Pfalz regions of Germany.  We’ll be popping and pouring top quality German Rieslings from each of these regions in a range of styles from bone dry trockens to sweeter, late harvest wines.  Chefs Brian and Joe will be preparing a Riesling-focused meal to pair with the wines.  Reservations for the night are now available with a special “Riesling Picnic” family style wine dinner seating at 8:30.  The dinner with wine pairing will be $65  per guest.

2014 will be the 7th and final Summer of Riesling.  Paul Grieco founded the Summer of Riesling at Terroir Wine Bar in New York City in 2008 to celebrate the diverse and great expressions of the grape.  Tannin Wine Bar & Kitchen has proudly participated each year since 2011 when Paul invited top wine bars and restaurants around the world to join in.  We’ll be happily sharing dozens and dozens of top Rieslings from around the globe by the glass from June 21 – September 21!  We hope you’ll join us!

The Wines:

Robert Weil Dry Riesling Rheingau, Germany ’11

Villa Wolf Riesling Pfalz, Germany ’12

Maximin Grunhaus Riesling Kabinett Herrenberg, Mosel, Germany ’11

Dr. Loosen Riesling Kabinett Wehlener Sonnenuhr Mosel, Germany ’12

Maximin Grunhaus Riesling Abstberg Spatlese Mosel, Germany ’11

 

Dishes for the “Riesling Picnic”

Smoked 1/2 Pig from The Local Pig

Fried Free Range Chicken

Grilled Sausages

Spicy Garlic Grilled Shrimp

Grilled Corn on the Cob

Veggie Kabobs

Smoked Yukon Potato Salad

Crab Stuffed Mushrooms

Napa Cabbage Slaw

Jalepeno Corn Bread Pudding

Local Honey Butter

Pickled Local Beets

Devilled Eggs

Apple Strudel

House Made Pies

Homemade Ice Creams

 

Rieslings will be poured from

Dr. Loosen (Mosel, Germany)

Maximin Grunhaus (Mosel, Germany)

Fritz Haag (Mosel, Germany)

Robert Weil (Rheingau, Germany)

Villa Wolf (Pfalz, Germany)

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Sinskey Dinner Menu Link

Tannin is pleased to host Chris O’Hearn of Robert Sinskey Vineyards on Saturday May 24.  Chris will be sharing some of our favorite Napa Valley wines from this dynamic and highly regarded producer.  The goal at Sinskey is to produce “pure wines of character that pair well with cuisine”.  They were early adopters of organic farming, converting in 1991, and now farm biodynamic.  The approach is holistic in the vineyard and winery and the offerings are diverse in the glass.  Sinskey says that “the goals of making luxuriously elegant wines and farming earth friendly methods are not mutually exclusive”.

Although the wines from Robert Sinskey all speak to the places where they’re grown (Los Carneros and Stags Leap in Napa) they each speak with the voices of unique and interesting grapes.  We’re excited to pour for the dinner the very limited Pinot Blanc (a wine that’s only bottled in 375 and 1500 ml).  The second course will feature “Abraxas”, an Alsatian style “vin de terroir” field blend.  The third, Vin Gris of Pinot Noir, is always one of the most limited and popular rose wines released each Spring.  The two red wines featured in the later courses will be the Los Carneros Pinot Noir and Sinskey’s “POV”.  The Pinot is a classic, cool climate example of the great grape that pairs extraordinarily well with savory dishes.  The POV, or point of view, is a classic Bordeaux style blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Franc with Merlot.  These grapes offer great complexity and complement each other to make a whole larger than the sum of its parts, that expresses the vineyard and is great with richer dishes.  The price for the dinner is $95 per guest.  For reservations call 816-842-2660 or email barryt@tanninwinebar.com.

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Loirepalooza with Debra Lewis of Vintage ’59 Imports Wednesday April 23 kicking off at 5:30 pm, featuring wine from five rockstar Loire Valley wine growers paired with tasty small plates from Chef Brian.  All glasses of Loire wines and pairing small plates will be offered at $7 each.

The Loire Valley stretches from France’s west coast all the way to the middle of the country.  Within that expanse some of the most exciting wines in the world are being made, from numerous grapes grown in vineyards of unique climates and terroirs by some of France’s most dedicated winemakers.  Vintage ’59 represents some of the best artisan producers throughout the region.  They like to call them “underdogs”.  We call them “rockstars”.  Vintage ’59 was founded in 1997 by Roy Cloud who has since chronicled his journeys through France to unearth top growers in his excellent book “To Burgundy and Back Again”.  We’re excited to have Debra Lewis on hand for her second Tannin Wine Bar event to guide us through these outstanding wines, where they come from, who grows them and why they’re so delicious with the classic dishes that Chef Brian will serve alongside them.

The wines of the Loire are enjoying a Renaissance of interest and appreciation in the United States right now.  Many of the top sommeliers around the country, such as Pascaline Lepeltier at Rouge Tomate in NYC, have been tireless in touting the greatness and diversity of the region.  Wine writers and journalists such as Alice Feiring and Eric Asimov of The New York Times have adamantly reinforced the appreciations of these wines, which are very expressive of their origins, pure of fruit and very versatile at the table.

Domaine Claude Branger “Le Fils des Gras  Mouton” Muscadet-Sevre-et Maine ’12, paired with a Trio of Oysters.  Claude and his son Sebastian hand farm and hand harvest 26 acres of Melon de Bourgogne grapes for this bottling which is aged in tank on its lees for 6 or 7 months before bottling less than 6,000 cases per year.  This is classic Muscadet, fresh saltwater-mineral, lemony, textural and begging for a plate of oysters.

Domaine Merlin-Cherrier Sancerre ’12, paired with Chevre & Brioche Grilled Cheese. Thierry Merlin works in the village of Bue, home to some of the most classic and recognizable wines in the world, the Sauvignon Blanc of Sancerre.  This is a hilly area with plenty of chalk, stony soil as well as limestone.  These soils, with Thierry’s guidance, produce stony, precise, aromatic Sancerre with enough tangy grapefruit character to be sublime with a fresh Chevre-style goat cheese.

Le Rocher des Violettes “Touche Mitaine” Montlouis-sur-Loire Sec ’12, paired with Pork Rillettes, Cornichon & Dijon.  Xavier Weisskopf is a Rhone native whose love of Chenin Blanc led him to leave his native land for very old Chenin parcels in Montlouis, across the Loire River from Vouvray.  This bottle comes from a single vineyard called “Touch of the Mitten” as it sits at high elevation and is a rather cool microclimate.  Touche Mitaine makes a racy wine with great intensity that is raised in older oak barrels.  It is an ideal compliment to terrines, sausages and hams.

Domaine Henry Natter Sancerre Rouge ’12, paired with Fried Oyster Mushrooms with Port Salut Dipping Sauce.  Henry Natter farms Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir in the Sancerre village of Montigny which is known for its Kimmeridge soil (a unique limestone soil also found in Chablis) that gives incredible structure to both the white and red wines of the region.  Sancerre was best known for its Pinots until Sauvignon Blanc came to dominate the plantings in the twentieth century.  Today, Natter’s example stands among the few great examples of non-Burgundian French Pinot Noir.

Domaine Richou “Les 4 Chemins” Anjou Rouge ’12, paired with Slow Braised Beef Short Rib with Truffle Risotto.  The Richou brothers, Didier and Damien, produce a tiny amount of this Cabernet Franc / Cabernet Sauvignon blend grown on schist soils.  The older brother, Didier, trained as an intern at a vineyard in Minnesota of all places so he knows his way around cool climates.  Vintage ’59 calls this “a terrific bistro wine” and we think it is a great drink with any meal.

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Our La Paulee Burgundy Tasting, featuring 60+ top wines from France’s Burgundy region, has been postponed to Sunday March 16 from 2:00 – 5:00.  See details in post below and reserve your place by calling 816-842-2660 or email barryt@tanninwinebar.com.

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Thursday March 13, 6:30 reception 7:00 dinner.  $85 per guest.  Reservations 816-842-2660 or email barryt@tanninwinebar.com

Rosenthal Dinner Menu

We’re happy to have John Paine of Rosenthal Wine Merchant on hand to share his expertise for our La Paulee Burgundy Week Wine Dinner.  Rosenthal imports some of the top, small, artisan domaines of Burgundy and John has an in depth, first hand knowledge of these wines and the people who make them.  Thanks to the depth of inventory that Rosenthal has shared with us we’re able to pour several wines from the 2007 and 2008 vintages, affording us a rare opportunity to enjoy several top quality, maturing Burgundies from these two distinctive years.

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