2019 Louis/Dressner 'Wine Rescue'
Yesterday evening I stepped onto the damp, iron-plated platform at South Station. As the train hissed relief, I tightened my orange, soft scarf closer, and rolled my hard-shelled suitcase onto the misty, moonlit streets of Boston. Awaiting my ride home, as the mist sequined my glasses’ rim, I eagerly scrolled through photos on my iPhone from the last 48 hours spent in NYC with a group of wine professionals for the 45th Louis/Dressner Selections (“Sort-of-Portfolio”) ‘Wine Rescue’ tasting. Had I really had dinner seated across from Elisabetta Foradori and Eric Texier the night before? Had Benoît Tarlant been only a few seats away with his family, and when they got up to leave he nonchalantly placed a bottle of his 1996 Cuvée Louis Champagne next to my plate of pizza and white bean salad?
The annual ‘Wine Rescue’ of Louis/Dressner Selection (a.k.a. LDM) was held at Bathhouse Studios in the Lower East Side. This year the tasting hosted over twenty-five winemakers who opened their wines for the international guests including a fervent tasting audience of industry professionals, wine buyers, journalists, distributors, and general wine nerds. The tasting scene was hip and refined, yet warm and inviting. Hundreds of wines being poured followed the LDM vision of “[…] no gobs, no exaggerations, no over-this and over-that” wines. LDM doesn’t “have fruit bombs” but “do have […] a group of growers who work their vines and make their wines with honesty, passion and humor.” LDM’s importing portfolio boasts (humbly) of producers who work with wild yeasts, hand-harvested grapes, natural viticulture from low yields, minimal chaptalization (low addition of sugar), and low-manipulation in the cellar and vineyard sites. Their portfolio is the antithesis of a collection of ostentatious, flashy wineries that construct over-extracted and overdone wines. LDM forms long-lasting relationships with growers and imports genuine Old World wine into the saturated US market.
If over-oaked, non-organic, big-named, corporate wines are the opposite of the Dressner vibe, it shows in the physical scene too. Highly reputable, winemaking legends, like Teroldego Goddess Elisabetta Foradori, and Rhône Valley Prince Eric Texier, and Champagne Magician Benoît Tarlant, opened and served their own wine at this special portfolio tasting in NYC. Along with dozens of other participating winemakers, and hustling Dressner employees, volunteers and friends, accomplished winemakers stood behind white-tableclothed folding tables lined with their bottles, poured their wine into your glass, told stories, took pictures with fans, listened, smiled, gestured garrulously with their hands, and all while emitting infectious excitement and pride for their wines. (Side note: humor pervades the tasting; the LDM tasting booklet developed by Jules Dressner, reads like a comedy script, laden with pop music references and his nostalgic childhood memories.) The wine industry frequently surprises me. To have this many consummate, wine masterminds in one space, humbly sharing their handmade products, without taking themselves too seriously, is a very, very special thing. The industry as a whole isn’t always as charming as this, especially at professional wine tastings featuring large, commercial wineries that boast commercial, insipid wines. Who do you want pouring your wine? A rigid suit and tie speaking at you, or a passion-laden winemaker speaking with you?
I remember the vivacity in Elisabetta’s eyes as we spoke across the table at a soon-to-open Williamsburg pizzeria called Leo the night before the tasting. It was an exhilarating conversation as she described the beginning steps of her new cheesemaking venture in the Alto-Adige. She leaned in earnestly over the surrounding joyous conversational echoes bouncing around the bare-walled, unembellished restaurant, and beamed blissfully as we spoke of her love of Vermont cheese and my love of traveling through Italy. This inspiring jaunt to NYC makes me extra excited to sell and share the wines of the winemakers who I met with you. Read more about some of the producers featured at ‘Wine Rescue’ below and come speak with us about all of the Louis/Dressner wines (including Foradori, Texier, and Tarlant) that we have available at the shop! Cheers!