I have always tried to make my way up to New York for the occasional tasting since New York is the center of the wine trade on the East Coast (one could easily argue that it is the center of wine for the entire country, but I did not want my friends in California to get their hemp underwear in a bunch).
Once it became clear that we would be moving out of Philadelphia, my wife has gone out of her way to enable me to get up the I-95 corridor quite a bit this Spring since, frankly, she feels guilty for making me leave the Eastern time zone and head down into the Heart of Dixie where I will be required to utter idiotic statements such as “all y’all,” “fixin’ to,” and calling everyone “Sir” or “Ma’am.”
I would feel guilty, too.
So, with only a few months left in civilization*, I have certainly been taking advantage of this freedom as was the case back in February when I went up to Chelsea to attend the media tasting of La Nuit en Rosé, described as a “special winter rosé tasting.” Since I am a firm believer in drinking rosé year-round, I figured I needed to walk the walk and brave the sub-freezing temperatures forecasted in the city that day.
[*To all you Texans, I am only kidding about the whole “civilization” thing. Please do not get angry and shoot me with one of the 37 guns that each of you owns.]
The main reason I was heading up was to taste the wines of Château d’Esclans, one of (if not the) premier producers of rosé in the world. (I have tried their über popular Whispering Angel, but I have never sipped their upper end wines like Garrus, which runs $80-90 a bottle.) Some of you might think that trekking up to New York to taste a couple of rosé wines in the middle of February in the middle of a snow storm is a bit extreme. Well, to put it simply, if you think that, you would be, in a word, right. It was not my the best idea I have had while on this planet, but it was far from the worst.
The plan for the day was fairly straight-forward: get up to the city fairly early, find a café and do a bit of writing, then head over to the tasting at noon, mill around for a bit, hopefully run into someone I know who would then inform me of another tasting or two to crash, and make it back to the station in time for my late train.
Everything was going according to plan as I queued up to get into the rosé tasting shortly after noon, grabbed my glass, and made a beeline for the Château d’Esclans straight away.
There was no one there. Nobody. I quickly scanned the room of 20-30 producers and every booth had at least one representative, but most had several, pouring wine and chatting up the soon to be hordes of media types looking to taste some pink wine. There were bottles of wine on ice at the Esclans booth, and there was even some literature about the wines, but there was not a soul to be had.
So I worked the room a bit, tasted a few of the less than inspiring other wines in the room, and then swung by the Château d’Esclans booth again. Still no one. This time, however, there were a few more people standing there with their proverbial finger up their nose looking around for someone, anyone, to pour them some rosé.
Instead of standing there and looking like an idiot, I headed over to grab some of the outstanding food that was being served at the event. When I came back to Esclans, the booth was still devoid of any representative from the winery. The big difference this time, however, was that a few of my media colleagues had decided to open up some of the bottles and serve themselves.
Why? Well, the booth was quickly degenerating into a bit of a free-for-all with still no one there an hour into the event.
What would you do?
Well, I know what I did. I jumped behind the booth and started pouring wine for people.
After about twenty minutes or so of pouring and chatting, the director of the entire event, Pierrick Bouquet came over to me and said in a very nice way: “Excuse me, but what the hell are you doing?”
I explained to Pierrick the situation and told him that even though I was far from an expert on the wines, between the literature provided, my iPhone, and my previous knowledge of the wine, I was managing to present the wine that deserved to have some representation. Satisfied, he left, telling me that he had already called and that there would be someone over in a few minutes to pour the wine.
An hour later, Pierrick was back, but there was still no representative from the company. At this point, the booth was 3-4 people deep as I had found “the good stuff” behind the booth and apparently the word had spread.
Finally, with about 30 minutes left in the event, a woman showed up to pour the wines. I say “woman” but she was at best half my age (and I am not all that old), and the first words out of her mouth? She handed me her phone and asked “Could you take a picture of me so that I can prove to my boss that I was here?”
Literally, her next sentence was: “Now what kind of wines are these? Are they all pink? Are they all sweet?”
Perhaps needless to say, I stayed around for the remaining time, pouring wine and answering questions. As I was leaving, Pierrick stopped me and thanked me for stepping in and helping out. I guess he was impressed as he asked if I could come back later that evening for the regular event (i.e., the one that people pay to attend) and pour the top wines in the V.I.P. lounge. Since my train was not until much later, my response was easy: