Robert Parker used to be the main dude in the wine trade. Wine makers hoped that he would give them high numerical points when he sipped their new offerings. If he did, they could sell at high prices. If he did not, they were behind the eight ball.
But things have changed. Or should I say, things are changing. These days, the wine trade is being disrupted by a wave of new wineries that are making “natural wine”. These wines have different taste profiles. Profiles that Parker wouldn’t recognize.
And these new producers are being championed by a new generation of wine experts. These are people who venture out to all sorts of new places to find natural wine producers, and bring their products home.
In the US, the means that the District of Columbia has a competitive advantage when it comes to this new dimension of the wine trade. Why?
In all 50 states, bars and restaurants are required to buy from a licensed distributor, who buys from an importer, who buys from a producer—a system that incentivizes distributors to only purchase well-known wines they’re sure they can sell. But D.C. isn’t a state, so (a restaurant or bar) can bypass the distributor and buy directly from the small, independent winemakers (it) wants to highlight.
I see the natural wine movement as part of a larger movement where folks demand more fresh food – call it farm to table, if you will.. Fewer chemicals. Fewer additives.More relationships with local purveyors and growers.More interesting flavors. More open talk about what goes into our bodies.
Part off-license, part wine bar and part restaurant – Charlie Mellor’s Laughing Heart on Hackney Road is a low-lit sexy late-night hangout with a spectacular list of small wine producers that changes by the minute. Chef Tom Anglesea’s British-meets-Far East menu is the perfect accoutrement, with dishes such as the Bonito Crudo and Nam Jim and Sichuan Crème Brûlée.
FOOD FESTIVAL: Tuck into all manner of grub inside the Tower of London moat. A food festival pops up in the erstwhile waterway, with artisan traders selling everything from cheese to gin. Street food stalls sell nosh to tuck into then and there, and celebrity chefs cook up a storm in the demo kitchen. Look our for beefeaters actually eating beef too. Tower of London, included in admission, 13-15 September
Hope tastes like plantains and pernil. Two years after Hurricanes Irma and Maria hit Puerto Rico, rebuilding efforts have led to an increased emphasis on sustainable farming, breaking up the colonial legacy of industrialized agriculture and reliance on imported food while also doubling down on native ingredients. Now local farmers enjoy steady business from seasonally minded chefs pushing the culinary heritage of cocina criolla. Both farmers and chefs are powered by a resilient spirit that can be witnessed in real time, as La Placita de Santurce is packed once more with dancers balancing flaky empanadillas and Medalla beer. At these upstart and legacy spots, the food of Puerto Rico has never felt more Puerto Rican.
One can be mistaken for thinking that only the Provence region makes rosé. Not true by a long shot. These great summer wines come from all over the place. And one of those places is Basque Country. Eric Asimo writes
Ameztoi is from Basque Country in northern Spain, which has no rosé tradition. Ameztoi started making this wine in the last 10 years or so, and it has proved to be highly popular in the United States.
It is from the Txakolina region.
It is light — and I think worth a try. You might even consider visiting to check out the people who make the wine!