CVIndependent

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Wine

22 Aug 2016
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Bruce Davis has a reputation around the valley for knowing his stuff when it comes to wine. After one conversation with him, I understand why the wine specialist at Palm Desert’s Bristol Farms has this sterling reputation. Davis, like a lot of great wine people, loves to tell stories. He casually connects wine history with the present without being didactic. He considers himself an educator—although he says his customers cry mercy when he gets too detailed about, for example, soil types. To him wine, is a grocery. “It’s supposed to be fun,” he says. Davis grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area and has worked off and on in the grocery business since he was a teenager. He got a taste for wine thanks to the roadside tasting booths in Napa, which he passed en route to his inlaws’ cabin in Clear Lake. He’s been drinking and selling wine…
19 Jul 2016
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Marcus Kempken has been living and breathing wine for more than a decade. As the Palm Springs sales manager for Mosaic Wine Alliance, his job is to meet with his various accounts and sell wine … but to Kempken, it’s so much more than that. Many wine-lovers, for some reason, also love storytelling, and Kempken is no exception. During our chat, he waxed poetic about Stolpman’s 2013 Roussanne—a brand which, of course, is represented by his wine-distribution company. Mosiac Wine Alliance—which represents and distributes brands such as Saxum, Frog’s Leap, Paul Pernot and Francois Lamarche, just to name a few—is a wine broker born here in Palm Springs. Pierre Lemieux, one of Mosaic’s founders, was working at the old Rusty Pelican 25 years ago when he saw an opportunity to bring fine wine to the desert. The company was formerly called PMDL, but Lemieux and company have rebranded and expanded…
19 Jun 2016
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Lisa Tussing, a Southern California native, got her start in wine while attending college in Arizona. She started out like many of us do—drinking wine from Trader Joe’s, where she worked during college. From there, she moved on to fine dining, at places like John Howie Steak in Bellevue, Wash., and the historic Arizona Biltmore in Phoenix. In 2014, Tussing was the youngest woman in Arizona to hold a Level 2 sommelier certification. A chance meeting with La Quinta Resort and Club general manager John Healy at the Biltmore (which is owned by the same company as the La Quinta Resort) brought Tussing to the desert last year. Tussing and I chatted in the dining room of Morgan’s over a bottle of Los Bermejos Malvasia Seco. When did you first start getting into wine? When I worked at Trader Joe’s. I got a job there when I was 22, and…
17 May 2016
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Whenever I head to the Los Angeles area, I always try to check out a new restaurant or eat at an old favorite—and when it comes to wine, two of my “old” favorites are Bar Covell and Augustine, both of which are among the most loved wine bars in Southern California. In fact, Sherman Oaks’ Augustine was recently named one of America’s Best New Wine Bars by Food and Wine. Both wine bars are co-owned by Matthew Kaner, one of Los Angeles’ most respected sommeliers. Kaner’s involvement in wine doesn’t stop there; he regularly hosts wine events (he was recently tapped by the German wine industry to host a “Wines of Germany” event) and travels all over the world to learn about wine. On his schedule this summer: Oregon, Italy and Portugal. He’s writing a book about wine, and makes wine in partnership with winemakers in Santa Barbara under his…
27 Apr 2016
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Andre de Carteret is the wine and spirits manager at Spencer’s Restaurant, home to one of the most expansive wine lists in the desert. With 1,052 wines on the list, the Palm Springs restaurant is a Wine Spectator Best of Award of Excellence winner. While the list has an emphasis on California cabernet and chardonnay (the “bread and butter,” as de Carteret puts it), every major wine-growing region is represented—and there are wines in the cellar that aren’t even on the list “I’m always looking for room,” says de Carteret. De Carteret hails from Guernsey, one of the Channel Islands, under the authority of the British crown. At 16, he joined the British Armed Forces and trained in mountain and arctic warfare. From there, he taught and skied professionally—a career which brought him to the United States in 1982. He also worked in restaurants during his ski-racing career, and later…
08 Mar 2016
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Kristin Olszewski is one of the Coachella Valley’s newest sommelier/wine directors. At 28, she’s also one of the youngest. She joined F10 Creative (Mr. Lyons, Cheeky’s, Birba and Chi Chi at the Avalon) in December, moving to the valley from Massachusetts, where she was born and raised. After graduating from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, she worked in restaurants in Boston and then San Francisco, including Saison and Sweet Woodruff; in fact, she helped open Sweet Woodruff and was the restaurant’s general manager. After her stint in San Francisco, she decided to make a drastic career change: She moved back to Boston to enter the post-baccalaureate premedical program at Harvard. She then applied to medical school and was accepted. At the time, she was working at Spoke, a popular wine bar in Somerville, Mass. Her love of wine took hold, and instead of medical school, she is now pursuing a…
15 Feb 2016
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Breakfast turns me into a speed freak. Steak, meanwhile, converts me into a temporary alcoholic. Put me in front of a greasy or sweet breakfast, and I’m going to drink coffee like it’s oxygen. This is how my body extracts maximum pleasure from the muffin or omelet I’m chewing—by bathing my mouth in coffee. The coffee’s acidic bitterness makes the flavors of the food stand out, and completes the meal. I’ve researched this relationship at many a greasy spoon diner, where servers endlessly circle to keep your cup full. What the coffee lacks in quality, it makes up for in quantity. That’s important when you’re eating with a beverage condiment—because the last thing you want is for that well to dry up. Later in the day, there are many foods that essentially command me to drink wine. If I’m chewing a succulent piece of meat, I need to be drinking…
20 Jan 2016
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If I were a rich man, Ya ha deedle deedle, bubba bubba deedle deedle dum. All day long I'd biddy biddy bum. If I were a wealthy man. —Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof Text from a friend on Jan. 8: “Just finished post-workout shower. Off to buy Powerball ticket. It’s $800 million. Normally I don’t do lottos but … heck … $800 million. You in? Shall I get one for the two of us?” Me: “You bet.” Friend: “Our Powerball A—9, 12, 34, 41, 60 and a Power 11. I feel like such a sucker. But we might as well enjoy the fantasy until tomorrow. How will you spend your half of $800 million?” Me: “Wine.” I like to say stuff like, “Life is too short to drink average wine.” But my finances dictate that sometimes I have to drink average wine—so delectable California reds are the first things…

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