On January 24, over 400 winemakers, distributors, executives, journalists and other wine-world luminaries convened at The New York Public Library for Wine Enthusiast Magazine’s Wine Star Awards Dinner. This was Wine Enthusiast’s fifth annual awards dinner, during which the magazine honored outstanding achievements in the wine and spirits industries.
Adam Strum, Wine Enthusiast Magazine’s publisher and editor, introduced the master of ceremonies for the evening, wine educator nonpareil Kevin Zraly. With his trademark energy and humor, Zraly kept the evening lively, even encouraging attendees to reveal the first wines they consumed as young people. Among the evening’s highlights were the acknowledgement of Oakville’s native son, Robert Mondavi, who braved a brutal winter storm to support Oakville’s Wine Region of the Year award. Gina Gallo also offered gracious remarks to Lifetime Achievement Award winner John DeLuca on behalf of her father, Bob. DeLuca responded with moving and eloquent remarks that acknowledged his family and colleagues.
Other highlights included the warm reception for Ted Baseler of Chateau Ste. Michelle, who accepted the winery’s American Winery of the Year award, and the stirring remarks offered by Man of the Year, Mel Dick, president of the wine division of Southern Wine & Spirits.
Palm Bay Imports’ David Taub, accepting the award for Importer of the Year, remarked on just how far the industry has come: "My father, Martin, got in the business importing Italian wines at $2.80 a case," he recalls. "And I remember him saying, ‘why so much?’"
This year was also the first year that Wine Enthusiast honored a Restaurateur of the Year; the recipient, Jean-Georges Vongerichten, was on hand to accept his award just after having catered Donald Trump’s wedding over the weekend. — Tim Moriarty
The honorees, front row: Sandro Boscaini, president of Masi Agricola, European Winery of the Year; Max L. Shapira, president of Heaven Hill Distilleries, Distiller of the Year; David and Robert Trone, owners of Total Wine & More, Retailer of the Year. Back row: David Taub, president of Palm Bay Imports, Importer of the Year; Lifetime Achievement Award recipient John DeLuca; Man of the Year Mel Dick, president of the wine division of Southern Wine & Spirits America; Ted Baseler, CEO and president of Ste. Michelle Wine Estates for Chateau Ste. Michelle, American Winery of the Year; Rafael Guilisasti, vice chairman of Concha y Toro, New World Winery of the Year; Adam Strum, publisher and editor of Wine Enthusiast Magazine; Ren Harris, representing Oakville, Napa Valley, Wine Region of the Year; Winemaker of the Year Jacques Lardière, technical director and joint managing director of Louis Jadot. Not pictured: Jean Georges Vongerichten, Restaurateur of the Year.
Chairs with Flair
Design Within Reach announces new Champagne Chair contest winners
For more of this month’s Enth Degree, check out the April issue of Wine Enthusiast Magazine
Sipping and Sleeping in the Great Lakes State
Some Michigan wineries are now offering accommodations, too The locals laughed at the first winemaker who planted grapes in northern Michigan. No one’s laughing today. Traverse City is home to dozens of winemakers, and wine lovers are trekking out to taste their wares. And now there’s a reason to stay: Three local vintners now also run luxury inns. Visit these wineries and you can linger over your samples. Once you’ve finished tasting, the visit has only begun.
Chateau Chantal (15900 Rue de Vin, Traverse City; tel: 800.969.4009; rooms from $135), a turreted, hilltop inn and winery, brings Europe to mind with damask linens and reproductions of French masters on the walls. Chateau Chantal’s tasting room opens after hours for inn guests’ exclusive use. And in the morning, you’ll wake to the smell of fresh-baked cherry scones, chevre quiche and strong coffee.
A few miles away, the suites at Chateau Grand Traverse (12239 Center Road, Traverse City; tel: 231.223.9484; rooms from $115) are all about elegant country warmth. Heavy oak sleigh beds are covered in thick quilts, and glass doors lead out onto private balconies. Breakfast is simple but good: Fresh local fruit, yogurt and granola. The Chateau is also home to some of the state’s finest wines. Stroll through the winery’s vineyards, the oldest in Traverse City. Better yet, ask owner Ed O’Keefe how hard it was to be the first winery in northern Michigan. He loves telling this story.
Farther west, on the Leelanau Peninsula, is Black Star Farms (10844 E. Revold Road, Suttons Bay; tel: 231.271.4970; rooms $150). From the outside, the inn resembles a Kentucky horse farm, but inside elegance rules. Get cozy under the thick feather duvets, or in the Jacuzzi tub with a complimentary chilled bottle of the house white. Black Star also has a raclette cheese creamery in the tasting room, and popular evening wine receptions. Breakfast is served in the sunny brick kitchen, and is likely to include mouthwatering cherry blintzes, maple sausages and lots of fresh, local fruit. — Amy Eckert
Spain and Japan: Emerging Culinary Blood Brothers?
Powerfully flavored gifts from the sea touched up by palate-prodding oils, reductions and spices, then presented in precious, stylized portions. Does this sound like new-wave Spanish cuisine or something served in the finest modern restaurants in Tokyo or Kyoto? The answer these days easily could be both.
One of the many trends we spotted at the third annual Madrid Fusión gastronomy fair this January is that contemporary chefs in Iberia and Nippon are thinking alike, cooking alike and exchanging information as they never have before. To say that a brotherhood now exists between the great chefs of Spain and their counterparts in Japan would be an understatement.
The most obvious common thread between the two cuisines is the use of fish. Both countries have vital fishing industries, and there is a heavy reliance among Japanese and Spanish chefs on strongly flavored fish, including mackerel, sea bass and tuna. Another common thread is presentation. Plates in each country are generally small, often no more than a couple of bites. Color is also a key element, with a lot of green, orange and red appearing in both cuisines, quite often derived from a dollop of fish roe, a sprig of herb or a streak of infused olive oil.
As though to underscore these commonalities, the organizers of Madrid Fusión, billed as the pinnacle of interactive international gastronomy shows, went out of their way to give equal, but top, billings to chefs from the two countries. Kunio Tukuoka, a third-generation master chef in Japan, had his day in the sun as did Ferran Adrià (top photo), the Spanish small-plate magician known for his affinity for infused foams and the use of liquid nitrogen. Big Spanish names like Martín Berasategui and Juan Mari Arzak had their moments before crowd and cameras, but so too did Yukio Hattori, who operates the most prestigious culinary school in Japan, and Tetsuya Wakuda (bottom photo), who now works in Sydney, Australia, and is considered the most charismatic and inventive of all Japanese chefs.
From a journalist’s perspective, what these chefs are producing is nothing less than art for the palate, mind and soul. Let the Italians boast of their wonderful pasta and the French, their silken foie gras. For the intrepid gourmand, Spain and Japan are fast becoming the world’s culinary pacesetters. — Michael Schachner