The American Launch tour
Written by Zelma Long
We rolled into Nashville late Friday night after a tiring week of travel and promotion. A weekend 'taking it easy' was in order and needed. We had been invited to stay with one of America's kindest and most prominent wine collectors and his generous Southern hospitality engulfed us. The temperatures were consistently over 100° Fahrenheit (35°C) all weekend with humidity hanging in the air; unusual they said, for Nashville.Nashville, (Tennessee) a Southern city, is the "country and western music" capitol of the U.S. with many large and small music producers, artists and writers. It is also the home of a significant number of wine collectors, and home of a major annual wine auction, Un Ete du Vin, raising funds, usually $1million plus, for cancer research.Hoyt Hill, a dynamic local wine retailer, (Village Wines) met us at the airport. Hoyt, previously a sommelier, is a well connected wine purveyor who works hard to supply his customers with wines they love. Much of his sales are via Internet; connecting with messages to customers when he finds a wine he thinks they will enjoy. He organized a Sunday late afternoon wine tasting (yes, Sunday) and sixty people showed up to taste, and buy, South Africa wines. He has "spread the word" about South Africa wines and is a great supporter.
Saturday lunch was at at the 'Sportsman's Grill'. Zelma had 'pulled pork BBQ with corn cakes' (a typical southern dish) and the gentlemen had hamburger and fries. Lunch was accompanied by:Chateau La Mission Haut Brion 1982!!!!!Chateau Haut Brion 1989 !!!!!!!What a treat. The Haut Brion was tight, refined, and smooth; the La Mission was more developed; almost floral but succulent; a delicious mouthful. Thankfully we had the afternoon free to relax, swim and and catch up on emails…..Dinner was to be at F. Scotts, a restaurant named for the literary giant of the South, F. Scott Fitzgerald. One of the top restaurants in Nashville; it is owned and managed by a wine-passionate and wine-knowledgeable woman, Elise Solima ( www.fscotts.com ). We started with the mouth watering duck/truffle mini-sandwich that set the mood for the evening, highlighted by some legendary wines, thanks to the generosity of our host:
Domaine de la Mordoreé Côtes du Rhone Rosé 2004
Champagne Pol Roger Extra Cuveé de Reserve Blanc de Blanc 1996
Montrachet, Roland Thevenin 1945 - amazing for its age
Montrachet, Ramonet 1983 - a perfect white Burgundy
Chateau Latour 1929 - fadingLouis Martini 'Special Reserve' California Cabernet Sauvignon 1947 - extraordinary
Domaine de la Romaneé Conti 'Echézeaux' 1959 very good but in tough company
Particularly memorable for us Californians was the 1947 Louise Martini Cabernet; still with deep red brick color, rich and smooth; an impressive wine from long ago.And after dinner….a stop at the Bluebird Café, where songwriters Marc Beeson, Angela Kaset, and Gretchen Peters were playing their songs, some made famous by great "country" vocalists. The café is tiny; people crowded together; no talking allowed; very intimate and wonderful to hear this talent.
The main launch event of the weekend was Sunday night; our host invited 30 wine collectors for dinner in the main dining room of his 1878 Southern mansion. Josh Weekley, a celebrity catering chef from Nashville; known for his touch with seafood, presented a menu of elegant simplicity. His deft touch complimented our wines, resulting in happily received positive feedback about them.We received an invitation for our "first 10 year vertical retrospective Vilafonté tasting" to be conducted in Nashville in 2015!!! We are 10% toward the goal with 30% (3 vintages) harvested! Yes, it is a long term goal. Meanwhile we committed to a big-bottle of the next vintage, to donate to the Un Ete du Vin wine auction 2006.The weekend was memorable in many ways; for the lovely people we met; the great Southern hospitality; the extraordinary wines; the opportunity to show off what South Africa can do.
Monday we fly to Boston.