Piedmont Importer Q & A
In preparation for this Thursday's virtual tasting at Edmund's Oast Exchange I took the time to chat with Cameron Abbott, National Sales Director for The Piedmont Guy (one of my favorite Italian importers) about his career in the wine industry and of course the ins and outs of surviving these trying times! Please email email@example.com if you would like join our virtual tasting, which is from 6 to 7-ish p.m. Thursday, October 29, but also recorded for later viewing.
How long have you been in the wine business?
What initially drew you to this world? Happenstance? Or even a certain bottle?
An exceedingly last-minute decision not to apply to law school; instead, I decided to put my bachelor's degree in political science to good use by learning how to make wine in South Africa ;) My experience at Upland Organic Estate was profoundly formative, leaving me with a strong desire to keep the world of wine front and center in my life.
How has it felt to be in the wine business during the COVID pandemic? Even as the world pauses grapes keep growing so there will still be wine to sell but here in the United States the restaurant business has taken such a heavy hit...
Perhaps needless to say, the pandemic has presented an existential
threat to our business model as well as the business models of similarly minded, hyper-focused wine importers. I miss our restaurant stalwarts, partly because
they have always championed the geekier wines in The Piedmont Guy portfolio. Many retailers have, however, picked up the slack by tapping into the serious value still to be found throughout Piedmont.
What has been your own therapy during this crazy time -- Wine? Food? Exercise? Home-cooked meals and a steady flow of vino without question! I've also turned my backyard into a bit of a sanctuary — nothing better for the soul than fresh air these days.
Have there been any especially memorable bottles or meals during this time? I know I have certainly tried to find reasons to celebrate and open special bottles. There has also been that “smoke em if you got em” feeling to this whole thing!
Earlier this year, I cracked a bottle of Marie Courtin "Résonance" Champagne that drank in such an electrically beautiful way. Winemaker Dominique Moreau is making wines that are downright spiritual these days. More recently, a small group of friends and I paired an old-vine Sylvaner with a halibut dish complemented by leeks and saffron. A perfect pairing!
How is 2020 harvest looking for your producers?
Superlative. In fact, a producer just messaged me to comment on how the grape bunches look very healthy and are full of structure and color this year.
On a personal level what lessons do you hope to take away from this tumultuous year and what is your vision for moving forward as a country and as a global citizen?
Where to even begin?! This year has reminded me of the importance of investing quality time and energy in long-term relationships. I cherish these connections,
especially right now. Moving forward, I hope that all of us Americans can find ways to celebrate our interconnectedness and tone down the polarization that seems to be weakening the social fabric of our country. We have much work to do, and I would encourage every last person reading this to vote your conscience on November 3.