- Sarah O'Kelley
Shopping Local Matters
Updated: Mar 25, 2020
#comfort wine for crazy times...yep, this hashtag is pretty much my mantra these days, and sadly this is not the first time I’ve used it. For the past three autumns we have had hurricane scares that also inspired comfort wine writing and imbibing. But the Coronavirus is a new level of scary.
Please know that I am not writing glibly about wine (a luxury) during an unprecedented worldwide health crisis. Rather, I truly believe that during times like these, now more than ever, we need to feel connected. And for me wine is all about connection. It connects me to those who have put their heart and soul into each bottle. And it connects me to the place that created this deliciousness.
At the shop that I manage (Edmund's Oast Exchange), we specialize in wine made with care that carries this connection. Finding such a wine at the grocery is next to impossible. Sure, it’s tempting to grab an inexpensive bottle while you are stocking up on the essentials, but I dare say there’s something missing: that secret ingredient, that human connection. Look for small production, handmade wines at an independent wine shop near you. Many shops are offering curbside pickup and/or delivery. I truly believe that choosing to shop local right now is one of the biggest ways you can help your community.
So what am I drinking? Two Fridays ago (which seems like a lifetime ago) I quickly picked three bottles off the shelf to pose for a #comfortwine picture … while I could overthink this all day and pick three different bottles every hour I am sticking by my choices as they each say something about what I am needing right now.
First, Thibaud Boudignon Anjou Blanc. This is Chenin Blanc from its birthplace in the Loire Valley region of France. It’s no secret just how much I love Chenin (it’s liquid sunshine to me)! And Thibaud’s wines are some of my absolute favorites. They are crystalline, mineral driven deliciousness. And I love Thibaud’s story as well. He is a self made vigneron who grew up in Bordeaux and worked his way up to managing another Loire winery before finding his own land. He farms biodynamically, and those good agricultural practices seem to shine through in his wines.
Next up, the rosé that I reach for again and again. This is a rosé made from Pinot Noir in the Mosel region of Germany. The aroma, flavor, and even the color are the epitome of prettiness. Think spring flowers and ripe strawberries with an undercurrent of mountain air. And once again the story sings to me. This is made by Andreas and Barbara Adam. Their family has owned vineyards in this area for countless years, but their parents left in the 1970s (along with many others) to pursue work in larger cities. Andreas restarted his family estate while attending viticulture school, and his first official vintage was in 2000 when he was just 21-years-old. He began working just one hectare that had been farmed by his grandfather.
Last but very far from least...a wine that I have most certainly written about before as I love it dearly: Teutonic Pinot Noir from Oregon. Here, my connection is not just with the place but also with the person. Winemaker Barnaby Tuttle is kind, funny, and just the sort of guy you would want advice from during times like this. I guarantee he has an optimistic view and smile on his face. His inherent joy comes through in all his wines. He of course makes outstanding Pinot Noir (Oregon’s calling card) but also enchanting white wines and a rosé I am eagerly anticipating. Barnaby is a native Portlander (believe it or not) and got his start in restaurants at 12-years-old! He worked his way up from dishwasher to general manager and sommelier and became obsessed with wine, in particular the wines of Mosel, Germany. Today, Barnaby and his wife Olga make Oregon wines with a bit of Mosel flair.
P.S. Thank you for your support of the hospitality industry during this nightmarish time. There are many businesses hurt by this pandemic, but I would put the hospitality industry at the tip top. As I said before, choosing to shop local helps keep at least some of these businesses going. There are also other ways to support. Many restaurants have started Go Fund Me campaigns for their laid off staff. Look for ways to help in your area. Whether it's getting takeout from a locally owned restaurant or donation to the local food bank...every gesture helps! I firmly believe will get through this together and come out better, more tight knit communities on the other side. Stay strong folks! Sending virtual XOXO to anyone who needs them right now!