Find the best Martini’s around San Francisco
Before this month, Burgundy was just a shelf on the wall of PlumpJack Wine & Spirits. Well, not just a shelf-- it was also frequently the landing point for my wandering eyes, and, consequently, the reason behind the dropping number in my bank account. Burgundy always felt a bit like a mythical place to me. The names of its producers sounded like faraway gods, its villages like little neighborhoods in heaven. I had to see it to believe it.
As it turns out, Burgundy is indeed a real place. I flew over and began my tedious verification process. We kicked off our trip in Chablis, the northernmost part of Burgundy just below Paris. Chablis is distinct from the rest of Burgundy both in terms of geography and personality. Chablis is a 100% white wine appellation, but the Chardonnay of Chablis can differ significantly from some of the richer styles found further down south. Chablis can get quite cold, and the lack of sun results in less ripe grapes that maintain racy acidity. The vineyards in Chablis sit atop what was once an old sea floor, and the soil still contains fossils of oyster shells and marine life. This gives Chablis wines a fresh, saline, and almost gritty quality that pairs perfectly with seafood. We enjoyed delicious tastings at Regnard, La Meuliere, and Domaine Colbois. We stocked up and hit the road again.
Before entering the throws of the Cote d’Or, we stopped off in a charming, quiet little town called Vezelay. We arrived the night before the Saint-Vincent Tournant, a festival that celebrates the feast day of Saint-Vincent, patron saint of wine. By the morning, the quaint streets had been transformed into a bustling party with over 30,000 people, the biggest crowd the town had ever seen. Winemakers and wine lovers came from all over Burgundy to give thanks to the patron saint and to ask for protection for the harvest to come. Each Burgundy village brought its own statue of Saint-Vincent, proudly hoisted on their shoulders and paraded around town. The hundreds of Saint-Vincents were paraded down to the vineyards at sunrise, through the streets of Vezelay, and then up the hill to the famous Romanesque basilica of Mary Magdalene.
After mass at the basilica, it was about time for some wine. 10 tasting tents were set up around the town, featuring wines from small Vezelay producers. Part of the fun of the Saint-Vincent Tournante is experiencing the variety of wine produced in Burgundy. The travelling nature of the festival allows each of Burgundy’s wine regions to have their moment in the spotlight. Vezelay is not the most famous Burgundy wine region-- certainly not in the U.S.-- but the festival showcased just how delicious Vezelay wines can be, and at excellent value. Nothing captures Burgundy’s fervor for winemaking quite like the Saint-Vincent Tournant. Their passion was contagious and I would’ve been game for day two of the festival the following day, but it was time to explore the rest of Burgundy.
Next we went down to the Cote d’Or-- the real kahuna for Burgundy freaks. We drove through the Cote de Nuits, stopping for the obligatory Domaine Romanee-Conti fangirl pic. I genuinely considered taking a bite of the legendary soil, but the fresh rainfall made the normally very appetizing dirt into mud. Or at least that was my excuse. In the meantime, it was time to taste some more wine.
We drove further down the Cote d’Or to our bnb in the Cote de Beaune. We hit a ton of wineries in the Cote de Beaune, tasting everything from the chewy and robust Pinots from furthest North in Aloxe-Corton to the rich and creamy Chardonnays of Meursault down South.
In Aloxe-Corton, we tasted at a winery called Corton C. The tasting room is a spectacular castle overlooking the prestigious Aloxe-Corton appellation. Aloxe-Corton is a small village that marks the transition from the Cote de Nuits to the Cote de Beaune. Aloxe-Corton boasts the most Grand Cru acreage of all the regions in Burgundy. It is home to the only Grand Cru reds in the Cote de Beaune, rustic Pinot Noirs that require a bit of patience-- most prefer 3-5 years in the cellar before opening. Vineyards are teeny with low yields, making their wines both very concentrated and also worth a pretty penny. We were very lucky to taste their riches.
In Meursault, we tasted at Caveau de Meursault, a tasting room featuring the wines of Moillard-Grivot. They completely spoiled us there, tasting us on a wide array of wines and telling us all the deliciously nerdy details to pair alongside them. My absolute favorites were the incredible Chardonnays of Meursault. Meursault is what most California Chardonnay dreams of being-- they’re typically rich and creamy, slightly honeyed, a bit nutty and aged in oak. But they’ve got the acidity and minerality to keep everything in balance. The name Meursault is thought to come from the Latin “muris saltus,” or “rat’s leap.” Locals say this is because it takes merely a rat’s leap to distinguish Meursault’s 155 acres from the Chardonnay of neighboring villages. It really is something special.
Lastly, we went even further down South all the way to Beaujolais-- still technically within the geographical boundaries of Burgundy, but with a wine tradition entirely their own. Beaujolais produces wine made almost exclusively from Gamay— a playful, approachable, and jolly grape, much like the people from Beaujolais themselves. The Beaujolais no pretense approach was a welcomed shift from the occasional snobbery that can infiltrate Burgundy wine culture. In Beaujolais, it became a lot less tasting-- more drinking.
That’s not to say Beaujolais wines can’t be serious. While we certainly enjoyed our share of young and vibrant Gamay glou glou, we also tasted some incredibly complex, ageworthy Beaujolais. One prime example were the wines of Chateau Thivin in the Cote de Brouilly. Up on the now dormant volcano of Mont Brouilly, Cote de Brouilly’s vineyards see a bit more sun, garnering ripe and full wines. The soil, a mixture of blue granite and volcanic material deposits, lend Cote de Brouilly wines a characteristic flinty note. Due to both the soil and the mountainous slopes, the vines are extremely well-drained. This lack of water results in reduced yields with smaller berries and produces wines with greater tannin and body than most Beaujolais would offer.
Domaine de Marrans is another excellent producer showcasing the range and depth of Beaujolais wines. We carry Domaine de Marran’s Morgon at our PlumpJack location on Fillmore-- I’m a big fan and I recommend it frequently to customers. I was very excited to visit the winery in person, and became even more excited when I found out that the domaine also had a bnb where we could stay the night. Staying at the winery was a great idea-- just walk down the stairs and you’re wine tasting in the cellar! Domaine de Marrans is run by Mathieu Melinand, who took over the family domaine in 2008. Mathieu is committed to sustainable farming and minimal intervention winemaking, letting his beautiful terroir shine through. Domaine de Marrans has parcels all over Beaujolais, but my favorite had to be Mathieu’s old vine Fleurie-- concentrated and complex, proving just how powerful Beaujolais wines can be.
And with that, our Burgundy adventure came to a close. I can now confidently say that Burgundy is a real place, unless that was all just a very, very good dream. Now I’m back to staring longingly at the Burgundy shelf, but this time the producers and villagers aren’t just words anymore-- they’re people, places, and memories.
In honor of International Women’s Day, we are proud to highlight some of our amazing women team members. PlumpJack is led by many woman, including our President, Hilary Newsom. We asked them questions and they delivered the goods. Read on to hear their perspective on how far women have come and what kinds of advice they would give to young women on their journey in life.
Q: Advice you would give young girls about pursuing their dreams and goals?
Sandra Roberts, Director of Sales, PlumpJack, CADE & Odette Estates: Go for it! Pay attention to what makes you feel most alive. Figure out your purpose and pursue that with everything you have, no matter what! Other people’s opinions on what’s possible are really none of your business!
Karri Kiyuna, General Manager, Wildhawk Bar: To any young woman getting started just remember that your dreams and goals are going to grow and evolve with you! It is great if your path changes along the way, as long as you keep your happiness as a top priority
Carrie Upson, General Manager, PlumpJack Wine & Spirits: Choose any career; there's nothing you can't do. Choose any industry and you'll find a successful woman in that field. Ask people for help when you need it, and ask them to keep their negativity away from you if they are discouraging you. Try new things until you find something you feel passionate about. Be yourself.
Meagan Millar, General Manager, PlumpJackSport: Speak up often and expect to be heard.
Hilary Newsom, President, PlumpJack Group: I was raised to believe I could do, and be, anything, so I am very lucky; however, when I did become the President of PlumpJack I had many moments of self-doubt. I questioned myself all the time, and I got in my own head. When you achieve your goals, believe in yourself, don’t doubt yourself. Know that it’s ok to be wrong sometimes. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes and to ask for help -that doesn’t make you weak, that makes you stronger.
Meet the Women of PlumpJack
Q: What’s your definition of a fearless woman?
Danielle Cyrot: A fearless women never gives up, never gives in to the “no’s” of the world, and always believes that yes, it can be done.
Meagan Millar: To stay confident and steadfast to your belief and passion.
Hilary Newsom: I think it is ok to be bold and step up and not be afraid to fail. It is ok to step back, reassess and start over with a new plan.
Sandra Roberts: Being scared and doing it anyway...
Carrie Upson: Be a little selfish; make yourself and your dream your number one priority. When you take care of yourself and are happy in your own right, it will trickle down into your relationships, work life, etc. Don't care about what other people think more than you care about what YOU think. Acknowledge your fears if you have them, because it's normal to fear the unknown.
Q: What women/woman inspires you?
Hilary Newsom: My mom was heroic. She raised two kids, mostly alone since my father lived out of town for many years. She worked up to three jobs and provided a beautiful and happy life for us. I am also inspired by my sister in law Jennifer Seibel Newsom. She is changing the conversation about women’s equality and forcing people to be introspective and strive to be better.
Sandra Roberts: My mother, who moved to the US from Germany with my dad, inspires me. After his death, she earned two degrees including a MBA (maintaining a 4.0 GPA),while working full time and rearing a child single handedly in a foreign country.
Carrie Upson: Too many to name; all of the new women in Congress, women like Nancy Pelosi and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who have been in a male dominated careers for so long, women who are/were executives of huge corporations like Sheryl Sandberg for Facebook or Meg Whitman of HP, women winemakers/brewers/distillers, as well as women who decide to focus on family and don't have careers.
Danielle Cyrot: My Mom.
Karri Kiyuna: The most inspiring women in my life are the ones I get the pleasure of working with every day. We have found a group of hard working women who challenge one another to learn and grow as well as support each other when ever needed.
Meagan Millar: Reese Witherspoon, she inspires woman to be confident and live life on their own terms.
Q: What do you find encouraging today as a woman?
Karri Kiyuna: I find this growing industry full of women to be extremely encouraging. No matter what your chosen profession, it looks like women are charging forward and making some real noise.
Sandra Roberts: Times are changing and opportunities are broader than ever for women. I’m grateful to all the women who came before me to make this possible.
Hilary Newsom: I think women are stepping up and stepping in. I proud to see this shift and know that my kids are growing up in a different world. A world where you don’t just believe you can be anything you strive to be, but they can see it, there are role models.
Meghan Millar: There are SO many women in leadership roles in our country both in business and government. It's encouraging!
Carrie Upson: That there is open dialogue about so many issues that weren't discussed in the past. That more and more women aren't afraid to speak the truth. I hope that in the future there will continue to be less discrimination based on sex, less sexual harassment, and more equality in pay.
Danielle Cyrot: I am so glad that more women have been elected to the house and senate. We can only bring a voice of change in this world if we have a seat at the table. I think big change is coming!
Are you ready to let the good times roll? PlumpJack Wine & Spirits has put together a list of their favorite classic New Orleans cocktails, from spirit-forward to light and celebratory – perfect for celebrating Fat Tuesday all day long!
1 oz Rye
1 oz Cognac
1 oz Sweet Vermouth
1/4 oz Bénédictine
2 dashes Peychaud's bitters
2 dashes Angostura Bitters
Garnish lemon peel
Directions: Pour all ingredients into mixing glass, add ice and stir until chilled. Strain and pour over a chilled rocks glass and garnish with expressed lemon peel.
1/2 oz Simple Syrup
Directions: Pour absinthe into a rocks glass; swirl and coast the glass, then pour out absinthe. In a mixing glass, add the rest of the ingredients, add ice and stir until chilled. Strain and pour into the chilled rocks glass, then garnish with expressed lemon peel.
2 oz Gin
1/2 oz Freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 oz Simple syrup
Long, thin lemon spiral (garnish)
Directions: Pour all ingredients except sparkling wine into shaker, add ice and shake. Fine strain over flute glass and top with sparkling wine. Garnish with long lemon peel.
1 oz Light Rum
1 oz Dark Rum
1 tbsp Passion Fruit Syrup
Juice of 1/2 lime
1 tsp Superfine sugar (or to taste)
Directions: Pour all ingredients into shaker, add ice and shake. Fine strain into hurricane glass filled with crushed iced. Garnish with orange wheel and brandied cherry.
Brandy Milk Punch
2 oz Brandy
1 1/2 oz Heavy Cream (or substitute almond milk)
1 oz Simple Syrup
1 tsp Vanilla extract
Grated nutmeg to taste
Directions: Combine brandy, cream, simple syrup, and vanilla extract in a cocktail shaker; fill shaker with ice. Shake until outside of shaker is frosty, about 30 seconds. Strain into a rocks glass filled with ice and garnish with nutmeg.
Ramos Gin Fizz
2 oz Gin
1 oz Heavy Cream
1 Egg white
1/2 oz Lemon juice
1/2 oz Simple syrup
2-3 drops orange flower water
Directions: Pour gin, lime juice, lemon juice, and simple syrup into shaker. Add ice, shake until tins are chilled, then strain drink back into shaker and dump excess ice. Pour egg white and heavy cream – you could use the spring from a hawthorne strainer for help. Shake vigorously for 3-5 minutes and strain into a collins glass. Float soda on top and watch the foam rise. Finally, add 3 dashes of orange flower water at the top.