I meet with a dozen or more wine reps each week, and while the public perception is that it’s a glamorous job where people sip high-end wines with winemakers and chefs and bigwigs all day, I can tell you that it’s a wildly inaccurate perception. Being a wine rep means spending your day in a (usually) hot car, often with a stranger at your side to whom you must kowtow and at whose jokes you must laugh. Then you visit a bunch of restaurateurs and retailers, to whom you must kowtow and at whose jokes you must laugh, in hopes of scraping together enough pennies to pay for all the wear and tear on your vehicle. Then you periodically make the tedious drive to Phoenix to get raked over the proverbial coals by higher-ups and suppliers, to whom you must kowtow and at whose jokes you must laugh. So when Mary Grace Rodarte, one of our wine reps who daily suffers the slings and arrows of the wine industry’s outrageous fortune, came in silly like a schoolgirl after spending the day driving to and from Phoenix, I thought there was something odd in the air. She had just come from a seminar with Tom Kelly of Small Vineyards and August Wine Group, and was positively giddy with the experience. Evidently, Tom’s knowledge and ability to impart it are head and shoulders above the average person you drag yourself to Phoenix to see in a sales meeting. I’ve never seen her, or any of our reps, so excited about a supplier. So when I discovered that Tom would be making the trip to Tucson, I jumped on the opportunity, not only because of Tom, but because we at Feast have been fans of Small Vineyards since Laura Williamson (remember Laura? From Vin Tabla, the restaurant I miss most in Tucson, with the possible exceptions of Linen and the Helen Street Cafe, all for very different reasons?) was with them ten years ago or so. Anyhow, this is far too long an introduction already, and I wanted to add this from the Small Vineyards website, too, so I’ll do that and then get to the details about the dinner. Here’s their story:
“At Small Vineyards, we search every corner of the Mediterranean for the best small production wines being made today. Why? Because we believe—after tasting thousands of wines—that the very best consistently come from small estates. If you think about it, it’s a lot easier to make a great meal for 5 people than for 500, and winemaking is no different. That is why we tell our clients up front—with our Small Vineyards gold seal on the bottle—that you’re holding a small batch wine from a family-owned estate, that you will be proud to serve. In working with small, family-owned estates we are not just ensuring that the wine is fantastic, but we are working to protect a way of life that has been preserved through generations.”
And here are the details about the dinner:
Wine Dinner with Tom Kelly of Small Vineyards
Wednesday, November 8, 2017
House-made gnocchi with Feast garden marjoram, honeydew butter and littleneck clams.
2015 Monte Tondo Soave Classico DOC
Thai fish cake with crabapple and fresh cilantro.
2015 Giocato Sauvignon Blanc,
Goriška Brda, Slovenia
Charred eggplant, roasted peppers, chickpeas and shaved beef heart in tomato-seafood broth.
2014 Palamâ “Arcangelo” Salice Salentino DOP
Lamb spezzatino with house-cured bacon, Castelvetrano olives, red endive
and shaved Paremsan cheese.
2013 Bocelli Sangiovese, Toscana IGT
Braised rabbit risotto with bresaola and fresh herbs.
2012 Brunelli Brunello di Montalcino DOCG
A little something sweet for dessert
$95 plus tax and gratuity