Monday, May 9, 2011

Wise Words Woven by Women Winemakers

Last Tuesday I attended the Red White Boston (RWB) event “Putting the I in Team: Women Winemakers.” The theme for evening went back to an interview Cathy (found of RWB) had done with Janet Myers, director of winemaking at Franciscan Winery, a few years prior. During the interview Janet had shared her team approach to winemaking and her actions to give each individual on the team meaning for their contributions. This message stuck with Cathy and recent considerations of the ideas resulted in the genesis of another great RWB event.

The special guests for the evening were Janet Myers of Franciscan Estates and Maureen Martin of Clos du Bois, both of were interested in sharing messages about empowering people to understand their work and be successful in a team environment. This topic is of particular interest to me right now as I find myself in the midst of several staffing transitions at work, including a retirement that resulted in my taking over the leadership role. I am just now setting about to augment and re-shape a team of energetic and knowledgeable software engineers, so I have much to gain from new ideas about teamwork and helping individuals be successful working on a team.

Sandrine’s Bistro in Harvard Square was the location for this event. I don’t get to many Boston-area restaurants so to say I didn’t know this one might infer I knew many others. But I digress. I arrived a little early and was able to catch one of the chefs preparing flammekueche for the evening. The bar area at the front of the restaurant has a large pizza oven and prep area adjacent to it, making for a great vantage point for the action. While I waited I met Rich Huhm, another event attendee, and we got off talking about wine, food, my part time wine & food writing and our expectations for the evening.

As the flammekueche was passed around we sipped on the Franciscan 2008 Sauvignon Blanc. The best way to describe this wine, and it is all positive, is acidity wrapped lime and greens. The aromas of lime & greens were a hint to me that I was going to enjoy this crisp refreshing wine, and the taste didn’t disappoint.

( I asked if I could take photos and got a slanted eye. Yes, it's going online! )

( The bacon on this one was some of the best I had ever had! )

We took our seats and continued socializing. I am bad with names so I am mildly proud that I can recall meeting, Rich, Julia, Meghan, Eric, Dan, Maureen and Elina. I didn’t meet Janet and saw return faces in Justin and Cathy. Let’s just hope I recognize them all when I see them again! Our table was honored to host Maureen who was visiting Boston for the first time. Lots of ideas for things to do while in Boston were bandied about. At first it looked like our guests would roam from table to table sharing their team winemaking approaches and so Maureen got started with us. It turns out each presenter did address the whole group so we got to enjoy Maureen’s insights twice!

Our first course was a Spring Pea Soup with smoked mussels. It was served with the Clos du Bois Calcaire Russian River Valley 2007 and the Franciscan Cuvee Sauvage 2007 Chardonnays. The Clos du Bois presented green apples and an unexpected minerality. I detected the oak, but a very restrained amount. This wine is very crisp and lighter than many California Chardonnays. I was fascinated by this balance and elegance in a Chardonnay. The Franciscan Cuvee Sauvage presented the oak up front with hints of pear and apple, a medium body, and crisp clean finish with some citrus on the way out. I found it to the better pairing with the soup, especially where the smoked mussels and oak aromas and flavors in the wine mixed.

Both Janet & Maureen demonstrated their leadership qualities as they presented during our meal. Maureen has presence. I took this from a combination of factors including the passionately driven words about having context for your role, the powerful example she gave in having growers come in to sample the newly tasted and categorized wines, as well as her comfort when she captained the room. Janet takes a different approach. She comes to you, sits down and appeals to you with considerations like “the grapes don’t know if you are a man or woman” when asked if being a female winemaker is an advantage. Janet is also very passionate and broke her approach down into considerable detail. She owned the problem AND the solution in the way she described it, and that has got to be a winning play!

Dinner was a sizable piece of medium-rare beef with a black pepper & Cabernet reduction alongside a spinach and mushroom ragout. It was so tasty on its own that I nearly ate way more than was going to be healthy! The wines with the beef were the Magnificat 2006 and Mt. Veeder 2005 reds from Franciscan. I drank the Magnificat way too fast. It was so full of fruit, spice, wood and a little earth, it was hard not to. It is a Meritage blend so I shouldn’t be surprised that I liked it.

The Mt. Veeder Reserve Cabernet was super rich with a healthy blend of fruit and greens, and all sorts of finesse. The tannins were already softening which added the right amount of structure.

A transitional course of a Pear and Gorgzonla was a change of pace for me, and while I found the wine paired with the salad fantastic on its own I wasn’t sure I thought the salad was a good match for it. Except the Gorgonzola cheese! The Clos du Bois Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir Reserve 2006 was a great wine to finish the meal with, and one I look forward to trying again. My tweet on this wine was “Great ruby color, hearty combo of fruit and earth.”

We finished with a Lavender Crème Brulee which deserved to be eaten in full. I have had crème brulee many times, but never flavored with lavender. I’d expect to make this sometime next month, maybe my anniversary!

New friends said their goodbyes and a group of us headed back toward South Station, actually to drop me off for my bus. I have to thank Meghan and Eric for the kind offer of the ride, which gave us more time to talk. Elina made merry with us as well. I couldn’t have asked for more good vibes in an evening. Much thanks go out to Cathy, Janet and Maureen for sharing and bringing together a great group enjoy their wines and their company.



{ Other Posts About This Event }

Cathy at RedWhiteBoston -

Meghan from Travel, Wine & Dine -

Justin from F2%! -


Meghan@travelwinedine said...

Great recap! You got some fantastic photos!

Lisa | Authentic Suburban Gourmet said...

What a great evening! I adore Mt Veeder Cab and the lavender creme brulee was a perfect dessert to wind the evening to a close. Delish!