The Nuance of the Female Hand in Winemaking?

As two women in this male-dominated business, Kristin and I began thinking about how our perspectives differ from many other wine merchant/enthusiasts in this industry, how different our focus is, and what we bring to the table and how. As we began ruminating about the winemaking process, our minds began to question if a female hand in winemaking could be discerned as noticeable, how it could be interpreted, and perhaps even preferred by some.

In searching out new and exciting portfolios, we came across one wine portfolio in particular which is new to Vermont that we have embraced! Bourgeois Family Selections, a predominately French import house headed by Jean-Philippe Bourgeois (and our new friend, and JP’s ex-wife) Stephanie Bourgeois who are not only still business partners, but the best of friends. Jean-Philippe has impeccable credentials as the former General Manager of Eric Solomon’s European Cellars (another portfolio we actively trumpet) for six years before striking out on his own with Stephanie. In fact, their offices are adjacent in North Carolina and we are looking forward to visiting both JP & Steph, as well as Eric next time we fly down to see my parents.

They specialize in sustainable, organic and/or biodynamic winemaking, and their portfolio includes a sizeable number of female winemakers at the helm (about 35%).

Well, the wines were stunningly pure examples of their French terroir, expertly-crafted, many which have NEVER been imported to this county until just now. From Burgundy, the Loire, Provence, the Rhone and Roussillon…once tasted, we (and our even husbands) were smitten.

These treasures are due to arrive this Friday, September 18, and we will launch the portfolio with some great special pricing! Look for an offering soon on these great wines.

Interestingly enough, the wines we selected to stock at our little Burlington wine shop, Church Street Wine Cellars, happened to be made by the female hand 75% of the time! Perhaps there is a difference? Come on in and see for yourself if you can discern the female hand! Visit us at 2 Church Street, Lower Level, at the top of the block in Burlington, Vermont (in the space formerly occupied by Tempo Furniture & North Country Books). We are open Thursdays & Fridays 4 – 7 pm, Saturdays noon to 5 pm, and always by appointment.

We’ve added some great Belgian-Styled Canadian beers!

Even die-hard wine lovers need a truly great beer on occasion! At Church Street Wine Cellars, our Burlington, Vermont wine shop has just added a great line up from Unibroue.

Unibroue beers are very different from what you are used to, are available in 750 ml cork-finished bottles, and are every bit the companions to the dinner table that our small, artisanally-produced wines we represent are. Classically Belgian-styled, these wonderful (and quite flavorful) Canadian beers from just outside Montreal in Chambly are brewed using an age-old process of in-bottle refermentation. They are only partially filtered, rather than totally filtered (which is the norm in today¹s beer industry). This means Unibroue beers keep all their protein and part of the yeast, producing a genuine upscale beer. These beers are on fresh lees. The lees deposit themselves at the bottom of the bottle as result of refermentation and natural carbonation. The process is the same as with champagne; except with champagne, the yeast is removed, while with Unibroue beers the lees are left in the bottle. This method gives a very particular taste to the beer and provides a natural source of vitamin B. Every single beer is brewed in one batch and is not water-softened.

The classic way to enjoy these beers are by resting the beer on its side and gentrly rolling it back and forth with your hand to meld the yeast back in with the rest of the beer just before serving (we’ll show you what we mean in the store). Think of these as beers for the table more than simple quaffing beers and pair them as you would wine with various dishes…just ask us for some menu pairings! Pick one up and give one a try next time you are in shopping our great value wine selections.

Unibroue’s brewing methods were inspired by the great European brewing traditions and, in this respect, are one of a kind in North America. Their brewing methods are time consuming and costly. Given that the beers contain no chemical additives or preservatives, they require strict quality control. This all-natural brewing process is also why Unibroue beers are higher in alcohol content and can provide a rich flavor without the bitter aftertaste of conventional beers. Moreover, they have a longer shelf life and adapt very well to the room temperatures, unlike conventional beers. In fact, they age quite beautifully for generally 2 to 5 years!

The disadvantages: cost of course. Unibroue beers are slightly more expensive than industrially produced beers (generally $6 – $9 750 ml, and are the perfect beers for two to share…or armchair quarterbacking for that matter) in order to cover the cost of production. However, the advantages outweigh the disadvantages by far:

– A more refined taste

– Richer in flavor

– Thicker foam that protects the beer

– Excellent source of vitamin B

– Competitive advantage over other brewers

– Almost unlimited shelf life (flavor evolves to a port wine after ten years)

– Ecological (no chemicals)

We hope to crack one with you sometime!

A Letter from Marinell & Kristin

In our first year, as two women in a new business, we at Church Street Wine Cellars want to thank everyone who have supported us during this growth period. We welcome your comments and suggestions, and greatly value your patronage. It is a road fraught with challenges in a diffiicult time, but a rewarding one at that. Our personal goal is to provide you with the best possible customer service, and on that point, we will not negotiate. We are passsionate about tasting every product that comes into our store for our customers pleasure…just ask our husbands who bear the weight of our one-sided discussions about these wines with us!

We revel in bringing to our Burlington, Vermont wine cellar the world’s best in small, artisanal producers…farmers, not conglomerates, quality not inexhaustible quantities of anonymous bulk wine required for national brands. Personally, we’d rather be water-boarded with Two Buck Chuck than accept “critter” labels that give wine a bad name from being “cooked up” in an urban laboratory. Wine should be made in the vineyard, not in the test tube. Cute and fuzzy aninmal labels you will not find here…please go to your nearest gas station, supermarket, convenience store, or ZOO to find those labels. “Critter” labels are best saved for a marketing department…or cereal, for that matter. On the other hand, we will happliy bring you great values from across the world, from stingy, concentrated old vines, from varietals you may not have heard of, and multi-generational family producers at the same price (or in many cases less). Just give us that opportunity. We look forward to serving you; thank you again for your consideration of Church Street Wine Cellars!

Keep in tune with us, we have many changes planned over the next few months from introducing qualtiy Belgian-styled beers & cigars to complement our inventory, exciting off-site seminars and in-store free educational seminars to Direct Import (from the producer to you at greatly reduced prices) sales events. We hope to see you at as many as possible.

Cheers!