I recently spent some time in New Jersey with our broker extraordinaire, Phil Tartaglione. After flying into Philly International, Phil brought me to his home in NJ for an informal dinner gathering - “Grillin and Chillin, with Sean Minor on my Patio”. In attendance were 3 of the NJ reps from Polaner Selections, Brian McMahon, Mike Hoffman and Derek Martin. From The PA Wine Merchant we had Hudson Austin. And a retail friend, Jimmy Quaile, the wine manager of Roger Wilco in Pennsauken. Plus, Phil's wife, Gwynn.The weather, earlier in the week, was thick with nasty humidity and raw heat. But, a summertime polar vortex was hovering over NJ on Thursday night, bringing us very comfortable temperatures, zero humidity and light breezes. It was ideal. The patio was decked with torches and the hanging baskets and window boxes never looked better.
We started with three chilled wines,…4Bears Sauvignon Blanc, Vin Gris and Chardonnay as we sampled from a charcuterie plate of cheeses, prosciutto, speck, roasted tomatoes and olives.
Dinner was fired up on the komodo grill, cooked over lump hardwood charcoal at 650 degrees. We enjoyed thick rib eyes, portabella mushrooms, bell peppers and flat breads, all from the grill, plus rosemary roasted fingerling potatoes. Paired with the meal, we served the full line up of red wines…Central Coast Pinot Noir, Carneros Pinot Noir, Point North Oregon Pinot Noir, Paso Cabernet, Napa Cabernet and Napa Red.
It was a fantastic opportunity for me to spend one on one time with everyone in a very informal setting.For dessert, we had a fresh fruit tart, and Derek graciously brought a 1900 Reserva Moscatel Madeira to share.
When possible, Phil likes to prepare a real, full blown restaurant quality luncheon, as a way to pair food with the wines, and, to also say thank you to the sales team.
The menu for today was relatively simple and he knocked it out in a couple of hours. We had:
· Grilled Shrimp, marinated in tequila with lime juice and lime zest, and served atop a bed of roasted NJ corn with minced peppers, lime juice and a few minced jalapeno peppers.
· Grilled boneless chicken thighs, marinated in lemon juice with rosemary, thyme and lemon zest.
· Chardonnay ‘spiked’, Yukon Gold potatoes, which, after boiling and draining are immediately returned to the pot with a half bottle of 4Bears Chardonnay. With the lid on, the potatoes steep and absorb the wine juices. No butter or oil is needed! Topped with a lot of chopped fresh parsley and salt/pepper.
· Steamed French string beans with roasted tomatoes.
· Brownies and fresh Strawberries.
We delivered the meal, and set it up in the room adjacent to their sales room. Once we were set, I addressed the team of 15 sales reps present. As we sampled each wine, I explained the process and the reasoning behind our style of winemaking for each type. When the meeting concluded, we all took 45 minutes to enjoy the luncheon and to converse with each other.
Immediately after, we were heading to Philly International for my flight back to CA. Although a quick trip, it was well spent with great company!