Events and Tastings

Popping the Corks: Tasting Artisan’s Cool, Cult & Classic Wines

October 3, 2016 | Brian Freedman

The bottles stretched off in every direction—by-the-glass selections on the right, bottle pours to the left—but it was difficult to know where to begin. Old World or New? Jump right into the whites or start off with the sparklers? From a plan-of-attack standpoint, the Artisan’s Cellar “Cool, Cult & Classics” October portfolio tasting at Drexel University’s Academic Bistro was difficult: With so much delicious wine open, where should anyone begin?

It’s the best sort of problem to have, and one that the dozens of sommeliers and wine buyers who attended happily dived right into. Because with summer behind us and the autumn restaurant season in full swing, the time had come for restaurants to start rethinking their wine offerings, to both replenish depleted stocks and to more accurately reflect the kind of food they’d be offering now that the weather had turned cooler and the ingredients that were so fresh just a month or two ago—tomatoes, peaches—had given way to the heartier ones of the fall.

With that in mind, the Artisan’s team popped the corks from a tremendous range of bottles. And in the process, we took the opportunity to introduce the city’s wine community to some of the most exciting new bottlings in the portfolio. Kutch in particular was a hit: These deeply expressive Pinot Noirs from key vineyards in Sonoma run the gamut of Pinot style, from brambly and spicy to more elegant and delicate. What ties them all together is their deep sense of place, of terroir, all coaxed to the fore by production techniques as honest as they are deeply personal for winemaker Jamie Kutch.

Guests also took advantage of the opportunity to sample producers like Pax, which always garnered legions of passionate fans but which, after leaving the state of Pennsylvania for a time, is now back and better than ever. The wines of Cain, some of the bottles going back several years, were also a hit. As were longtime favorites of the Artisan’s portfolio, like Cantina Frentana’s Terre Valse Cerasuolo di Montepulciano, a rich rosé with the ability to seemingly pair perfectly with any dish you taste alongside it. And so many more.

This, then, was a chance for the Philly wine community to start filling the autumn-season gaps in their restaurants’ wine programs with the sort of gems that they have come to rely on Artisan’s for: Honest, transparent, responsibly produced, and inimitably, inextricably tied to the land from which they come and to the people who coax them into existence. A perfect way to start the autumn, if you ask us.