Pastoral Artisan Cheese Bread and Wine shops and Wine Bar are dedicated to the details.
To help launch the opening of their new wine bar, they invited us in to pour a selection of Muscadets, exploring the effects of age and soil on Melon de Bourgogne when grown by people like Jo Landron and Guy Bossard. It was easy for us to geek out: we started with the differences between the lees aged “Domaine” from Jo and his non-lees aged “Amphibolite” and then I climbed high on my soapbox to shout about the incredible value and aging potential of single vineyard wines like Expression de Granite and Hermine d’Or. We offered a 2002 of both the Hermine and the Granite for all sixty five employees of Pastoral.
65 employees? For 3 stores and a wine bar? We do front of the house training all the time and we never see more than twenty people even at the largest restaurants. Who were these people? Owners Ken and Greg make it a point of pride to include EVERY employee in their “deep dive” training sessions, from the sales team to dish washers and management to delivery drivers. Last month, they dove into raw milks to better understand raw milk cheeses. Note they dove in to the milk, not the cheese. They offered tastes of milks from different animals to build a foundation of understanding about the resulting cheeses: acidity, color, texture. I am not aware that I have seen such an outstanding approach to education. These are the practices about which business books and case studies are written.
Most impressive, perhaps, is that the team was not just in attendance, they were focused, interested and educated when it came their comments, that were downright insightful. To paraphrase a few favorites:
On Hermine d’Or:
The wine smells like liquid washed rind cheese that is pungent in a powerful, deep way, but not a negative.
The 2002 smells of onions and onion grass, but also of deeper, broader notes that come later.
I see why the Amphibolite could be sold to anyone who wants a glass of white wine, but this (the 2002) is a wine to sit down with. I could spend 45 minutes tasting one glass. (I think I shed a tear of joy when I heard this. She get’s it, she get’s it!)
On 2010 Granite:
The wine is layered and rich and soft at first with all sorts of fruits, but the acidity wraps around my tongue and is electric. (The dual nature of the Granite in particular has always been my favorite part of these bottles. Love that this came up).
On the range of flavors Muscadet’s can have:
I see the Domaine and the Amphibolite over here (extends right arm all the way to one side) with oysters and fresh goat cheese, and I thought that is what Muscadet was, but now I have a slot over here (extends left arm and reaches as far left as possible) where the 2002 Hermine D’or is sitting and I have a whole new set of ideas on Muscadet and food pairing. I can’t believe how much diversity there is in a wine I thought was something simpler. (Had I wanted too, I couldn’t have scripted this).
On 2002 Granite:
I fly fish in Wisconsin and love to drink water from the source. I don’t know if it’s good or bad, but this wine smells like a pristine river.
This last one blew me away. Guy Bossard’s primary goal, as I understand it, has always been to make impeccably clean wines. Yes, each smells different based on the subsoil, but they are always so clean. For this taster to be reminded of taking a deep breath whilst standing in the middle of a river, surrounded by nature, would be amazing from an impeccably made young wine, but this bottle is 10 years old. The comment flatters the wine and speaks to how perceptive this staff is. I learned afterward that this particular taster is a delivery driver. Even more impressive.