Le Du's is teaming up with three of this country's greatest wine professionals to raise money for the United Sommelier Foundation, an organization that is committed to providing information and immediate financial assistance to wine professionals who have lost their jobs because of the COVID-19. For each pack purchased, Le Du's will "tip" 15% to the USF.
Hannah Williams, Beverage Director of Blue Hill at Stone Barns
Originally from Miami, Hannah made her way to NYC to study English and Dance at Barnard College. She fell in love with wine after studying abroad and joining the Blind Tasting Team through the Wine Society at the University of Edinburgh.
Upon returning to the city, she worked in the Tasting Department at Wine & Spirits Magazine, and then as Cellar Master and Sommelier at La Sirena. She joined the Blue Hill at Stone Barns Team four years ago, and became Beverage Director last October.
Champagne George Laval Cumieres Premier Cru Brut Nature NV
I got the chance to visit Vincent Laval last June on my first trip to Champagne, and will forever be in love with both his wines and his sense of humor. He is the gentle giant of Cumières, located in the southern portion of the Montagne de Reims. His Champagnes are focused, chalky, and taste like you are licking the inside of an oyster shell. They have been farming organically since 1971, and they bottle with minimal surfer additions. This Cuvée is 50% Chardonnay, followed by an even split between Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. As always, his wines are Brut Nature (as dry as you can get!), and are always the ideal start to a good night.
Mia Van de Water of Cote, the USF, and the Court of Master Sommeliers
Arriving in NYC in 2008, Mia took a job as a server at Union Square Cafe, where she was first exposed to some of the greatest wines of France and Italy. In 2011 she was a server on the opening team of North End Grill in Battery Park City, where she quickly became a floor sommelier, then Wine Director and later Beverage Director.
Mia passed the Court of Master Sommelier’s Advanced Exam in 2014 with the highest score of the year, earning her a Rudd Scholarship and the Johnston Medal.
Stargazer Riesling 2019
I am an inveterate fan of Riesling - in my opinion, it is the single greatest white wine variety (move over, Chardonnay!). Its ability to transmit terroir is unmatched by any other grape, and as such, it is particular about where it grows best (after all, floor-to-ceiling windows are magnificent overlooking the Pacific Ocean, but build a house like that in the middle of an industrial dumping zone and the view is significantly less inspiring). Riesling thrives in challenging settings - cold climates, rocky, infertile soils at the top of punishingly steep slopes - and it is these inhospitable viticultural circumstances that lead to wines of dazzling purity and minerality.
One of the most overlooked countries (especially today!) for high quality riesling is Australia. Traditionally, Rieslings from the Clare Valley are bone dry, sternly acidic, and dominated by savory petrol aromatics. Samantha Connew of Stargazer in Tasmania, however, is doing something completely different. Sam took over a small vineyard in the cool southern Coal River Valley in 2016, and since has rocketed to prominence in the Australian wine scene. Her cool climate vineyards and delicate hand in the winery allow her to create wines that are amazingly concentrated and textural yet impeccably balanced. Chief among these great wines is her Riesling, with beautiful stone fruit and floral aromatic nuances that share much more in common with the wines of Alsace than those of the Australian mainland. The textural concentration here is the real stand out, however, evoking many of the great Riesling houses in the world such as Koehler-Ruprecht or Domaine Weinbach.
Yannick Benjamin of Wheeling Forward, The University Club, and Contento
Paralyzed from the waist down by an accident in 2003, Yannick refused to let this set back prevent his dream of becoming a world class Sommelier. Indeed, Yannick has worked tirelessly to help the disabled community of NY share in his journey of success. In 2012, Yannick founded Wheeling Forward, an organization dedicated to helping those with physical disabilities achieve independence, all while becoming the beverage director of the storied University Club (and until 2017, working at Le Du's!).
Nervi Conterno Gattinara 2016
Nervi is the oldest operating cantina in Gattinara, situated in the Northern Piedmont region commonly known as the Alto Piemonte. It is an Alpine paradise of absolute pure beauty, with vineyards planted on high altitude hillsides and mountain vistas everywhere you look. Wines from this region were often forgotten in favor of Barolo and Barbaresco, but there is no denying that wines that come from Gattinara can rival some of the most established wine regions around the world.