One of the coolest things about working around the restaurant business is the access you can get to the people who make the wines that we love. Wine is such an interesting thing, not only because of the magic that turns rotten grapes into delicious juice, but also because a variety of things can change the way we feel about wine. The experience and setting in which you have the wine, the people you are with, the food that you’re eating, all of these things affect how we enjoy it. I have had the pleasure of getting to know Roger Roessler of Roger Roessler Wines over the last decade, and it’s hard for me to have the wine without being reminded of the man. He is truly one of the nicest guys in the business.
The first Roessler wine I had was the Blue Jay Pinot Noir from Roger’s last venture Roessler Cellars. It remains one of my favorite pinots I’ve ever had. Roger sold out of that venture and started another one with his brother Richard just a few years ago, the R2 Wine Company. The flagship wine for the new venture is the Black Pine Pinot Noir. Black Pine is proof that you can trust your vintner, as Roger has once again made a pinot that drinks like some wines that cost twice as much. The name Black Pine comes from the actual translation of “pinot noir” to English, and it refers to the shape of the grape clusters on the vine. Hundreds of years ago someone noticed that the clusters of pinot noir grapes bear an uncanny resemblance to a pine cone, hence the name of our favorite varietal.
Like all good vintners, Roessler is anything but a one trick pony. His Big Bend Chardonnay is a refreshing take on the classic California Chardonnay that we have all come to know. Chardonnays made in California are becoming more nuanced and better wines with every vintage as winemakers move away from the overly oaked butter bombs of twenty years ago. While the Big Bend is unmistakably a California wine, it retains enough acid to still be a great food wine and an enjoyable back porch wine for our Southern heat.
I truly believe that wines are almost always better with food, and the pairing of these is a passion of mine. When I was tasting these wines, I was thinking of all the delicious things that would work with them. With the Black Pine, the choices are staggering. You could have anything from a filet to a wood grilled salmon (depending on the sauce). I settled on thinking about one of my favorite meals I’ve had recently and decided on the Duck Leg with Lady Peas from Chef Alex Eaton at The Manship Wood Fired Kitchen, located in the historic Belhaven area of Jackson, Mississippi – the same neighborhood where Eudora Welty wrote her way into America’s hearts.
Eaton is an exceptionally talented chef who is cooking his way into our hearts. He was recently crowned King of American Seafood at the 2016 Great American Seafood Cook-Off, but obviously, he can cook more than seafood as is evidenced by my food pairing choice for this Roessler Black Pine. Eaton leverages his wood-fired oven to do amazing things with food flavors. Which reminds me of the Spit-Fired Chicken that is a mainstay on the Manship’s menu. I can’t think of anything in the world that would taste better with the Big Bend Chardonnay than the Manship’s Greek style chicken. I can’t think of a better chef to pair with a better winemaker.
With a growing stack of wine industry awards year after year, it’s my distinct pleasure to introduce you to the man and his wines. Roger Roessler is simply a nice guy that is definitely finishing first – and it’s up to us to enjoy the fruit of his labor.
>> Learn more about Roger Roessler Wines and availability in your state here.
>> Want to visit The Manship Wood-Fired Kitchen? Learn more about their award-winning chef and cuisine here.