Monday, January 25, 2010

The challenges I enjoy

One of the things that I enjoy most about my position at Mercy are the challenges that are put to me from our guests. While we do offer over 100 wines by the glass, invariably there comes a request for a selection from “off the list.” You always need to have a special vintage or varietal to tempt the frequent Mercy customer, something that you can offer that will bring a new experience. When I heard, "so Vincent, what do you have new this week?", I was ready for the challenge and I opened a bottle of Domaine Chanteleuserie Bourgueil Rouge 2006.

Cabernet Franc is lighter bodied and has much less tannin content than other red wines. They are generally ready to drink soon after bottling. Having a reputation for being a refreshing, youthful wine should not obscure the fact that these are full bodied wines. Cabernet Franc wines are capable of aging magnificently over many years. In their youth, they have the aromas of red raspberries and cherries, but develop more complex notes as they age.

Fine old Cabernet Franc wines can, in the words of one Loire Valley winemaker, be reminiscent of the aromas of a forest after a rainstorm. Young Cabernet Franc is an ideal red wine for summer. It is sufficiently fruity to be refreshing, when served slightly chilled, yet it has enough structure to stand up to the flavors of a barbecue. Older, bigger wines are delicious with roasted meats and are probably the ideal accompaniment to the traditional roast leg of lamb with flageolet beans.

The vineyards of Bourgueil, on the north bank of the Loire river lie between Saumur and Tours, are planted mostly with Cabernet Franc, with a small amount of Cabernet Sauvignon. Vines have been cultivated here since the Roman times. The founding of the Abbey of Bourgueil, in 990, marked the beginning of the development of viticulture and winemaking. The vineyards are planted on two kinds of soil: lighter, warmer soils with high percentages of sand and gravel, yield supple, fruity wines which can be drunk young. Vineyards on the south-facing hillsides, where the soil contains more clay and limestone, yield richer, earthier wines that take longer to reach their full potential. Most of the wines are red, although there is some rosé as well. The vineyards benefit from being open to Loire, which carries the Atlantic's regulating influence inland. The slopes are south facing, with forests that protect vines from the harsh north winds, creating a moderate climate for producing some of the best Cabernet Franc wines.

Vincent Havard
General Manager and Operating Partner

Sunday, January 10, 2010

As we start a new decade

Welcome to 2010!! I am still having a hard time writing that! How many checks have you still dated 2009? I was just getting use to writing 2009 and here we are in a new decade!

If the start of 2010 is any indication of the remainder of the year, we have a lot to look forward to ! From an industry magazine entitled, “Bar and Nightclub”, I received an email dated late, last week that Mercy Wine Bar has been nominated, along with 3 other wine bars from across the country, for Wine Bar of the Year for the US. They will announce the winner during their tradeshow in Las Vegas in March. Several years ago they selected us as one of the top 100 bars in the US and I was absolutely thrilled to receive that level of recognition. Top 100 of ANYTHING in the US is a great thing. Now to have been nominated for TOP wine bar is truly amazing. Of course we would love to win this award; however, simply to have been recognized as one of the best in your field is a bigger honor than we could have ever imagined. We were the only wine bar from the state of Texas nominated. The other 3 were from other major cities in the US. It was our vision, 7 years ago, to be a local wine bar where people from the local community would have a place to go to learn about wine. A place for guests to experience food and wine pairings in an environment that was warm, cozy and comfortable. We never imagined getting national recognition. Each of our guests has contributed to this nomination and we thank each of you for your continued support of Mercy.

An area of focus for Mercy this year will be increasing the visibility of our menu. After 7 years, we still hear guests say that they were not aware we had a full dining menu. The term “wine bar” conjures up a concept of “tapas” or cheese plates alone. Since the day we opened 7 years ago, Mercy has had a full menu. Of course, our focus is on the 150 wines by the glass, and that will remain our main focus; however, we do want people to know about our menu and enjoy Mercy for the dining experience and our ambience.

While, I think, everyone will agree that ’09 had its challenges! We feel very fortunate to have navigated through those murky waters pretty well and 2010 looks much more promising. We very much appreciate your continued support of Mercy and we know it is because of you that we will be celebrating our 7th year this February. We look forward to serving you the next seven years, to provide you with the same enthusiasm, the same passion for what we do, as we did, the day we opened Mercy.

Happy New Year to each and every one of you and my hope that 2010 brings you much health, prosperity and happiness!