Journal Boire Vrai : Comment es-tu tombé dans le monde du vin ?
David Pendon : Growing up in a Filipino household, food was central at family gatherings. However wine was completely absent from the dinner table. As a result, it had never occurred to me that wine was a product of agriculture nor place. Throughout my 20’s I travelled extensively to rock climb, which took me to France and the western US for months at a time. Those trips, which took me through the mesmerizing rows of vines in Burgundy, the Sierra Nevada(CA) and Willamette Valley opened my eyes, starting a lifelong voyage.
JBV : Quel a été ton premier contact avec le vin « vrai » ?
DP : On one of my west-coast road trips in the early 00’s, I stopped at the McMinnville, OR farmer’s market, and asked fruit vendors for winery recommendations. I was urged to drive to the Eyrie vineyards tasting room. David Lett and son Jason talked me through their approach and wines, they were like nothing I had had before. Wine was still very new to me, and their explanations around natural fermentation and lower extraction sailed over my head. On the other hand, their earnest and explorative spirit connected with me. I loaded up my Westfalia with a case of both labelled and unlabelled bottles and enjoyed them out of my enamel camping mugs with my climbing buddies over the following weeks.
JBV : Comment est-ce qu’oenopole est arrivé dans ta vie ?
DP : Aurelia had recently co-founded the agency and I was working as the sommelier for Brontë in 2007. It was humble beginnings for them, with less than a dozen wines on offer at a time. Her sales pitch was entirely different than other reps, with vignerons at the forefront, in a zeitgeist of points-driven and technical wine brands (the ubiquitous use of “leather” as an adjective). Oenopole, along with a handful of other emerging, dynamic and open-minded agencies, led the changing of the guard of the Quebec agency landscape.
JBV : Quelle a été ta plus belle rencontre vigneronne ? Pourquoi ?
DP : Years before I joined Oenopole, Aurelia helped me set up a visit with Jean-Paul Daumen for myself and two friends (and Chateauneuf fans). We had stocked the car with armloads of Savoie charcuterie and Loire cheeses from the market in Lyon for our travels. With Jean-Paul’s palmarès, we had imagined a standing affair, at a tasting room bar festooned with a trio of Parker trophies like a record exec. This couldn’t be further from the truth, he was dressed like he had just returned from a morning hike (in fact he had, as he was spraying biodynamic infusions on his sloped parcels) and was incredibly humble and charming. He referred to himself as a student of his métier, and was precise of his intentions and perspective. Meeting him clarified to me an artisan’s pursuit, their lifework, and not of a single product.
After walking us through the century-old goblet vines on his Trois Sources and Hauts Lieux parcels, he invited us to take refuge from the searing noon Provençal heat in his cool subterranean cellar. It was a dark room with spartan decor; a low table & chairs with bottles piled around us on all sides. We ended up cancelling our lunch reservations and spent the afternoon in conversation, sharing our charcuterie & cheese bounty with him over multiple vintages of his Chateauneuf. It was such a memorable afternoon.
JBV : Quel a été l’accord met et vin le plus marquant ?
DP : Pizzoccheri and sciatt with a 2010 bottle of Arpepe’s Stella Retica drank on a tiny piazza in the alpine village of Morbegno. The dense smoke and violet perfume of that wine paired with the nutty umami of Casera cheese on buckwheat of those dishes will forever be etched in my memory. I proposed to my fiancée, Maude over that meal and the young waitress totally lost her mind with excitement, it was so endearing.
JBV : Si tu avais à travailler la vigne, où irais-tu ?
DP : Ardèche. It’s a stunning region; winding roads, dense forest and polyculture with vines, orchards, and vegetable gardens stacked on the hillsides. I visited recently and felt a palpable energy in the region, with both nascent players and established pioneers producing exciting and highly drinkable wines.
JBV : Si tu étais un vin, lequel serais-tu? Pourquoi ?
DP : Lalalu Sauvignon Blanc. On paper, it’s a bit of a wild card (at least, it was to me). However, Laura Brennan’s mastery in fermentation takes it to a whole other level; very little varietal character, crisp, fluid with texture and grip. It’s everything that I want to drink right now, playful but with roots.
JBV : Quel est ton légume préféré ? Pourquoi ?
DP : Kale. I’m a big meat fan so I need all the antioxidants and fiber I can get. In short, meat is my favorite vegetable.