Notes From the Winemaker - November 18th, 2013


  It's James Beard Awards time again. Please enjoy casting your vote

Last Saturday evening, as I was hosting our annual Truffle Feast, which we repeated for its many subscribers at mid-day on Sunday, I was struck by how Palladio Restaurant continues to reward its ever-growing following by constant creative renewal. This year, for example, Chef Melissa Close-Hart was presenting unbelievably fresh and intense Appalachian truffles, every bit as rich as those famously sourced in Winter in Burgundy, in a traditional occasion which might not be expected to receive such enhancement. But the estate's dining rooms were filled, both days, with old friends and new, discovering the continually unfolding excellence of a kitchen which has been the standard-bearer of our hospitality, for 15 years. Her command for shaping the character of a dish to the maturing palate of our 6-year-old Cabernet Franc, or our 4-year old Nebbiolo revealed a sympathy for the specific imprint of a vintage which is rare, and stunning in a countryside kitchen. 

She holds up a mirror to something I feel, but I hadn't expected to see: our passion for the making of wine. There is nothing generic, nothing lacking acuteness in her styling of every dish.

  For the past 14 years, Chef Melissa has been both the guardian of our culinary standards and the guiding talent behind their widening fame. Four times a Guest Chef at the James Beard Foundation's headquarters in New York, three times mentioned among the Foundation's annual listing of leading chefs of the Mid-Atlantic region, Chef Melissa has also trained a very select roster of chefs now in charge of their own regional restaurants, or in private service to prominent families. Only recently, Charlottesville's popular C-ville magazine conducted an extended interview with her, among leading chefs of the central Virginia region, which offers an informal glimpse into her professional modesty and range of culinary interests. Ever the diplomat, her compliments also never lack substance and sincerity.

Now, I write to invite you to cast a vote for Chef Melissa in this year's James Beard Awards, currently receiving secret ballots from all over the country. Please go here to offer your support for a recognition well-earned. You know, you may count on Palladio Restaurant to welcome you with a freshness of commitment to your delight, in every visit. Please do try to join us sometime through the holidays, and renew your sense of contentment at Palladio.


Happy Thanksgiving from Barboursville,