Learn to Love Washington (Wines, That Is)

Sommelier Susanne Lerescu of Restaurant Latour introduces you to the amazing variety and quality of these West Coast wines.

Susanne Lerescu, sommelier of Restaurant Latour at the Crystal Springs Resort in Hamburg

Far, far outside the Beltway, there’s a Washington everyone can love. That would be the wine regions of Washington State. There is no better guide to their pleasures than Susanne Lerescu, the esteemed sommelier of Restaurant Latour and its world-class wine cellar at the Crystal Springs Resort in Hamburg in Sussex County.

This Sunday, September 6th, Lerescu will present a seminar, part of a monthly series, this one focusing on the wines of Washington State. It’s teasingly titled, Washington State–The Next Napa?

“The wine business can be complex,” says Lerescu, but you can trust her to keep the program, as she puts it, “relaxed, simple, down-to-earth and fun.”

From 2:30 to 4 p.m., 10 to 20 participants will taste three reds and three whites from Washington. Lerescu promises that people will be surprised by the variety of flavors and aromas they will encounter.

Washington “has different climates,” Lerescu explains. “In the western part it is cooler. That is Riesling and Chardonnay country. In the eastern part, after you cross the Cascade Mountains, you come to the elevated desert that produces wonderful red wines like Syrah, Cabernet and Merlot.”

Lerescu will lead participants on a personalized tour of the Crystal Springs wine cellar, a multi-chambered, climate-controlled catacomb in which are displayed more than 9,100 different labels (and many examples of each, including many vintages and rarities). The wine collection and the wine cellar complex was created by Gene Mulvihill, the late owner and builder of the resort.

The cellar labyrinth shelters more than 100 different vintages of Chateau Latour, one of the Premier Grand Cru of Bordeaux, dating back to 1863. It was Mulvihill’s favorite wine, and the inspiration for the restaurant that bears the name on the top floor of the Grand Cascades Lodge.

Lerescu, 52, came to the resort at its inception 12 years ago after growing up in Southern Germany and working in upscale restaurants throughout Europe and America.

When Mulvihill started to collect wine seriously, he hired wine consultant and writer John Foy (brother of noted New Jersey chef Dennis Foy). “Wine literally started coming in by the truckload,” Lerescu says. She offered to help rack bottles. Foy took her under his wing. “He became my private tutor for six years,” she says.

When Mulvihill offered her the position of sommelier, “I actually declined,” she admits. “I was intimidated by the thousands of bottles.”

After taking wine courses in Manhattan, she finally felt confident enough to take the reins in Latour’s dining room and share her knowledge and love of wine with guests.

The Sunday seminars will continue with Bordeaux in October, Burgundy in November and the very popular Champagne and sparkling wine class always held in early December.

The cost of the Washington State seminar is $40 per person.



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