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Wine Tasting Event Naperville, Chicago, Highland P...
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Bright energetic and detail oriented, Lyle has proven himself a versatile and passionate member of the team. As is the case with so many Vin Chicagoans, Lyle was a customer for several years before making a break from the banking world to join us full time.

What is your first wine memory?

I came late to the game. I had a strong beer background energized by my Father’s interest since the early 1990s in artisan-crafted beer from home and abroad. Expeditions across multiple counties to source something new and exciting and the little tastes I might get from time to time stuck with me and fueled a life-long curiosity in food and drink. The birth of a glutton it would seem. My great-grandfather was a Calabrian immigrant who made wine at home up until the 1970s, the younger generations helping him along the way. Unfortunately, my exposure to family wine was no more grandiose than those eerily long-lasting jugs. Intrigued by the impact of cool-climate Sauvignon Blanc, my glaring lack of knowledge and a new home with space to gather a collection — I jumped in head-first and have not looked back.

What is the first wine that blew you away?

So, while the ever-electric “Savvy” had an initial grab on me — it was the complexity and savory grandeur of aged bottles that smothered me with the wine-geek pillow. When you start in wine it is easy to fall in like with the intense, obvious, immediate and identifiable. Love is a more complicated matter; it is nuanced, deep, challenging and at times fickle and fleeting. From my humble origins, gaining access to complex, world-class, mature wine was not immediate. Which leads to…

What is your favorite wine region?

I’m usually not good at choosing favorites, but from my first taste of La Rioja Alta’s “904” Gran Reserva, I think my answer has been Rioja. This region’s classic producers provide routine availability to unique, aged wines. No other region does this, much less at the completely accessible price-tags they wear. It won’t be to every taste, but every taster should at least try a taste. I also love Muscadet’s versatile, somewhat neutral, salty, bone-dry, underdog features. Ultimately, I enjoy wine together with food most; they elevate one another and can be a simple enjoyment of life. A producer’s winegrowing style also increasingly matters every bit as much as its place of origin.

What is the best part about your job?

I love the holistic nature of wine. I love selling refreshment, pleasure, intrigue, trophy, celebration, tangible, today, tomorrow. I prefer to specialize in versatility. First and foremost I am an observer of people, a listener, and an analyzer. Having a social science degree a love of geography and a decade of direct face-to-face service has been very helpful for me in working with a mishmash of art & science that is so deeply experiential and intertwined with people. I see the many approaches: novice, experienced, collector, investor, hedonist, intellectual, romantic, curious, puritanical. I adore challenging, and the challenges — it is humbling. It is fascinating and I love it, every single day. It matters so much to me.

Advice?

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Vin Chicago Bio!

- Dawn Dollerschell –

 

 

What is your first wine memory?

I’m Italian, so there isn’t a time that I don’t remember wine being a part of Sunday dinners at Grandma Lucy’s! It was homemade, and that’s the only kind I knew, I never even thought about store bought wine. Our grapevines grew entwined in a long archway and as I walked my way through I was surrounded by grapes above my head, ready to be picked. It was my favorite place to be, and a lasting memory.

When I got out of college I went to Italy to visit cousins of mine who were living in Naples. One day we took a trip to Sorrento and this is where I first tasted a wine that blew my mind. Sorrento was the most beautiful place I had ever been! The air was thick with enticing floral aromas and clean fresh lemon zest, little did I know that a wine could be described in the same way! We were served wine but to my surprise it was white wine! It never occurred to me to drink white wine but it was delicious! I never saw the bottle or even asked what it was, I just drank it with new found pleasure! That moment and that memory will last a lifetime.

What is your favorite wine from a recent newsletter?

 

In our February newsletter we featured an Italian white wine Terredora Irpinia Falanghina 2014. This wine blows me away! I believe that this was the unknown wine I drank in Sorrento all those years ago! If you have never had it please give it a try, it won’t disappoint. The aromas are rich and intensely floral and the flavors of crisp green apples, pears and lemon pith dance on your tongue. There is substantial acidity and enough structure for this wine to be enjoyed throughout your meal. It’s a fantastic food wine!

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Meet Elston Avenue's Katie Larson!

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Vin Chicago Bio!

- Katie Larson –

 

 

A passion for art and art history led Katie to France. France led Katie to wine. Wine led Katie to Vin Chicago. We are so glad to have her on the team!

 

What is your first wine memory?

 

On a trip to see what must have been every World War II-era bunker in Normandy, we stopped at a tavern in a town in the middle of nowhere. All I remember were fields of safflower and the straight Roman road in front of us. But our guide—who never spent more than 10 euros on wine in his own home—insisted on the Châteauneufdu- Pape offered on the menu for 30. I don’t remember the producer or the vintage, but that was the first time a wine jumped out at me as special. It was full, balanced, and utterly delicious. I realized then that exceptional moments deserve exceptional wines, and I still try to drink a Châteauneuf on Christmas.

 

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Vin Chicago Bio!

- Alexandria Contos –

 

 

It has been just over a year since we convinced Alex to join us at our Highland Park location. Unlike many people who develop their interest in wine and food as an adult, Alex was born into the industry. She quite literally grew up in her family's legendary Chez Paul restaurant where she developed a passion for food and a flair for service. Her life path has seen her living in Germany, Miami and happily for us, back in Chicago!

 

 

What is your first wine memory?

 

When I was 9 or 10 years old, my mother was invited by Moet & Chandon to visit their estate in Epernay and she took me along. We stayed at their chateau and toured the monastery where Dom Perignon lived and helped pave the way for Champagne as we know it today. I will never forget what our tour guide stated... “If you drink good Champagne you will not have a headache the next day!"

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Vin Chicago Bio!

- Jenna Yeh –

 

 

Jenna has been at our Elston Avenue store for just three months but it's hard to remember what life was like pre-Jenna. Always smiling, Jenna is the kind of person we love having on our team. She speaks softly, but with a profound passion and excitement. A chef by training, with stints at Girl & the Goat, Taxim and Green Zebra, Jenna has as much love for food as for wine. Looking for a perfect wine to pair with your special dinner? You'll want to seek her out!

 

 

What is your first wine memory?

 

When I was 10 or 11 years old, my mom took me and my sister to Sunday brunch at the Drake Hotel. She ordered a glass of chardonnay, who knows what it was, and let me have a sip...It was buttery and rich, like PIE! Pretty amazing for a chunky little preteen 

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