There's a new region-specific wine extravaganza to add to your social calendar: Reboule du Rhône. Named for the traditional harvest fest in the French region, the inaugural U.S. event, held in New York from Nov. 17 to 19, celebrated the wines of the Northern Rhône in a benefit for Share Our Strength's No Kid Hungry campaign.
"It was an incredible experience to have the caliber of winemakers, chefs and sommeliers in one room supporting our vision and bringing to life the first ever Reboule du Rhône," said wine director Thomas Pastuszak of the NoMad, who spearheaded the weekend-long charity event with Eleven Madison Park alum Dustin Wilson. It kicked off with a Jean-Louis Chave Hermitage dinner, and was followed by walk-around tastings, seminars and a reboule dinner on Saturday, which I attended.
The wines are served the same way as at the Burgundy celebration La Paulée: Each guest brings a special bottle that is poured for their entire table. The tables were named for Northern Rhône appellations and arranged north to south. I was seated at the Condrieu table (coincidentally, my contribution was a 2015 Pierre Gaillard from the same AOC). Some of my wine highlights (of many, many poured) that night included a 1995 Chave Hermitage white and a 1989 Alain Graillot Crozes-Hermitage La Guiraude.
A dozen winemakers were seated at different tables around the room, including Franck Balthazar and Maxime Graillot. At my table, I had the pleasure of getting to know André Perret and his daughter, Marie, who will be taking over his eponymous estate when he retires.
Big-name chefs Daniel Rose of Le Coucou, Dan Kluger of Loring Place, Markus Glocker of Bâtard, Abram Bissell of the Modern, and Michael Reilly of the NoMad prepared the five-course dinner. The wine-service team was star-studded, too, including Union Square Hospitality Group's John Ragan, Michael Engelmann of the Modern, Cedric Nicaise of Eleven Madison Park, David Gordon of Tribeca Grill, Juliette Pope, formerly of Gramercy Tavern, Rajat Parr, and many others.
Debbie Shore, cofounder of Share Our Strength, was happy to be there. "I love new-concept events that look like they're really going to work," she told me. While wine is always served at charity dinners the organization hosts, she noted that this was the first one to put wine at the center.
The event raised $330,663 for No Kid Hungry. Three lots were auctioned off at the reboule dinner; the first two were wine dinners involving some of the chefs and sommeliers participating in the event. The third lot, a four-day journey to the Northern Rhône with Wilson and Pastuszak as guides, went for $22,000.
For an industry that can sometimes be about overindulgence, child hunger is a natural cause for restaurants to pour their charitable resources into. "We started [the organization] with the notion that the restaurant industry would be the natural alignment with us because they feed people for a living, and that hunger and feeding people would really resonate with restaurants and chefs, and we were so right about that," said Shore of the generosity she has observed from the hospitality business over the years.
Wilson looks forward to continuing that relationship, too. "We're excited to see what we can do for 2018's Reboule du Rhône and continue raising money for the No Kid Hungry organization."