Bryn Hagman, Beverage Manager
How does a restaurant in New York become an Oregon Wine A-List Award honoree? By cultivating a mostly American wine list that includes and celebrates our state’s reds, whites and in-betweens. On the corner of Prince and Sullivan streets in SoHo, The Dutch serves American food with lots of personality to regulars and celebrities alike. Chef Andrew Carmellini, with Josh Pickard and Luke Ostrom, opened the restaurant as part of the trio’s NoHo Hospitality Group. Bryn Hagman manages the beverage program and has graciously and enthusiastically answered OWP’s questions below.
What makes Oregon wine unique?
BH: While being constantly compared to other regions — cough, cough, Burgundy — I think Oregon truly does stand alone. Climate-ly, soil-compositionally and expressive-of-terroir-ly: It's different. Massive variance in land structure, soil type, unpredictable weather patterns and general uncertainty make for unique — or is it idiosyncratic? — wines.
All this flux is what made Pinot Noir a suitable choice for planting. However, the wide range of varieties planted is part of what makes Oregon so unique! Just looking at the wikipedia page for Oregon wine; you can see the vast array of possibilities. It is the progressive development of viticulture and vinification in this region that make it so special. It has, and has always been, on the pioneering forefront of the western wine world.
I think to completely categorize Oregon is impossible. I believe this is how we limit creativity and discredit innovation. We have yet to see everything that flourishes in Oregon, though truly characteristic Pinot Noir is certainly a start.
What do your customers usually know about Oregon wine?
BH: As usual, it comes down to likes or dislikes. I generally only hear people referencing region as an indicator of preference. “We love Oregon Pinots…” “I tried something from New York and hated it…” “I only drink Sancerre…” Usually broad-spectrum statements are often (and fortunately) a door we can open to create conversation and educationally driven experiences.
Name an Oregon wine that super-impressed your palate.
BH: This summer at The Dutch, we poured St. Reginald Parish’s “The Marigny” Carbonic Pinot Noir by the glass, and what a treat it has been! A longtime Beaujolais-enthusiast, I am excited to see more and more domestic wineries experimenting with carbonic maceration. That is not to say, however, that this wine is very much like Beaujolais nouveau — it is very much distinctively Nouveau-American. This is a feel-good (natural, native yeast-ed, nominally filtered, no-sulfur) soif of blatantly Oregonian fruit with surprising depth and complexity. Nose is all guilty-pleasure cranberry juice. Palate has a bit more structure — oh hey, whole cluster — with a slight tingle of tannin, like having been steeped briefly in nettle tea. We bought as much as we could. And, while I worship at the feet of rosé, like any self-respecting summertime imbiber, I do think “chilled red” is primed for ascendancy. Just saying.
What would you like our readers to know about The Dutch?
BH: Before assuming my professional role here, I was an avid ‘fan’ of The Dutch. One of the most consistently perfect Raw-Bar programs, exciting and satisfying food, and well-executed drinks. It was a great pleasure for me to inherit this program once the much-lauded, much-respected, and quite-brilliant Chad Walsh abdicated the Beverage throne.
An all-American — with one exception: Champagne — wine program is something we boast proudly. It makes our job, as a wine team, infinitely more relevant. The average guest is incredibly well-informed these days, and curious about domestically produced beverages. We are always having fun with scholastic tableside chats regarding American wine — comparing and contrasting with what has come before (Old World, reputation, etc.) appealing to palatal differences and promoting “local” product. I often say that having a mostly domestic program forces the conversation to be had. You may not have heard of it, but you'll drink it. And you'll like it.
The Dutch (and NoHo Hospitality Group as a whole) is a gratifying place to be, for me, as I am constantly surrounded by industry professionals — artists, really — doing their best work to create, propagate and maintain the “good word” of hospitality. From the top-down, there is a tangible, creative energy driving the proverbial bus.
The Dutch continues to be a phenomenal destination — we are lucky to welcome in familiar neighborhood regulars and friends, as well as those traveling from afar, every night. The food is great. The solid vibes only further seal the deal. Come drink the — Oregonian — Kool-Aid!
Oregon Wine Press and Oregon Wine Board present the Oregon Wine A-List Awards, recognizing restaurants across the world that show enthusiasm for Oregon wine and a deep appreciation of the diverse regions, varietals and producers of Oregon.