Pave the path to her heart with diamonds and lace; these stylish tokens of love say “Be Mine” year-round. Ten carat heart-shaped yellow sapphire with diamond halo and split shank set in platinum and 14 karat hand-crafted cupid pendant with diamond eyes at Jack Sutton; hand-carved and painted wooden frame […]
COOKING: In the latest Savor the South cookbook series, Gumbo, Dale Curry offers up 50 recipes for Louisiana food lovers. Curry is a monthly contributor to this magazine, the former food editor at The Times-Picayune and author of New Orleans Home Cooking. This simply designed volume is petite, but packed with every gumbo imaginable, a […]
U.S. News and World Report released its rankings of the best and worst diets for 2015. A panel of experts rated each diet on a scale of one to five based on “short-and long-term weight loss, ease of following, nutrition, safety and performance as a diabetes and heart diet.” Topping the list were the DASH […]
In 1943 Franklin Roosevelt because the first sitting president to fly. In 2015 Rex of that year became the first monarch to arrive at Lundi Gras by train. Rexes have ridden the rails twice before, including, according to Rex archivist Stephen Hales, a visit to the 1884 Cotton Centennial at the site of today’s Audubon […]
Latest Vein Care Available in Covington LaBellaVitaVein.com La Bella Vita Laser and Vein Center in Covington has just launched a new website and Facebook page to give patients even greater access to information about vein-related problems. The new website offers a Virtual Vein Screening option, online appointment booking, patient feedback and helpful information on symptoms, […]
New Orleanians are well-known lovers of nostalgia, so any time a place that “ain’t dere no more” is reborn, it’s cause for celebration. We recently saw that with Brennan’s, the French Quarter grand dame that saw some struggles and closed, only to be bought, renovated and reopened by family member and December 2014 Persona subject Ralph Brennan, who promised to restore it to greatness. A causality of Hurricane Katrina, the original Martin Wine Cellar on Baronne Street Uptown didn’t reopen for years – instead, the Martin family focused their attention on stores on Magazine Street, Metairie, the Northshore and Baton Rouge. After waiting for years for the right economic conditions, patriarch Cedric Martin finally brought Martin back to Baronne Street. The wine seller, which like its Metairie counterpart includes a deli and lunch and dinner service, opened just in time for the holiday season. We talked to Martin about the opening and got his wine advice.
Q: What is it like with the store being open? A wish come true. It’s been a long time coming. This is where I grew up and learned the business. It was hard to leave there after the storm, and I always hoped this day would come. It’s just so nice to be back where I started, and the whole area is coming back. It’s also a shorter drive to my house. (laughs)
When I grew up (in this neighborhood) there were a lot of little stores, and that’s how my father started (the original Martin). Around there was a grocery store, barber, hardware store, bakery – a number of things. I used to go to a theater around there – I think I paid a nickel, or maybe a quarter, and a Blue Plate mayonnaise label to get into the movies.
There was a lot of retail in that neighborhood back in (19)50s and ’60s. I think it’s going to come back.
Q: What are some of your memories of being a child in the store? My father always said start at the bottom and work your way up. I did everything from learn the hand-set type machine to print labels, unloading trailers coming in early in morning and making room in the warehouse, doing inventory – my mother and I used to take the whole store and come in Sunday at 2 get out at 1 in the morning. It started out as a mom-and-pop business and it grew from there.
Q: Did you always think you would stay in the family business? I did some other things, but my father sat down with me one day and said, “Do you really want to be in this business?” and I said “Yes, I do” and he said, “I’ll keep it, then.” I learned a lot from him and we got along really well, which is unusual for a family business. I did everything he didn’t want to do, he did everything I didn’t want to do or have the talent to do. He let me make a lot of mistakes, and I learned from those mistakes.
Q: What do you find interesting about wine? Wines are constantly changing, because they’re an agricultural product. For example, every year France has a vintage, and maybe something with the weather happened, so the wines are lighter. Same thing happens in California, Argentina. You have to be pretty versatile in the wine business to know what years, areas and producers are great. That’s what you look for. It’s fun, because it’s always changing. So are other products like liquor – if you look at the bourbon explosion, tequila explosion. There are so many new products on the market it’s hard to keep up. But wine changes each year.
We constantly dedicate ourselves to learning. I send people to Chile, Argentina, France, California, to meet people who grow the grapes so they can have a personal experience when they talk to a customer. Education is big on our staff. I love sending employees around the world.
Q: What do you think are some of the best wine producers that aren’t the most well known places – Italy, France, Spain, California? Portugal. Fifteen years ago I went to Portugal, which is known for port, but I had some of the wines there and they’re very good. Not many people know about them – they didn’t export wines for a while. Now the country is starting to produce better wines, and they’re not expensive. South Africa is also producing some good wines. They’ve been around a while; when I was young, they had mainly co-ops (producing wines). Now they have small growers. Same with Portugal. And there are a lot of very good wines made in Oregon.
Q: What advice to you give to people who are interested in wine but are overwhelmed about where to begin? We do teach wine classes. Those start after Mardi Gras, and that’s where people learn about wines. They cover the basic countries and you get to taste six to eight wines per class; there’s six classes, and there’s some handouts in every class.
Drink what you like because there’s no right or wrong. Everyone has a different taste. And sometimes wines are better with food – drink wine with food.
Age: 63 Profession: President and Owner, Martin Wine Cellar Born/raised/resides: Uptown New Orleans Family (wife and kids’ names): Wife, Pamela, children: Hope, David and Ardenne Education: Louisiana State University Favorite Band: “I changed this one to talk show – I love ‘Car Talk’ on NPR.” Favorite Restaurant: No comment Favorite Food: Roasted lamb Favorite Book: Kissinger by Walter Isaacson Favorite Vacation Spot: Washington, D.C.