With 20 years of national and international experience, an accomplished scientific background and a distinctive artistic talent, award winning winemaker Gilles Martin blends in his wine creations the classic refinements of old world tradition with the adventurous passion of new world innovation.
Born at the gates of the Champagne region, Gilles headed to the South of France in the Languedoc wine region to obtain an engineering degree in biology and food sciences as well as a prestigious Masters of Oenology from the University of Montpellier. His 1986 Master thesis on the technology of wine ultra-filtration won national acclaim and a first prize, awarded in person, by former France president Jacques Chirac.
Eager for fresh adventures and inspiration, the newly graduate Gilles traveled the wine world from Germany, where he worked at Weingut Hans Land winery in the Rheingau, to Australia for harvest at the renowned Houghton winery. In 1988, he landed on the coast of Virginia where he began training his palate to the exiting challenges of East Coast wine making. Moving west, Gilles was from 1990 to 1996 the assistant winemaker of the much celebrated California Roederer Estate winery, where he produced wines unanimously hailed by the press as “the best sparkling wines ever made outside the Champagne area”. He then returned briefly to his native France to craft for Delas-Frères in the Rhone Valley, critically acclaimed Viognier and Syrah wines.
It was romantic love and his everlasting taste for innovative viticultural exploration that brought Gilles back in 1997 to the Long Island shores and the newly growing East End wine region. After overseeing the birth of three now well established wineries, Macari, Martha Clara and Sherwood House, he enthusiastically returned to his favorite area of excellence and expertise, the creation of distinctive, classy, elegant yet easygoing sparkling wines.
What are the unique characteristics of your winemaking style?
Born and raised in France, I have been exposed to French cuisine and wines, local produces and family recipes, which shaped my Gallic taste buds forever. Having the great opportunity to work for prestigious French houses of wine, I had the privilege to fashion my vision of wines through the diverse French appellations, where I worked. It is through tasting wines and working with vintners of “the Crus” that I developed my winemaking skills and style. Nothing replace knowledge and experience!
Describe the relationship between the Long Island wine community and the agriculture, aquaculture and overall East End culinary culture.
We have a rare opportunity on Long Island to enjoy a rich agriculture and aquaculture, which both complement our wines so well. The fortunate various local productions make our area a gastronomical paradise!
What foods are paired best with the wines of Long Island?
The pleasure of diverse cuisines requires a large variety of foods and wines. We are fortunate on Long Island, to be in a unique wine region of the East Coast, where as winemakers, we are not limited into the elaboration of broad stylistic range of wines. Our wines fit a wild variety of foods from the sea and from the land. Shell fish from the bay and fishes from the ocean are particularly a great pairing with sparkling wines.
What Long Island wine would you recommend to someone just discovering the region?
For the white wine lovers, I would recommend a Viognier from Kontokosta winery, a Gewürztraminer from One Woman Winery and a Sauvignon Blanc from McCall wines.
For rosé wines amateurs, my choice will gear toward a dry Rosé from BOUKE wines, or a Syrah driven blend from Kontokosta.
For the red wine connoisseurs, my nose always enjoys the aroma of the Sherwood House Cabernet Franc, or the Bordeaux blend, Ben’s Blend, from McCall wines.
And my recommendation is to never ever forget a bottle of sparkling wine “BRUT SEDUCTION” to start or to end a gastronomic affair!
What are your passions outside of wine?
I do enjoy nature, I ride mountain bike a lot, play tennis or hike in the mountain during the summer. During the winter recess, I do ski in the Alps or on the East coast. I also practice indoor sports like racquetball, and I also enjoy the relaxation of Yoga. Traveling is also part of the family ritual, in Europe, Africa or South America; we all enjoy discovering a new culture.
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