Meet the Rosémaker: André Hueston Mack
It would be hard to find a cooler or more impressive winemaker than André Hueston Mack. The former Head Sommelier at Per Se was the first African American to win the prestigious Best Young Sommelier in America award, and this was after he had a successful career with Citicorp Investment services. Mack introduced his wine label, Mouton Noir in 2007 and has continued to crush it ever since with a fresh perspective on wine, label design and the stories behind them both. As if that’s not enough, he has a boutique graphic design firm and sells awesome wine-humor tees. We talked to him about the exciting things he has going on and Love Drunk, the Willamette Valley Rosé he makes that we are drunk in love with.
What’s your backstoré as a winemaker? At the height of my sommelier career, I decided that I wanted to continue to learn about wine more intensively and thought the best way to do that would be to make my own and that it would allow me to scratch a few other itches I had, wanting to be an entrepreneur and more creative in my life. I started Mouton Noir Wines on a whim and with the good graces of many people I have met in the industry over the years. Wherever I had extended terms or no terms is where I made my home so I started making wine in California with a Cabernet blend called Montgomery Place. It was when a good friend had purchased a vineyard in Oregon that I headed north, and I’m happy to say that the Willamette Valley is where I hang my hat.
Can you recall the first time you fell for Rosé? It was back in the summer of 2004 on the outside patio at Pastis I was falling hard for New York City and that Tempier Bandol Rosé had me head over heels.
Tell us everything we need to know about Love Drunk! Love drunk is an ode to my restaurant career which was full of infatuation, intoxication and fraternization. Upon release in 2009 it was offered “restaurant only” as a farewell to the restaurant business. The 2016 Love Drunk made from Pinot Noir & Chardonnay grapes is an intoxicating rosé. Much like new love, it clouds the brain, causes eyes to sparkle, cheeks to glow, blood pressure to rise, and lips to pucker. There are provocative aromas of strawberry and raspberry, followed by refreshing flavors of wild strawberry, watermelon rind, and a hint of kiwi.
How did you land on the name? Who designed the label? I came up with a name to describe how I felt about being in love with the restaurant business, my wife (my girlfriend at the time) and wine! All three of those things had me in a constant euphoric state of total bliss and this was my homage to them. I designed the label and I wanted it to be as simple as possible and I believe the name was something that everyone could interpret and relate to. I’ve always been drawn to the simplicity and starkness of black-and-white and think it really helps the label stand out. The idea to put a rose on it was twofold: when you’re in love you give someone a rose and it was also a play on the power of the accent mark (Rose & Rosé).
What are your favorite Love Drunk pairings? Sunny weather, day drinking and picnics! I generally love to enjoy this wine with some type of salad with a protein (salmon) on it, tossed in a light vinaigrette with citrus supremes.
What should Rosé drinkers learning about different regions know about Oregon Rosé? They should know that the region is pretty versatile and there could be a lot of fun to be had exploring the many different styles outside of the typical and always tasty style of cool, crisp and fruit forward Rosés.
Where’s your favorite place to stop and drink the rosé? On the canal boat in Amsterdam.
Who would you most like to have a glass with? I would have to say with one of my favorite artist’s, Jean-Michel Basquiat. I would imagine us quaffing down rosé in a backyard garden somewhere in the Lower Eastside. I would hang onto his every word as he told stories of the early days as Samo, making art with Warhol and doing drugs with Haring.
What’s your go-to summer drink other than rosé? Gin tonics absolutely has to be the best cocktail on the planet but it tastes even better during the summer. Ford’s Gin, Jack Rudy Tonic and fresh limes.
What are you most looking forward to this summer? I’m opening a family business called “& Sons” Ham Bar and Buttery in our Brooklyn neighborhood. At the ham bar we’ll be serving domestic charcuterie and cheese alongside a wine list centered around old vintage American wine.