“Numerical scoring has replaced the drama, joy, pathos and excitement of wine,” said Dan Berger last night at the Four Seasons in New York City. Berger was one of four inductees into the Wine Writers’ Hall of Fame of the Wine Media Guild, a 35 year-old organization. This was the third class of inductees, which included Michael Broadbent, Karen MacNeil, and Andre Simon (posthumously for Simon; see bios here). Over 100 attendees brought wines from their cellars to share and pair with the bison, duck and rabbit on the menu.
Berger, once a math major who has written for a lengthy list of publications over several decades, delivered prepared remarks lamenting the rise of scores and the decline of prose in wine evaluations.
Bartholomew Broadbent (right) accepted the award for his father. He delivered some funny remarks about how his father had stopped drinking, except for putting champagne in his orange juice at breakfast, having a Madeira in lieu of coffee at 11 AM, drinking red and white wine with lunch (which didn’t count because it was with food), then having Madeira again instead of tea in the afternoon, more wines with dinner that, again, didn’t count, followed by some port. But because his doctor had told him to have a drink a day, he had some cordial before going to bed.
Broadbent praised the festive nature of the dinner while wistfully remembering the bygone dinners of Lloyd Flatt and others. He said that such dinners of fine and rare wines “don’t really happen any more because nobody thinks they are real.”
Ed McCarthy, a WMG member and previous inductee, reminded the crowd of the adage that nobody should die with a full cellar. Then he said that Andre Simon died with only two bottles of wine, very successful indeed. Peter Sichel, also a previous inductee, said that when Simon, the author of 104 books, hit 90 years old, a message went out to his friends alerting them to the fact that Simon had depleted his cellar and requested bottles to be sent.
The WMG also awarded three scholarships to students studying food and wine service at New York City College of Technology.
The wines flowed freely. Some bottles were off while others were on. I had ’71 Haut Brion that was drinking beautifully with the ethereal delicacy of mature cabernet. A Chateau Branaire ’75 from magnum was also in excellent shape. A ’97 Turley Old Vines was devoid of acidity, had residual sweetness and angular alcohol. I finished the evening with a glass of ’49 white port from Australia that was a ringer for Madeira. Other wines seen in the room ’66 Lynch Bages, ’74 Spanna, ’38 Niepoort, ’00 Hermitage, ’71 Beerenauslese, ’79 Ridge Lytton Springs and dozens more. More photos after the jump. Read more…
A couple of months ago, we had a discussion about what makes a great, independent wine shop. Here’s a bit more about one of excellent example of a neighborhood shop: Thirst Wine Merchants in Fort Greene, Brooklyn.
Michael Yarmark, born in New York, moved to San Francisco where he did a Masters in English literature at SF State. While living in the Bay Area, he met Emilia Valencia, who was working front-of-house at a restaurant. Together, they came to know the wines of Steve Edmunds who makes wines from Rhone varieties under the Edmunds St. John label in the East Bay. They eventually discovered the retail shop for the importer Kermit Lynch, which Michael describes as a turning point in their wine journey that led them to seek natural wines from independent winemakers.
Moving back to New York, Michael got a job as a sales manager for a book publisher while Emilia continued working in restaurants, including at Franny’s in Park Slope. Michael says that they liked shopping for wine at many of New York’s independent shops–and a handsome display of the corks they pulled while living in NYC attests to that diversity. Michael says, “it represents our thirst and our quest.” But they wanted something closer to their home in Fort Greene.
So in December 2006, they opened Thirst Wine Merchant. The 500 sq ft store stocks about 500 different wines, all with a natural bent, onto curved shelves made of biofiber (wheat) and sustainably harvested birch. The well-curated selection, strong in wines from the Loire, Burgundy and Italy, features many wines from Kermit Lynch as well as other importers and some domestic wines.
If you stop by the store, you’re likely to meet Michael or Emilia since they only have one full-time employee. When I stopped by last month, Michael was there and a $13 natural chardonnay from the Languedoc was being poured in the store. Prices are reasonable, especially with 5% off six bottles and 15% off case purchases. They also ship but don’t have inventory on their website. You can check it out in person or on my map of NYC wine shops.
Store info and photos after the jump: Read more…
Wine enthusiasts always enjoy getting affordable wines with tasty food at restaurants. Throw in a winemaker and it becomes a real event! Fortunately, there are a few interesting such winemaker dinners coming on the calendar in NYC soon. Of note:
April 19 at Rouge Tomate: Michel Delhommeau of Muscadet and Laetitia Gendrier of Domaine Huards in Cheverny will be among eight Loire winemakers on hand for a four-course dinner. Wine reception starts at 6:30. $95+tax and tip. (646) 237-8977
April 22 at Dressler (Williamsburg): a five-course dinner with Klauss Gasser, winemaker at Cantina Terlano in Alto Adige. Features four wines from 2005. (718) 384-6343
April 22 at Crush Wine & Spirits: not a dinner but a free, “epic” (their word) tasting of Gruner Veltliner from producers including Nikolaihof, Prager, FX Pichler, Brundlmayer and more…(Unlike the others, no producers on hand for this event.) 5:30 – 7:30. Food pairings from Seasonal restaurant. Must RSVP: firstname.lastname@example.org
And two arranged through Chambers Street Wines:
April 22: the distinctive, oxidized whites and high-acid reds of Jura will be offered in a private room at The Ten Bells in a walk-around, mingling, small plate tasting. More than a half-a-dozen producers will be in attendance. $55. (212) 227-1434
April 23 at General Greene (Fort Greene): a four-course dinner with excellent Loire producers Francois Chidaine (Montlouis and Vouvray) and Mattieu Baudry of Domaine Bernard Baudry (Chinon). Six wines will be served including two Montlouis still wines as well as Baudry’s top wine, La Croix Boisée. $90 (includes tax and tip) (212) 227-1434
UPDATE: Please note that the disruptions in European travel may have altered these events. Please double check with the organizers.
Two years and several inches of goatee later, Paul Grieco and chef Marco Canora of Hearth Restaurant open a second branch of Terroir wine bar today. Photographed at the pre-opening opening last night, wine impresario Grieco hands over a glass of bubbly. (See pix from the opening of the original location for the goatee watch.) Next to him are the beer taps, but eagle-eyed readers will note the tap closest to him is actually for Finger Lakes Riesling! Yes, they are having Riesling keggers in Tribeca now.
You can check out a wacky, unedited video tour of the place here.
24 Harrison St (@Greenwich St), Tribeca.
Key players in Albany are seeking to break the impasse over wine retailing reform in New York State according to one retailer who was contacted.
Daniel Posner, managing partner at Grapes the Wine Company in White Plains, NY, tweeted about the new proposal. Reached for comment, he says that he received a call today from legislative negotiators floating these new proposals. Two calls to Albany were not returned.
According to Posner, the new proposal would offer existing retailers two “medallions,” requisite to maintain or obtain a license for wine retailing. The first medallion would be for their existing store. Shop owners could do what they wish with the second, including use it to obtain a license on a second store as the current ban on owning multiple licenses would be lifted. They could also sell it to another party, including a supermarket, to apply for a wine retail license.
This would effectively cap the number of new licenses to only double the amount of existing stores, currently 2,400 in the state. This medallion period would be a transition of three years before the market was further liberalized, phasing out the medallions.
“I think it’s hard for current shop owners to refuse this,” said Posner.
“The new proposal gives three years when a retailer could (a) open another store, (b) sell it to a supermarket and profit or (c) sit on it and wait,” he said. “They’re giving plenty of time for stores to react.”
I recently met Doug Crowell, owner of Buttermilk Channel, a restaurant in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn, that has an all-American wine list and emphasizes local food sources. He told me about an immensely popular dish on the menu: fried chicken and waffles.
I wondered how he pulls off this unlikely combination so I asked him to describe the preparation. He said that the chicken is soaked overnight in buttermilk, then floured and fried. The waffle batter is spiked with cheddar. The cole slaw is traditional; the sauce blends balsamic vinegar and maple syrup.
Sweet, savory, fat–the grand slam of flavor! Apparently so, given the popularity of the dish. As to the wine pairing, which way would you go for this dish? Or do all those flavors make it…impossible?!? Raise the degree of difficulty, if you so desire, by going with an American wine in honor of the spirit of their list.
Eric Asimov has a long piece in today’s NYT about small wine shops. He highlights a number of local, independent shops mostly around New York City. If you are familiar with our map of NYC wine shops, then you knew about virtually every store in his story already! I’d also highlight Le Vigne, which is a good, new shop that didn’t get mentioned. I’ve also recently discovered UVA Wines in Brooklyn, which has an excellent selection of wines from the Loire and Burgundy. Thirst Merchants in Fort Greene also merits a shout-out since they have a lot of the hard-to-find wines from the portfolio of importer Kermit Lynch. Hit the comments with faves in your area.
I love a good, small wine shop. When people ask me to recommend a wine, I often tell them that the best practical advice I can give them is to find a great, small shop near them. Read more…
We all want to order wine like a pro at a restaurant. But apparently ordering wine off a wine list is an extremely pressure-filled situation for many people, ranking right up there with fear of public speaking and fear of grizzly bears. So with a new, recurring feature on this site, we aim to help you order wine like with aplomb and find an excellent deal.
Although regular wine markup in restaurants is 300 percent of the wholesale cost, many wine lists have hidden deals. There are any number of reasons why they exist: Perhaps the sommelier has a soft spot for an unheralded grape and slips it on the list with a low markup or maybe there is a closeout item and the restaurant passes on the savings.
Today’s such gem comes from Bar Boulud. To accompany the restaurant’s extensive charcuterie menu, wine director Michael Madrigale runs an innovative program that focuses largely on wines from the Rhone and Burgundy. One of the exciting things he does is feature a different large format bottle, often a rare mature wine, open it and pour it by the glass. (Follow on Twitter to see which wines are being poured.)
But one deal that he doesn’t telegraph is what he calls “the nugget.” On the wine list at any given moment is a wine that Madrigale puts on for the wholesale cost (that is to say, even below retail). He doesn’t highlight the item and it’s often an obscure, wine geek’s wine and his stock can be quickly depleted. Diners have to spot the wine on the list as being an outrageous value, and then order it and accept it. At that point Madrigale lets them know the value they have uncorked. “Usually, they are quite happy about their choice,” he says. Previous such wines have included Chapoutier’s ’04 Cornas “Les Arenes” for $55 and the Chateau Grillet 2004.
So order wine like an insider when next at Bar Boulud. The current nugget is…Eric Texier, 2000 Hermitage rouge for $69.
1900 Broadway (between 63rd & 64th) New York, NY 10023