So if a sleek wine shop opened in the arcade under the new Goldman Sachs building, you’d expect it to have oversized bottles of first growths and Napa cabs, right? Well, Vintry Wine and Spirits has plenty of trophy bottles, but it also has some reasonably priced and very drinkable ones.
Nestled among the magnums and imperials on the sleek shelves are the wines of Arianna Occhipinti from Sicily, Ar.Pe.Pe in Valtellina, and Chateau Thivin from Beaujolais among the shop’s 2,500 bottles. Clearly whoever assembled the selection thought about serving the area’s residents as well as the Masters of the Universe in the tower above. And that decision fell to Michael Martin, general manager, who told me that most of the purchases thus far have been between $20 and $40 a bottle–although one customer did buy a $2,000 bottle on whim on his way to the register. One of the store’s owners, Peter Poulakakos, comes from a fine wine background as his father owns Harry’s Steak, which has a lengthy wine list.
Customers who care to probe the shop’s inventory can talk to the staff or tap on one of the iPads mounted throughout the swanky shop. Mike told me that he’s most proud of the Champagne and Burgundy selections, and they are particularly deep, with many grower Champagnes (though the only Selosse is the Initiale!).
But there’s one wine that customers won’t find here: Yellow Tail chardonnay. Time for those who want it to get familiar with Chablis…
Just across the West Side Drive in Tribeca are three other stores that are also worth noting: Chambers Street Wines, a national leader; Frankly Wines, the most charming 300 sq. ft. wine shop in Manhattan; and New York Vintners, which has many events with winemakers among other charms. This area gives the locals plenty of choice and makes it wine destination neighborhood for the rest of us.
Wine importer Joe Dressner lost his three-year battle against brain cancer last month. During the course of his treatment, he often posted on his blog that there were others in the world who could not get the treatment he was getting. The Haitian earthquake of last year sparked him to hold several fundraiser tastings for the nonprofit Partners In Health, which fights disease in impoverished countries and areas around the world. The nonprofit spends an impressive 94.3% of their funds on programing according to Charity Navigator.
Starting this coming Saturday, some of my favorite shops (and one restaurant) in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Westchester will be pouring wines from the Louis/Dressner portfolio to raise funds for Partners in Health. The full list appears after the jump; most ask for a $20 donation but contact the shop before attending for complete details. It will be a very worthwhile evening, wherever you attend. Even if you can’t make it to one, you can always make a donation to PIH in Joe’s memory (or not) to PIH. In Joe’s inimitable words, here was a plea of his to give: Read more…
King Solomon was known for his wisdom. And when he ordered a baby cut in half, he made a woman cry.
John Slover is the Solomonic sommelier, though his splitting things in two is more likely to make people happy. When at Bar Henry, he introduced a bottle-splitting program, wherein diners could order 375ml of a regular bottle for only half the full-bottle price (No upcharge! The remaining 375ml is then available to other diners.). This encourages diners to experiment, by, as an example, having a half a bottle of white with appetizers and a half a bottle of red with the main course.
He’s continuing the wisdom of this strategy at Ciano, where he is the wine director at the restaurant that opened last year with Shea Gallante in the kitchen. Slover said wine sales have been strong, adding that the bottle-splitting program “has made money, certainly not lost any.” Two diners sometimes buy a full bottle and then order another half that they wouldn’t have normally ordered to try something new.
Slover divided the wine list into a “market” list where the splitting is allowed and a “reserve” list where it it is not. Unless he can broker a share on one of the pricey bottles. And he has done so, for example, selling a DRC Echézeaux 1985 for $1,200 per half to two tables. One evening, knowing a Rhone fan dining in the restaurant, he proposed a half of 1995 Henri Bonneau, reserve des Célestins, a Châteauneuf-du-Pape. The diner said, “Bring it on.” Then Slover proposed it to another diner who might be interested and he said “absolutely.” They enjoyed it so much they then went halvsies on a 1985 Rayas.
Let’s just hope Slover keeps his saber sheathed while doing his trademark bottle splitting. That would make us all weep.
Ciano, 45 E. 22nd Street, 212-982-8422
Eric Asimov’s column in the Times today highlights ten restaurants with strong selections of wines under $50. What are notable restaurants you would add to the list?
Wine under $50 certainly has obvious appeal. But it also has pitfalls, notably dull selections available at stores or supermarkets for $10 might appear for $40 on a list. That’s why there’s a paradoxical diner skepticism: on the one hand, we love a deal but on the other hand, we are apparently incredulous that lower-priced wine could actually be good. Pascaline Lepeltier of Rouge Tomate flagged this for us earlier, and she tweeted an elaboration yesterday about the place of wines under $50 and diner psychology:
i would say it is mainly the area where people may not expect to find good AND cheap wines; so you have to convince them
So which places can you cast aside your possible skepticism and order with confidence from the under $50 selections?
Any restaurant that (a) has a credo; (b) has a credo in Latin; and (c) has a credo that relates to health is on a mission. Such is the case at Rouge Tomate, a Michelin one-star, where the credo is Sanitas Per Escam (Health Through Food). But this is no grungy spot with Birkenstock-clad waiters; rather, it is a gorgeous 15,000-sq ft space around the corner from Barneys. So, which wine do you pair with nutritious gastronomy that favors local and rejoices in natural?
In the three years since the restaurant opened on the Upper East Side, that question has been the domain of Pascaline Lepeltier. Read more…
Paul Grieco, director of all things wine at restaurants Hearth and Terroir, is clearly a man of opinions: consider that as of today, for the third annual “summer of Riesling,” the only white wine available by the glass at Terroir (both locations), will be Riesling. He has used his wine list as a soap box for many years, heralding unsung grapes, praising Chateau Musar in Lebanon, and giving away sherry every day from 4 – 6 PM.
Now, on page one of his wine list, Grieco entered a high-profile fray in the NYC dining scene by vividly showing his support for restauranteur Chris Cannon, who abruptly closed his restaurants Alto and Convivio recently. (The closings were part of the fallout from a dispute with Cannon’s former business partners chef Michael White and investor Ahmass Fakahany, who together own Marea, Ai Fiori, and Osteria Morini.) Who needs a blog to rant when you can you can print your views on a wine list?
On a related note, even if the Krug was not properly chilled on a private jet bound for Aspen last week, it must have been a frosty trip since Grieco and Michael White were onboard.
SIPPED: wine on tap
Last week, New York magazine called self-serve wine tanks brilliant and highbrow. This week, their restaurant critics round-up the bourgeoning offerings of wine on tap. Fun as taps can be, let’s hope the cost savings are passed on to diners! [NY mag]
SIPPED: in vino, Veritas?
The NYC wine shrines Veritas and Cru, have closed according to the NYT. Grub Street reports that the lease for Veritas has been taken over and will now be a more casual place (with wine on tap?).
SIPPED: one for the road
A press release claims all 50 states (plus DC!) now allow diners to take unfinished wine with them from restaurants.
MUNCHED: Bordeaux 2010
Rabbits have descended on some vineyards in Bordeaux, one reporting 15 percent of the crop being eaten. At least some critics already like the 2010 vintage! Although “two paws up” was probably not the endorsement many property owners were seeking. [myfoxhouston.com]
SPIT: Strange brew, grand cru?
A British consumer claims to have found a frog in bottle of (Spanish) wine she was drinking. She has sued the retailer Asda. Ribbit! [Harpers.co.uk]
Pregnant women can have a drink or two a week without harming the baby according to a study published today in the Journal of Epidemiological and Community Health. The study used data drawing on 11,000 children. [Bloomberg]
SIPPED: ghost writing
Utah’s Atty General calls a beer industry lobbyist who drafted his recent testimony on HR 5034 simply “a scribe or secretary.” [WSJ]
SIPPED: one more reason to die with an empty cellar
UK Revenue agents are cracking down on valuing wine collections in estates at market value, not the cost basis. [FT]
Aria wine bar, opened last month in the West Village, emphasizes wines made using organic using biodynamic methods as well as wines made by women. Christy Frank, who owns a small wine shop downtown, tweeted that she was heading there last week to sample the all-women wine list, seeking out “Brix by chicks” (geek alert: Brix are a measure of sugar in grapes). Eric Asimov chimed in: “No pricks?” I asked Christy on Twitter if there was estrogen on tap. After her visit, she replied: “I was expecting a little more estrogen over all. Evenly split patrons. Manly staff. Tasty squid.”
While more details and opinions about Aria are forthcoming (check out some photos on urbandaddy), the nature of the wine list does raise an interesting question: should a wine list be structured to highlight almost exclusively women, who are woefully underrepresented in winemaking, or is that just a gimmick? Have your say in the comments or the latest poll!
Choose up to two responses