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
Hi, soon visiting New York for a wedding, my wife and I intend to do some NY touristing. Drinking good Italian wine I can do in Italy or in my home country (Sweden), but where to find a good selection of reasonably priced US wines in NY? -Johan
Interesting question! I assume Johan would be interested in a bar to drop into before or after his wedding festivities on an evening. New York City wine bars are dominated by lists that focus mostly or entirely on Italian wines; an emphasis on French wines is probably second. But since the demise of Vintage New York, which focused exclusively on wines of New York, nowhere really leaps out to me as having a preponderance of American wines. This may have to do with the fact that it is hard to find tasty American wines that retail for under $12 a bottle, thus putting them at a disadvantage in a restaurant situation with higher markups.
However, it is possible to put together a flight of American wines at a few places. Terroir Tribeca has five American wines available by the glass, with the small sizes all under $8, including a trio of New York State Rieslings. There are certainly better options at some restaurants that aren’t wine bars per se but have some bar areas; Gramercy Tavern is one possibility. But perhaps the best bar-bar for this type of request is Morell, which not only has several wine domestic reds and whites available by the glass, but affords possible celebrity viewing at Rockefeller Plaza.
What’s your theory as to why finding abundant American wines by the glass at NYC wine bars is such a challenge? And what are your suggestions for Johan?
Have you ever looked at a wine list and wished that you might want to try a half a bottle of one wine and a half a bottle of another wine? At Bar Henry, that dream can become reality.
John Slover, who previously worked at Cru, has assembled a wine list with 116 wines on the “market” list. Order any wine off this list and they will pour off half of it and charge you–gasp!–half the price of the full bottle. The remaining 375ml goes behind the bar and the wine gets written on a big mirror, where it is then in play and available for purchase by other diners, either as a half or by the glass. (The list also has 24 wines offered by-the-glass.) It’s a fun and innovative feature that offers the opportunity to try different wines at reasonable prices. The market list includes mostly French and Italian wines but also has selections from the US, Germany, Austria among other countries. Producers include: Tue-Boeuf, Belliviere, Knoll, Zilliken, Auguste Clape, Marquis d’Angerville, Paolo Bea and Cristom.
Bar Henry’s creativity features in a story that I wrote on the theme in the June 15 issue of the magazine Sommelier Journal.
Unfortunately it’s not on their website, but if you are a subscriber, check out the story on the back page.UPDATE: the column is now online! Check it out at sommelierjournal.com.
Which wine bars or restaurants have you been to that are doing fun and innovative things?
Related: Bar Henry, 90 West Houston Street, (646) 448-4559 (map it)
“Finding a deal on the wine list at Bar Boulud in NYC“
It’s sunny with a high of 86 today in New York. Although rosé is food-friendly and refreshing for more months than it is usually given credit for, today is classic rosé weather. I’ve got a couple of good rosés so now all I need is a pool…
Last week I stopped by Crush Wine & Spirits on 57th St (map it). They used to do free tastings weekly in the store but now have switched to larger ones only once a month. A staple in this vein has been their annual “war of the rosés” where they uncork and pour a dozen or more for consumers who think pink.
My favorite of the all-2009 lineup, both foreign and domestic, was the Clos Roche Blanche, a rosé from the pineau d’aunis grape, which usually makes some pretty light reds to begin with. This wine ($18) from the central Loire had great brightness and an alluring subtlety. The other wine that I bought after the tasting was the Commanderie de Peyrassol, a Provencal rosé that is consistently fun and delicious (and a good value, on sale for $14.39 that day–search for these wines).
After tasting the wines, I wondered if 2009 might not be the greatest rosé vintage in Europe? Not that people really give much thought to rosé and vintages. But it seemed to me that some of them were not as bright and snappy as in prior years. What is your experience? While awaiting your reply, I might just uncork one of those bottles pictured above.
“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…