If you are a member, or have friends who are members of The Westchester Country Club, The Apawamis Club, The Coveleigh Club or the Shenorock Shore Club then November is the month for you. In association with each of these clubs we will be hosting private wine tastings exclusively for members and their friends. On the evenings listed below we will be pouring hundreds of different wines from every imaginable wine-making region in the world. And there’s more…we have agreed with each of the clubs to offer the wines for sale on that night…and still more…and the prices for the wines will be just a few dollars over cost! This is a terrific opportunity to taste loads of wines, decide which you like and then completely revamp your Thanksgiving and holiday menus to accommodate the cases of each wine that you will want to buy! Has there been a better opportunity? So check the following dates, get your diaries out, call a friend and then make your reservation with your respective club.
Apawamis Club – Thursday, November 4th – 914~967~2100
Westchester Country Club – Friday, November 5th – 914~697~6000
Coveleigh Club – Friday, November 12th – 914~967~5900
Shenorock Shore Club – Saturday, November 13th – 914~967~3700
Don’t be clubless this November.
Sadly not everyone is a member of these clubs, so this Thursday why not join the team here at Wine at Five when we host an evening benefiting the Oceana Foundation – an organization dedicated to ensuring that our oceans remain as we intended them to be. A place where sharks can roam freely and eat you – I am a sharkaphobic!
The Oceana Foundation at Wine at Five, Thursday, October 28 7pm-10pm
But seriously, the guest speaker will be Felipe Gonzalez Terry-Gordon, ambassador to the Gonzalez-Byass sherry and wine empire of Spain. We will be pouring some of his wines, and a few others that remind me of pure, clean oceans. Tapas will be provided by Espana of Larchmont, music will be care of Pandora and conversation will be care of Bettina Alonso, Vice President for Global Development, Oceana. It’s going to be a great evening so stop by and meet Felipe and Bettina.
As of today we will be launching our latest idea! Countless times during the week we will have customers come in and ask us whether we have such and such wine that they drank at such and such restaurant – past being red or white there is little else to go on. So we have come up with an alternative to that feeling of total inadequacy – Mobilewine. Conceptually its very simple, but our suggestion would be to do it before you have drunk the entire bottle.
Step 1: Reach into your pocket and take out your phone. Inconspicuously, because a lot of restaurants will kick you out if you plan on talking in a loud obnoxious voice with a phone strapped to your ear.
Step 2: Gingerly place the wine bottle in front of you ensuring that some light is fixated on the label.
Step 3: Take a photo of the label
Step 4: Forward the photo to email@example.com
Step 5: Sit back, clap yourself on the back and realize how incredibly smart you must look to all your guests around the table who are still trying to remember where they put their phones.
Step 6: Waite whilst behind the scenes the investigate squad of Wine at Five investigate how they can get their hands on the wine, now that they have all the information they need!
However, these are a few photos that we couldn’t work with:
I received numerous requests after yesterday’s blog was posted asking me to expand upon some of the wines that we had tasted this last week. I came in early this morning, two cups of coffee and a mind filled with tasting notes, and so here’s the expanded list: – do remember that we typically search for those small little wineries that have limited production and even more limited inventory on the East Coast. So if anything jumps out at you and bites let me know so that we can put the wines aside for you.
Ofelia Brunello di Montalcino 2005 $42.00
I recently hosted the Passport to Food and Wine Tasting at the Scarsdale Golf Club and one of my importers brought along a little ringer for members to taste. The wine was a Brunello di Montalcino from Ofelia. I had no idea of the price, nor had I ever seen the wine before, nor tasted it. When I was informed that it had just arrived I was skeptical – wines have a tendency to appear ‘bottle shocked’ after being cooped up at sea for two weeks. But there was nothing wrong with this little gem. And the price! This has to be one of the least expensive, serious Brunello’s I have seen this side of 10 years. The wine has a deep garnet color, tinged with ruby-rust along the edges. Bouquet was of smoked, toasted oak, baked figs and plum jam. Om the palate there was a delicious hint of acidity which cut through the globs of sweet black cherries and fruit. Balance was impeccable; flavors were longer lasting than I could ever have hoped for in a Brunello less than $75.00, and with rich tannins still in the bottle, this is a wine that has lasting power. Loved this wine. (NPR – no parker rating…whoohoo)
Bishops peak Chardonnay 2009 $18.00
The name Talley Vineyard is synonymous with the history of great wine making in Southern California. It began in 1948 when Oliver Talley started farming premium fruits and vegetables. Since then Don Talley, the son, first planted vines on the steep slopes above the farm in 1982 and then watched and waited for the vines to mature. Beginning in 1986 he began production of their first chardonnay and over the years the Talley Vineyard wines have become legendary. A little know fact is that Don expanded the crush facility to incorporate grapes grown by immigrant farmers along the Arroyo Grande Valley. He also (with the help of Brian and Johnine Talley) started a charity that raises funds to provide grants for the agricultural workers without whom we would not be drinking Californian wines or eating West Coast fruits and vegetables. The expanded crush facility produces the Bishops Peak wines and we recently tasted his stainless steel fermented 2009 chardonnay. Light, refreshing, tropical fruit flavors that don’t swallow you up, balanced with bright minerality and a crisp acidity. Now all I need is to like oysters.
Broc Cellars Carignan 2009 $28.00
I loved the intro from Chris Brockway – “I grew up in Omaha, Nebraska where my peers were more interested in kegs than wine. I then went to college and majored in a seemingly useless subject, …philosophy”. Now he makes some of the most philosophical wines I have tasted in years. Totally unpretentious and concerned only with the quality of the grapes, the quality of the process and the transformation of fruit to wine. All along the curve he invests his time in ensuring that the grapes are grown organically and biodynamically with minimal intervention along the way. His Carignan is the first ‘Carbonic’ pure bred carignan that I have ever tasted. Carbonic means, in Chris’s own description “ I filled a stainless tank with the Carignan grapes, then displaced all the air with CO2. The CO2 permeates the grape skin to start an intracellular fermentation giving the wine a higher perceived acidity and berry fruit characteristics, but with lower tannin. The other 20% was fermented traditionally and aged for 4 months in neutral French oak barrels. The grapes come from a 120 year-old block in a vineyard on the Alexander Valley/Mendocino County border”. In lay terms this gives the wine and incredible brightness since the fermentation actually takes place within the grape itself and not after all the grapes have been crushed and mushed up like mashed potato. It’s like adding butter to the water and not after the mashing. Carignan is the grape that makes the Rhone smile, and this wine will do the same. Absolutely beautiful and I’m going to take some home for Thanksgiving.
Bernard Moreau Chassagne Montrachet Les Filles 2007 $67.00
I have been drinking white wines from Burgundy for close to 30 years and during that time I have watched many great houses stumble along the rocky way. There is a saying that great Burgundy starts with the word ‘location’ and ends with a sigh. The house of Bernard Moreau makes, quite probably, the finest wines in Chassagne Montrachet after Domaine Ramonet. The 2007 vintage was my kind of wine – racy and crisp with perfect balance between fruit, acidity and minerality. But they are also wines that will please the palate over the next 10 years. Moreau’s 2008s are just as good, but they are more open and pleasing now, whereas the 07’s almost need decanting prior to gulping. This 07 is just heavenly and if you have ever thought of spending your kid’s inheritance, this would be the time to do so.
Jean Claude Bessin 1er Cru La Fourchaume Chablis 2007 $39.00
I have read numerous reviews on this wine and almost all start with the suggestion that Bessin’s wines are akin to the great Chablis wines of Raveneau. I have already spent my son’s inheritance so the possibility of buying a few bottles of Raveneau is well beyond my grasp. Oh well, I’ll just have to do with Jean Claude Bessin. Actually, it’s not a bad idea. Bessin’s La Fourchaume at $39.00 is about 1/5 of the price of Raveneau (his average price for 1er cru is $230 per bottle). The 2007, like Moreau’s Chassagne, starts with a beautiful pale straw hue. The nose wafts traces of lemon skin and roasted walnuts. The tongue gets the pleasure of both these and more complex flavors such as marshmallow, lime and nougat. This is what wine should taste like.
Domaine Montvac Cotes Du Rhone 2009 $17.00
Last night I planned to go with Bruno to the indoor race track in Mount Kisco and pretend to be Emerson Fitipalldi driving my little go-cart at 225mph around the chicane. Sadly the race was called off and I lumbered home to a plate of semi warm rotisserie chicken and salad. Fortunately, as all good survival books will tell you, I had packed a bottle of Cecile Dusserre’s Montvac CDR. This is her newest release and OMG what a way to push back the chicken and green stuff. I just spent the night with my nose in my glass and my tongue licking the legs off the inside walls. If this is not the best CDR for under $20.00 I’ll eat salad for a week (not). Round, full bodied, balanced, almost perversely good for such a price. I have known Cecile ever since I started our little store and I have visited her winery many times. This is unquestionably the best of her entry level Rhone’s that I have tasted. If you don’t buy it today you’re probably going to have to wait, because I suspect the remaining cases are coming home with me.
That Was The Week That Was
First aired in Britain on the BBC channel in 1962 this was the program that brought fame and fortune to David Frost. It pitted sharply intellectual investigative reporters against the establishment and no stone was left unturned. When it was first broadcast Britain was in the midst of the Profumo spy scandal and John Profumo MP, closets filled with whips and stockings, and the infamous prostitute on a chair became second nature watching for all those tea slurping couples sitting in front of their coal burning fireplaces. Frost did something that had never been done before – he took the gloves off in public. When you look back on it it was absolutely radical and it changed TV reporting forever. I mention this because over the last few weeks I have been brooding over various wine related topics that are, in their own way, radical ideas. First up I give you a quote: “There is no health magic in wine,” said Sheila B. Blume, M.D., addiction psychiatrist and former New York State Commissioner on Alcoholism. “I would never recommend that anyone begin drinking because alcohol has many destructive health effects. Physicians simply cannot predict with any certainty who will become a problem drinker.” [Oct. 1997 - Center for Science in the Public Interest CSPI]. I suspect that Ms Blume is a closet tea drinker. I wonder whether, in the light of overwhelming medical research to the positive effects of drinking a glass of wine, she would still recommend never having a glass or two – I wonder if Charles Manson drank tea; would that make him a ‘problem drinker’. Box wines are another radical topic. Tyler Colman, the sharp witted mind behind Dr. Vino recently went on Good Morning America and championed the whole concept about the transformation of Box Wine brands. There was a time, not too long ago, when the mere suggestion of buying wine in a box, and drinking it, would lead to instant Country Club Dismissal. By the looks of the latest wine box the industry has simply moved toward a more eco-friendly method of bottling and shipping. Used to be that your Chateau Petrus would arrive in a wooden box with 12 little bottles in it. Now you can still get the wooden box but the 12 little bottles have been shoved into 1 little vacuum sealed plastic bag – same principal, radical new concept! Not so radical, but more politically charged is the recent disclosure that the Beer Wholesalers of America Association recently spent over $2.6 million dollars trying to ensure that H.R 5034 remains in law. This is the law that ensures that only alcohol distributors have the right to sell their wicked brews. It was first passed in 1933 and has for the last 77 years ensured that the sale of alcohol remains a monopolistic business owned, operated and protected by a tiny group of mega wealthy people. The NBWA (National Beer Wholesalers of America) are the 4th largest corporate political donors in the US (WSJ). Interestingly the leading recipient of their money is Rep. John Conyers, MI who coincidentally chairs the judiciary Committee where the Beer Wholesalers Protection Act (H.R. 5034) came up for its annual hearing. But there’s more. The second largest contributor in support of this bill is…the Wine and Spirit Wholesalers of America – same group of misfits, different initials. They allegedly spent $1.1 million during this election cycle to ensure that HR 5034 remains in effect. The WSWA doesn’t want you, the consumer, to be entitled to choose which wine you want to buy, and from whom, nor do they want you to be able to buy wine and a loaf of bread together and just to nail the coffin shut, they don’t want you to purchase an eco-friendly, reusable wine tote bag…in a wine store!
Where does all this lead? Thoughts for 2011 – wine in a box will become an accepted variation on the screw cap argument. They are both great ideas and will convince consumers of their respective merits in the near future. Wine as a health product will continue to dominate tabloids and will be seen as an alternative to viagra. And the NBWA, in conjunction with the WSWA will no doubt support the WWE in ensuring that Linda McMahon gets the Connecticut vote for US Senate – Not.
In our own little way we have had a ‘That was the Week That Was’. Ever since I started Wine at Five I have been determined to introduce consumers to wines that don’t show up on a discount store shelf. I have been determined to root out commercial plonk and wine writer’s trumped up scorecards. I have sought to introduce wine aficionados and just wine drinkers to the merits of good value wine without the Leer Jet aspirations of their wine-makers. And during these last few weeks we have enjoyed some of the best wines I have tasted in a very long time. I am a huge fan of wines from the Rhone and I recently tasted the 2005 Domaine Notre Dame des Pallieres Gigondas and was blown away by the flavors. This is great stuff made in a truly artisanal fashion. Its complex and subtle, with just the right amount of smokiness, vanilla bean, fruit compote and jam – its the non-drug users version of zantac.
Alongside it I drank one of my old favorites, Domaine Montvac. Cecile’s new 2009 Cotes du Rhone is indicative of how great this vintage is going to be. At $17.00 the wine is a steal and as masculine and macho as the Rhone wine industry is, Cecile Dusserre, the astonishingly good looking wine maker, proves that nothing is set in stone. To finish the Rhone flight I drank more than a few tasting glasses of Paul Autard’s 2009 Cote du Rhone. Jean-Paul Autard has taken over the realm of this historical vineyard and has combined the essence of his family tradition with his own modernistic ideas onthe making of Chateauneuf. I wanted to see whether the 2009 harvest really is that good, and having been late to buy into the 2007 vintage, I don’t want to make the same mistake with this one. Not sure how long the wines will remain in stock,but I am going to keep buying them for as along as I can. We also bought in the range of Argentinian wines from Luigi Bosca, one of the most influential, radical and brilliant wine making families from down south. We tasted, loved and bought new whites from Italy – perfect whites for fall weather. Spadafora Don Pietro Bianco, a blend of inzolia, grillo and catarratto from Sicily; Vadiaperte Fiano di Avellino, from vineyards outside of Naples, a strongly flavored, aromatic white that lends itself to hearty soups and chunks of country bread and cheese. And last but not least a rare beauty from Burgundy’s Chablis region – the Romain Bouchard Le Grand Bois. Wine lovers may remember the visionary wine-maker, Andre Tremblay, the man who single-handed brought fame to Chablis. His wines were legendary and sought after by European cellar hoarders at every auction. Now his grandson Romain Bouchard has taken over the legend and is working his own magic. This single vineyard Chablis, ‘Le Grand Bois’ is situated on steep, chalky slopes facing south/southwest, perfect for capturing sun from early morning through dusk. The vineyards are organic, the vines are harvested individually, by hand, and the wine is vinified and matured on their lees for over 12 months. The resulting Chablis is both complex and subtle and radically different from the over extracted commercial plonk that presides over most retailers shelves.
So come into the store this week and stock up on a few radical ideas. Who knows, this could become your This Was The Week That Was.
We have a full plate coming up over the next few weeks so get your calendars out and start scribbling:
On Thursday, October 28 we will be hosting a charity event on behalf of Oceana – an organization dedicated to the protection of the World’s Oceans. Hors d’oeuvres will be supplied by Espana Restaurant and our guest speaker will be Felipe Gonzales-Gordon Terry, the ambassador of the Gonzalez-Byass winery in Spain. Gonzalez-Byass is probably more well known under it’s sherry brand name, Tio Pepe. Felipe lives here in Rye and we will be drinking copious quantities of his wines. To RSVP and to make a donation please call Oceana directly at 212-371 5013.
On Thursday, November 4 we will be organizing the wine tasting for members of the Apawamis Club. Attendance is limited to members of the club, and their friends, and we will be putting up eight tables of wines featuring the very best of wines for the holiday season.
On Friday, November 5 we will be organizing a similar event, Passport to the World of Wines for members of the Westchester Country Club. Another opportunity to taste hundreds of wines and fill your shopping baskets with your choice for Thanksgiving and Christmas.
On Friday, November 12 we will be hosting the 3rd Annual Wine Tasting for members of the Coveleigh Club and the following night, Saturday, November 13 we will finish with an amazing tasting of high profile wines for members of the Shenarock Shore Club.
If you are a member of any of the above clubs please call your club and make your reservations. These tastings are an excellent opportunity to try hundreds of different wines and to fill your cellars with wines that you like. We have arranged for very special pricing at each of the events – we also understand the necessity to save you money!
Janell Dusi and the Dusi Blues
A few weeks ago I was delighted to receive 2 cases of Janell’s 2007 Dusi Zinfandel. I sent out a reminder to a few customers who had shown interest in the wine and had bought it in the past and then it was gone. Two cases in one morning and I figured that would be it until next vintage. Which would have been a shame considering how good her ’07 was. And even at the wine-head visitors are limited to only 1 bottle and they now pay $42 for the pleasure. But before I share with you the really good news let me give you a little history about Dusi Vineyard.
It all began back in the 1920′s when Sylvester and Caterina Dusi emmigrated to the US and specifically to the Paso Robles region. Over the years Sylvester became a prominent businessman and was involved in numerous local businesses including the purchase of a vineyard. Back then buying a vineyard was the equivalent of buying yourself a ticket to bankruptcy. But Sylvester was a farmer at heart and his three sons were born, raised and worked at Dusi Winery. Dante, one of the three is grandfather to Janell and it was he who taught her how to grow vines and make wine the Italian way. But even though it was in her blood it still took her a while to appreciate what life had given her. She studied at UC Davis and then went walkabout, exploring Australia, South East and Central Asia. The more she travelled the more she realised that her love was back home, in the vineyards that her great-grandfather had planted. The Dusi vineyards have become historic – Turley makes a Dusi Zinfandel, so too does Ridge, in fact almost all of the vineyard is designated to some of the greatest zinfandel producers in California. Janell doesn’t have priority over the vines, these other wineries take precedent. But as a testimony to how good the vineyard really is, the share of vines that she harvests produce, in my opinion, the greatest expression of Dusi Vineyard. Possibly because she is a woman, born and raised alongside the vines, but her zinfandel is unlike all other macho and mustachioed zins. This is a wine that begs you to drink the entire bottle. It’s also a wine that will happily collect dust in your cellar and delight you in 8-12 years. Her zinfandel is as good as any I have tasted, and she’s only been making it for three harvests!
So here’s the good news – I just bought the last 10 cases of 2007 Dusi Zinfandel. Your really can’t buy it at the winery and outside of a few stores in California the only other place I found it was in Omaha, NE ! I am going to keep the price the same as it was when we first received our very first shipment – $32.00 and $28.8 per bottle for a case. This is a wine that you may well want to share with friends and family at Thanksgiving. Whilst it is a big wine it has such a feminine touch – sweet black fruit, stewed berry compote, touch of vanilla seed and the aromatics of Poilane’s Bakery in Paris (Lionel Poilane’s bakery is one of the 7 Wonders of the World). It will pair with turkey because pretty much anything over and above water is a good pairing for the great white shark of the Thanksgiving table; but more than that it will pair up with all the lovely roasted vegetables, rich stuffing, pecan pies and cheeses! Damn I wish Thanksgiving would hurry up and arrive!
Anyway – if the last two cases are anything to go by, these ten will soon disappear – so as always, if you have an interest let me know ASAP.
Back in 1593 someone brought into Holland a little bulb from Turkey called a Tulip. Since it had travelled quite a distance and was not indigenous to Holland it began life as quite a pricey little bauble. It’s novelty caught on and made it quite sought after. Then it got a virus – non-fatal and actually quite attractive. The tulips contracted a virus called ‘mosaic’ which altered their colors by creating flames of brighter, primary colors, to shoot out from the stamen and along the petal. This was wondrous and a deathly quiet descended over the flat land of Holland. Until everyone realised that this made their tulips even more valuable and then began a cacophony of buying and selling tulips that had rarer and rarer ‘flames’. Such was the demand that people began trading their homes, their land, even their lives, for a few little bulbs. Of course, the smart money began selling their bulbs and soon a domino effect took over and when it was all over the government, which had attempted to stop the selling by honoring purchase contracts at 10% of face value, went bust as did almost every Dutch citizen who had decided to plant a tulip garden.
There are similarities even in the wine business. Last Saturday Morrell & Company hosted a Fine Wine Auction dominated by great Chateaux from Yquem and Mouton to Petrus and Rieussec. Bids were not that frequent and many of the wines sold for less than estimate or at the bid side of estimate. Restaurateurs weren’t gobbling up the expensive stuff and quite a few wines didn’t even manage a bid. We aren’t in a wine bubble at the moment, but I do think that the serious wine connoisseur is looking at value and the price level for value is coming down. The Russians and the Chinese bought up most of the 2009 Bordeaux 1st growths, but that’s where the new money is. I would be very cautious about buying heavily into these en-primeurs at this juncture. I suspect that prices will fall quite sharply in the new year and those that seek out excellent wine at moderate prices will be happy enough buying more wine for less than buying one mega wine for more – ’tis the season when one needs to think about value and quality ratio – and if the tulip bulb bubble didn’t worry you, did you know that Mexico just floated a 100 year bond, due 2110 with a yield of 6.1%. If that isn’t indicative of an interest rate bubble I don’t know what is.
Wines such as Dusi Zinfandel offer you the greatness of a Turley wine without the price tag and it allows you to buy more nectar than you could before. Moral of this story? You can’t drink tulips but you can drink zins.
I was just upstairs tasting some Brunello’s and the Billecart champagne came in from the cold. Very exciting! It’s been a long time since I bought Billecart, either personally or for the store. As I mentioned in a blog a few weeks ago Billecart salmon decided to do away with their previous importer – a character that would make even Charles Dickens weep, and they moved their business to a specialist importer here in New York. We have worked with this company almost since day one and so you can imagine I was delighted. But even with our friendship he did have to curtail my initial enthusiasm and this morning I received about 50% of my wish list. Trust me, any amount would have been gratefully accepted. With prior requests this leaves me with roughly 3 cases of the Billecart Brut Reserve, 1 1/2 cases Billecart Rose and only 2 cases of the Billecart Blanc de Blanc. My understanding is that more Billecart may come into New York in November but I can’t guarantee that, so if you are interested in purchasing any please let me know as soon as possible – this will sell out immediately.
Wine of the Month Club
The wines for the October Wine of the Month Club finally arrived yesterday – those of you who live out of State we will ship to you this morning. For all local Club Members the wines will be available this afternoon and as promised, we will be pouring each of them on Saturday. The theme for this month was Stunt Men – those less expensive wines that stand in for their Holywood Stars – a petit Sancerre, a petit Amarone, a second label from Lynch Bages and a wine from the Minnervois that doubles as a Chateauneuf du Papes.
It’s done. 5:00am this morning, the truck all packed, gear in, bike tied down and off to NYC. Bumper to bumper traffic at about 150th down the West Side Highway signalled the closing of the Henry Hudson and the FDR. Got off and parked…I had secondary transport after all and another 7 miles would just be a warm up. Bloody cold though – even for an ex-pat. Rode down the HH to 54th street and it was like the Wordsworth poem :
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.
- It’s an amazing site to see 6,000 riders congregating alongside those huge luxury tourist trap liners. Equally amazing is to see them ride off down the West Side Highway. It was a great ride; it was a fabulous day; and it was for such a great cause. I want to thank everyone who donated to my Ride for a Cure. With your generosity I was able to raise over $5,500. Our team, The Blue Ribbon Restaurant – Naked Nuggets raised over $50,000. That’s huge and so here’s a big THANK YOU
- I am back home now nursing an assortment of aches and pains but these will all subside, unlike those who suffer from MS. But with your help today we raised a bucket load of money that will one day see a cure for this horrible disease.
- Scramble for the Finish Line Passing the Pace Car Bike Vs. NY Taxi Pot Hole on the FDR
Monday10.00am – 7:00pm
Tuesday10.00am – 8:00pm
Wednesday10.00am – 8:00pm
Thursday10.00am – 8:00pm
Friday10.00am – 8:00pm
Saturday10.00am – 7:00pm