Where have the last five years gone? Click your fingers. Gone. March 21, 2006 Wine at Five opened its doors. Five years later we are, remarkably, still here. We are like this year’s winter. Sadly the last five years seem to have gone by much quicker than this winter. When is this white stuff going to stop? In the mountains, no problem, on the sidewalks – it’s a problem. Although check out our rather plush, new awning out front – one of the by-products? I don’t have to clear the snow away anymore!
Five years ago this was just a bit of fun – five years later it’s a big bit of fun. Who would have guessed that playing loud music and drinking wine every day could be like this? And of course, to mark this auspicious occasion what better than to announce the date of our Real 5th Anniversary Wine Tasting at the Wainwright House. We are going to do it on Friday, May 20th. It will be at the Wainwright House, it will be in the tent and Gary Stone will provide the ab/fab food as he has in the past five wine tastings.
Not many rule changes this year but the ones you need to know about now are:
Ticket price is $50.00 per ticket
There can be absolutely NO PARKING along the road. We are going to discuss with neighboring clubs if we can possibly borrow some parking space, and we will also hire two off-duty Rye Finest to help monitor parking – please don’t ask the officers to valet park your car, if you do you will have to ask them to retrieve it and with your breath smelling the way it will that’s probably not a good idea. On that subject, please, please have a designated driver – better yet, have your kid drop you off and pick you up – you know he/she isn’t going to be drinking – it’s illegal! Car Pool if you can.
Ticket sales will begin Monday March 28. No reservations without a credit card (i.e. purchases only); no cancellations; ticket purchases must be accompanied with a usable e-mail address. We will send each e-mail address updates of the event, and prior to the event we will e-mail copies of the wines and prices so you will have the chance to preview before the night. Tickets will be limited – last year we reached the limit within two weeks (I think we announced the date just before a school vacation). So please, if you do plan to attend, get your ticket orders in quickly.
Glasses up 6:30pm. We listened to some very constructive criticism after last year’s tasting and have made a few changes based on customer feed-back. We will reduce the number of tables to ten and reduce the number of wines to 10-12 wines per table. That’s still plenty of variety, but not so much that it becomes too daunting. Marina, Bruno and I will be doing our homework over the next few weeks so that the wines on each table will represent the best wines and the best values from each distributor. There will be more water stations. The food will be more dispersed – to avoid the crush that some people experienced last year when much of the food was centralized in one location.
Please also remember – and there’s no polite way of really saying this; this is a tasting event, please don’t ask the pourers to pour full glasses, they won’t and technically, they are not allowed to by law and their licenses would be put in jeopardy. Also please bear in mind that Wine at Five carries the cost of this event in its entirety, and it’s not cheap. We do it for many reasons, not least it’s our way of thanking all of our customers, it’s great PR but it’s also an opportunity for our customers to purchase their wines at wholesale cost plus a few dollars of profit margin. It’s your purchases that allow Wine at Five to make a modest profit – and I hear that Bruno wants a Porsche this year!
It’s going to be another great event – we have new importers who we are really excited about who will be pouring wines that are truly off-the-beaten track. This is not a Parker-Fest – there won’t be too many wines that have over-extracted fruit basket flavors washed down by high levels of ethanol! There will be plenty of Rosés, there will be plenty of ‘seasonal’ wines just right for late spring and summer and there will be plenty of wines that you have never heard of – that’s the exciting part.
So look at your diaries, if there is anything on May 20 scrub it out and put Wine At Five Wainwright House, 6:30 – reserve baby-sitter now.
So that’s the news about the annual tasting, let’s take a look at the news during the past two weeks.
Last night I was thrilled to be invited (many thanks GL – and many thanks to you Roberto – I hope to repay your amazing generosity in VinItaly in two weeks) to the Crabtree Kittle House to meet Roberto Voerzio. Glen put together an astonishingly good series of tasting plates that we paired with Roberto’s equally astonishing Barolos. Roberto is the maverick of the Piedmonte. Back in 1987 he left his father and brother and the family wine business to set out on his own and make radically different wine. Over the next 20 years he bought up tiny little parcels of vineyard plots – we are talking rows, not acreage; and over the years this quilt of vineyards has grown to become the most sought after vineyards in La Morra – the Pomerol of Piedmont, as one critic called it. Interestingly most of us have heard of Chateau Petrus, Chateau Yquem and Domaine Romanee Conti, but how many of us have heard of Robert Voerzio? Not many, and that’s the way Roberto likes it. His vines are pruned down to two bunches of Nebbiolo per plant, and having only a very small acreage of patchwork vineyards where each plant is ‘hand-fertilized’ using only organic fertilizer; green-pruned by hand twice, sometimes three times per season, hand harvested, hand sorted, hand made, hands down – his production, as you can imagine, is tiny. There’s not much point being globally known if the quantity of wine you can give to the world equals close to zero! We began the night tasting his Langhe Merlot 2007 – the diva of merlot – I asked him why merlot in the middle of Piedmonte – his English is not good but I understood from his Italian that when you drink Barolo every night, every year, it gets boring! So he wanted some merlot – so he planted it and it’s his baby! It was a marvelously concentrated wine but so subtle and so delicious – all black fruit and espresso. From merlot we moved on to his Barolos. OMG. We tasted his Brunate 2007 – Robert Parker’s opening comment says it all, “it’s likely to leave most tasters speechless. It is fabulous…totally seamless it is Barolo of the highest level. The richness and depth of fruit is almost obscene…”; we poured his Cerequio 2007 which to me explored the Yang if his Brunate was his Ying. More feminine, more floral, sweeter fruit and kind of like glossy dripping red lipstick that begs to be kissed. (Not on pain-killers this morning!). We opened his Barolo Rocche dell’Annunziata which I thought was his most restrained wine – I kept writing the note, needs cellaring, but then I kept finishing my glass and thinking, screw the cellaring just drink it and love it. And we drank his La Serra 2007 which for me was my favorite – everyone around the table had their own favorites but this was mine. It’s both Ying and Yang – powerfully muscular, but perfumed, fragrant, huge flavors wrapped around a rose petal – sort of Arnie Schwartzeneger wearing his wife’s Dolce Gabbana. I loved it. I won’t bore you with the 2001 Barolo that we tasted – quantity is non-existent and few, if any of us, could afford it – but just a tease…sensational!
The wines come at a ridiculous price – I hazard a guess that just the few bottles we poured last night rang up a few thousand – and that’s at wholesale! And in keeping with the cult status of Roberto’s wines and the fact that few people can ever buy them I’m not going to bastardize his wines by pricing them over the web – if anyone is interested in buying one, possibly two bottles please read the comments I have written about the wines on the website – and then either e-mail me or call me to discuss an allocation – I will tell you that the majority of the Barolos are priced in the $350-$500 per bottle range.
Do we have time for anymore? OK, very briefly, we brought back the new vintage, 2009 Arpud Sariacum Sancerre from Philippe Raimbault – still one of my favorites. Virginia Taunt Sauvignon (NZ) and Elizabeth Spencer Sauvignon (California) are both back; some of the rosés are beginning to arrive, of those with limited quantity we have the Raffault Chinon Rosé that is delicious, and another huge favorite the La Ferme Saint Pierre, Cuvee Juliette; we also have a ridiculously good, and insanely priced sauvignon blanc from New Zealand – Konrad Winery – check out a previous mention I made on the website – http://wineatfive.com/konrad-sauvignon-blanc-marlborough-valley-new-zealand/ ; we have a little bit of Picpoul left if the weekend warms up a bit; a bunch more cases of the Meurger Bourgogne Pinot Noir arrived, new vintage, old price ($23.00); a delicious spring-time red from southern France – Ste Eugenie Corbiere – really good juice for outdoor drinking. More of the Chateau de Puligny Montrachet chardonnay came in – not sure what the inventory is like on this wine and it does sell out very quickly; that came in with just six bottle of Gros’s Chambolle Musigny (divine stuff); a very good dry gewürztraminer from Alois Lageder’s Alto Adige vineyards; more of the crowd pleaser Van Ruiten Cabernet/Shiraz blend; and a bunch of other new wines that we tasted within the last few weeks and fell for. Come in this Saturday and see what’s new. In the meantime, sharpen the snow plows and think positive thoughts!
I was looking back at my notes from last year’s wine tasting and somehow I must have counted incorrectly because we called last year’s event the “5th”. Actually this year is – we opened on March 21, 2006 and did a whopping $56.00 on our first day! So if I count correctly this time, 2011 will be our 5th year. And the good news is, thanks to Gary Stone and his negotiating skills we have once again convinced the Board of the Wainwright House that Wine and Wainwright just seem to go together. And this year we will be together on Friday, May 20th.
So get out your diaries and INK in, May 20th 6:30pm. The 5th Wine at Five Annual Wine Tasting. It’s going to be a riot.
We will have to make a few changes because this year we will have to comply with certain rules and restrictions laid down by the P+Z Board.
~ Rule # 1: You will NOT be allowed to carry a jukebox on your shoulder – no music.
~ Rule # 2: You will NOT be allowed to park on the road, shoulder, and grass verge or anywhere other than a designated parking lot. We will have plans afoot to ensure adequate parking but we will also be hiring the local constabulary to assist with parking. If you can car pool, please do.
~ Rule # 3: You will NOT be allowed to skulk around and only eat Gary’s superb food.
~ Rule # 4: It will cost you more money this year – count on it.
We have been granted use of the tent so we will be able to cover more ground; but this year we also plan to reduce the number of tables, and reduce, slightly, the number of wines poured. We listened to numerous good criticisms from prior years and many guests felt that having 150+ wines was simply too daunting. We plan to review our trade import lists very thoroughly and between Marina, Bruno and I we think we can arrange for some really exquisite and different wines to be poured that night. In the past we have had 16+ tables consisting of 10+ wines per table. This year we plan to bring that down to 10 tables with a maximum of 10 wines per table. I also want to expand on an idea that I have been playing with and I want to make tables more specific in their choices – one of the ideas that we have going forward is to recreate Trade Tastings but for our customers; we want to rent space one evening and have a very limited, and very specific wine tasting illustrating the wines from one country, or one region – such as wines from Portugal; wines from New Zealand. These would be very limited affairs and highly specialized.
So, on Friday May 20th we will hold our 5th Annual Wine Tasting affair. We will ask you to car pool as best you can; we would remind you that the event, whilst a hell-of-a-lot-of-fun, is also a serious evening where you will be able to taste and choose the right wines for you; and where you will be able to order them at prices marginally over cost; we will not be able to accept cancellations unless the excuse is truly unique; and we ask that you respect the neighborhood since it is largely residential, with one or two Country Clubs next door!
Once all the plans have been addressed we will send out the invitations – we will also need to strictly limit the number of tickets – we don’t want to be the biggest wine tasting event in Westchester, we just want to be the best.
Each year we try and find a wine that woos us, preferably wows us, but positively is us. Two years ago we bought the remaining stock of a little New Zealand winery, Gravitas. It was not a happy story but we did what we could to help out the young couple that tragically owned the Gravitas winery – a motor-bike accident and a subsequent cancer diagnosis put the winery into bankruptcy (although I understand that the winery has now been bought). It was not the greatest label on earth, but the important fact was the wine delivered way more than the price we sold it at. We don’t intentionally seek out tragic stories to profit from the misfortunes of others, and in the case of Gravitas we agreed to purchase the East Coast inventory so that the importers could remit finances back to the winery, which helped pay medical bills etc. Last year we found an amazing group of wines from Southern France, the Domaine Lalaurie. Unfortunately this year they decided to remodel their ‘cepages’ and whilst I really liked their chardonnay, it was the sauvignon blanc that I was driven to – and they stopped making it!
This year we have found another winner, we think. It’s again from New Zealand, from two distinct and very different vineyards in the Marlborough Valley at the northern tip of South Island. Sauvignon is the quintessential spring and summer wine and what we look for, especially from New Zealand, are those fresh grassy notes that hint of acidity from popping gooseberries in your mouth, a touch of exotic fruit but absolutely nothing OTT. What we don’t want is oversaturated Kiwi fruit and Mango Salsa, we don’t want a sauvignon dripping in Oak, and we don’t want a sauvignon stinking of cat’s pee. They say that those that want don’t get – wrong. We found it.
Konrad Sauvignon Blanc is from the Konrad (surprising that!) Winery. The winery was planted in 1996 by the Hengstler family – a German family that had emigrated to Australia some 20 years prior. Bedazzled by the wines from the Marlborough river during a business trip to New Zealand, Konrad Hengstler was determined to make wine under his own family label, in New Zealand and so just upped and quit Australia and began his dream. Remarkably his family followed him! The winery is now entirely a family affair; they make a little Riesling but their aim is to perfect Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc.
The Sauvignon is stainless steel fermented, although Konrad does ferment 3% of the harvest in neutral French oak barrels – to round the wine out and give it a hint more complexity. And then he leaves the juice on the lees for 3 months which adds another level of flavors without adding those cloying tastes that Marlborough Sauvignon’s are becoming known for. All of this and he keeps the wine below 12.5% alcohol. When we first tasted it I felt that here was a wine that New Zealand needed in order to regain some of the lost momentum that Cloudy Bay inadvertently created; Cloudy Bay became the symbol of great New Zealand Sauvignon, then it became the symbol of viticultural greed and once it started producing mass production wine it became the symbol of everything that had gone wrong with NZ sauvignon. I am hoping that Konrad will put back some of my trust, at least, in Marlborough Sauvignon.
And here’s the best part – we negotiated with the importers, who in turn negotiated with their distributors, and we bought, again, the East Coast allocation allowing us to sell the wine at $15.00, not $20.00. We’ll open some of it this coming Saturday so if you are in the mood stop by after Noon and sip on a glass of Sauvignon, we want to know what our customers think about the wine.
Konrad 2009 Sauvignon Blanc: MSRP
$20.00. Wine at Five: $15.00 single bottle; $162.00 cs/$13.50 btl.
One of the most exciting wines that we were fortunate to try toward the end of last year were the wines from Broc Cellars. Until late last year the wines were not imported into the State of New York but through the endeavors of an Upstate distributor, Encore Wines, we were able to try these incredible, hand crafted, utterly artisanal Rhone style wines. Chris Brockway’s own website explains, with passion, what he is trying to achieve – what I believe he has achieved:
“Broc Cellars was nothing more than an idea not that long ago, formed by Chris Brockway, about making wines that were “site specific”. Where the wines true character came from using only sustainably, organically, or biodynamically grown grapes from areas that most would consider marginal climates.”
This coming Thursday Chris has agreed to come up to Rye to talk to customers who want to taste, and buy his wines. Sadly we only have him for one hour – his NY schedule is so tight that we were fortunate to even get this. It’s an opportunity if you love good wine that you do not want to miss. I know it’s right at the cusp of a City work day – but play the headache card, excuse yourself early, get the 4:30 train and come to the store for a remedial glass of wine.
We are going to pour from our own inventory (which is miniscule) and possibly from inventory held by the distributor - but they have even less than us - and we are talking bottles rather than cases. Chris makes so little wine and after Parker rated them pretty much across the board, in prior vintages, at 90+, just a few bottles are worth it.
So please join us at Wine at Five and meet with this young wine-maker who in just a few vintages has already become the next cult follower. Thursday, May 17 at 5:00pm for as long as we can keep him!
Let’s start with a thank you – you don’t often see that in e-mails any more. But I just wanted to thank everyone that came to the Rhone dinner last Wednesday night. Thank you for your interest in Cecile Dusserre and in her wines – I thought they were delicious – personally. It was a great evening and as I have said before, when we have the opportunity to invite a great wine-maker to dinner we will – what we won’t do is simply put on a dinner with some sales rep from Nebraska who needs to look good at his company and push a bunch of wine that we don’t want to buy anyway!
In that vein, we will be pouring wines from Broc Cellars on Thursday, March 17 because the man himself will be here. Sadly we only have him for 1 hour but I am sure that if enough revelers show up we can convince him to stay longer. If you remember Chris Broc and Trey Busch (Sleight of Hand wines) were possibly two of the most exciting wine-makers, and wines, that we tasted last year – both hail from out west – Broc Cellars is based in Berkely California and he is making some of the most delicious Rhone style wines that I have had outside of the real McCoy. There are very few bottles left of any of his most recent vintage, but what there is will be in the store in time for him to pour, talk and drink! So if you feel like a little excitement on the 17th between 5.00 – 6.00 stop in at the store and meet Chris – maybe say hello to me and Bruno as well!
Yesterday was a full day in New York. It was the trade show tasting for Alto Adige wines – this is that tiny little area in northeast Italy where some of the best, if not the best, Pinot Grigio’s are made. It’s also where the star gewürztraminers, Lagreins and Muller Thurgau wines are made. There were 20 tables and about 8 wines per table so not too bad an afternoon – think maybe ten pints of Guinness, maybe 11. The 2010 barrel samples that I tasted were off the charts and I can’t wait for them to arrive over here. But whilst waiting the ‘09s have just blossomed. Of course, I had to spend a lot of time tasting the wines of Castelfeder – they are one of our most sought after Alto Adige wines and I will be buying them again this year, in bulk. Tasting through the line up:
Castelfder Pinot Grigio 2010: Dances – ballet dance style. Full bodied with cream, citrus balance. Rounder than the 09 and different – beautifully expressive and still so absolutely clean.
Castelfeder Chardonnay Doss 2010: Unoaked? Slightly oaked – a whiff of sesame and smoky barrels. Super pure fruit – touch of apricot, touch of melon – it’s a stripped down chardonnay that just begs to be drunk, not sipped.
Castelfeder Kerner Lahn 2009: I had to ask myself why the hell I hadn’t bought this before – brain didn’t come up with an answer. This was simply awesome. Kerner is the varietal – it’s a hybrid blend of Riesling and Schiava (red wine). What you get is this racing freshness, a hint of smooth sweet white peach and melon and a length that goes on and on. It’s less acidic than a classic German Riesling and for the love of God just because it’s part Riesling don’t think it’s sweet. It’s bone dry and it’s going to be my favorite patio white. Brilliant stuff.
Castelfeder Pinot Nero 2008: I loved the prior vintage – so delicate, so feminine so incredibly pinot. The 08? Again, this is the most pure pinot nero I tasted at the show. I just wanted more – it certainly has more weight than the 07 which will placate more Western palates – its brimming with cherries and little blueberries, it’s got oaky depths, jam notes, some baking spice, cigar box, damn it’s just really, really good. Hand on heart, and yes, I know the wine maker is beautiful, this was the best Pinot at the trade show, and her Kerner was way beyond anyone else’s.
Castelfeder Pinot Nero Riserva Burgum Novum 2008: If I thought the basic pinot nero was phenomenal I had to step back with this one – put The Fighter and The Wrestler together and throw in a bit of Black Swan – this is the wine that makes the movie. It’s as good, and in many cases better than anything I have drunk from Burgundy – in fact is so resembled a Vosne Romanee I had recently from Perot Minot that at over half the price I have to get some, not just for the store but for my dwindling cellar. Think deep brooding black cherries squirting juice over even bolder blackcurrants, mixing themselves up with some funky berries that only Red Riding Hood knows about and you have the Burgum Novum. The first three letters in my tasting notes were WOW – simple as that.
There were a lot of other really good wines, more than I can put down in this blog, and over the next few weeks we’re going to make some changes in the Alto Adige department of my wine shelves – these were just too good to hide behind a Trade Show table.
On to other stuff:
I am waiting to hear the outcome of the Planning and Zoning Boards disastrous decision to curtail the events at the Wainwright House. Nothing like throwing away $5 million in revenue and already the firings have begun – LK, sorry to see they let you go – maybe our Council men and woman will now wake up and see what’s happening in our little town. You can’t be bought by a GS Partner and not expect to sell your soul to the devil. Having said that I think we have a shot at putting on the Wine at Five Annual Wine Tasting for Professional Wine Tasters at the Wainwright and possibly on May 20. So sharpen the pencils and make a quick note that anything around that date needs to be brushed aside. There will be changes to the way we do this – there always are, and I can already state with certainly that the price will go up and the numbers will have to be curtailed – but once we have figured it out I’ll let you know, and even though we won’t have music I want everyone who comes to make as much noise as possible!
A lot of fun stuff has started sneaking in whilst I am under the influence of some quite nice pain-killers. Even I have no idea whether it’s because I keep opening my mouth and ordering stuff, or the mice are buying behind my back! That lovely little wine from Southern France, La Brillane du Printemps sneaked back in, we picked up a couple of oddities (but really good – I tried them whilst I was in Virginia) – -the Dry Fly Washington Wheat Vodka and their Washington Wheat Dry Gin; following on from my love affair with the Abeja wines, I think I actually ordered some of the Abeja Merlot. Two wines from Italy made a presence – Oddero Langhe Nebbiolo and his big brooding brother Oddero Barolo 2006. I remember tasting the Barolo and thinking I could just stand here all day and taste this – very accessible, no need to wait until you’re 80, it’s a Barolo that wants to be drunk now. That fun wine from Roccaperciata also came in – the Nerello Mascalese. Bruno picked up a remarkably inexpensive Napa merlot – the Thomas Henry and I’m pretty sure it’s out on the Recession and Deprssion Racks at under $15.00 – unusual for Bruno to buy merlot so I suspect it’s very good. 3 cases of the Chateau Le Grolet 2004 came in – this was one of the Bordeaux Wine of the Months and also the absolute favorite. Chateau La Grave also came in – that’s the ridiculously inexpensive, $12.00 Bordeaux. Vevi returned and Marina found a Chablis from Patrick Piuse that is off the charts. Loads of cases of the Van Riuten Cab-Shiraz that seems so popular, so no waiting in line for that one; more Shebang arrived – how can you not love a great wine, in a great jug, with a screw cap and under $20.00 – and that’s not a $19.99 under $20.oo marketing ploy – you really do get a whole dollar below $20 on this one. The baby Mas Donis Capcanes from Spain is in – better buy it before Robert Parker swoons over the older siblings because then you won’t be able to. The late, great Peter McCoy Rex cabernet is here (I think I may have mentioned that last week, but the pills are just kicking in – so if I describe any wine from here on out as having a nose like cannabis, disregard it). Nugan and Pepper Pot are back – sounds like The Flower Pot Men (silly little children’s TV show back in England in the 60’s – when just about any comedy was a hidden communist take-over – read John Lennon). Ah-ha, found one – Maggie Harrison – that fantastic wine-maker who used to work for Manfred Krankle over at Sine Qua non, we got her Vital Pinot Noir new vintage. Price went up a smidge, but for the quality of her wine are you really going to complain?
OK That’s all Folks….time to sit in a corner and not move for a little while!
Have a great weekend – buy lots, drink lots – responsibly of course!!
I know – too many e-mails. This is getting like the ones that come across your desk in big black letters with highlights in big red letters – 20 a day! My apologies. On the other hand I have to admit that on the days when I don’t send out the Re’wine’der, or, like today, when I send it out late, I get so much abuse!
It’s been one of those months – a lot of travelling, a lot of pain but a great deal of wine – ending in Virginia on Monday and Tuesday to visit one of the more influential importers on the Eastern Seaboard, many of whose wines we bring in through his New York distributor. Some excellent new stuff that we are sifting through and discussing now with the intent to bring in for the Spring. In Europe there was a lot of chatter about prices with almost everyone agreeing that even though they are hurting from their recessions, just as much as we are here, guess what? Prices are going to go up. Obviously Middle-Eastern concerns are driving up the price of oil – bear in mind that the number of households in Saudi Arabia that have access to the Internet is large – maybe, just maybe, we’ll see some demonstrations of democracy in the one country in the middle-east that really needs it. Problem then is the price of oil goes to $300 per barrel! Price of the dollar continues to weaken – every time Bernanke opens his mouth he drives the dollar weaker – many of my FX friends were touting 1.37 euro on the upside, now it looks like 1.40 will again be breached and guess what?, that means higher prices for importers and we import a hell of a lot of European wine – so the chatter had substance. Prices will be higher. My view on higher wine prices is the is: to a point there is an inevitability in higher prices, but then it becomes our fiscal responsibility to find wines, as good as their peers, whose prices, though they may have risen, are comfortable replacements for our on-shelf wines whose prices have now risen beyond my comfort zone. That’s one of the reasons we have been tasting so much wine the last two months – in Virginia I found some excellent South African wines that we should receive tomorrow – a chardonnay and a sauvignon blanc – I only bought in a little just to see how customers like it, but it’s cheap! Probably $12-13 (if not cheaper) on the shelf, and its very well made, all estate grown on the western coast of the Cape Province region of South Africa. Easy drinking, clean, fresh and very true to varietal without being overly extracted and overbearing. Personally I really like the juice so I hope that you will too.
As I mentioned it’s been a month of travelling and I thought you might get a kick out of some of the comments I pieced together on my last leg – it’s not edited, but no apologies, I don’t think it needs to be:
It’s been a weird few weeks. I probably shouldn’t go into it but I’m sitting here in a Virgin Atlantic airplane heading back to the US and I’ve watched two movies and so I’m bored and I’m thinking about the last two weeks in more detail than I probably should. Three weeks ago I was in steamboat and that didn’t go so well but I was intrigued that there were restaurants that observed the desire to offer their customers wines that were way off the beaten track. This last week I ended up in England celebrating a 50 something event and I was equally elated to find that the restaurant I had chosen to celebrate this rather strange milestone also followed the wine trail less travelled. We parried between a commonly named wine maker, William Fevre, but one of his less common Chablis, his 1er Cru Fourchaume, a wine that lived up to everything that has been written about it, and a Cheverney that literally blew the cockles of Brighton beach (I was in Brighton after all). The Cheverny tasted like a Sauvignon blanc without the asparagus, without the exotic fruit that NZ tends to pour into their savies and without the cat’s pee typically associated with a Sauvignon Blanc. Both wines were terrific. Onto the red pairing and I put up a cotes du Rhone against a Domaine Mas Blanc, Collioure. The Fevre I appreciate is a little common, but the other three wines were totally out there and 9 guests went home convinced that everything they had drunk before was just a prelude. It ws such fun seeing friends totally turned around by what they had drunk. That’s how it should be. That’s what wine should do; it’s what it should be about. It should be about taking you down a path blindfolded, what the he’ll…they are friends, take the risk. Next time you have dinner party pour something that’s just out there. Pour something that even you don’t know how it’s going to turn out…what do you have to lose? A friend? Trust me, that’s not going to happen. The day before we flew back we had lunch at Le Caprice. I hadn’t been there in 23 years so there was a lot of OMG going on, but we had an 06 Chateauneuf du Papes Mont Redon. Delicious. So we decided to have another one with the second course…with the fish. Outstanding. Tell the critics to find another shelf to sit on. Red wine and fish is great. And to all those friends that came out in Brighton, and to AC in London – you made a quick trip enormously fun. Thank you. The thing is, during the last three weeks I have been fortunate to spend time with truly good friends, and whilst I admit, I did fret about the wines, at the end of the day the friends were real and the wine was great. And I deliberately went off the tracks because I wanted to see what would really happen. Can you screw up so badly that your friends will desert you? Of course not. And in fact, the weirder I got with the choices the more compliments I got on the choice of wine. And these were friends that go back too many years to care about giving you compliments anymore. So take a chance. Play with your taste buds and play with your friends!
We have taken in a lot of wine this week. One of the most exciting came totally out of the blue. A number of years ago we bought a Cabernet from California made by Peter McCoy. His Rex Cabernet. It was the 2003 vintage. I liked it so much that I bought a few cases for myself and just in the last few months we have been drinking some of them and enjoying the hell out of them. Shortly after we bought that vintage, and I tried to get more of it we were told of the untimely death of Peter McCoy. No more Peter, no more wine so I felt privileged to have at least bought his last vintage and to have been able to drink it. Well, move forward a few years and the distributor came in yesterday and told me they had found 10 more cases. I bought half of them – I am certainly taking one home, I would like to take two but let’s see how many you all want. I have kept the price the same – $35 per bottle, $31.50 on a case. I know that there were customers back in 2008 who bought this repeatedly so I would hazard a guess it’s going to go very quickly – call or e-mail if you want some. The last bottle Kathy and I had was just before we left for England – 10 days ago. I think we had it with short ribs, but honestly, the wine was the memory, not the food. It was still absolutely delicious and we lost a great wine-maker with Peter’s death.
No need to remind you about the dinner next Wednesday with Cecile – you probably all got the e-mail this morning. Other events coming up – we may have Chris Brocway, the really exciting wine-maker behind the Broc Cellar wines, in the store in the next few weeks – chances are we can only grab him for an hour but if we get him we’ll open up some juice, put on the Dispatch CDs and have some fun. Also coming soon, Marc Pichon – one of my favorites from the Rhone – many of you ladies have been swallowed up and swallowing down his white wines – the Pichon Chardonnay, Pichon Viognier, Anne Pichon Viognier. These are all terrific, inexpensive and beautifully made Southern French wines. I am hoping that when we get a date from Marc we can team him up with one of our good customers, Hayes Cavanagh who plays a beautiful double bass and his good friend Mark Shane, a Fats Waller style pianist who should be instantly recognizable to any great jazz aficionados. More to come on that one. Also in the following weeks we are going to try and put together another dinner with Eric Sothern and the Robert Sinskey wines. That will hopefully be at One North in Armonk, so more on that one also. With regard to our own Wainwright House Annual Tasting – there is a lot going on here – it’s quite possible that the Wainwright House may not be able to offer us their hospitality. There is a decision about to be handed down by the Planning and Zoning Board next Tuesday with regard to their future – allegedly there is a neighbour who is disgruntled and with deep pockets care of Wall Street he may bring down the deck of cards! We’ll know on Wednesday if we can continue our Shebang (more of that wine came in today folks) over there and we’ll let you know as soon as we have a date.
Be good, invite friends over this weekend, and serve them up something funky – you know we have it if you don’t!
Monday10.00am – 7:00pm
Tuesday10.00am – 8:00pm
Wednesday10.00am – 8:00pm
Thursday10.00am – 8:00pm
Friday10.00am – 8:00pm
Saturday10.00am – 7:00pm