Wow…heat wave. Where’s the wine?
That little wine we brought in two weeks ago that I was raving about – Les Vignes Retrouvées was a huge success. So much so that I just had another round of cases delivered. If there’s a wine to beat the heat this is it. For those that didn’t read my earlier description this is a little white wine from the heart of Gascony blended with three kinds of ancient, almost extinct grapes; Arrufiac, Gros Manseng and Petit Courbu. It’s a wine with hidden depths and it just dances on the palate like Isadora Duncan. And I use her deliberately – considered by many to be the creator of modern dance, she fashioned an entire lifestyle around her individuality. Quite probably one of the first ‘fashionable’ ladies of her time to publicly announce her bisexuality and one of the few prominent artists at the time to announce her communist affiliations. To her it was all about the spirit of her individuality and this wine draws on that approach. Who would have considered blending three completely esoteric and unknown grapes to create an astonishingly fresh summer wine? Someone with a free spirit I suspect.
As enamored as I am about that wine, I wanted that sense of discovery to continue and we were fortunate this week to rediscover some varietals that just beg to be drunk in 100+ degree weather. This morning I unearthed a Muscadet from a reps goody bag. My notes show that we tasted a previous vintage that I didn’t buy but the new 2010 was ‘abfab’ as they say in the English version of the Hamptons. Located in the heart of the Muscadet appellation, Côtes de Grandlieu, the Domaine du Haut Bourg was built by four generations of winegrowers. The first vine was planted in 1945 and today brothers Hervé and Nicolas Choblet run their 40 hectare estate vineyard together. Fourteen kilometers southeast of Nantes, the “Côtes de Grandlieu” AOC is formed by nineteen townships that surround the Lac de Grandlieu. The Lac de Grandlieu, a wildlife preserve that houses 250 species of birds, is the largest natural lake in Europe and spans 6,300 hectares at its peak in winter. The appellation, created in 1994, benefits from the distinct microclimate created by the lake. Thanks to this large body, the sun’s daily heat is retained, a compounding benefit to the wine crop that gets to ripen a little longer while avoiding frost. Muscadet is NOT SWEET wine. Au contrair, this wine is bracing – think off-shore sailing, force 4 gale, but you’re winning! This wine has all the salinity and minerality you can muster, beautiful length filled with very soft white/cream fruit, a hint of winter melon….it reminds me of those ads on TV that show the guy chewing a piece of gum and everything freezes over. That’s this wine. And it’s $14.00! Damn, that’s some good juice Harry. [Coffee kicking in now].
Late yesterday afternoon Pierre Bories wandered into the store. Pierre is the wine owner and maker of Chateau Ollieux Romanis in southern France close to Montséret. We chatted about rugby, as one does with the French and discovered that we played the same teams but sadly quite a few years apart – he’s much uglier than me, but he is younger! He’s also friends with the twins from Domaines La Laurie – those tremendous wines we brought in last year made by twin daughters with stunning personalities! Anyway…Pierre convinced me to try his wines and so begrudgingly I took down some glasses and accompanied him on a trip along the byways of small French vineyards. First stop was his Capucine Rouge. A blend of carignan, grenache and hints of merlot and syrah. Great bottling, powerful aromas and just superb mid-body flavors. The wine bursts with energy – cocoa, bit of espresso, some rich marachismo cherry, almost a hint of herbal liquor but then I thought, slightly chilled this would be outstanding. So the French were winning 15-love. On to his carignan/grenache blend called Alice. He didn’t wow me with this one – too much Alice I suspect. Sweeter fruit and a little too intense for 100 degree weather. 15-all. Then the Ollieux Romanis Cuvee Classique. Ace serve – 30-15. Beautifully balanced, just scraped the net but landed with loads of black fruit, light acidity and bounced around like a happy little Tigger. Another great summer slam. Looking to break even he served me up the Ollieux Blanc Prestige. Another ace. I did the John McEnroe bit, had a tantrum threw down my racket and drank, very happily, in silence. It was like sipping on a great white Burgundy that had age. Loaded with waxy fruit the aromas hit you with a heady smell of hickory cigar box, then the sesame oiled oak tickles the tongue and that gives way to a hedonist rush of white stone fruit. The wine is a blend of Rousanne and Marsanne, two of my favorite French grapes, and in the hands of Pierre they blend seamlessly. Great wine and a fraction of the price of great Burgundy. All of the Ollieux wines will be here sometime tomorrow (in refrigerated truck).
Cuvées Capucines Rouges – $14.00
Ollieux Romanis Cuvée Classique – $19.00
Olliuex Romanis Blanc Prestige – $32.00 (this is a steal for what you get)
One last noteworthy piece. At the request of numerous customers I did some research and opened up my check book and bought a bunch of high end Burgundies – both red and white. Seems that many Rye residents trip out to the Hamptons and need to take a little something for the host. Here’s the skinny on what I bought:
Patrick Javilliers Mersault Tillets 2009 –
Roger Lassarat Pouilly Fuisse Vergisson 2009 –
Chateau de Puligny Montrachet Chassagne Montrachet 2008 –
Chateau de Puligny Montrachet Meursault 2008 –
Bernard Moreau Chassagne Montrachet Rouge Vielles Vignes 2009 –
Bessin Chablis 1er Cru La Fourchaume La Piece 2009 –
Domaine de Montille Meursault Vireuil 2008 –
Domaine de Montille Mersault Narvaux 2008 –
Any one of these would be a Hampton House owners wet dream so next time you need something a little ‘Victoria Secret’, call me, we can hook you up with one of these luscious wines, gift wrap it and pack it snugly into your weekend bag.
Have a wonderful weekend, stay cool, stay thirsty.
There isn’t a lot of balance during the summer. Mom’s are juggling children – sometimes they fall, sometimes they land up in camp, from where they have to be collected, once the teenager has been dropped off at the boyfriends; fathers are juggling work and the longing to get out of the city, remove the tie, drink the wine. Graduates are juggling the promise of a job with the reckoning of being evicted from home if they don’t get one. It’s just a huge juggling circus.
It’s not that different in the land of wine – except we don’t go into the city, nor do we go to camp, nor pretend to be a taxi driver and we do get to salivate over wine pretty much all day – or at least on demand. Problem is much of the wine we get asked to taste is, in the view of the sales rep and his/her company promoting the wine, the absolutely definitive, God’s honest truth, American Idol winning wine for the summer. More often than not its rubbish. So we have to juggle the ‘balance’. And wine is all about balance. So often we use the phrases; ‘too fruity’, ‘too much alcohol’, ‘too much oak’, ‘too much stuff’. Good wine has balance, it has complexity, it has both yin and yang. It should coat the palate not dominate it, should highlight the foods not choke them to death, should cleanse the mouth not numb it. And because this weekend is so important to us as it symbolizes our independence and our abilities to juggle beer drinking red-necks, hot dog guzzling rug rats and macho BBQs we thought it would be a good idea to add a little balance to your weekend. So we compiled a list of ‘balanced boxes’ – think of them as ‘wine bento boxes’! They all come with a hefty discount to help juggle the wallet issue, but they do have to be collected from the store – we won’t be able to deliver any wines this Saturday – we can however, deliver Friday morning for orders placed today. To order simply e-mail us your request – please provide cc details, or call us at the store to reserve your bento box.
Another happy note this morning: the State legislature killed the ‘Primary Source Law’. This was the bill that was introduced by the New York State wholesalers to prohibit the practice of importing hard-to-find, rare, small production, coveted wines that are not available in this State from the wholesalers. The availability of these wines via the gray market have helped make New York among the most diverse and vital wine markets in the country and play a key role in the profitability of numerous New York retailers. This was a huge blow to the two major distributors and rest assured they will continue to throw money at politicians in the hope of getting it back on the books after the summer recess. Sadly, with this defeat, the yin and yang that I spoke about in the previous blog has been upset – since the distributors didn’t get this bill passed the chances are they will focus more money, villas, holidays etc. on ensuring that the wine in supermarket bill also gets quashed. There goes the balance! One small step for consumers who want to choose.
Back to the wines on offer this weekend. We made sure that in each bento box there is a balance, either between big, fat, chewy reds and bright, crisp pinots, or buttery pop-corn chardonnays and ‘frightfully yummy sauvignons’ (as one customer described them!). We also balanced a bento box for BBQ fish and BBQ meat – the surf and turf bento box. There’s also the manly man box, balanced with the etiquette and finesse of the feminine touch. All in all there’s a bento box that covers pretty much every side of the July 4th celebrations. Personally, I’m taking off to the North Fork and I plan to stock up on plenty of rosé, plenty of pretty little whites and a very large bottle of gin – mummsie arrives tomorrow night on the QM2 so my need for spirits will increase dramatically. Fortunately she inadvertently unsubscribed to this blog and I haven’t taught her how to undo the unsub!
Have a fantastic July 4th wherever you are and remember – stay thirsty…extremely thirsty!
Here are the Bento Boxes:
Bento #1 – 6 Lagrein/6 Sangiovese – Bento special take-out-order = $206.40. Usually $258.00
Suitable for all ages. No food allergies, well partnered with both robust fish and beurgers. Fresh and clean, both wines dance on the tongue, slip down easy and conjure up memories of freeloading in Tuscany:
Castelfeder Lagrein – $19.00
Tre Monti Petrignone Sangiovese – $24.00
Bento #2 – 6 Negrattino/6 Barbera D’Asti – Bento special take-out-order = $216.00. Usually $270.00
Suitable for all serious wine drinkers. A bold red from Emilio Romagna, to disguise any burnt bits on the pork ribs (you know you burn them!) and a bright Barbera to consume with the spicy shrimp you forgot were still on the grill:
Gradizzolo Naigarten Negrattino – $19.00
Bric dei Banditi Barbera D’Asti – $26.00
Bento Box #3 – 6 Nerello Mascalese/6 Chianti – Bento special take-out-order = $144.00. Usually $180.00
Money conscious, brand named hot-dogs on the BBQ this is your case. Ridiculous value with Chianti that tastes like the Tuscan countryside and a Nerello from Sicily that delivers all you need for burgers and chicken wings.
Lanciola Chianti – $15.00
Roccaperciata Nerello Mascalese – $15.00
Bento Box #4 – 6 Fruilano/6 Kerner – Bento special take-out-order = $216.00. Usually $270.00
A selection of whites that will change your mind for ever. Possible mind altering, rumor has it the CIA were using these wines in Iraq to turn victims into alcohol guzzling wine lovers – who then forgot their religious heritage. Fruilano and Kerner – forget that you can’t pronounce them or remember them; these are the wines of the future.
Scarbolo Fruilano – $25.00
Castelfeder Kerne – $20.00
Bento Box #5 – 6 Verdicchio/6 Soave – Bento special take-out-order = $182.40. Usually $228.00
Two whites that offer peace of mind when pairing white fish and white meat. Put on the SPF90 lie on the sand, have a bottle of either of these and a straw. Tell me that the weekend wasn’t the best ever! Perfect pair of whites that are perfect for the perfect table.
Fontezzopa Verdichio – $17.00
La Formica Soave – $21.00
Bento Box #6 – 6 Cep D’Or Saint Tropez Rosé/6 Raffault Chinon Rosé – Bento special take-out-order = $163.20. Usually $204.00
Get naked. Rosé is not the wine of choice at the new New York gay weddings it’s the wine of choice of sophisticated wine aficionados. Seriously refreshing pair of wines that will pair with anything up to a T-bone steak. I defy you not to like these wines.
Cep D’Or Saint Tropez Rosé – $16.00
Raffault Chinon Rosé – $18.00
Bento Box #7 – 6 Ferme St. Pierre/6 La Chapelle Gordonna – Bento special take-out-order = $192.00. Usually $240.00
My favorites – a Rhone rosee named after his daughter – fgs you don’t make a wine and name it after your 8 year old daughter and then make a bad wine – she’ll kill you when she grows up. La Chapelle – bliss in a bottle, sex in the city, this may just be the most romantic rosé I have tasted.
La Ferme St. Pierre Cuvee Juliette – $16.00
La Chapelle Gordonna – $24.00
Bento Box #8 – 6 Sauvignon Blanc/6 Chardonnay – Bento special take-out-order = $211.20. Usually $264.00
New from the guys that brought me Forth Cabernet, an enticing Californian sauvignon that doesn’t soak you in oak and set you on fire; paired with a busty chardonnay from Heitz that pairs perfectly with big lobster claws.
Forth Sauvignon Blanc – $20.00
Heitz Chardonnay – $24.00
Bento Box #9 – 6 Zinfandel/6 Cabernet-Shiraz – Bento special take-out-order = $187.20. Usually $234.00
Valley of the Dolls meets red wine. A zinfandel that isn’t over the top and will blush in front of a spicy chicken wing and a cab-shiraz that would make the chicken wing blush. What a perfect pair of reds we have.
Candor Zinfandel – $19.00
Van Ruieten Cabernet/Shiraz – $20.00
Bento Box #10 – 6 sauvignon/6sauvignon-semillon – Bento special take-out-order = $120.00. Usually $150.00
The tortoise and the hare – the yin and yang. Sancerre styled sauvignon from the south of France paired with a suavignon/Semillon blend from Bordeaux. Having shrimp? Having surf? Having fun? Have a little more with this pair of whites.
Tortoise Creek Sauvignon Blanc – $13.00
Chateau Chaubinet Blanc – $12.00
So here’s the deal. Each Bento box is a perfect pairing of either reds or whites or rosés. If you would prefer to swap one sushi for another be my guest – so long as the end result is a 6+6 of the above mentioned wines, you get the 20% discount – now that’s what July 4th is all about….not!
Monday10.00am – 7:00pm
Tuesday10.00am – 8:00pm
Wednesday10.00am – 8:00pm
Thursday10.00am – 8:00pm
Friday10.00am – 8:00pm
Saturday10.00am – 7:00pm