Friday 10 June 2011

Major find at le Marche des enfants rouges, Paris!

We couldn't believe our luck. Another Persan, just sitting there in the Marche des enfants rouges, Paris. This one by Domaine St. Germain. Savoie of course. We can't wait to try it.

Ruggine - one of the world's rarest grape varieties.

"The name Ruggine, or in the Modena dialect “Ruzninteina”, derives from the fact that at the point of maximum ripening the grapes take on a brown hue that makes them seem rusty. Once widespread in the Modena area, today the only hectare of vineyard entirely dedicated to Ruggine is here in Rubbiara. It is a sparkling wine with intense fruity notes, fresh and well developed. The palate has good intensity, balanced with an acidic note supported by softness and a light and forthright body. Ideal for filled dishes, like tortellini and tortelloni."

From the internet. This bottle of Ruggine was photographed at De Vino, 30 Clinton St. New York. We couldn't take it home because it is not permitted to ship sparkling wine in hold luggage. Lucky New Yorkers should get along to De Vino as soon as possible before stocks run out!

We hope and trust Ruggine can be placed beside our other big Italian frizzante finds Passerina, Pignoletto, and Spergola.

Monday 6 June 2011

Murray Hill Wines of New York

If you are looking for Croatian wine, this is the place to go. They must have one of the widest selections outside Croatia itself which doesn't mean anything vast but we managed to pick up several wines we had not found even in Croatia from our short preliminary skirmish last year:





Klarnica (a new one on us) comes from Slovenia in fact and produced a semi-sweet wine grown only in the Vipava Valley.

There was also Babic on which we passed following our generally disappointing experience at our January tasting, various Posips, Sipon, Malvazia Istras etc. so in general a good selection. Recommended.

516 3rd. Avenue (E. 34th. St.)

Sussex Wine, New York

Our first port of call on arrival in New York was Sussex Wine, 300 E. 42nd St. who according to Winesearcher were the only stockists of the infinitely rare St. Jeannet, the practically extinct white grape variety from the Appellation of the same name opposite Bellet on the outskirts of Nice which had found its way to Argentina and there was grown and vinified by Finca El Reposo., Mendoza.

At this shop we met Jordan, the owner of this company who also has a wine bar and plans the first Sampler-type (Enomatic?) machines in New York, although Union Square Wines seem to have one already). The St. Jeannet was not available at the E.42nd St. branch so Jordan walked us over to his other shop and opened it up specially for us. Sadly we discovered on examining the back label that the Finca El Reposo St. Jeannet is but a blend with 30% Sauvignon Blanc and 30% Chardonnay although the 40% St. Jeannet is from 90-year-old vines.

Nonetheless with this kind of enthusiasm, eclecticism and customer care, Sussex Wine is a place to watch.

Friday 3 June 2011

As dark as a black steer's toochas on a moonless prairie night

There comes the time when the traveller in America might find a glass of wine at the hotel bar might be in order. The choice inevitably includes a Pinot Noir, thanks to 'Sideways'. So having tried the Malbec and avoiding the Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot one may find oneself staring at a glass of Peenoh Nwahr. This is invariably the blackest and heaviest wine one can imagine. Something like drinking Ribena concentrate. A beverage, not a wine. It's a mistake and no mistake. It has nothing to do with wine. How is that possible? It costs $10 or more. We have recently enjoyed a bottle of Pinot Noir del Veneto from Tesco (11.5% - and a properly characteristic representation of this variety) for less. Ugh.

All is not lost so far as US Pinot Noir is concerned. On our way home we stumbled on a new branch of Vino Volo at JFK Terminal 8.

This is the excellent outlet for American wines (and others) which had so enlivened our visit to Detroit Airport some time back. At Kennedy there was no wine bar or tasting that we could see - hardly even anyone in attendance until a very nice person made a hurried entrance. This was not suprising because the shop is tucked away so as to avoid anyone but the truly intrepid finding it and for those who check out the paltry wine selection at the Duty Free,

there is only a shrug when the question is posed as to whether there mightn't be anywhere else selling wine at the terminal.

Here we bought a lovely New York Cabernet Franc from Finger Lakes

and Riemer's 12.5% Pinot Noir from the same area which more than made up for what gets sold at hotel bars.

Not suprising since Hermann Wiemer is a member of a German wine producing family with 300 years tradition behind him who emigrated to New York State in the 1970s. His effort shows what wonderful wine can be produced from this grape in the US without betraying the variety's character.

There may be good US Pinot Noirs from Washington and Oregon. We have yet to taste those that give these states their good reputation, but returning to Hermann Wiemer's New York State Pinot Noir, check out the beautiful light translucent colour.

Nothing like the Coen brothers' evocation of darkness (from "The Big Lebowski" by the way).

PS. We posted the first version of this blog the day before Jancis Robinson's piece on American Pinot Noir appeared in the Financial Times. As well as enjoying the co-incidence once more (this has happened before - great minds etc.) we noted with satisfaction that our views are not irreconcilable.

Wednesday 1 June 2011

Return vist to our favourie NY wine merchant

Chambers Street Wines is our favourite New York wine merchant and is in line for the 2010/11 Slotovino wine merchant of the year award later this month unless something very extraordinary intervenes.

On this occasion we met Mr. Wolff as well as our original contact Mr. Lillie, his co-founder and business partner. They share a charming diffidence and scholarly demeanour, friendly, immensely erudite and ready to spend time on answering arcane questions. Complimenting them on their outstanding newsletter which we read regularly and avidly, we learned that it is the work of several hands. This is extraordinary because the style is uniform.

We had the pleasure of meeting their Jura expert, Sophie who was able to point us in the direction of several marvels. Mr. Lillie himself steered us to others, mainly French (his speciality) and we picked up a Beaujolais Nouveau (10.5%) by Doucroux.

Mr. Lillie had recommended Doucroux on our first visit as being an extreme example of a producer of Vin Naturel but had found his wines nowhere else. We also found the Nusserhof Blaterle (Trentino/Alto Adige) we had discovered on the Chambers St. Wines website.

Chris, the Spanish expert was not on hand but we picked up two rarities from that section, a Hondarrabi Beltza from Bizkaiko Txakolina (Biscay).

and a Negramoll from the Canary Islands).

We were presented with a field blend by a garagiste, Anne-Marie Lavaysse of the Petit Domaine de Gimios in Minervois called 'Rouge Fruit'.

Talking about field blends, Jura specialist Sophie pointed out one by Jean-Francois Ganevat called 'J'en veux' which consists of 17 grape varieties including the following;

Petit Beclas

Gros Beclas

Gueche white and red

Seyve Villard


Potugais Bleu



Poulsard Blanc

Poulsard Musque

Gouais Blanc

It is not known how M. Ganevat manages to ripen all these grapes simultaneously. Maybe he does so separately and then blends them later. Does this still constitute a field blend?
Mr. Lillie also mentioned a grape called Tibouren which Clos Citronne uses to make a Rose. Sophie tried her best to obtain this for our second visit two days later but without success. We couldn't resist a natural Orange wine made from Roussanne and Jacquere.

On that second visit we met Chris. We mentioned we had heard he was the Spanish Expert but he shrugged this off. Too modest. He knows all there is to know about Spanish wine and more. He bewailed the Franco years of neglect and the subesquent rush to bring in international varieties which he abhors. He taught us about all kinds of indiginous Spanish Grapes including

Albarin Blanco (Leon)
Puntxo Fort (Monsant)
Vildillo (Carinena)

We will look out for these.

Meanwhile we added a Bermejo Listan Negra (Canaries) which Chris stated authoritatively was the mysterious Mission or Criolla grape which the Jesuits had imported into the Americas to make the first wine there. Well, another enigma solved!

As we were paying for these marvels, Sophie hissed to Chris that we should get a discount to which Chris responded that there was already a discount applied. Goodness where it came from. We had certainly not requested it, welcome though it was. Could it be that anyone who expresses some enthusiasm for what Chambers St. Wines are doing gets one?

We can't recommend Chambers Street wines highly enough.