Restaurant Wine List Confidential

Navigating a big restaurant wine list is daunting. Possibly scary. For a geek like me, it can also be hella fun.

I was reminded of this when I was at Nice Matin, a French restaurant in New York City’s Upper West Side. The wine list there is excellent. (Not the one pictured above, BTW.)

And it is big. And leather-bound. And full of French wine. It has true heft. If you dropped it from a foot above your table, it would land with a resounding thump/thwack.

But it reminded me of a a strategy to deal with the large restaurant wine list, deep in verticals and back vintages.

I relate this advice and my (excellent) experience at Nice Matin on today’s episode of Snacky Tunes, which you can hear from 4:30pm-5:3opm EST.

But here’s the gist:

A huge list is either going to panic a novice, who doesn’t know where to begin, or send an expert down the rabbit hole for a stupefying amount of time. Neither are good for you, especially if you are dining with one person or more. (Of course, the first point I should make is ask for help from a sommelier, wine director, or knowledgable employee. But here’s how to focus in on the hidden gems.)

In this case, I glossed over the numerous selections of Burgundy and Bordeaux to zip to a section called (something along the lines of) “Other White Wines.” It’s a hodgepodge of things that don’t fit into a larger category. And it’s often where you can find some interesting bottles and bargains. Also, it’s A LOT shorter selection. Consider it a mini-oasis within an ocean of wine. (Wait, an oasis is in the desert. Well, you know what I mean.)

(If white wine isn’t your thing, look for an “Other Red Wines” counterpart.)

The bottle I found?

Restaurant Wine List Gem: Grosset Polish Hill Riesling (Claire Valley, Australia) 2010

Restaurant Wine List ConfidentialIt was $81 on the list. Wine Searcher has the average retail price for the 2017 at $50. So to get a vintage that’s eight years old for that price is a good deal.

(Yes, if I had a brain I would have purchased the wine right on release, cellared it for years, and opened it at home with some fish tacos.)

But, dang! This is an iconic Australian wine and it’s DRY, DRY, DRY, folks. If you ever see an Aussie Riesling on a wine list and you like dry whites, buy it. They are always very limey and they can age forever. This Grosset from the famous Polish Hill vineyard was killer, super-fresh and very interesting. And fun to drink

I’d also like to note that it didn’t come to the table (ok, bar) ice-cold. It was slightly cool and even at that temperature was excellent. When a white wine doesn’t need to be arctic to be enjoyed (like a cheap beer), you know you’ve got something good. (The bottle was subsequently put on ice.)

On Snacky Tunes I mentioned I’d give some more Australian Riesling recos. First, a tip. If it says “Clare Valley” or “Eden Valley” on the label, get it. These are two great areas. Producers to look for besides Grosset include Pewsey Vale, Jim Barry, and Pikes.

Oh, and what if you were walking through Greenpoint, Brooklyn, and passed me while I was talking to someone about Australian Riesling, but thought I said “Austrian”?

GUESS WHAT, YOU’D STILL BE SITTING PRETTY.

Riesling from Austria is equally awesome. Very dry. In general, I’d say a bit richer. Some producers to look out for: Loimer, Prager, Gobelsburger, Brundlemayer.

So when confronted with a massive wine list, look for that rogues’ gallery of wines, the rando reds and whatever whites.

Life update: Last week was my final one at Wine Enthusiast. Grateful for two-plus years of Champagne flute and oaky white wine defending, along with working with a memorable cast of characters. What is next for me? Hmm. I’d be interested in making wine on the West Coast, perhaps in NY, or around the globe. Continuing to live in NYC and getting a writing/editing gig that’s not necessarily food/wine related. Moving to Philly? If you have any advice or leads, send them my way.

Here’s my Linkedin profile.

Wine list pic by Lou Stejskal via Flickr.

The post Restaurant Wine List Confidential appeared first on Jameson Fink.

Restaurant Wine List Confidential

Navigating a big restaurant wine list is daunting. Possibly scary. For a geek like me, it can also be hella fun.

I was reminded of this when I was at Nice Matin, a French restaurant in New York City’s Upper West Side. The wine list there is excellent. (Not the one pictured above, BTW.)

And it is big. And leather-bound. And full of French wine. It has true heft. If you dropped it from a foot above your table, it would land with a resounding thump/thwack.

But it reminded me of a a strategy to deal with the large restaurant wine list, deep in verticals and back vintages.

I relate this advice and my (excellent) experience at Nice Matin on today’s episode of Snacky Tunes, which you can hear Sunday, March 25th, from 4:30pm-5:3opm EST.

But here’s the gist:

A huge list is either going to panic a novice, who doesn’t know where to begin, or send an expert down the rabbit hole for a stupefying amount of time. Neither are good for you, especially if you are dining with one person or more. (Of course, the first point I should make is ask for help from a sommelier, wine director, or knowledgable employee. But here’s how to focus in on the hidden gems.)

In this case, I glossed over the numerous selections of Burgundy and Bordeaux to zip to a section called (something along the lines of) “Other White Wines.” It’s a hodgepodge of things that don’t fit into a larger category. And it’s often where you can find some interesting bottles and bargains. Also, it’s A LOT shorter selection. Consider it a mini-oasis within an ocean of wine. (Wait, an oasis is in the desert. Well, you know what I mean.)

(If white wine isn’t your thing, look for an “Other Red Wines” counterpart.)

The bottle I found?

Restaurant Wine List Gem: Grosset Polish Hill Riesling (Claire Valley, Australia) 2010

Restaurant Wine List ConfidentialIt was $81 on the list. Wine Searcher has the average retail price for the 2017 at $50. So to get a vintage that’s eight years old for that price is a good deal.

(Yes, if I had a brain I would have purchased the wine right on release, cellared it for years, and opened it at home with some fish tacos.)

But, dang! This is an iconic Australian wine and it’s DRY, DRY, DRY, folks. If you ever see an Aussie Riesling on a wine list and you like dry whites, buy it. They are always very limey and they can age forever. This Grosset from the famous Polish Hill vineyard was killer, super-fresh and very interesting. And fun to drink

I’d also like to note that it didn’t come to the table (ok, bar) ice-cold. It was slightly cool and even at that temperature was excellent. When a white wine doesn’t need to be arctic to be enjoyed (like a cheap beer), you know you’ve got something good. (The bottle was subsequently put on ice.)

On Snacky Tunes I mentioned I’d give some more Australian Riesling recos. First, a tip. If it says “Clare Valley” or “Eden Valley” on the label, get it. These are two great areas. Producers to look for besides Grosset include Pewsey Vale, Jim Barry, and Pikes.

Oh, and what if you were walking through Greenpoint, Brooklyn, and passed me while I was talking to someone about Australian Riesling, but thought I said “Austrian”?

GUESS WHAT, YOU’D STILL BE SITTING PRETTY.

Riesling from Austria is equally awesome. Very dry. In general, I’d say a bit richer. Some producers to look out for: Loimer, Prager, Gobelsburger, Brundlemayer.

So when confronted with a massive wine list, look for that rogues’ gallery of wines, the rando reds and whatever whites.

Life update: Last week was my final one at Wine Enthusiast. Grateful for two-plus years of Champagne flute and oaky white wine defending, along with working with a memorable cast of characters. What is next for me? Hmm. I’d be interested in making wine on the West Coast, perhaps in NY, or around the globe. Continuing to live in NYC and getting a writing/editing gig that’s not necessarily food/wine related. Moving to Philly? If you have any advice or leads, send them my way.

Here’s my Linkedin profile.

Wine list pic by Lou Stejskal via Flickr.

The post Restaurant Wine List Confidential appeared first on Jameson Fink.

Rangen Riesling Rocks, Revisited

Remember when I waxed all smitten-like over a tasting of Rangen Alsace Grand Cru Riesling?

Well, I do.

I was so smitten, in fact, that I did  something that I’ve only ever done twice in ten years, which was to reach out to the U.S. PR agency dealing with Alsatian wines and ask them to book me on a media jaunt to the area, so that I could get my feet directly on those Rangen rocks. Which, luckily for me, they did.

Rangen Riesling Rocks, RevisitedIn a classic case of be-careful-what-you-wish-for-vuz-you-just-might-get-it, I then had to scale the greater-than-45-degree slopes of Alsace’s southernmost (and by far its steepest) Grand Cru vineyard site, though the view (and the tastes) about 450 meters up were well worth a little breathlessness (PSA: if you consider yourself not exactly physically fit, you might want to skip a visit to Rangen). Think the Mosel, only steeper (yes, the vineyard workes use ropes to secure themselves from falling to their deaths during harvest), or the Douro (only with less terracing and more danger to life and limb). The only marring comes by way of the factories along the nearby Thur river, a holdover from the `50s. Otherwise, this spot between Thann and Vieux-Thann is thoroughly picturesque.

Rangen has a few other characteristics that distinguish it from the rest of Alsace’s (many) GC sites. It might be one of the oldest of the region’s Grand Crus, with the origin of its name being lost to posterity (the first recorded reference goes back all the way to the Thirteenth Century). The rocky soils are about 330 million years old, the result of older mountain ranges and volcanic extrusions all mixed up together. This makes for a harder-than-average vineyard soil, with dark components that help to retain heat, with a more fragile subsoil that allows deep penetration by the vine roots.

You’d think that, with the steepness, naturally low yields, and the fact that it takes new vines closer to seven years to produce fruit here (versus three years in more forgiving environments), that harvest would be a total bitch. But there’s an even bitchier aspect of the Rangen for those that tend it…

Rangen Riesling Rocks, Revisited

Ok, you probably get the point by now

The yearly maintenance, I was told by those who perform it, is by far the most difficult aspect of farming the Rangen. Dry rock wall terraces don’t fix themselves, after all. That this is more difficult than dealing with the steep terrain is telling; I mean, structures at the base of the Rangen recently had to be evacuated when a truck, stuck on one of the higher-elevation roads, was in danger of tipping over onto the hillside.

Rangen is such a pain in the ass that, despite having about 500 hectares planted back in the Middle Ages, it was all but abandoned in the 1970s in favor of more easily workable sites. In an auspiciously prescient maneuver, Domaine Zind Humbrecht bought up as much of the GC as they could, transforming vineyards that had fallen into disrepair. Rangen now has about 22 hectares planted, but as you’ll see below, the difference in quantity is made up for in longevity and quality…

 

 

Rangen Riesling Rocks, Revisited

Rangen Riesling Rocks, Revisited2008 Domaine Maurice Schoech Harmonie “R” Rangen de Thann (Alsace Grand Cru, $55)

The harmony in this case is the field-blending of several of Alsace’s noble grape varieties: Riesling, Pinot Gris, and Gewürztraminer. We’re leading with this one because, in theory, the terroir of Rangen is supposed to lend itself to some of the longest-lived and finessed of Alsace’s GC wines, and this beauty does help to prove that point. Floral, heady, toasty, nutty, and intense, you will need to like lemon rind (and a hint of yeasty botrytis, courtesy of Rangen’s proximity to the Thur) or you will need to go home.

Rangen Riesling Rocks, Revisited

Rangen Riesling Rocks, Revisited2010 Wolfberger Riesling Rangen (Alsace Grand Cru, $NA)

A label that betrays Alsace’s historical German connection, and accurately suggests the power within the bottle. Mandarin, lemon blossom, candied lemon peel, salinity, moving into a wonderful balance of richness and pithy structure, ending with gun-flint and a finish that’s almost as long as the climb up the steep vineyard steps between the vines from whence it came.

Rangen Riesling Rocks, Revisited

Rangen Riesling Rocks, Revisited1989 Domaine Zind-Humbrecht Riesling Rangen de Thann Clos Saint Urbain (Alsace Grand Cru, $NA)

This is juuuuuust about perfection.  As toasty and nutty as you’d expect at this age, but there’s no lack of candied citrus peel or dried citrus fruits to counterbalance the astringent, floral edges and hints of earthiness. Stunning, gorgeous, generous, and long. Go ahead, hate me.

Rangen Riesling Rocks, Revisited

Rangen Riesling Rocks, Revisited2009 Domaine Bruno Hertz Pinot Gris Grand Cru Rangen de Thann (Alsace Grand Cru, $NA)

By now you are probably understanding why I didn’t subtitle this post as “Recent Releases.” With almost ten years under its belt, this PG is still showing off its heady, floral side, and still has the tropical fruit richness you’d expect in the mouth, just add toast (and a hella-long, dried fruit finish).

Rangen Riesling Rocks, Revisited

Winemakers and vineyard caretakers showing off Rangen’s sliiiight steepness…

Rangen Riesling Rocks, Revisited2015 Schoffit Rangen de Thann Clos Saint-Theobald Gewürztraminer (Alsace Grand Cru, $60)

And you’d thought that I’d forgotten about Gewürztraminer, didn’t you? This wine, in particular, is difficult to forget. Roses, (very) ripe stone fruits that are presented in broad, generous palate strokes (see what I did there?); this is a sleeper, I think, in that its aging potential (courtesy of some zesty acidity) will surprise those who hang on long enough to a bottle of this.

Rangen Riesling Rocks, Revisited

Rangen Riesling Rocks, Revisited1998 Schoffit Riesling Rangen Clos Saint-Theobald Selection de Grains Nobles (Alsace Grand Cru, $NA)

Not made often (they need about 80% botrytis to pull it off), and probably not at all inexpensive, this is absolutely stunning in just about any way that you can evaluate it. The color of orange hard candy. Aromas of quince, dried lemon, oranges, marmalade, sultana, flint, sweet tea, and petrol. Flavors of ripe, fresh citrus fruits. Despite the nearly 160 g/l of sugar, there’s low abv and high acidity, so the whole thing comes off as impeccably balanced (though one sip will tell you that this is clearly very drinkable dessert wine territory). It finishes with multiple levels of sweet dried fruits. As if you didn’t have enough reason to hate me already, right?

Cheers!

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Copyright © 2016. Originally at Rangen Riesling Rocks, Revisited from 1WineDude.com - for personal, non-commercial use only. Cheers!

Weekend Wine Pairing – Asparagi di Bassano Con Salsa dl Uove Sode + Teutonic Wine Company

It is asparagus time!

If you look around your local Farmers Market or grocery store you will see tables laden with first crop local asparagus. Washington is famous for its asparagus. The same soils that allow wine grapes to thrive also happen to be perfect for growing asparagus (and onions, too). This weekend, May 6th, is the annual Asparagus Festival in Pasco where consumers will be able to sample everything from grilled asparagus to asparagus ice cream. That’s right, asparagus ice cream!

Today, I present nothing quite so adventurous, but a simple elegant dish that you can serve at a dinner party or (hopefully one day- weather permitting) an outdoor bbq – Asparagi di Bassano Con Salsa di Uove Sode!

Weekend Wine Pairing – Asparagi di Bassano Con Salsa dl Uove Sode + Teutonic Wine Company

Now, most wine drinkers have heard that asparagus can be difficult to pair. Asparagus assertive flavor can clash with most wines, the reason is that asparagus contain chemical mercaptans which makes wine taste bitter and metallic. One solution is to add Fat: butter, olive oil, bacon. The fat will help tame the aggressive nature of the vegetable. 

I suggest choosing wines with higher acidity, wines that mirror the green notes of the vegetables. Sauvignon Blanc, Verdicchio, Gruner Veltliner, Gavi are all good answers. But, a great high acid Pinot Gris or Grigio is just about perfect.

2015 Teutonic Pinot Gris Crow Vineyard Willamette Valley Weekend Wine Pairing – Asparagi di Bassano Con Salsa dl Uove Sode + Teutonic Wine Company

We love the fruit that comes from the 35 year-old vines at Crow Valley Vineyard. This Pinot Gris is crisp and refreshing with fine mineral flavors that the vines absorb from the deep established roots. Golden pale in color, red apple, lime and lemon zest on the nose.

A perfect foil for the surly asparagus.

Teutonic Wine Company started in 2002 when Barnaby was the wine buyer at Papa Haydn Restaurant in Portland’s southeast location. It was his passion for cool climate wines that lead him to plant Oregon’s first coastal vineyard west of the coastal range. His fascination has garnered he and his wines a cult like following from Seattle to New York.

The Crow Vineyard Pinot Gris is made with minimal intervention, natural spontaneous fermentation; fermented in neutral oak (no steel) and bottled with lower alcohol.

Taste this wine and other Teutonic wines Saturday 2 pm to 5 pm

The post Weekend Wine Pairing – Asparagi di Bassano Con Salsa dl Uove Sode + Teutonic Wine Company appeared first on Madewine's Sippy Cup - Blog.

New York Cork Club: May 2016 Selections

With summer just around the corner — despite the cool, grey weather blanketing most of the northeast right now — I wanted to pick some wines this month that are well suited to warmer weather occasions and foods. I think I’ve done that with these wines even if they don’t offer the same sense of discovery as some other picks have. These aren’t obscure producers or grapes or wines that you haven’t seen before. Instead, I’ve chosen two delicious wines from two of my favorite producers — one in the Finger Lakes and one on Long Island. My first pick is…

Weekly New York Wine News — April 26, 2016

Cabernet franc vines budding out at Shinn Estate Vineyard NEWS ShipCompliant – 4/19/2016 Big wine industry player ShipCompliant provides its own synopsis of recently recommended changes for New York’s alcohol laws. Chicago Now – 4/19/2016 Chi Town Somm takes a closer look at New York wine, beginning with Long Island, in this first of a three-part series. East End Beacon – 4/19/2016 The Long Island Wine Council had updated it’s website and is taking a new approach to marketing the region. North Fork Patch – 4/20/2016 The LIWC may be bringing new leadership and ideas, but could mean different things…

New York #Tastemaker: Nancy Irelan | Red Tail Ridge Winery

“Tastemaker” is a term typically used to describe a person — either a sommelier or writer in the wine world — who decides what is good, cool or otherwise interesting. With our new #NYTastemaker profiles, I’ve decided to usurp the term to mean someone who actually makes the wines, ciders, spirits, etc. that we love. A “tastemaker” should make something, after all. One of the true highlights of my trip to the Finger Lakes last month was meeting Nancy Irelan, co-owner of and winemaker for Red Tail Ridge Winery on the western side of Seneca Lake. Nancy (and correctly so) suggested that if we planned…

New York Cork Club: April 2016 Selections

Editor’s Note: Okay, so I’m a little late posting this. Most of you have already received your shipments, but here is a bit about my April 2016 selections. I’m really excited about this month’s picks – one Finger Lakes riesling and a sparkling cabernet franc from Long Island. Yes, you read that right – sparkling cabernet franc. Macari Vineyards 2014 “Horses” Sparkling Rose Cabernet Franc is a sparkling cabernet franc that they may so little of that it’s not even on the winery’s website. Luckily, we were able to get a few cases for the club and I think you’re…

Uncork the Forks: 6 reasons for North Forkers to visit the Finger Lakes

I’m working on several stories after my recent trip to the Finger Lakes — but in the meantime, I wanted to share my latest column for the Suffolk Times, which can be found online on northforker.com Over the past several years, my family has fallen head-over-heels in love with the Finger Lakes region of central New York. It’s a stunningly beautiful part of the country that offers spectacular sunrises and sunsets, fishing, boating, wine tasting, great food and farmer’s markets, a relaxed pace and plenty of relaxation. In some ways, it’s a lot like the North Fork — except it’s…

Weekly New York Wine News — March 14, 2016

Photo via Stuart Pigott NEWS Northern Grapes Project – 3/8/2016 Representatives from Cornell delivered two presentations at the Norther Grapes Symposium, the annual conference on cold-climate viticulture and wine making. Dayton Business Journal – 3/8/2016 Boundary Breaks Late Harvest Riesling No. 90 makes it on this list of world class dessert wines. Finger Lakes Times – 3/10/2016 Sayre Fulkerson of Fulkerson Winery and Marc Fuchs of Cornell’s Geneva Experiment Station respectively received Vineyard and Research Unity Awards at the New York Wine & Grape Foundation’s annual banquet. Press and Sun Bulletin – 3/12/2016 First time wine festival in Binghamton with…