Tuesday April 3rd
Quite a lot it turns out. Thirteen hours straight actually.
Tuesday the 3rd of April was T Edward Wine's big French portfolio show in NY. I really enjoy the sense of intensity and drive that I always feel in NY so I jumped at their opportunity and decided to go jam as much wine and food into the 26 hour period as I could. I caught a 6am flight and was on the ground in NY at 6:50. After a quick shower I walked up town to meet with Zev Rovine for coffee.
Zev imports some of the most famous and infamous natural wines out there; wines that wine geeks talk about with hushed voices and wide eyes, like the Jean Pierre Robinot wines. Zev exists on the ragged leading edge of the Natural Wine movement with wines that are irregularly available and then only in minuscule quantities. They're not wines I'll be able to sell all that much of and they'll take more work to sell, but they are passion driven, uncompromising, and dripping with terroir-so I'm going for it!
by 11 I was on my way to T Edward's French Portfolio show. It was in this beautiful space called the Standard Beer Garden located under the high line park. The industrial iron bracing and pillars underneath the old railway trestle/now park forms the roof and a front made up of retractable glass panels lets in tons of natural light. With over 30 French wine makers pouring and discussing their wines it was a lot to handle, but even though it took me 5 hours, I tasted pretty much everything.
The Burgundy producers were a highlight. Roger Belland was his usual energetic, confidant, and slightly exasperated self. I would probably get exasperated too after hours of pouring wines to people who didn't speak my language. Interestingly, he had wines open from both the 08 and 09 vintages.
08 was cooler and didn't get particularly good press, but the red Chassagne Montrachet was fresh, pretty, racy, and very integrated. On the other hand the 09 Santenay was big and juicy, dark, and burly. He said he actually preferred the 08 vintage and thought it would age better due to it's acidity. It was one more example that you should never judge an entire vintage; try the wines and keep and open mind.
(I opened up a bottle of his 08 Santenay when I got back and was quite impressed. It had been a while since I had it but it was really well balanced and had heavy berry fruit that was balanced by a slightly rustic tannin and acidity. It was well structured and pretty open.)
Also here from Burgundy were two extremely nice and extremely French women representing Domaine Tortochot in Gevery Chambertin. Their wines tasted much like the two ladies conveyed themselves: very classical, proper, refined, and friendly. The wines were well made and had good balance. They have some 2000 1er cru on hand that I'll try to get my hands on.
There were many impressive wines but I was also particularly struck by the Rasteau from Gourt de Mautens made by Jerome Bressy. This is a Grenache based blend from just north of Vacqueyras. Jerome farms biodynamically and is a fanatic about farming and making sure his vines are perfectly healthy. He spoke no English and I spoke no French but the wine was earthy, spicy, elegant, powerful, and really complex. It seemed all the more so as it was next to some 16 and 16.5% alcohol Chateauneuf du Papes that were also powerful, but certainly not elegant.
The tasting wound down around 4 so I walked up to a restaurant called Trestle with Brian, my sales contact at T Edward. We caught up over a bottle of Vina Tondonia Rioja rose from....I think it was 02. Tondonia is famous for these slightly oxidized, delicate roses; they're a very traditional house. Once Brian had to move on I picked up my friend Liz and her boyfriend Dan and we really got down to work.
We headed up to Bar Jamon, one of my favorite places in NY. The space is tiny. Like linen closet tiny. Seriously there are bathrooms as big in Maine. The three of us staked out some territory at the bar and I started reading through the novel they call a wine list. I eventually settled on a bottle of Vina Mein Ribeiro. It's a minerally and intense white from far north west Spain. They have a killer tapas menu so I ordered some octopus (pulpo) that was very well done-not chewy at all, shaved pig face, jamon Iberico, buffalo's milk cheese, and some duck confit. The pig face was the high light for me; it must have been mildly pickled but the fat melted like butter on my tongue. There was still some cartilage to it, but it was so thin that the texture was enjoyable. I got a chance to talk to the bar manager Juan Pablo for a bit about the wines and importers they worked with. It's an ever changing landscape in NY and I'm glad I don't have to compete in it.
Then I walked back down town and over to Terroir Tribeca. It must have been nearly 11 by then but I wasn't noticing. It was still busy so I grabbed the one place at the bar and told the bar tender how my day had been so far and that I was looking forward to drinking more cool stuff. "What are you excited about" I asked. "How about this Txakoli" Darryl replied "It's a great way to start a meal". But it was the Ameztoi that I already work; of course Darryl had another Txakoli I didn't know. From there I moved on to a Slovenian white called "Ravan" from Kabaj and a naturally made Aglianico from Campagnia. The high light though wasn't even food. It turned out I was sitting next to the Chef de Cuisine of Terroir Doctor Bruschetta aka John LoManto. Fittingly I got an order of bone marrow bruschetta and it was amazing! Inch thick slices of airy Italian bread slathered with bone marrow. It was so light and smooth it was like eating nothing.
I had to be at the airport at 7. It took at least an hour from my hotel. It was midnight. I decided to head back to the hotel and get what sleep I could.