Monthly Archives: June 2008

From the barrel

I stopped by Raphael on the way to work Friday to pick up a couple of cases of sauvignon blanc to sell by the bottle. It replaces the Lieb Pinot Blanc, which always sells well. The Raphael barely had time to chill before people started ordering it.

Winemaker Rich Olsen-Harbich had packed up some samples and then gave me a tasting of the 2007 reds he has in barrels. The cabernet franc is going to be delicious. We tasted some out of new American oak, made by French coopers and one from old French oak. The fruit got so ripe that the cab franc has a richness and little of that greenness that often is what cab franc is about. Rich said his cab franc was the best from Raphael’s vineyard, but that other growers and winemakers are saying their merlot was the best. “Every vineyard’s different,” he said. Continue reading



Filed under The Local Cellars

Dusty Spain

Wine sales gal Gwenn Goichman from Noble House Wines was in the restaurant on Thursday showing some new stuff from their portfolio. Gwen’s been selling wine for awhile and for a number of different distributors. I met her in 1997, I think, when I was managing Alison by the Beach restaurant in Sagaponack. The restaurant is now a barbecue joint and Alison is now running the restaurant in the Maidstone Arms in East Hampton. Gwen would show up on Saturday nights to serve as the wine waiter.

She opened 11 wines and the ones that got the most attention were two from Bodegas Arzuaga Navarro in Spain and two from Barrel 27 in California.

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Take a whiff of Bouké

Lisa Donneson came by the restaurant Wednesday to show off the inaugural release of her wines, the 2007 Bouké white and the 2007 rose.

As the name suggests (bouquet), the aroma of the wine is emphasized and, in the two she’s showing now, is fresh and aromatic.

I bought five cases of the white and will be pouring it by the glass starting this weekend. I wish they had screwcaps.

Lisa earned her Diploma in Wine and Spirits from the Wine & Spirits Education Trust in 2006. And the achievement has led her to the time-honored tradition of selling wine, which reminds me: One day is class at the International Wine Center the teacher asked what is wine about. A student with some years in the trade said, “It’s something to sell.” Everyone kind of nodded.

But it’s fun buying wine in a wine region. I said I’ll take five cases and she, the owner of the company, got in her car, drove to Cutchogue, picked the wine up at Long Island Wine Transport and 40 minutes later it was in the cooler.

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What’s open now

Urban Oak 2004 Roble Red Wine Ribera del Duero

This is one of the lower-end wines of the Bodegas y Viñedos O.Fournier Group, which was founded in 2000. They own estates in Mendoza and Ribera del Duero. According to their website, their main objective is to become “an international group focused high quality wines and produce approximately 1.5 million bottles in different regions: Argentina, Chile, Ribera de Duero, Rioja and Douro (Portugal).” Go get ’em.

The wine retails for about $14. One of the conclusions the WSET asks students to draw is the approximate sale price of the wine. Is it a mass produced wine? Or a super premium, which usually goes along with small production. I think it’d be easy to tell this wine is in the lower price range because it’s not too complicated, but it is pretty good. (Score alert: Parker gave it a 90.)

2004 was a great year all over Spain, following the extreme heat of 2003. So this wine is juicy and ripe. It’s made from tempranillo; the label says tinta del pais, which is what tempranillo is called in Ribera del Duoro. The label says it was aged for three months in French oak, while the website says four. Three, four, what’s the difference.

Tasting note after the jump. Continue reading

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Strawberry season nears end

There’s still time to get out in the sun and pick your own strawberries. The Mattituck Lions Club Strawberry Festival was last weekend and we’re still serving strawberry shortcake with local strawberries at the restaurant. They’re using the same recipe Larry Forgione did when I worked at An American Place in the early ’90s. The story goes that it’s James Beard’s mother’s recipe and the secret is hard-cooked egg yolks in the shortcake dough. Makes it really rich but still crumbly.

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Thanks Lenn

Lenn Thompson over at LENNDEVOURS did me a great favor and featured my blog on his blog. He’s been blogging about New York wine since 2003 and has attracted quite a following. Thanks Lenn!

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Off the beaten path

Christian Troy, by far the most voluble and prepared of wine salesmen, was in the restaurant last week showing me some wines that he had picked out keeping in mind my affinity for Barolo and Champagne. Christian works for Polaner Selections. He brought me a vermentino, a frappato, a barbera, a Pugliny-Montrachet and two Spanish wines from Lopez de Heredia, a red and a white, both crianzas.

From the OCW:

A crianza red wine may not be sold until its third (second for whites) year, and must have spent a minimum of six months in oak barricas (barriques). In Rioja and other regions such as Ribera del Duero, where the term is most commonly used, the wine must have spent at least 12 months in oak casks.

What was interesting about the white, the Gravonia Rioja Blanco Crianza, was that it is a 1998. Christian says they wait to release their wines. The red is a 2002 vintage. Continue reading

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