Around New York in 41 Grape Varieties

ArimeiTrue to the spirit of the Wine Century Club, there was a great deal of variety in our wine drinking over our long weekend in NYC. Wednesday: A 2004 Château d'Oupia Minervois Rouge (Carignan 60%, Syrah 30% and Grenache 10%) with all its peppery rich berry fruit and garrigue tumbling around hit the spot with take-in hamburgers in the hotel room. Thursday: Lunch is at the French Culinary Institute. It's always an amazing bargain at $24 pre fixe 3 courses plus $15 wine pairing. The wines are all understudies but shine in the pairings, as they would in the made for Musical FAME! A 2004 Weingut Kruger-Rumpf Munsterer Rheinberg Riesling Kabinett, dry and steely, matches grilled sardines. The 1998 Les Hauts de Pontet-Canet Paulliac (Cabernet Sauvignon 60%, Merlot 33%, Cabernet Franc 5%, Petit Verdot 2%) which is the 2nd wine from the 5th growth Bordeaux (a 10th growth?) is at its peak and really outstanding with lamb. A 2001 La Chapelle de Lafaurie-Peyraguey Sauternes (Semillon 90%, Savignon Blanc 5%, Muscadelle 5%) is pleasantly apricotty and works well with the bitter-sweet rhubarb tart. I feel like Brillat-Savarin as we're seated at Danny Meyer's The Modern just 3 hours later. Dinner: Alsace inspired cusisne with a naturally heavily Alsace wine list. I need help immediately otherwise I’ll just order a Trimbach Riesling Cuvée Frédéric Emile or something completely randon. Stéphane Colling, Modern's wine director suggests 2002 Domaine Weinbach Riesling Grand Cru Schlossberg Cuvée Sainte Catherine, over a dry wine mainly because “we will be able to go in more directions with it.” Huh? It’s a wonderful wine, lightly sweet peach mineral slight parafin/diesel with the opulent softness that says were in Alsace and not Germany. Our table goes with the tasting menu with wine pairings, which answers the “more directions – huh?” 2005 Giardini Arimei Reciotto (Biancolella, Forastera, San Lunardo, Uva Rilla, Coglionara – all indigenous Campanian grape varieties that I wouldn’t recognize in a dark alley let alone broad daylight). Stéphane assures us that it’s a recioto-like wine made from the Fiano Grape. It is an unusual but perfect choice for the fois gras that accompanied it and shows that a quite intense (16%) wine that would usually be pair much later with a cheese course can work right away. I stop with notes and we continue with masterful pairs of courses with Gewurtz, Erbaluce, Sancerre, Super Tuscan (Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot), Calif. Cabernet Sauvignon. Wow! Friday: The Wine Century Club Dinner. My liver isn’t exactly ready but what the hell. Robin Garr has a better synopsis here: click. All wines were masterfully selected by Jamie Wolff of Chambers Street Wines (the finest selection anywhere, a must!) A sparling 2004 Thierry Puzelat Vin Pétillalnt de France Pétillant Naturel Non Dosé (Chenin Blanc) starts things off with a bang and a writhing dance and sabering from Jenifer “Chotzi” Rosen. The first course is paired with two whites, a 2002 Cazin Cour-Cheverny(Romorantin) a highly acidic love it or hate it from the Loire (love it) and a Giuseppe Fanti 2003 Trentino Nosiola (Nosiola) a beautiful elegant aromatic lovely what is it? I may have guessed Albarino. The second course, which for most people is a big steak frites, is paired with reds: Grosjean Frères 2003 Vallée D'Aoste Torrette Valle d'Aosta,(Petit Rouge 70% with 30% Pinot Noir, Dolcetto, Fumin, Vien de Nus, and Neyret) an extremely weird very pale buttery red and a 2003 Tavijn Barbera D'Asti (Barbera) dense wonderful bitter cherries. This was all on a blind tasting and 2 out of 4 was the best score for guessing the grape variety. I know I couldn’t have done better. Saturday: 2004 Tramin Trentino Sauvignon Blanc, and two papal wines 2002 Avignonesi Vino Nobile di Montepulciano (Sangiovese 85%, Canaiolo 10%, Mammolo 5%) and 2001 Domaine La Roquette Chateauneuf-du-Pape Rouge (Grenache 70%, Syrah 20%, Mourvedre 10%). Friday: Lunch is at the wine geek friendly Landmarc in Tribeca. We’re all having burgers with a ’98 Leoville Barton but no! They’re out of it so under pressure I choose a 2003 Mas de Daumas Gassac Rouge (Cabernet Sauvignon 80% with 20% Malbec, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Syrah, Tannat, Pinot Noir, Nebbiolo, Grenache, Tempranillo, Voskehat, Kontorni, Salte, and Saperavi) which was dumber than me for selecting it. It needs another decade or two. . . 41 varieties isn’t too hard to do, albeit many in trace amounts!

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