Cool Wine Shop Alert: Forêt in Ridgewood, Queens

I’ve been spending more time in Ridgewood now that a very good friend lives there. If you find yourself in this part of Queens and are thirsting for some natural (“natty”) bottles, check out Forêt Wines.

Two visits in and its got all the things I like about a wine shop: small, charming, eclectic yet somehow focused. A selection that’s a reflection of the proprietor. Speaking of, that would be Marie Tribouilloy. She’s a co-owner of Ops in Bushwick, one of my favorite pizza spots. (It’s got lots of natty wine served w/o a list. You just say what you want to drink and someone will bring you a few things until you and a wine click. Though they usually nail it on the first taste.)

A duo of bottles I picked up were both aces. The first was a Meinklang Gruner Veltliner. Bottled with a screw cap, it is tailor-made for a BYOB spot. The red was more serious, with some body and heft: Simon Busser Pure Cot 2016. Cot* is what the French call Malbec. If all you have been exposed to is versions from Argentina, buckle up. Because this is a much different ride. Honestly this is probably the first Cot I’ve had from the Cahors area in quite a while. (This wine is a Vin de France so there must be a reason it’s not appellation labeled but the Cahors region is Busser’s stomping grounds.**) Most I’ve drank have been from the Loire Valley, and on the lighter side.

With these two bottles at dinner, normally I hit the white until it’s gone then begrudgingly shift to red. But after pouring a splash of Pure Cot, I went back to the red wine well again and again. Usually I don’t care for full-bodied wines but this one was voluminous in a totally compelling way. Juicy, fruity, complex, long fresh finish. Damn!

Anyway, if a wine shop can pick out a bottle like that for you, it is gold. (My mandate was full-bodied red and “unlimited budget.” I really did say the latter but I mean my idea of unlimited is like over $20 and under $50.) So check out Forêt Wines the next time you are in Ridgewood. I take the L to Myrtle and stroll there but you can also take the M to Forest. Or research bus routes. Ride share. Bicycle. Walk. Teleport, etc.

For more on Forêt Wines, check out Grubstreet and Bushwick Daily. Also it’s right next to Sundown, a lovely space of a bar. And my friend is one of the owners. So go have a cocktail/beer/wine and then buy a bottle next door. Or vice-versa.

*JR says with or w/o the circumflex. So there. I do like the hat on the “o” of “Côt.”

**Astor Wines has an explanation.

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Reboule du Rhone, second edition

The Reboule du Rhone is back for a second edition! The event last year feted winemakers and wines from the Northern Rhone with dinners and tastings, raising over $300,000 for the charity No Kid Hungry. Above is a quick montage of scenes from last year.

This year’s encore edition will include a series of singular dinners, November 15-17. The first dinner (at a private residence 50 floors up) highlights “legendary” vintages of the last 50 years, the second dinner has a focus on the “kings of Cornas,” and the third is a BYOB extravaganza. For those looking for a more budget-friendly event, it’s hard to outdo the value of walk-around tasting at 1 PM Saturday the 17th. Winemakers and leading sommeliers will pour over 100 wines from the region.

The event is the brainchild of Thomas Pastuszak and Dustin Wilson. Profits go entirely to No Kid Hungry.

List of winemakers after the jump.


Related: Reboule du Rhone site
Reboule du Rhone [Dr. Vino]

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Go to Ruffian in the East Village if You Love Wine and Food

There’s nothing I love more than tiny places and there are a few in the East Village I adore. One is Ruffian wine bar. It’s an extremely narrow spot specializing in natural wine. They also crank out some great food behind the bar in the tiniest square footage.

It also reminds me that some of my favorite places to eat in New York are wine bars. Even if I wasn’t a wine drinker (LOL), I’d go for the food at places like Ruffian. June in Brooklyn also comes to mind.

My wine modeling career will never make me a rich man, but I can tell you about this intriguing bottle at Ruffian wine bar.

Anne & Jean-François Ganevat Vin de France J’en Veux Encore*

From a beloved producer in wine hipster HQ, France’s Jura region, it’s a blend of 70% Gamay and 30% Trousseau. Importer Kermit Lynch has the story about this and other Gavenat wines with the Vin de France designation:

After consecutive vintages of losing large portions of his harvest, Jean-François was forced to innovate to make more wine. In partnership with his sister Anne, he went to friends in Alsace, Beaujolais, and Savoie to source more fruit. Anne and Jean-François even went so far as to purchase vines in the Beaujolais. Each Vin de France cuvée is a blend of estate fruit from the Jura and purchased (or estate) fruit from another region, thus allowing Jean-François to apply his savoir-faire in winemaking with indigenous grape varieties from the Jura to create a new and unique line of wines. All of the vineyards contributing to this project are farmed organically.

Not surprisingly, this wine drinks like a Beaujolais with a little bit of funk you might expect from a natural wine.

Another interesting wine I tried was a Cinsault from Lebanon. Truth be told, the only Lebanese wines I’ve had were from Chateau Musar. Though if you are only going to try one winery from Lebanon, you can’t go wrong with Musar. Meeting winemaker Serge Hochar was a highlight of my career, and you can read about that experience and my tribute to him here.

Domaine de Tourelles 2015 Cinsault Vielles Vignes (Bekka Valley)

Go to Ruffian in the East Village if You Love Wine and Food

This wine from Domaine des Tourelles was a nice follow-up to the Ganevat. Made from over 50-year-old Cinsault vines, it’s fermented in concrete tanks using wild yeast. I’m used to seeing Cinsault as part of a blend for reds and rosés so it’s great to try an old-vine version from Lebanon that shines as the star of the show.



This month Ruffian wine bar is taking a page/pages out of Homer’s Odyssey. Try wines from countries mentioned in the epic and get a passport stamp for each one. (Think Mallorca, Sicily, Crete, Turkey, Sardinia, and Greece.)  Submit your completed passport for a chance to win a cool bottle. There’s also a lamb feast to share and a special Wine-Dark Sea cocktail made from tea-infused vermouth, red wine from Georgia (the country), and cherry syrup.

Here’s a nice little passage and an article from the NY Times about The Odyssey and wine:

[I]t is the wine that leads me on, the wild wine
that sets the wisest man to sing at the top of his lungs,
laugh like a fool – it drives the man to dancing…it even
tempts him to blurt out stories better never told.

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Domaine Tempier Rosé 2017 is a Legendary Bottle

Much time has passed since I last had one of the world’s most iconic wines. It’s not just legendary, but vital year after year. I’m talking about the Domaine Tempier Rosé. Yesterday I enjoyed a bottle as it is best enjoyed (outside of southern France, at least): with a friend over a great, leisurely lunch.

Since I apparently can’t stop writing about rosé, I’m going to soldier on until I have scoured the earth for all the unique bottles of dry pink wine I can find. The 2017 Domaine Tempier Rosé has the extra richness you’d expect from a Bandol along with some more pronounced and delightful aromas than your average bland-o pink wine.

It’s a blend of 55% Mourvèdre, 25% Grenache, 20% Cinsault. I would say it’s the Mourvèdre that really pulls its weight in the flavor and scent departments.

Also a huge shout-out to Scampi. It’s an outstanding restaurant, perfect for lunch. Especially when you roll in at 2pm and it’s nice and quiet and you can sit at the bar with a friend. And speaking of friends, I’m lucky to have a good buddy of mine who I worked with at Bottlehouse in Seattle on the staff.

If you are in NYC for restaurant week, you get two courses here for $26. The food was outstanding.

Salad with savoy cabbage (shaved raw), ricotta salata, almonds, tomato, olives:

Domaine Tempier Rosé 2017 is a Legendary Bottle

Branzino with (amazing) cippolini onions, broccoli rabe, chilies:

Domaine Tempier Rosé 2017 is a Legendary Bottle

Of course there was dessert. Perfectly jiggly panna cotta with vanilla custard, peaches, pine nuts, raspberry & peach granita:

Domaine Tempier Rosé 2017 is a Legendary Bottle

Finally, two tiny, perfectly crisp cannoli with chocolate chip ricotta cream. How about the beautiful plate they came on?

Domaine Tempier Rosé 2017 is a Legendary Bottle

So if you can’t drink it at the domaine, Scampi on a quiet afternoon is a dang fantastic substitute. We were even joined at the bar by someone very much a Manhattanite, noting nothing would compel her to go to Brooklyn now that she didn’t have a car. (Cabs and subways are, apparently, not an option.) She stepped out often for two puffs on her cigarette. I could have listened to her all day long, and wish I would have spoken to her more than I did. No doubt she has a ton of New York stories.

Domaine Tempier Rosé 2017 is a Legendary Bottle

Domaine Tempier photo from Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant website.

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White Wine With Steak Why Not Go For It, Especially at Lunch?

Got the chance to have lunch at a legendary New York City spot, Keens Steakhouse, established in 1885. It provided me with the perfect opportunity to subvert the “Cab and a slab” classic pairing and have white wine with steak.

One of the things that helped this pairing is the salad. Greens, radishes, and a creamy dressing really bring this into white wine territory. And the wine was a Sauvignon Blanc from Austria that had a few years of age and saw some time in oak. (I wish I had written down the vintage and producer; emailed the resto but haven’t heard back. I’d like to applaud Keens for having some really cool whites by the glass. They were also pouring a blend from South Africa’s Mullineux and a white wine from the uber-trendy Jura region of France.)

White wines with a little richness can handle almost any meat. BTW, this was one of the best steaks I’ve ever had. Perfectly cooked. Started with a great cocktail, too, a Paper Plane.

The other thing that made this pairing work? I wanted a white wine. Plain and simple. Why “force” yourself to drink something you don’t want just because it is supposed to “work” better?

White Wine With Steak Why Not Go For It, Especially at Lunch?

Final note on Keens. It has (per their website) “the largest collection of churchwarden pipes in the world.” They adorn the ceiling(s), as you can see in this photo. Read more about these pipes. Perhaps contemplate them the next time you’re there, naturally savoring a white wine with steak.

I’ve also recommended steak in raw form with a white. Check out my pairing for tartare. And I’ve been touting steak and Champagne since 2006. It was at a Nicolas Feuillatte dinner where I was blown away by how well their top wine, Palmes d’Or, was with a steak at Crush in Seattle.

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Reboule du Rhone

About five years ago, Dustin Wilson became the wine director at Eleven Madison Park and Thomas Pastuszak became the wine director at NoMad. At a similar point in their careers at restaurants in the same group, the two bonded over their many shared interests, one of which was a love of the wines of the Northern Rhone.

Last year, when they were visiting cellars in the region together, they hatched the idea to have a weekend celebration of Northern Rhone wines in New York City. Thus Reboule du Rhone was born with the first weekend of events slated for November 17-19. Pastuszak says that some of the dozen producers invited have never been to New York before. Part of their motivation was to give “the sommelier community a chance to get in front of these heralded producers,” he says.

“We get really excited to serve these wines and drink these wines. But the region is somewhat under the radar. So it is exciting to give them wider exposure,” Wilson says.

With other weekend fetes on the New York City calendar of Burgundy, Champagne, and others, there was an opening for a Northern Rhone event. “For us, we felt it was only a matter of time until somebody jumped on this. We’ve hit a point in our career where we are very well positioned and the timing was right for us to do it.

One further way to stand out is that 10% of the net proceeds will go to charity. The nonprofit they are working with is No Kid Hungry, an organization that works to improve childhood nutrition that has worked frequently with chefs and the restaurant community.

The flagship event is the Reboule, a $600/head BYOB dinner bacchanal with winemakers who will be bringing back-vintages from their cellars. Participating chefs include Daniel Humm of EMP and Abram Bissel of NoMad. But perhaps the best value is the walk-around afternoon tastings where the winemakers will be pouring their current releases.

The best wines from the Northern Rhone, syrah’s ancestral homeland, represent something of a Lorelei to me, with their alluring, savory call of black olives and herbs. The producers here a veritable murderer’s row of producers from the region. So it’s hard to imagine what the Reboule will do for an encore. But that’s a problem for next year.

Participating winemakers













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Daniel Johnnes, Burgundy specialist, joins Grand Cru

Daniel Johnnes may be the closest thing the American wine world has to Burgundy royalty. Yesterday he announced that he has joined Grand Cru Selections, an importer and wholesaler based in New York City, as a partner. It’s a big move.

“This is an opportunity to be a partner in a young and dynamic company that I didn’t want to pass up,” he said by phone.

Johnnes, 60, helped pique America’s interest in Burgundy wines When he was a sommelier at the erstwhile restaurant Montrachet in the early 1990s, he hosted winemaker dinners with the likes of Christophe Roumier and Dominique Lafon that encouraged American collectors to add Burgundy to their cellars. In 2000, he tapped his connections in Burgundy to hold the first “La Paulée de New York.” This bacchanal now alternates annually between NYC and SF and is marked in red on the calendar of collectors. It also functions as a sort of “Burgundy university” for the sommeliers who work the event. Johnnes brokers a number of wines including Roumier and Lafon that he will be bringing to Grand Cru. He was #4 on our NYC wine power list a few years back. He currently is spending a year in Lyons.

Grand Cru Selections was started in 2010. Ned Benedict, a founding partner, said of their strategy: “we’re trying to build a really well-conceived portfolio of wines. Burgundy is obviously really close to all of our hearts.” But, he underscored, “we’re not trying to become a house of Burgundy–other regions are very important to us too.” Their portfolio includes the wines of J.L. Chave, Marquis d’Angerville, and nine wines from Piedmont, among others.

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Uncork the Forks: Local Wines Should Be on Local Menus

(Photo Credit: David Benthal for northforker) Local wine people — both inside and out of the industry proper — have long lamented how few local restaurants support and offer local wine. Short of visiting every restaurant and asking to see their wine lists, it is hard to know precisely who is listing local wine and how much of it. Visiting restaurant websites — many of which aren’t updated very often, rendering them largely useless — does offer some insight, though. The results are still ugly, though there are some exceptions — restaurants doing good things with local wine. Some restaurants,…

New York Cork Club: The Best New York Wine Delivered to Your Door

If you read this blog, you’re obviously interested in New York wine. But, depending on where you live, you may not have ready access to very much of it. If that’s you, we’ve got the solution. We’ve partnered with The Cellar d’Or — a great wine and cider shop in Ithaca, NY — for the New York Cork Club. Every month, I pick two great New York wines and they are delivered to your door. The wine itself never exceeds $50 for those two bottles (shipping costs vary) and by joining, you’ll get everything from classic wines from the top wineries in…

A sommelier’s niche: Bordeaux classified growths

Many sommeliers find a niche of wines they love and make their restaurant a standout location for those wines. Pascaline Lepeltier has done this with chenin blanc at Rouge Tomate, Thomas Pastuszak with New York Riesling at NoMad, and Patrick Cappiello with grower champagne at Pearl & Ash.

A sommelier’s niche: Bordeaux classified growthsThere’s a new entrant into the niche game: Tali Dalbaha is showing Bordeaux some love. The wine director at City Winery in Manhattan has assembled all 61 classified growths on her list. Wait, Bordeaux? Yes. Studying for the theory portion of the Master Sommelier exam last year, she was struck by the challenge of assembling the current wines (all the wines are from the heralded 2010 vintage) from the famed classification now celebrating its 160th anniversary. She approached City Winery owner Michael Dorf who joked that his first reaction to her proposal was: “How much?”

After convincing Dorf, Dalbaha set about finding all the wines, which was not only pricey, but hard to find them all. Now, she says, they are the only restaurant in the world to offer the complete lineup of Bordeaux.

“This is a great way to introduce people to Bordeaux,” she said. “People love to say that they had a Bordeaux.”

Defying a current trend in sommeliers that have given Bordeaux less space on wine lists, Dalbaha told me, “I love merlot. I think it is a great grape.” (Perhaps a spotlight on Pomerol will be next?) She continued that “some young sommeliers feel ashamed to say they like Bordeaux. But they shouldn’t.”

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