Sunday, November 24, 2013

Staff Picks for Thanksgiving!

Eric Asimov rightly points out in the New York Times this week that wines for Thanksgiving should be versatile, full of energy, invigorating, lower in alcohol, zesty, fresh and bright. He adds, and we couldn't agree more, that "nothing is worse than running out of wine, except running out of food. Figure a bottle per adult." (Also Julia Childs' rule of thumb.)

"The First Thanksgiving" by Jean Louis Gerome Ferris (Courtesy: Wikipedia)

We asked Tim and Tyler to put together their dream six-packs. (5% off on them while they last. Supplies are limited.)

Domaine Valentin Zusslin Cremant d'Alsace Rose Brut Zero NV
With a long winemaking history dating back to 1691, Domaine Valentin Zusslin knows a thing or two about crafting some serious, and seriously delicious, wines. The brother and sister duo of Marie and Jean-Paul Zusslin oversee the farming, which has been certified biodynamic since 1997, and also the non-interventionist winemaking that follows after the grapes have been painstakingly hand harvested. Their rose Cremant d'Alsace is but one of their many amazing wines. Made from 100% Pinot Noir sourced from their walled-in Clos Liebenberg vineyard, it is pretty close to immaculate. Wild berry fruits abound and a hint of grapefruit lead into an exquisitely delicate experience in the mouth. Would be perfect for a holiday brunch with friends, an aperitif while cooking, or to pair with an assortment of desserts. $32/bottle

Broc Cellars Valdiguie 2012
Haven't heard of Valdiguie? Don't worry, not many other people have either. After having been mistakenly called Napa Gamay for decades, it took a young winemaker by the name of Chris Brockway to set the record straight. Brockway opened the doors to his winery located in Berkeley, CA in 2008 after having released vintages made elsewhere. Since then he has proven that Valdiguie is a grape to be reckoned with. He buys only biodynamically grown grapes from farmers in Solano County and is ardent to employ minimal intervention in the winery. His 2012 Valdiguie is incredibly precise and vivid with ripe red berry fruits and lovely buoyancy that leads into a subtly earthy finish. This wine would feel right at home next to your Thanksgiving feast or served slightly chilled and paired with cheeses and charcuterie. $27/bottle

Remi and Laurence Dufaitre 'L'Air de Rien' 2011
Remi and Laurence have been enthusiastically producing some incredibly pure wines in the Beaujolais since 2001 when they founded their Domaine de Botheland. The domaine now encompasses 12 acres in Saint-Etienne-des-Oullieres and is the only winery that is embracing the natural way of making wines in that region. Their L'air de Rien Beaujolais-Villages cuvee uses Gamay grapes sourced from low-yielding old vines and they are harvested at the height of maturity resulting in a fuller, riper Beaujolais that is tantalizing. Velvety fruit and an underlying minerality make this wine a pleasure to drink with or without food and would make a lovely addition to any occasion this holiday season. $22/bottle

Jean-Marie Berrux 'Le Petit Tetu' 2011
Leaving his job in Paris behind, Jean-Marie Berrux began his journey in the world of wine in 1999. However it wasn't until 2007 when he joined forces with Jean-Pascal Sarnin to create Maison Sarnin-Berrux. For the wines they collaborate on they buy only organically grown grapes and they have now produce nine cuvees labeled under various appellations within Burgundy. In addition to those wines, Jean-Marie makes a special cuvee from his very small plot of Chardonnay vines just outside of Puligny-Montrachet that he maintains himself. Le Petit Tetu, or Little Stubborn One, is incredible: unctuous with a blast of sea-like minerals followed by pear, apple and apricots. It also has a ravishing acidity that almost has this wine begging to be placed on your table this year. $30/bottle

Frank Cornilessen 'Susucaru 5'
After having cultivated a career as a wine merchant in his native Belgium, Cornilessen decided to take the ultimate risk and relocated to the wild and beautiful slopes of Mt. Etna in Sicily. His first vintage in 2001 was a scant 500 bottles of naturally made wine: no additives, no sulphur--just pure juice. He now produces around 2500 cases, although he now has his organic certification and a new, almost finished, winery that is being built on his property. The Susucaru rose is a co-fermentation of red and white varietals, most native to the very slopes Cornilessen farms. Rose petals, red berries, wet stones and hints of juniper berry and orange rind coalesce into a wonderfully intense bouquet. It maintains bright, fresh berries throughout and its freshness stays with you long after you've finished your glass. Pop the stopper on this wine and enjoy it with cheeses or various vegetable dishes. $27/bottle 

Domaine du Clos d'Elu 'Les Petites Gorgees' 2012
Many years of touring and working in various wine regions around the world led Thomas Carsin to plant himself in the heart of the Loire Valley in 2008. He has been working to cultivate the land in harmony with nature and has been working to achieve organic certification since 2010. Joined by longtime friend Greg du Bouexic and a team of workers who have deep roots in the region, the domaine has set out to craft some delicious, naturally made wines. Les Petites Gorgees is a red blend of mostly Cabernet Franc with a few other varietals and is thirst quenching, making it perfect for those long, sit-down holiday meals. Dusty berry fruits and dark plums make this wine lush, mouth filling and pleasantly tart. Grab a few bottles on your way to a friend's party or stock up to pair with a Thanksgiving feast. $14/bottle

Causse Marines Gaillac 'Peyrouzelles' 2011

If you've been in the shop recently, you've probably heard me talk about an "in-law wine." It's a bottle which is unapologetically unique but won't, in turn, scare away your plonk-sipping relatives. 
Hailing from Southwest France, The Peyrouzelles is a 30/30/30 blend of Syrah, Duras, and Braucol. Spicy aromas give way to deep fruit; the wine is lively with some granite-tinged elements and a clean, almost-herbal finish. It's funky but balanced and far more approachable than you'd think. Best served with something spicy, and in great quantities.
Switch out everybody at the Thanksgiving table's Malbec for a glass of the Causse Marines and wait for 'em to start preaching the gospel. Tell your in-laws that we have a bottle waiting for them. $19/bottle

Julie Balagny Fleurie 'Carioca' 2011
I prescribe 750ml of Cru Beaujolais to anyone who has ever had to drink bad wine on Thanksgiving. You wouldn't be wrong to start with this bottle from Fleurie by young winemaker Julie Balagny.

This Gamay is about finesse. It's deceptively light; the deep fruit fills the palette so wholly and yet seems so buoyant! It lingers and deepens and tastes a little different with each sip, with a nice zip of acidity to cut through the food.

So sad a realization that the bottle is empty, yet such a relief that you can ask for a case for Christmas!  $28/bottle

Mas Coutelou 'Vin des Amis' 2012 
Our friend Camille imports only enough wines to fill both sides of a piece of paper. She's got a real knack for it, too, as I have yet to have a sub-delicious bottle of hers. She brings in this little devil, a blend of three-quarters Grenache and a quarter of Syrah. It's a little lighter at first, finishing off with a kiss of spice.

I'd like to pair it with something in particular, but the truth is this: you should be drinking this wine from the moment you read this wine until either Grandpa falls asleep, football tears apart the entire family, or Mom begs you to come help with dishes (whichever comes last.)

No, but seriously: this wine is good with everything. Godspeed! $18/bottle

Domaine Faillenc Sainte Marie Corbières 'Pas des Louves' 2011
I have to admit, I have a little crush on Corbières. Located within the Languedoc in southern France, this AOC boasts a fair number of -- well -- diamonds in the rough. The story here is quality, character, and affordability.

The four grapes which comprise the 'Pas des Louves' are pressed and vinified together, which makes sense in the glass. Like a perfume, you catch different notes depending on the breath. The wine is alive with farm notes, from floral aromas to a finish full of straw and herbs. It'd be great to start a dinner with this one; it's charming and easygoing, which is more than I can say about some of my relatives. Pass the bottle? $15/bottle

Nicolas Reau 'Attention Chenin Méchant' 2011 
The winemaker was a rugby player before, and I'm as glad as his mother that he changed trades when his did. Reau's wines are expressive, clean, and downright delicious -- not to mention solid examples of wine made naturally.

This Chenin Blanc has an electric feeling to it -- you get some great acidity along with a hint of honey tones. Medium-bodied, it deserves to cut the line as an Official Turkey Pairing. 

If Sancerre is your aunt who tells the same story year after year, this Chenin is your cousin's new boyfriend who seems quiet at first but ends up winning over the entire family with raunchy jokes and has Grandma swooning at the same time. $21/bottle

Jean-Yves Peron 'Cidre des Cimes' 2010-11
We've sold a good share of wines by Peron at the shop, and I think it's safe to say he's a favorite of ours. Here we have a cider made by him in the mountains of eastern France, where he does his magic.

Before anything else, let's talk about the gorgeous gunk in the bottle. (I'm really selling this, aren't I?) Yes, there is sediment. Yes, it dances around a bit. Yes, it's safe. Anyway, this is a pretty serious cider: a heap of acidity, a rush of tiny bubbles, and a rustic sort of feeling that works so very well with food. Forget Champagne and pop a bottle or three of these.

Low in alcohol, this is the kind of bottle that can wander around the Thanksgiving table easily. And if you're one of those cool relatives, you'll let it wander over to the veteran inhabitants of the kids' table without noticing.  $18/bottle
To order click here or call 718-596-7643. To view our full selection come see us at the store.