Back from New York for (and with) loads of natural wine

Taking the red-eye flight we came back from New York Monday around lunch time. We had a great couple of days in town after attending a global sales meeting in the New Jersey countryside – a rather exhausting event. It was not the best weather but hey, it’s New York!

Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs

We went to Princeton for a day and got a tour through this beautiful little town enjoying the neo-gothic-whatever architecture under a blue sky. We walked around in the Lewis Library created by Frank Gehry (still surprised that nobody kicked us out – we used all elevators to see all corners!) and the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs (the picture above shows some of the interior). Of course the day didn’t end without a marvellous dinner with my boss Eileen and her husband Tarik. We went to the Blue Point Grill where they do excellent seafood. I had a special seafood pasta which Tarik told me I might be the first to taste after him and it was awesome. It was also a nice opportunity to test our natural wine pitch (why are we doing what again?) and I think it worked out quite well.

The Vinegar Hill House

We stayed for a few more days in Brooklyn with the already legendary Vinegar Hill House in walking distance . I never had a table in their cellar room and was a bit disappointed first as I like seeing the open kitchen while waiting for the food. But it was alright. Nice fireplace and the food was as wonderful as it was the last times I visited this place. Only downside: it was just me drinking wine so I had to go by the glass which left me with a rather poor selection.

Dinner at Takahachi

Over the weekend we did quite a bit of sightseeing and shopping and had a nice dinner in the East Village at the excellent Japanese restaurant Takahachi with our friend Juan-Carlos and his family. They do fantastic Kushiyaki there and of course Sushi. Followed by ice cream at Il Laboratorio Del Gelato and the purchase of a new hat from Goorin Bros. the next day we were ready to leave.

The Real Wine Fair

I was actually quite proud of myself that I made it to the Tobacco Dock Monday afternoon after basically not sleeping. But how could I miss The Real Wine Fair. An incredibly inspiring place specifically regarding our journey. Tasting dozens of wines I focussed on the south of France as we’ll be travelling there in a few months. Which might be a nice opportunity to visit a few of these natural wine peeps – we’d like to get some of these wines in our trading portfolio. There were too many delicious wines and producers to mention them all. I met a few of my favourite winemakers including Laurent Cazottes (man, you need a better website!) who makes one wine I know and like a lot: Adèle. I didn’t know that he spends most of his time distilling and did like his spirits a lot too. Also got his red to taste and I bought a bottle for my father to taste it together in a few weeks.

I enjoyed a lot talking to John Bojanowski and tasting his wines. I specifically liked his 2011 Mivervois Blanc “L’Inattendu” – a Grenache with a beautiful mixture of some oxidation flavours, old wood, herbs, a little apricot and green pepper. Tasting the wines of Lidewij van Wilgen was also a pleasure. I liked the approach of producing natural wines which are really affordable e.g. her machine harvested 2012 Ami des Dames (sold under £10), a decent natural red with the little oxidation flavours I like and a nice fruit. Her white Mas des Dames Blanc was delicious too – I liked the whole palette – we will try to visit her in summer!

Besides the south France focus there were a few of my stars I couldn’t walk by without tasting a few glasses. Rosi Eugenio and I were not able to communicate at all as he doesn’t speak English but our hands and face expressions did their best. I only knew his 2009 Anisos Rosi Bianco so far – the simplest of his portfolio which consists of outstanding wines. There was the producer of the Mengoba Bierzo Brezo which I really do like as well and a Georgian producer whose daughters  gave me a fantastic qvevri white to taste – not too heavy and tannic but rather fresh and worth another try. To mention just a few highlights.

The Donkey and Goat 2011 Helluva

After so much tasting and spitting I enjoyed opening a bottle in the evening which I bought in The Natural Wine Company shop in Brooklyn (the consultation was rather poor … better visit Frankly Wines!). A natural Pinot Noir from California, never had one before so very exciting. It’s from Donkey and Goat in Berkeley and boy do they know how to make a decent natural red! A little oxidated (and so smoky), red fruits, light but a good mouth full plus quite spicy with some funky incense (did I smell caraway too?). Perfectly balanced and well worth its $30. If you have any more doubt: Tracey and Jared Brandt also know how to tell the story of their foot stomped wines: you should check out their website. I guess it’s hard to get here in Europe but if you’re in the U.S.: buy it!

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