When we think about New York, the first thing which comes to my head is probably the Statue of Liberty. At least it was the case not so long ago. Preparing this trip in the Big Apple a few months ago, I wanted to go and meet the wine scene over there. Olivier Cousin, a natural vigneron from the Loire Valley, gave me some addresses worth a visit in NYC and thanks to him I could get in touch with the jewel of the NYC wine scene.
I arrived in NYC two weeks ago, and because of the intensity of my stay there, updating my blog took a bit longer than expected. Only a week in this city, that’s why I wanted to make the most of it obviously … My priority: meeting as many people as possible involved in the natural, organic or biodynamic wine trade. It could be retailers, importers, distributors, sommeliers, wine bars, wine stores, writers and journalists. After a long drive from Toronto to NYC and a stop at Woodbridge Farm,a biodynamic farm in Connecticut, I arrived in NYC ready to collect as much information as possible regarding the wine scene over there. With two goals mainly: the first being collecting interviews for this blog and for the project with French magazine LeRouge&LeBlanc, and the second was to find partners to work with in America to import exclusive small estate fine wines from France.
All the week, I kept myself busy to investigate and to meet the characters behind the different names who make NYC so famous for authentic wines. It started with importers and 10 years old company Jenny & François Selections. The meeting with Jenny Lefcourt, an elegant and courteous lady, was the beginning of what was going to be a busy week.
Other importers in this niche market are Louis/Dressner Selections, Savio Soares Selections, Fruit of the Vine Inc, and Jon-David Headrick Selections. From all of them, I could only meet Kevin McKenna from Louis/Dressner Selections with their wines mainly from France, and then Italy, some from Spain and Croatia too.
From one appointment to an another, I went to meet representatives of the wine stores Maslow 6, Chambers Street, West Side Wine, Appellation Wines, Discovery Wines, Astor Wines, UVA, and 67 Wine. All of them offer a wide range of excellent quality wines from quality winemakers from all over the world but more particularly from France and Italy. At every meeting, the quality of the exchange was different. But after all, the common thread was the passion and the knowledge that those people have about wine.
Every time it was inspiring to meet them. They defend the authenticity and the taste for good wine and food and quality products. Each one of them has its own particularity and special something which makes them so unique.
From the stores, I then toured the wine bars The Ten Bells with Fifi and Jorge, The Counting Room with Doria, Terroir, Maslow & Sons and Diner in Brooklyn, and Clo Wine bar with Steven MacDonald, which is original for its virtual wine list.
Some restaurants worth the visit if you go to NYC are Trestle on Tenth with chef Ralf Kuetel, Rouge Tomate with sommelier Pascaline Lepeltier, DBGB with chef Daniel Boulud and sommelier Kerrie Obrien, and the restaurant Hearth.
But what would probably be the most remarkable encounter was my meeting with Alice Feiring, a free-lance writer for The New York Times who also runs a famous blog In Vino Veritas. Her book « The battle for Wine and Love: or How I Saved the World from Parkerization » had a big echo in the wine world. It happened that I got her contact thanks to Jenny. And we could arrange a time for me to call her on the phone. When she asked me what I was looking for in the vineyards in North America, my answer was authenticity, character, and sapidity. She told me with humour that to find a complete farm here in the US with vineyards also with animals, aromatic herbs, vegetables, cereals, orchards,etc… one would have to wait for 150 years at least before finding such a thing. Funnily enough, we talked on the phone on a Wednesday morning, and NYC being a very small city indeed(?), it happened that we met in person in a restaurant I was visiting later on during the week. Without any appointment our meeting took place like that on a restaurant floor. So small is the world sometimes! We could exchange a few words.
My week ended as it had started, under the heat of a warm, sleepless, vibrant and dynamic city.