Shana Speaks Wine

Wine Journalist, Copywriter, and Marketing Consultant

Drinking out loud. 

Blizzard-Worthy Bottles

Ah, blizzards. Some people opt to ravage grocery stores like bears at a campsite then hibernate for days. I view it as a chance to go out and play, a wonderland devoid of traffic and crowded sidewalks.  In this alternate universe, a snowball fight in the middle of the street during rush hour is entirely possible.

In a blink-and-you'll-miss-it moment,  a blizzard hit NYC a couple of weeks ago.  Two days later everything melted, but for a nanosecond the city was something out a Disney movie:

(photo courtesy of Jennifer Hill)

My other favorite part of a blizzard?  The ease of getting into restaurants that normally require reservations weeks out.  Taking full advantage of this situation, we scaled snowdrifts for some fabulous food and, of course, wine.

Friday night we hit up Louro, a new neighborhood spot which absolutely lived up to all the buzz it's been generating. The dishes were inventive yet accesible and felt playful but yet made you stop and think about what the hell was going on in your mouth.

Reviewing the wine list, I paused at the Grenache from Spain. Grenache is more commonly referred to as Garnacha in that country - why the other terminology? Regardless, the juicy pluminess of the Garnacha sounded like a warm, enveloping hug, perfect for the night.

Once the bottle arrived at the table, I understood the French labeling. The wine was actually a Rhone blend: 70% Grenache, 10% Carignan, 10% Syrah, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon. How would this compare to a French Cote du Rhone?

Clot D'Encis, Rhone Blend, Agricola Sant Josep, Spain
The Grenache was prominent as the fruit hit our noses immediately, Cherry, raspberry, and a bit of plum sprang up, with a little bit of spice trailing behind. The first couple of sips followed suit in flavor and the medium body, comparable to a classic Rhone, was also present. However, I noted more tannins in this wine over other CdR wines and the acidity felt a bit higher. Overall, though, it was very balanced and smooth and intensely enjoyable.

The next night, we went to Minetta Tavern, one of my all-time favorite NYC restaurants.  Reservations are difficult, to put it mildly, and walk-ins are unimaginable before 11pm, but as it's in our neighborhood, we've lucked out more often than not.  The blizzard aided in our dinner quest and before long we were indulging in their famous Black Label burgers and of course, wine.

Domaine le Sang des Cailloux, Vacqueyras 2010, France
A neighboring regions to Chateauneuf du Pape, this Syrah, Grenache and Mourvedre blend showcased deep dark berry fruits, herbaceous spices, notes of artichoke, and plenty of rootsy earthiness.  On the palate, the same notes, along bit plums, drank very smoothly, enhanced by a medium plus body and pronounced tannins.  The burger and wine were having a lovefest in my mouth.

As a total aside, they serve one of the best desserts in the city - a classic chocolate souffle for two.  We have occasionally come into the restaurant just for this dessert.  We are also not embarrassed to admit we have ordered two of these on the same visit.  Yep, souffle for four people but only two people eating it.  Don't judge.

Keep tasting, friends....