Shana Speaks Wine

Wine Journalist, Copywriter, and Marketing Consultant

Drinking out loud. 

Filtering by Category: "NYC"

Fours and a Pour - A Team Challenge

One of the main reasons why Fours and a Pour started was to force me to stop and note what's going on in this moment.   It's easy to keep projecting forward but it's challenging to be present.  However, by constantly being observant of this instance, or of this small thing, I gain a greater appreciation for all that swirls around me. 

I open with this as a way to publicly shame myself because I have not been following this ideology AT ALL.  I have a scarlett "S" for "slacker" emblazoned on my arm  I have been barreling through my days; my eyes don't see what's around and my mind is charging towards the next task at hand.  And it's autumn.  In New York.  One of the most beautiful times of year.  For chrissakes….

So, let's create a challenge together.  I'll get back to doing this column weekly and in turn, please post just one of your own "fours" in the comments section. A little inspiration for us all. 

The Fours

1. The F train musicians
Want to hear some quality live music?  Take a ride on the F train, especially to the Delancey Street and 14th Street stops.  Holy hell, there is some serious talent going on down here. I have actually let a train go by just so I can listen a little longer.  At 14th St, look for the girl with the Afro and her guitar.  Sheer, raw talent.  And Delancey Street always has a rotating showcase of soul musicians.  Forget Ticketmaster, I'm swiping my Metrocard when I want to attend a concert.

2.  The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P. by Adelle Waldman
Although the protagonist is male, I can't imagine that this novel about a writer loving and living in modern-day Brooklyn isn't semi-autobiographical.  However, the rise of demise of a relationship chronicled throughout this novel is thoroughly relatable to anyone who's been, or wants to be, in love.

3. The Wancko Cookie from Sigmund's Pretzel
I'm been carbo-loading on Sigmund's Pretzels for a while, but how did I nearly overlook this cookie?! Peanut Butter. Chocolate Chunks. Pretzel pieces.  And did I mention it's the size of my head?

photo source:

4. Brooklyn Based's Indie Media Camp Event
This daylong conference was a source of great information as well as inspiration.  It's encouraging to hear how even successful sites, such as Design*Sponge still consider themselves a work in progress, even ten years later.  And the sale of Curbed, a network that started as a small passion project, to Vox Media for $25 - $30 million?  Dream big, people, dream big. For a full recap, click here

The Pour
Bricco Rivoira Masna Barbera d'Asti 2007 
 Simpler, more fruit forward than other Barberas, this medium-bodied red showcases bushels of  blackberries and cherries.  Classic notes of plum and soil do come through but this juicy version of a Barbera fits the bill for the chilly-but-not-quite cold autumn evenings.

It's Rose Season!

What's in the box?

You could say it's part of my spring cleaning.  However, I'm not going through my closets and packing up snow boots (who in Manhattan has enough closet space to do a full swap-out anyway?); I'm making room in the wine fridge for.....


These gems are Proprieta Sperino Rosa del Rosa, Piedmont, 2012 ($21). Last year, while sitting on the patio during a girls' reunion weekend, we opened up a bottle of the 2011 amidst the chatter of memories and recollections. Literally, I stopped talking for a good few minutes as I was so beguiled by my glass.  This nebbiolo-dominant rose was stunning; round and juicy but still crisp and refreshing.  Last week, when Moore Brothers Wine Company sent the email announcing the newest vintage had arrived, I rushed over and secured myself two bottles. 

More and more, I find with a great wine there is often a great story attached to it; it's as if the passion and courage are infused in the bottle.  This wine is no exception.  According to Moore Brothers, the winemaker, Paolo De Marchi, produced award-winning wines down in Chianti Classico; however, his ultimate desire was to restore his great, great uncle's vineyard in Piedmont, which had been abandoned since 1952.  Ten years ago, Paolo and his son went to work revitalizing the vineyard and implementing traditional winemaking methods from the region.  To date, they are now producing some gorgeous wines and creating a mini-reinassance in the region.

 I can't wait to open them and share some tasting notes with you.  (I know, you're waiting with baited breath). So, who's going to join me and have a glass? 

(Tinta de) Toro! Toro!

Tinta de Toro is the Tempranillo clone grape grown in the region of Toro, Spain, and like a bull, many wines come charging at your palate full of power and intensity. Thick-skinned, intensely pigmented, full-bodied and tannic, these are large, food-friendly wines. Toro isn't as well known as other Spanish regions, such as Rioja or Priorat, but recently, Toro wines hosted a tasting in NYC to bring more exposure to their wines.

30 seconds to Spain lesson: Wines are often labeled according to aging and use the following terms:
Joven - these wines are the youngest are often aged for 6 months in oak max, if at all.  Most are meant for immediate release and consumption.
Crianza - wines are aged for 24 months with at least 6 of these months in oak, the rest of the time in bottle.
Reserva - the wine hangs out for at least a year in oak and the remaining time in bottles for a total aging time of 36 months.
Gran Reserva - you will only see these wines in great vintages. Total aging time is 60 months with at least 18 months in oak.  This wine is ready for kindergarten by the time you pop the cork.

Many people associate these ratings with quality, which is not always an accurate correlation.  Not all Reservas are premium and not all Jovens are crap.  Cheaper, most likely yes, but not necessarily indicative of how good a wine is.

(map courtesy of

There was a lot to taste but I honed in on tables that already had distribution (all the better to serve you, dear reader.  I want you to be able to buy what I drink).  Without further ado, I present the Best In Show.

Favorite Producer
Bodega Rejadorada had a portfolio full of winners and pretty much all of my favorite wines at the event.

Rosum Joven, 2011 ($16)
This 85% Tinta de Toro/15% Garnacha blend was a beautiful selection for easy drinking. Ripe berries and other red fruits blended with earth and soil notes on the nose and palate, with a soft texture, moderate acidity and tannins.

Rejadorada Roble, 2011 ($20)
Another reasonably priced option, this wine had darker fruits of plum, black cherry and overripe raspberry along with peppery spices.  This one had more prominent acid and tannins than the joven, but all were well integrated.

Sango De Rejadorada, 2008 ($45)
The same dark berry fruits, spice and earth came though, but this wine spent some time in 100% French oak, which imparted quite a few oak tannins as well as a subtle vanilla softness. That acidity also came racing around the oral racetrack, but oddly, there was a soft velvetiness to the texture.

Bravo De Rejadorada, 2009 ($90)
The papa bear of the bunch - plum, blueberry, cola, dirt, spice - all roared around the glass with each swirl.  Again, the tannins and some acid came through, making me salivate, but it was a gorgeously structured glass of wine.  Steak, please!

Best Sweet Wine
Quinta de la Quietud, La Dulce Quietud, 2008 ($50)
Ok, this technically won by default as it was the only sweet wine I came across, but it was actually worthy of a title.  (Others must have agreed with me because the producer ran out of this wine at an earlier session, but managed to procure a tiny sip for me from what he was saving for himself).
Hazelnuts and sugar-coated almonds appeared on the nose of this Albillo/Malvasia/Moscatel/Palomino/Verdejo blend, but the nuttiness was tempered with honey on the palate.  Although it had some viscosity, as most sweet wines tend to have, it wasn't heavy or overly syrupy by any means.

Honorable Mention
Quinta de la Quietud, La Mula de La Quietud, 2008 ($110 for 1.27 liter bottle)
This producer also made a beautiful red that I had to call out.  100% Tinta de toro, this wine was chocolate, cola, ripe berries and velvet, enveloping the strong tannins into its luxurious fold.  Soooo smmoooooothh.

Keep tasting, friends....

Pinot Gets Weird

Weird can be good.  Think of the first time you ever heard of salt with chocolate - it sounded like stoner food, right?  But now, it's a THING.  Or, what about that strange guy who was obsessed with moldy bread?  Yeah, he invented penicillin.  

Sometimes, though, weird takes a turn for the worse.  Last weekend, we checked out a new restaurant, The Cleveland, in Nolita.  We were feeling something light-bodied with moderate fruit to pair with our earthy and vegetable-heavy (not to mention delicious) dishes, so naturally, Pinot Noir seemed like the way to go.  The wine buyer intrigued us with his recommendation: an organic Bourgogne that started off almost frizzante but then was supposed to become rounder and more supple. It sounded very unusual for a Bourgogne but I like bubbles, I like Pinot Noir and I like a wine adventure- sounded like a winner to me.

Whah, whah....

Les Faverelles "Le Nez de Muse," Bourgogne, 2011
This pinot noir started off slightly bubbly as it was poured into the glass, almost lambrusco-ish.  The nose and palate spoke to the traditional key tones of red berry fruits, earth and violets, but the light frizzante never quite seemed to dissipate and the body was so light I would actually call it weak.  That promised lushness that was supposed to appear deeper into the bottle?   It was never realized.  It stayed really thin and acidic the entire time, almost wimpering in fear every time it had to come into contact with food.  Sadly, this was not the quirky weird we were hoping for.

Keep tasting, friends...

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....