Archive | August, 2015

Passion on the Shelf: Xavier Wine Company, NYC

30 Aug

The Meatpacking District of Manhattan is not exactly known for being a haven of amazing wine stores, until now. There is at least one, called Xavier Wine Company. A tiny storefront off Little West 12th Street, it was the pedestrian sign that caught my attention:


Xavier 1

I went inside, and saw shelves laden of lovingly selected, carefully chosen labels. This is a place of quality over quantity. I identified several wines I had great interest in, and met James Parisi, owner and oenophile. He explained to me that Xavier’s focus is on sustainable, organic, and biodynamic wines! It made perfect sense to me- as the shelves are curated with great precision, from delightful Italian and Spanish choices on the shelves you first encounter; perusing a wide selection of nice California, Washington, & Oregon wines in the middle of the store next to a centerpiece of high end spirits that are opposed by a variety of chilled sparkling wines directly across the aisle; with a wide alcove of Burgundy, Alsace, and Bordeaux wines in the annex with selected offerings from Beaujolais, Rhône, Provence & Loire wine regions completing the sales floor. I was entranced by such careful selection of specific winemakers, the attention paid to a wide selection of regions. I recognized bottle after bottle that I wanted to snatch into my arms and congratulate the owner on having such excellent taste- not on having a store of good wines, but one of great winemakers, and for being a fellow Francophile. What can I say, this buyer has great taste in wine. So what’s his deal?

James Parisi, owner, Xavier Wine Company, explained to me that his store has been open for “about a year, and if you come by regularly, you’ll notice the store is more of a community” for wine aficionados; “a fine wine experience”, if you will. To be certain, I was entranced, finding bottle after bottle of small winemakers I normally have to fight to seek out across the tristate area or sometimes across the country, while Jim has their wares in threes and fours, ready to take home and enjoy, sometimes perfectly chilled! And still, while I saw a few price tags in the hundred dollar range, in the racks were far greater options in the magic “$20 and under” that so many of my readers are looking for.

Xavier 2

James Parisi of Xavier Wine Company with a few of his Rhône varietals. 


What did I take home, you wonder. I was cautious at first, but shortly I was salivating. My picks:

Pierre-Yves Colin-Morey Bourgogne Chardonnay 2013 White Burgundy, 12.5%ABV, $34. Pale yellow in color with a delightfully floral nose. On the palate, a combination of white stone fruits and strong Meyer lemon finish with notes of limestone and clay. Gentle, balanced, delightful.

Domaine Moreau-Naudet  Parques Chablis “Vielle Vignes”- 2012 White Burgundy, 12.5%ABV, $38. Medium straw in color with a light, floral/citrus nose. In the mouth, a delicate balance of fruit and acidity; a classic chablis of near idyllic quality. The uneducated palate would say “oh this is nice” but the burgundy-fanatic will howl in joy at the expressive, terroir-driven finish that competes with wines double the price.

Les Hauts Du Tertre Margaux 2004. 13% ABV, $45. What can I say…I’m a fan of Margaux, of Tertre, and to find a bottle of their second wine with eleven years of age for a reasonable price, I’m not about to pass it up. I will have to wait and decant this after it has some rest, though.

The only bad part of discovering Xavier Wine Company was being on foot, and staying true to my promise to not buy more wine than I can hold in my arms. I saw so many bottles there I wanted to take home…you, my friends, will have to help me.

à votre santé!



Mount Defiance Pinot Noir

29 Aug

Phelp’s Creek Vineyards’ Mount Defiance Wines, Pinot Noir, Columbia Gorge, OR.

In an Italian restaurant in Jackson Hole Wyoming, my first choice (Barolo) is unavailable. Perusing the list, I inquire about a wine I don’t know- and am told it’s an excellent choice, so here’s my review:

Bright ruby color; nose of young plum and boysenberry. In the mouth, lustrous strawberry with bracing acidity. Nice medium finish featuring lingering fruit. A great pairing for the salmon and English pea purée, not as good for the ricotta gnocchi but a delicious wine, and entirely enjoyable by itself.

Mt D 2 Mt D 1

#What’s in Your glass?

à votre santé!

Joya Red & White Sangria

24 Aug

Joya Sangria, La Puebla de Almoradiel, Spain. 12%ABV, $12.95/bottle MSRP. Samples provided by Aaron Kendall, CSS, Innovative Marketing LLC

The red is a blend of tempranillo, garnacha, and bobal grapes. This classic Spanish drink is actually purple in color and features a nose of sweet black cherry and boysenberry, those flavors carrying through the palate and the finish. If made per the directions, “Just Add Ice, Garnish with Fruit” it is indeed a fun adult beverage. I tried the wine (incorrectly) first alone and found it full of bright red fruit but cloyingly sweet. Yet with a few ice cubes, a squeeze of lime and a tiny slice of apple, I was pleasantly surprised as the sweetness melted under the acidity and the sangria felt familiar and enjoyably relaxing, like the sun on the Mediterranean sea.

Made from the Airén grape, Joya White Sangria’s color is pale straw with a light green tinge. The delicate nose offers a hint of pear and honey. In the mouth, stone fruit- young pear and tart green apple blend with gentle acidity for a pleasing sensation. it features a medium finish; fruit lingering on the back palate.

Both these wines would be perfectly at home in the backyard during a warm afternoon or accompanying tapas. While I’ve not previously sought out sangria, I think these wines will offer welcome opportunities for the adventurous wine lovers who long for a bit of Spain in their hearts and on their palates, or those who wish to entertain with something different- and this might be the perfect pour.


à votre santé!

Rosé, Rosé, Rosé! (and…Rosé!)

13 Aug

I love sharing off-the-beaten-path wines that you should not miss. While I love the pink wines of Provence, that is not the only rosé region in the game. Here are four rosé wines you will enjoy in varying styles and flavors!


Château D’Aqueria Tavel Rosé 2013, Rhône, France. 14%ABV, $18-20/bottle online.

A lovely cerise pink in color, nose of watermelon and fresh cut grass. In the mouth,  gentle strawberry and raspberry cross the palate and meld into red plum and young cassis. Medium finish with notes of calcium, sodium and clay. A delightful, aromatic, and complex rosé not only for the summer months, this could play a lighter foil to the stunning Napa rosé I serve at Thanksgiving.

Tavel Rose


Renegade Wine Company Columbia Valley Rosé 2014, WA, USA. 11.3%ABV, $14-16 online.

Pale salmon in color with a subtle summer garden bouquet, watermelon and strawberry fill the mouth with just a hint of sweetness in the background, but no sugar. Renegade indeed! Crisp and a clean finish, the wine is unexpectedly tasty and a real surprise at how much fun it is to enjoy.



Les Hauts de Smith Rosé 2014, Bordeaux, France.  13% ABV; $17/bottle.

Coral in color, the nose offers rose bush and dried figs. In the mouth, muted red fruits, perfect acidity, mid-palate tannins and a mineral backbone show refined, classic winemaking. This is an under $20 rosé that compares beautifully to wines two and three times the price- as subtle as it is, I did not want to put down the glass.

LesHauts Rose



Antorini Tenuta Guardo Al Tasso Scalabrone Rosé 2014, Bolgheri, Italy. ABV 12.5%;  $18-26 online.

Nose of ripe white peaches, with delicate red fruit on the palate. Clean finish. Balanced acidity, a refined and subtle wine. Delicately complex, flexible to be able to handle many chores. When I served this to a group to was the wine people were reserved about initially and gravitated to later, enjoying it more with food and as the night progressed. It is a keeper.



What’s your favorite rosé?

à votre santé!

Hugel & Fils Riesling 2011

9 Aug

Hugel & Fils Riesling 2011. Riquewihr, (Alsace) France. 12.5%ABV, $20/bottle, street.

In the realm of riesling, Hugel has been doing it since 1639, and it shows. A color of pale straw with excellent translucence. Wildflowers, honeysuckle, and a hint of petroleum on the nose. Muted fruit on the front palate: apricot, granny smith apple, and white pear. Terrific acidity follows- this wine is bone dry, upper palate showing notes of walnut, shale and schist while the back palate had notes of ginger root, allspice, lemon zest and flint. SO much is going on in this wine! I served this at a dinner with baked salmon and a mushroom quiche as the entrees and was worried it might be overpowered, but had no reason to fear- it cut through the palate easily, stood up to the strong flavors of the fish and mushrooms and was an ideal complement for the meal, and continued on through my niece’s birthday cake and fruit compote for dessert. If you want a perfectly dry riesling that sings of delicate fruit, minerals and spice without a hint of sweetness for $20, this is a great choice- I may have to start stocking it in my cellar.



What’s in your glass?

à votre santé!

Wine from WHERE? Indiana?

6 Aug

Indiana. A buddy of mine sent me wine from Indiana. I was amused, even a little shocked. But hey, WHY NOT? I cracked these open and tasted them over a week. As you can see, I didn’t refuse to review them, so they passed the drinkability test! Read on, dear oenophiles:


Monkey Hollow Winery Chambourcin 2013, MSRP $18/bottle.

Color is violet with clear edging. Nose of bright red fruit and rose bush. In the mouth: cherry cola, blackberry, and green vegetation up front. There is powerful acidity in the mid-palate that makes this wine feel both more tannic and sweeter than it actually is. Notes of pencil shavings and more intense blackberry show predominantly on the medium finish. I’m fascinated by this, because Chambourcin is traditionally a dry red with intense color and flavor and I found this less dry and less intense, but very interesting to drink, pairing this wine nicely with steak, pasta, pizza, and asian stir-fry.


Monkey Hollow Winery Traminette 2014, MSRP $20/bottle.

Dark straw with medium opacity in color. A fragrant nose of honey, citrus fruit and wildflowers, in the mouth it immediately tastes like a midwestern cousin to gewürztraminer (which of course the grape actually is) lychee and apricot dominating the front palate with notes of delicate spice -candied ginger, cinnamon sugar, vanilla bean- on the finish. Over the course of a week, the apricot became more dominant but the wine stayed fresh and enjoyable ands paired easily with light flavors, as an apéritif or with chicken, salad, and delicate cheeses.


Monkey Hollow Wines are made in Saint Meinrad, Indiana which is closest to Santa Claus, Indiana. That’s about sixty miles from Evansville, IN, which has brutally hot summers and cold, windy winters. I know that because I lived there for three years.

(Alcohol by volume not listed on the Money Hollow Wines bottles or their website.)

à votre santé!

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