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July 18, 2014

FROM THE NEW YORK TIMES
July 14, 2014

Wine from a Sacred Place
Tasting wines from Ribeira Sacra
Eric Asimov
If you travel widely enough around the grape-growing regions of the world, you gather ample testimony of the driving, historic human desire to make good wine. What else could explain the compulsion to plant vines on ridiculously steep hillsides in the Mosel and the Rheingau, in the northern Rhône Valley, in Priorat and the Douro, and in Ribeira Sacra in the Galicia region of northwestern Spain?
Thousands of years before the lucrative global wine economy of today, Romans carved terraces on slopes in Ribeira Sacra that rose at precipitous angles from the rivers below. They planted vines to keep themselves supplied with wine. Over the centuries, monks expanded and maintained the network of vines, which was farmed by the church and by locals, for whom grapes were just one of many subsistence crops. It was not a matter of survival — grains and produce planted on the flats saw to that. The backbreaking labor these vines required was a matter of choice.
Nor was it an economic necessity. Until fairly recently, Ribeira Sacra was largely cut off from the rest of Spain, though a few farmers shipped wine by river to Lugo, a city to the north, mostly for local consumption.
At the end of the 19th century, grape phylloxera, a ravenous aphid that preys on the roots of European vines, destroyed much of the crop. Agricultural disaster was followed by economic depression, civil war and dictatorship. Many of the historical terraces were abandoned, and the children of farmers left for work in the cities.
Then a curious thing happened. Near the end of the 20th century, people began to return to Ribeira Sacra. Disillusioned by the city, perhaps, or drawn by the promise of the slate-and-granite soils at a time when other once-obscure Spanish wine regions were developing worldwide reputations, they came back to replant the vines and renew the terraces. The hills of Ribeira Sacra came alive again.

Dandy loves Ribeira Sacra, especially the incredible value on our shelf!
Estrella Ribeira Sacra Amandi 2011Fresh and juicy, with aromas and flavors of crushed berries. $14

FROM THE NEW YORK TIMES

July 14, 2014

Wine from a Sacred Place

Tasting wines from Ribeira Sacra

Eric Asimov

If you travel widely enough around the grape-growing regions of the world, you gather ample testimony of the driving, historic human desire to make good wine. What else could explain the compulsion to plant vines on ridiculously steep hillsides in the Mosel and the Rheingau, in the northern Rhône Valley, in Priorat and the Douro, and in Ribeira Sacra in the Galicia region of northwestern Spain?

Thousands of years before the lucrative global wine economy of today, Romans carved terraces on slopes in Ribeira Sacra that rose at precipitous angles from the rivers below. They planted vines to keep themselves supplied with wine. Over the centuries, monks expanded and maintained the network of vines, which was farmed by the church and by locals, for whom grapes were just one of many subsistence crops. It was not a matter of survival — grains and produce planted on the flats saw to that. The backbreaking labor these vines required was a matter of choice.

Nor was it an economic necessity. Until fairly recently, Ribeira Sacra was largely cut off from the rest of Spain, though a few farmers shipped wine by river to Lugo, a city to the north, mostly for local consumption.

At the end of the 19th century, grape phylloxera, a ravenous aphid that preys on the roots of European vines, destroyed much of the crop. Agricultural disaster was followed by economic depression, civil war and dictatorship. Many of the historical terraces were abandoned, and the children of farmers left for work in the cities.

Then a curious thing happened. Near the end of the 20th century, people began to return to Ribeira Sacra. Disillusioned by the city, perhaps, or drawn by the promise of the slate-and-granite soils at a time when other once-obscure Spanish wine regions were developing worldwide reputations, they came back to replant the vines and renew the terraces. The hills of Ribeira Sacra came alive again.

Dandy loves Ribeira Sacra, especially the incredible value on our shelf!

Estrella Ribeira Sacra Amandi 2011
Fresh and juicy, with aromas and flavors of crushed berries. $14

July 18, 2014

SPECIAL FRIDAY NIGHT TASTING: BASQUE COUNTRY WINE

AMEXTOI + ISASTEGI

Join us tonight, 6-9 pm, for a special Friday tasting of the spectacular Getariako Txakoli of Ameztoi and Isastegi Cidre with our friend Rob Novick from T. Edward Wines! Every spring, we anxiously await the arrival of our small annual shipment of Ameztoi. This year Bacchus was looking our for us and we got a lot more than our usual allocation… perhaps he knew we were planning a vacay to Basque country? In case you hadn’t heard, we’re planning an autumn trip to Spain and France, to eat and drink our way through vineyards, pintxos bars, Michelin-starred restaurants, and open air markets, along with a host of other activities we’ll squeeze in between meals in this fascinating and beautiful region. You can learn more about the trip here, as well as chat with us about it tonight over Txakolina, Cidre, and queso and chorizo from Eastern District! 

AMEZTOI

The Ameztoi winery holds about 20 hectares of vineyard land in one of the best locations in the region, in the sloping hills over looking San Sebastian and the Atlantic Ocean. Ignacio Ameztoi is the seventh consecutive generation to carry on the tradition in the province of Getaria. They grow indigenous varietals Hondarrabi Zuri and Hondarrabi Beltza and make wines in the traditional regional style- fermenting in stainless steel and bottling with residual carbonic acid- endowing the wines with their signature spritz. The breeze of the Atlantic, unique terroir, and the coastal climate give all Ameztoi’s wines a unique minerality and zingy acidity that keep us (and their other loyal fans) constantly gravitating towards these bottles all summer long.

Classic

Surfs up! Ameztoi’s original white wine is like the sea breeze in a bottle… lime zest and Atlantic salinity come together in the most refreshing way. It’s like a good margarita on a sultry summer day, but with lower alcohol so you can drink more! Tacos are a good m.o., as is sneaking it with you to the beach! $22

Rubentis

This is a hot ticket wine- it’s a press darling, with super small production. Some of our restaurant friends only got three cases for the entire summer, but we got lucky, and received a few more. Strawberry lemonade for us “grown-ups”. I can’t think of a time that this isn’t exactly what I want to drink!

$25

Tinto

 When a customer requested red Txakolina a few months ago, we thought he made it up. One reason I love this job, however, is that I learn and discover new things every day! He was right, it exists, and it’s rad. Dry and lean and mineral rich, with black fruit and those signature bubbles. Cheeseburger wine!

$25

ISASTEGI

This classic Basque Sidre, Sagardo, has healing qualities, I swear (full disclosure, I’m no MD). It’s a hangover cure, good for digestion, great with breakfast (I heard from a friend)… The sideria recommends pouring a tiny bit at a time into a wide mouthed glass with the bottle held high above your head. Sure! Super bright, super lean, and low alcohol, made from native ancestral apple varietals. I always like to have one in my fridge, you never know when a craving will come on!

$13

May 1, 2014

CELEBRATE RIOJA WEEK!

We’re longtime fans and supporters of the wines of Rioja, Spain’s most prominent wine making region, and our Rioja tastings (and bottles) are always some of our most popular. Join us tonight, 6-9 pm, for a tasting of a few unique expressions of these vibrant wines, as part of a citywide celebration! We’re pouring four exceptional wines, giving away swag, and serving regional snacks! Olé!

R. Lopez de Heredia Vina Gravonia Crianza 2004

For 131 years, the three generations of the Lopez de Heredia family have produced truly exceptional and singular wines at their historic winery. Their vinification and aging practices are unique and steeped in history, and they have never strayed from these traditional practices- bucking trends and modern technology, their wines are distinctive, and often called “masterpieces” throughout history. Their whites, in particular, deserve special attention for their unique aging and longevity. This is truly one of my favorite wines in the store. 100% estate grown Viura aged 4 years in barrels, bottled, and aged another TEN years in the cellar before being released to us lucky drinkers! This wine is unbelievably complex- incredibly vibrant, savory, intense, and literally like nothing else I’ve ever drank, vintage after vintage. This wine is outstanding now and will continue to age gracefully for years to come. Pair with all kinds of fish, from salty-cod to spicy stews, and my fave, paella. Life-changing. $30

CVNE Vina Real Crianza 2009

CVNE is a traditional Rioja producer who doesn’t shy away from a little modern innovation. Their Crianza is bright cherry red, youthful and vibrant, with a sharpness and distinctive spiciness we all love in younger Riojas. 100% Tempranillo, the grapes are hand-harvested from the villages of Laguardia and Elciego, and the wine is aged in a mix of French and American oak barrels for 12 months before resting in the bottle several months longer. This is a fun one- classic and easy drinking, full of character but playful and fun at the same time. Uncork with good friends and simple tapas on one of these breezy spring nights. $18

Ramirez de la Piscina Reserva 2007

This Reserva comes from another family-run winery, steeped in the wine making traditions of La Rioja. Current run by the fourth generation, Ramirez de la Piscina has one foot firmly planted in the traditions of the past and another stepping into the current advancements in winery technology and science. They believe that the magic starts in the vineyard, so they pay incredible attention to their grapes which grow in a unique micro-climate, too far from the river for irrigation. They hand-harvest and carefully sort their fruit before it hits the winery, where grapes are destemmed before undergoing carbonic maceration and fermentation in temperature controlled tanks. The wines are then aged in oak barrels and bottles, successively, in extensive underground cellars on the property. Their 2007 Reserva (the current release) is a treat, a real testament to the history and experience that goes into every vintage. This wine is architectural- firm underlying structure and soaring heights, a balance of dark fruit and fresh acidity, with moments of spice and a smooth lengthy finish. $23

Sierra Cantabria Reserva Unica 2008

Although I usually gravitate towards “pretty” reds, light and delicate on their feet, I find myself reaching for this bottle again and again, and it’s decidedly none of those things. This powerful, concentrated wine, 97% Tempranillo and 3% Graciano, is aged nearly two years in a mix of French and American oak before bottling without filtration. With intense black and red berry fruit, luscious vanilla-laced notes of oak, and a lingering velvet-y finish, this is a sexy wine- a description I won’t use lightly. It’s a hot date that’ll knock you off your feet, leaving you you heady and happy, texting your friends excitedly, and wanting just a little bit more. Pair with slow cooked pork or flash grilled steaks, seasoned simply with salt and fresh pepper (and maybe a splash of red wine) and the best of company. $30

April 25, 2014

4/25/14

Kick off another BEAUTIFUL spring weekend with a special Friday night tasting!  We’re welcoming winemaker Pablo del Villar, the man behind our the ever popular Ipsum Verdejo. We’ll be sippin’ on this crisp $11 Spanish white with Pablo from 7-9 tonight!

From the Importer:

Ipsum is produced in the Rueda region located in the high elevation Castilian plateau, about 2 hours northwest of Madrid. Ipsum means ‘itself’ in Latin. The goal with Ipsum is to highlight the purity and bright flavors of the Verdejo variety in a naked form. Often times Verdejo wines are improperly “enhanced” during fermentation by using commercial yeasts that change the flavor that Mother Nature intended. As the name Ipsum (Itself) manifests, Ipsum is a naked, authentic expression of this pretty grape. The Verdejo vines that are selected to make Ipsum, come from a high elevation vineyard located on the northwest side of the village of Rueda. This vineyard is unique because of its high content of sand and river stone in the soil. This type of soil is very special because it imparts an element of vibrancy, tension and minerality that sets this Verdejo apart from other Verdejo’s grown in sandy soils.

February 27, 2014

Party Like a Rock Star It’s cold. It’s grey. It’s winter. And it’s almost March. If you need a reason to drink (we don’t) any/all of those will do… so let’s get down! Join us tonight, 6-9 pm, to celebrate the end of February! Meg will be pouring three hard rockin’ Old World reds alongside cheese from ED and bread from SHE WOLF.

Milziade Antano Montefalco Rosso 2011

To taste this wine is to love this wine, and I can’t wait for you to join us in the fan club. A sustainably-grown old-vine blend of 70% Sangiovese, 15% Sagrantino, and 15% Merlot from Umbria, a region hidden in the shadow of the Tuscan hills. Following previous generations’ examples, Antano takes a decidedly old fashioned approach to his wines- farming naturally, working by hand, and interfering very little in the winery. The result is a clean, pure expression of the grapes and terroir of the region: bright red cherry fruit, soft but persistent tannic structure, and a unique, lingering finish that demands another sip, another glass, and another bottle. $23

Cesca Vicent Priorat 2011

Fifth generation winemaker Francesca Vicent practices organic farming on her Priorat vineyards which have been growing wine grapes since the 15th century. Paying special attention to the various soil types (eleven!) and microclimates on her property, Vicent grows each of the grape varietals for her blends in the absolute optimal individual conditions. 40% Garnacha, 35% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Merlot, and 10% Syrah make up this powerful yet nuanced wine that at 15.5% abv is sure to get your blood pumping and those sweaters off. $19

Vina Sastre Ribeira del Duero 2011

This organic Tempranillo comes from some of the oldest, most primely situated vineyards in the Ribeira del Duero D.O. Employing ancestral farming techniques and many of the principles of biodynamics, Jesus Sastre mixes the most traditional practices with any new technology he deems practical in creating classic regional Tempranillo. The wine is unfined and unfiltered, fermented with the use of indigenous yeasts, naturally cold stabalized, and aged in large used-oak barrels. I’m told Jesus and his family and friends enjoy this wine with lamb on the vineyard, and I think you should absolutely do the same. $21

January 29, 2014

NEW SPANISH REDS
Celler del Roure Setze Gallets, Valencia 2011: This funky red from Valencia hails from a revitalized 300+ year old vineyard.  A blend of Garnacha, Monastrell, Merlot, and Mando, the red juicy fruit is balanced by spice and a distinctive earthiness. Playful, unique and really just a joy to drink. $15
Cesca Vicent, Priorat 2011: Francesca Vicent’s ancestors founded this Priorat vineyard in the 15th century, and she carries on the legacy today with a few improvements, like organic farming and detailed ground studies regarding which grapes grow best in each of the 11 different types of soil on her estate. The wine is dark and bold and serious… it’s almost better on it’s second day open.  But the long breath of fresh air brings out its charm, and the higher alcohol (15.5%) will definitely warm you up! $19
CVNE Vina Real Crianza, Rioja 2009: This toasty Tempranillo Crianza, from a vineyard that just won Wine Spectator’s “wine of the year” for their Grand Reserva, is jam packed with black cherry and raspberry fruit, with cinnamon and nutmeg on the finish.  Soft tannins and low acidity up the comfort level.  Drink by the fire or the television.  $18

NEW SPANISH REDS

Celler del Roure Setze Gallets, Valencia 2011: This funky red from Valencia hails from a revitalized 300+ year old vineyard.  A blend of Garnacha, Monastrell, Merlot, and Mando, the red juicy fruit is balanced by spice and a distinctive earthiness. Playful, unique and really just a joy to drink. $15

Cesca Vicent, Priorat 2011: Francesca Vicent’s ancestors founded this Priorat vineyard in the 15th century, and she carries on the legacy today with a few improvements, like organic farming and detailed ground studies regarding which grapes grow best in each of the 11 different types of soil on her estate. The wine is dark and bold and serious… it’s almost better on it’s second day open.  But the long breath of fresh air brings out its charm, and the higher alcohol (15.5%) will definitely warm you up! $19

CVNE Vina Real Crianza, Rioja 2009: This toasty Tempranillo Crianza, from a vineyard that just won Wine Spectator’s “wine of the year” for their Grand Reserva, is jam packed with black cherry and raspberry fruit, with cinnamon and nutmeg on the finish.  Soft tannins and low acidity up the comfort level.  Drink by the fire or the television.  $18

January 10, 2014

NEW SPANISH PRODUCER: LA UNIVERSAL

Sara Perez grew up on her father Jose Luis Perez’s renowned vineyard Mas Martinet.  Rene Barbier, likewise, on his family’s centuries-old estate in Catalunya.  The two dedicated oenologists met, fell in love, and La Universal was born!

A true labor of love, the wines they produce in Montsant are made from organic grapes grown on their small 4 hectare estate with the exception of the Cariñena used, which they source from a few neighboring vineyards.

They name each wine after a different heroine or goddess from Greek mythology, hinting at the beauty and strength of the wine inside!

Venus 2007

Described by the winery as “the result of her search for beauty, an attempt to interpret femininity through a bottle of wine: mystery and seduction, discourse and voluptuousness”… I don’t think we can do much better than that!  Feminine, but not delicately so, this is a nuanced, vital, and expressive blend of Cariñena and Syrah, fit for the goddess of love and beauty herself. $50

Dido 2011

A young, fresh blend of Garnacha, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, and Merlot, Dido, named for the tragic Queen of Carthage, is vibrant and lively with a pure, ripe red fruit core balanced by a bright, zingy finish and lingering acidity.  After a deep breath of fresh air (decant her), Dido shines on her own or with soft queso and salty jamon. $24

December 12, 2013

Join us tonight, 6-9pm, for a tasting of four Spanish wines with our friend Kerin Auth from Ole Imports, during the Franklin Street Holiday Stroll! Festive things will be happening all around the neighborhood, so it’s the perfect time to get all your holiday shopping done in one place. And we find a little wine always helps us get in the mood. We’ll have bread from She Wolf and cheese from Eastern District! Merry Merry!

Pazo de Galegos Albarino, Rias Baixas 2012

Nestled in an inland subzone of Rias Baixas in Galicia in Northwestern Spain, Pazo de Galegos is a family run vineyard that produces only Albarino. The old-vine grapes are harvested at the exact moment of optimal ripeness, resulting in a subtle, elegant wine with delicate fruit and lingering aromas. Cockles, clams, oysters, octopus, and squid are common fare in Galicia, and this white is the perfect match. $24

Pinyolet Garnacha, Montsant 2010

The name “Pinyolet” refers to the limestone pebble soil unique to the upper hills of Montsant where this organic, dry-farmed Garnacha is grown. These special grapes produce a leaner, more feminine style of Garnacha than in other parts of Spain with bright red fruit, minerals, and floral aromatics. Easy to drink and easy to pair, this pretty bottle is sure to please. Drink with red or white meat or grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup! $19

Orto Tinto, Montsant 2011

55% Samso (Carignan), 29% Garnacha, 10% Ull de Llebre (Tempranillo), and 6% Cabernet Sauvignon, this hefty, organic blend is a deep, brooding wine, the strong masculine neighbor to the previous wine. Structured and intense, with soft black fruit and subtle, balanced acidity. This is a wine my dad would love, and it’s a real treat with slow roasted red meat and root vegetables. $36

Naveran Cava Brut, 2011

'Tis the season for celebration and this organic vintage Cava is party perfect. Medium sized, persistent bubbles will take you from tree trimming to New Years Eve, and beyond. We love the rich toasty nature of this pretty Cava that is far more delicious than it's humble price tag might suggest. Don't forget, we offer quantity discounts! 5% off 6 bottles, 10% off a cases. Stock up and have us deliver! Does it get any better than that? $16 Bring a toy for 10% off your purchase tonight!

BRING A TOY FOR THE TOY DRIVE AND GET 10% OFF YOUR PURCHASE! 

October 3, 2013

Join us tonight, 6-9 pm, to taste FOUR brand spankin’ new wines from our friend Allison at Avant Garde Selections. We’re so excited to share these with you over cheese from Eastern District and bread from She Wolf Bakery.

Domaine Chiroulet Terres Blanches, Cotes de Gascogne 2011

50% Gros Manseng, 30% Sauvignon Blanc, 20% Ugni Blanc from Southwestern France. The grapes are sustainably grown in clay and limestone soil (Terres Blanches = White Earth), and the juice is aged for one month on the lees after a gentle pressing. The wine boasts super bright, acidity and a clean, chalky finish. It’s like the beautiful baby fridge favorites UBY and Bonhoste! $16

Domaine Mouthes Le Bihan La Pie Colette,2011

85% Merlot, 15% Malbec, organically grown in South West France. Naturally vinified with little to no sulfur added. Smooth, soft, and velvety with lucious blueberry and dusty, earthy tannins. the name La PieColette, is a play on words, with LA PIE meaning “a magpie”, COLETTE, a first name. And the word picolette means “to drink happily”! $19

Vins del Tros Ay de Mi Catalunya, 2010

Spicy, hot-blooded Garnatxa and Syrah from Terra Alta. Concentrated, supple and focused, with dark red fruit and fresh cracked black pepper. AND if you need more convincing, there are UFOs on the label, you guys!!! Believe. $24

Les Cousins Marc & Adria L’Inconscient Catalunya, 2011

Cousins Marc and Adria Perez grew up on wineries in Catelunya, worked on vineyards abroad (most notably in Bordeaux and the Rhone) and returned home to consult with vineyards and make wine together! This inky Priorat is a prime example of their successful partnership. Sustainably grown, old-vine grapes go into this incredibly deep, character-rich, sophisticated red that is SCREAMING for steak! $23

October 2, 2013

Flegenheimer Bros. Reserve Red, 2010: An Australian customer raved about this McLaren Vale blend recently, and we took her advice and added it to our line-up! Dark and concentrated fruit, powerful and spicy. $32

Quinta do Perdigao Rose, 2012: Biodynamically and sustainably grown Touriga Nacional rose that drinks like a savory, lighter-bodied red… Summer might be over but that doesn’t mean you have to stop drinking Rose! $21

Pequenos Rebentos Alvarinho Trajadura, 2012: A still Vinho Verde white just bursting with refreshing citrus fruit. $13

Losada El Pajaro Bierzo, 2011: The NYTimes declared this unpretentious organic Mencia “Best Value” in a recent line-up! Darkly fruity with balanced acidity and solid tannic structure. $18

Colle di San Domenico Falanghina Campania, 2012: A dry and harmonious white from the volcanic soils of Southern Italy… round and soft, a killer value. $13

Terlano St. Magdalener, 2012: Light, vibrant, delicate red fruit and the prettiest aromatics jump out of the glass in the blend of Lagrein and Schiava from mountainous Northern Italy. A “Meg” wine. $21

Clos la Coutale Cahors, 2011: Earthy, plummy French Malbec in the cutest half bottle size!  $11

Alkoomi Riesling, 2012: Western Australia’s given us the perfect match for spicy Thai food!  Small levels of residual sugar are balanced with sunny acidity.  $20

Apollonio Primitivo, 2007:
Super concentrated black fruit with a long, smoky, velvet-y finish.  A total TOM wine in every way. $21