Saturday morning comes to soon. We’re up early to meet with Abe Schoener, who’s taking us to Brooklyn to visit an urban winery that he’s involved with: Red Hook. He meets us outside our hotel in Chinatown and in the taxi he explains about the project.
The focus is wines from New York State – Finger Lakes and Long Island. And there are three winemakers involved. There’s the singular Abe, who prefers a natural approach, then Bob Foley, who is more conventional, and finally Christopher Nicholson who is the resident winemaker.
We arrive to find a stunning 19th century redbrick warehouse that has been renovated and converted, and which now houses a number of small businesses in addition to the Red Hook winery. The Red Hook area is hard to get to by public transport, and so remained relatively undeveloped. But on the waterfront of the East River, which was once a thriving dock area, there remained these beautiful old warehouses. It was a smart idea to plonk a winery into one of them,
We spend a lovely morning tasting and talking. We taste through a lot of barrels, and there’s quite intense discussion of the wines. Abe and Christopher are both thinkers and have a lovely sensibility when it comes to wine. We then taste some bottled wine. These wines are really good, although now is not the place for a full write up (this will come when I tell the story of New York State wine). But a big shout out to Christopher’s Mattabella Vineyard Chardonnay 2014, and Abe’s La Géante 2016 and his Moraine Reserve 2014.
Then it’s off to lunch, and Chrissy and I hitch a lift with Christopher in his ancient Volvo through torrential rain to Frankies 457 Spuntino. This place is deceptively simple: on the face of it, it’s an Italian/American joint. Nothing too flash or exceptional. But under the hood, this is a serious establishment that performs at a very high level, doing things that sound quite simple very well indeed. And it has a great wine list, too.
We ate very well, and washed it down with a smart wine.
Giuseppe Rinaldi Rosae Vino Rosso 2014 Piedmont, Italy
12.5% alcohol. This is a varietal Ruché. Juicy, bright and lively with a little bit of lift, and some spicy, slightly animal notes hiding under the supple, sweet, pure red and black cherry fruit, Lively, poised and refreshing with some spicy interest. A little wild in a good way. 91/100
After lunch, with a little time to kill, we wandered through the slightly ragged but vital streets of Brooklyn, ending up at a really smart beer bar. Tørst is probably the perfect modern beer bar, and mid afternoon on a rainy Saturday it was bursting at the seams. You can eat well here but we came just to drink, and they have 21 taps with a great selection of craft beer. Seriously, the selection here was amazing, and if I didn’t have two dinners to get to (the Four Horsemen and Racines, I know, a little excessive, but both absolutely essential) I’d have sampled more than just two. (To be continued.)