Greenwich’s bounty of wine stores is really apparent during our national feast of abundance. We did a tour of them yesterday to get some pairing tips and a number of recommendations.
Glenville Wine & Spirits (15 Glenville St) is always a fearless purveyor of new and unusual wines, and their recommendations were once again a source of giddiness, followed by inner peace and tranquility. You may not recognize any wine in this store, but you will never be disappointed by the selections of their superlative staff. This may well be the best wine store in Greenwich; without doubt, its staff is one of the best in New England or the New York tri-State area.
Domaine des Marrans: Fleurie, 2012 – $19. Beaujolais (real Beaujolais, not the Nouveau style) is always so nice for Thanksgiving, because it is juicy, tasty and spicy. Juicy for dry turkey meat; tasty for the bland potatoes; and spicy to go with the cranberries and stuffing.
Ravines Finger Lakes Pinot Noir, 2013 – $24. Come on, folks! The Finger Lakes region is producing some of the best wines in the world. Stop missing out! Earthy Pinot goes so well with root vegetables, but its unexpected flavor is just delicious.
Hermann J. Wiemer Gewurztraminer, 2013 – $24. I normally try to vary regions, but I couldn’t resist another superlative Finger Lakes wine that is fantastic for Thanksgiving. Spicy, spicy, spicy (but not hot). A classic (and multiple winner of New York’s Wine of the Year over the decades).
Orleans Cider and Red-currant Bitters – $40. Another reason I love Glenville W&S is that they push your comfort level. I asked shops for wine, cider or spirits, and Glenville is the only one that responded with a non-wine (though to be fair, some shops do not sell spirits). The salesperson at Glenville suggested this unprompted, but I have to admit that it is one of my favorite liqueurs on earth: the perfect accompaniment to a Negroni or any cocktail that requires bitters. Made with a hard-cider base. Mind-blowing stuff.
Val’s Putnam Wines of Glenville (21 Glenville Street) & Val’s Putnam Wines & Liquors (125 West Putnam Avenue)
Val’s on Putnam has been a Greenwich stand-by for generations. They opened a second store in Glenville a few months back. Val’s took a more general approach to their recommendations, suggesting a panoply of wine varietals and styles: Pinot Noir, Barbera, Dolcetto, Beaujolais (Nouveau), Beaujolais-Villages. In whites: Spaetlese Riesling, Prosecco, and Sauvignon Blancs from Sancerre and/or California.
90+ Cellars Pinot Noir – $20. Independently recommended by both Val’s stores.
Hinman Vineyards Oregon Pinot Noir 2014 – $19. Recommended by Val’s Glenville.
Domaine des Marrans: Fleurie, 2012 – $25. The salesperson at Val’s Glenville pointed out this Fleurie just as the guy at Glenville W&S had. For $6 more per bottle. Pricing mistakes happen. So does confusing first and second wines. I doubt there was any intent to mislead here, since the labels are virtually identical, but I saw a bottle of Marrans “Climat Corcelette,” (the first wine) mixed in among 6-8 bottles of regular Marrans. The yellow “Corcelette” label stands out pretty clearly on the burgundy background, and this is not acceptable merchandising practice.
Wine Wise Wine & Spirits Store of Greenwich (122 East Putnam Avenue) has had a revolving door of owners over many years, including one who thought it was a good idea to sell jewelry with wine. Thankfully, the new owners seem to get it. Since their take-over in October, Steve and Chiharu have opened the back entrance on the lower level, so that customers can avoid the Whole Foods/Putnam Avenue cacophony by parking from Milbank Avenue.
Wyeth, their Store Manager, is experienced and enthusiastic. The old jewelry room now has a fine selection of wine, the west wall is filled in with bins, and there is a beautiful fine-wine room in the back of the store. The store is happily crammed with bottles, but not in your Aunt-Suzy’s-Shelter-for-Stray-Cats kind of way. There is plenty of room to maneuver and choose while enjoying the shopping experience. I look forward to seeing this shop evolve.
Green & Red Vineyards Chiles Canyon Vyrds. Napa Valley Estate Zinfandel, 2013 – $28. Store Manager Wyeth kept stating about this wine that it is “that time of the year.” Sounds like he’s been anticipating Thanksgiving for months, and not necessarily because he likes turkey for dinner! It’s a spicy Zin, full of body, and great with the enormous variety of foods on the Thanksgiving table.
Frank Family Rutherford Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve, 2012 – $90. Wyeth calls this both bold and velvety, and great as a sipper, but very nice with the Thanksgiving meal too.
Domaine Zind-Humbrecht Clos Windsbuhl Hunawihr Gewurztraminer, 2012 – $80. Some might balk at spending $80 on a white wine, especially one that is not Chardonnay. Too bad. This is one of the classics, from one of the most storied producers in Alsace. Mass quantities of spicy fruit, as befits a Gewurz, but with layers of complexity that will astonish if you are willing to slow down and meditate a bit over this wine. The focus and tightness of the flavors will put you in a reverie, as the great ones always do. This wine is very limited in Connecticut. Grab a bottle now!
Chateau d’Angludet Margaux, 2007 – $47. It’s rare to find a very fine Bordeaux wine with this kind of age at this relatively low price. And while a powerful Cabernet-dominant blend with turkey is normally about as welcome as large-grit sandpaper on one’s cheeks, Margaux is always softer, less tannic, and more perfumed than the big boys of Pauillac. Throw in a bit of age-induced complexity and softness, and this is a bangin’ good wine. Wyeth’s pairing analytics shone with this choice.
Putnam & Vine Wine & Spirits (39 East Elm Street) was taken over by Owner David Johnson, with Manager Ron Mostero, about two years ago. As Le Wine Shop, this was a great place to buy wines, but I always found it a little stuffy. Now, the wide-open space is welcoming, and so are its owners. These four wines are the ones they recommend to their best clients:
Treana Central Coast Blanc, 2014 – $26. California’s Central Coast is known for its Rhone-inspired red wines, but this blend of 45% each Viognier and Marsanne and 10% Roussanne is unusual for using the classic white grapes of the Rhone. Ron referred to it as a “true pairing” for Thanksgiving because it “is a Bordeaux blend.” His enthusiasm about the wine – and the fact that he is correct about the style of the wine, if not the origin of its grapes – made me smile. This blend IS perfect with turkey and all the side dishes!
Daniel Reverdy Sancerre, 2015 – $28. Ron felt that if you are looking for a superb wine that will stand out from the food, this is it. That’s about as good a save for Sancerre as I’ve ever heard. I love a great Sancerre, but find it too austere for the bland meat of a turkey. On the other hand, he has a very solid point about Sancerre’s fruit working very well with cranberries and making the meal sing a bit. When I considered that, the pairing became more obvious.
Drew “The Ornbaun” Syrah, 2014 – $34. This is typically made to be a Pinot Noir varietal, but in 2014, Drew went with Syrah. Ron finds that Syrah complements the Thanksgiving meal, if the meal is the more cherished part of the wine/food pairing for you.
Pierre Peters Champagne, Non-Vintage – $56. A lot has been made of Grower Champagnes in the past 10 years or so, and with good reason. These smaller-producer bubblies are simply better than the mass-produced “Great House” Champagnes. They have more creaminess; a smaller, gentler bubble; and a palate-cleansing elegance that cuts into the starch and fat of the Thanksgiving meal.
Happy Thanksgiving, and happy drinking!
François Steichen founded and owns Frenchy’s Wine Road, a Connecticut company that writes copy and content for the wine, spirits and cider industries. He is a resident of Old Greenwich with 12 years’ experience in the Wine Industry. Francois started at Harry’s Wines in Fairfield; worked at Acker, Merrall and Condit, in New York, the oldest wine store in America; and managed Vinifera, in Mamaroneck, NY, for 5 years. Francois holds the WSET Diploma, the gold standard in wine education. At 10 years of age, Francois took his first – chaperoned – sip of a sparkling wine. The magic of fermentation and spontaneously-produced bubbles has never truly relinquished its hold on his curiosity since.