Frenchy’s Wine Road: Weekly Store Roundup for February 26, 2021

Balducci’s (Riverside)

Balducci’s is quite bullish on the new generation of Sakes, including Awa Yuki sparkling sake and Yuzu Sake (a refreshing sake very similar to a light-bodied Limoncello) from Joto, a major producer in Japan.  Four shelves full of sake include a Takehara Junmai from Seikyo, and the “Southern Beauty” Junmai Daiginjo from Nanbu Bijin Shinpaku.  Kampai!

Cap, Cork & Cellar (Downtown – Bruce Park)

CC&C just got a couple of Chiantis delivered today from Rosenthal Imports, both from Piemaggio.  There is Le Fioraie Chianti Classico 2015, at $30, and its older, more refined sibling, the 2013 Riserva, at $55.  Many of you have heard me go on about Rosenthal, whom most consider one of the top 3 importers in America, if not THE top importer.

Glenville Wine & Spirits (Glenville)

Château Combel-la-Serre is a 100% biodynamic estate that is a microcosm of the changes in southern French winemaking over the past 30 years.  Jean-Pierre and Martine Ilbert left the volume-based production and mediocrity of the local wine cooperative when their “prodigal” son, Julien, decided to carry on the family business after going away to get his college degree.  The wine is 100% Cot Noir, the name for Malbec in Cahors; it is priced at $18.  Phil the Groundhog says Winter’s not over, so Glenville Manager Paul Laveris recommends pairing it with the hearty sausage stew of southern France, Cassoulet.  Glenville is also featuring Dinastia Real Extra-Añejo Tequila, at $95 in the glass bottle, and $125 in the wicked-scary skeleton head ceramic container.  (See photo, above.)

Greenwich Wine & Spirit (Riverside)

I keep saying it: GW&S has a superb beer selection.  This week, they have 8 new beers; 5 from the Other Half Brewing Company, Brooklyn, NY, and 3 from Aslin BeerCo., in Alexandria & Herndon, Virginia.  For those who patronize GW&S, you’ll know that Other Half and Aslin have long been staples there.  Feature beers this week are Hangin’ Hills “Thank You, Next!” now brewed at Thimble Island in Branford, CT, and various beers from Green Empire Brewing, the cult nano-brewery in Colchester, Vermont.

Horseneck Wine & Spirits (Downtown – East Putnam)

Along with The Study, below, Horseneck W&S is perhaps the foremost promoter of natural wines in the area.  This week, among many new items on their website, they are featuring two wines from Austria and the former Austria: the Teroldego varietal “Ty… 90” wine from Heinrich Mayr, using grapes grown in the Alto Adige region of Italy (formerly Austria’s Südtirol), and Meinklang Estate’s lighter (think Pinot Noir-light) 2019 Burgenland Red.  The Ty… 90 is so-named because Mayr chooses to market it as a table red under the Italian appellation laws, which means that he cannot name the grape variety or vintage on the label.  But the wine is organic, hand-harvested, uses native yeast for fermentation, and is delicious.  The Meinklang blend contains 3 grapes unique to Austria and Germany: Zweigelt, Blaufränkisch, and Sankt Laurent (St. Lawrence).

Old Greenwich Wine Merchants (Old Greenwich)

OGWM is featuring 3 wines from Glenville Winery: a Russian River Chardonnay at $21, a Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon at $33, and a Lake County Sauvignon Blanc, at $15.  They are also offering the Whalers Rise Pale Ale, from Rhode Island, a light-bodied, dry-hopped ale, as well as Playamar Hard Selzer, from Jose Cuervo.

Post Wine & Spirits (Cos Cob)

Randy Caravella’s got an opinion on everything, and newcomers sometimes mistake that for bluff.  Old-line customers (and there are many) understand that Randy is deadly serious about his wines, beers, and liquors; he is very picky about what he serves his clients.  This week, he’s featuring the 2018 Raúl Pérez “Ultreia St.-Jacques” Bierzo, a 93-pointer from Robert Parker containing mostly Mencía grapes, at $20.  Ultreia has undergone changes over the years, starting out strong, yet always improving.  It’s become a bit of a cult classic.  Randy is also featuring the sister to the Ultreia, Raúl Pérez’s La Vizcaína Las Gundiñas, 95 points from the Wine Advocate, at $43.  This wine is a massive blend, containing Mencía, Bastardo, Garnacha Tintorera and Doña Blanca varieties grown on the mountainous bowls of northwestern León province, at 510 meters altitude.  That means greater toil and finer grapes, and the price reflects it.

Putnam & Vine (Downtown – Elm Street)

Since the repeal of Prohibition, wine and food stores have each had their own realm: no food sold in package stores; no liquor sold in food stores.  The barriers have slowly been coming down, but it’s still a frustration for many shoppers.  Putnam & Vine is poking at this boundary with… chocolate!  Venchi Chocolate Cigars and Books from Italy, to be precise, in pistachio, latte, hazelnut, and other flavors.  $10-11 per cigar, and $23 for the books.  Also featured this week: the Perrini 2019 Organic Negroamaro, from Sicily, at $15.

The Study Fine Wine & Spirits (Banksville)

The Study is featuring natural wines, which are made using ambient yeasts and biodynamic methods.  These reds & whites are fresh, light, easy-drinking, and perfect for the Spring.  There is Giampiero Bea’s project with the Gargano family, Il Censo, a delicious blend of unusual grapes like Perricone and Malvasia Nera. The Gargano estate is near the town of Palazzo Adriana, where the Oscar-winning “Cinema Paradiso” was filmed.  The Study is also keen on Radikon, Broc Cellars of California, and Uva de Vida, a winery in Toledo, Spain, that produces a rosé Tempranillo natural wine and a lush-flavored but light red blend of Graziano and Tempranillo.

Wine Wise (Downtown – East Putnam)

Travel south 10 miles from Taormina, in Sicily, then 15 miles northwest – a quarter turn around the massive circumference of Mount Etna – and you come upon the tiny town of Passopisciaro, where the Azienda Girolamo Russo produces its “A Rina” Etna Rosso.  Wine Wise is featuring the 2017 vintage, at $29.  Who knows?  Maybe you’ll get some flavors of the olives and hazelnuts that are also grown on the estate.  The wine is organic, and grown on the finest soil for wine: the rich red volcanic of Etna.  Wine Wise is also featuring the 2018 Lou Dumont Organic Bourgogne Rouge Pinot Noir that is Biodynamic.  $32.