Saturday, February 06, 2010

Vintry Wine & Whiskey
57 Stone Street (Downtown)
New York, NY

     Yesterday after work I decided a Guinness would not cut it.  Who would not want to check out a bar that focus' on the two greatest forms of alcohol known to man: Wine & Whiskey?  Nestled on the usually over-crowded strip of bars and restaurants on Stone Street, the latest wine bar I was to visit stands out quietly from its sudsy, martini drenched neighbors.  Six years ago on the whole island of Manhattan there were maybe ten wine bars or so, seriously!  Annoyingly a few of those even called themselves bars but were more like restaurants than an actual wine bar.  Now, they are almost like Starbucks and around every corner.  Many tend to be average at best pouring average wines.  Though, through all of the clutter a dozen or so are here to stay as they satisfy not only the most demanding palates, but also the curious novice and everything in between with solid wine choices and superior customer service. Vintry Wine & Whiskey is one of those that delivers, and in spades I might add.

     Behind the yellow front door and velvet entry curtain to Vintry, lies a comfortably lit bar room with dark woods and metal fixtures: think steakhouse meets elegant cocktail bar.   Six or so high rectangular tables with stools intersect the wall on the left, opposite the bar and the kitchen.  These 6 person tasting tables are great, allowing a group of friends or new friends to share and talk about what they are drinking and plot their next pour.  The seating is comfortable leather cushioned ergonomic stools.   Recession or not, each table was full and the bar was crowded.  We were able to score half of one of the group tables in the back, right next to the wine vault.

     The list of wines available by the pour reaches to an astonishing 85 varied and well picked selections from around the world, with a focus on France.  California, Italy and Spain are well represented as well.  Vintry also has a deep cellar of wines available by the bottle that hold treasures such as an 1870 Chateau Lafite Rothschild magnum.  There are also pages, upon pages of Bourbons, Scotch, and anything else classified as  Whiskey.  If you can think of it, they probably have it.  Pappy Van Winkle 23 year old Bourbon?  Check.  Lagavulin 16 year old Scotch?  Check, and they also have the rare 15 year old Distiller's edition.  The Whiskey comes served in a small pitcher, empty tumbler, with "sides" such as perfectly clear and square rock hard ice and a small pitcher of ice.  Whiskey purists may not need such things, but I believe it is a nice touch and not surprising considering the excellent service I received and surveyed during my visit.  I did not have any of the food, but they definitely have some creative options to pair with the lengthy wine list. Our fabulous server, Jen, mentioned a few favorites like the lobster stuffed mushrooms, and I was close to ordering the marinated olives listed among 20 or so food options.

     The wines are safely stored and displayed behind the bar in the Napa technology WineStation devices.  These are fancy, sleek and modern electronic wine dispensers used to preserve wines while they are served by the short pour or glass.  A few wine stores and wine bars have these and the Enomatic wine dispensers which first arrived on the scene 5 years ago from Italy.  I love these machines because they are usually only used to preserve great wines and show the care the establishment has in preserving their best wines.  Where else would you have a 1983 Chateau Latour First Growth Bordeaux lay idle as it is served by the 2 or 5 ounce pour?  Fret not, there are plenty more options priced much more reasonably on the list, such my #1 top ten value wines for 2009: the 2007 JL Chave "Mon Couer" Cotes du Rhone.  All of the wines available by the pour are also available in a full glass or by the bottle.

     The next time you are downtown in the Financial District and have a hankering for some whiskey or wine, make sure you keep Vintry in mind as they have a superior array of options for wine and whiskey, and deliver it with a superior high class experience.

Here are a few of the wines I had last night.

2007 J.L. Chave Mon Coeur, Cotes du Rhone
- Delivers the usual deliciousness and goodness in style.  Provencial herbs, black and red berries and little hint of that French country garrigue jump from the glass and coat the palate. Grenache & Syrah from a standout 2007 vintage.

2005 Gevrey-Chambertin, Vincent Girardin Vielles Veines, Burgundy (Pinot Noir)
- SEAMless, PURE, great acid, smidge of tannin, strawberry, a little sweet cranberry, super minerality and earth here. Terroir driven wine!  Front to back what great Red Burgundy is all about.

2004 Shrader Cellars "Experimental Lot" Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast, CA
Big pinot noir cali nose, oak, sassafras, strawberry-rhubarb, good acid content on the finish considering the weighty attack up front.  Nice experiment, but a little disjointed as the mid-palate seems like it has a hole in it.  It gaps in-between the big fruit up front and the acid driven finish.  Not a bad first experiment from this expert in Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley.  Good terroir notes of that earthy, spicy, a touch feral Sonoma Coast.  Just needs to be better integrated.

2006 Orin Swift, Papillon, Bordeaux Blend

65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 27% Merlot, 4% Petite Verdot, 2% Malbec, 2% Cabernet Franc

From the maker of the famous "The Prisoner" blend.  Aromas of sweet oak, currants, blackberry.
Great texture, supple tannins and nice acidity, squeaky clean.  Nicely done finish of black cherry fruit.  What I would expect based on the Prisoner.

QUESTION:  What are some of your favorite wine bars in New York or where you live?  It would be great to share your knowledge and experience with fellow Wine Forum readers.


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