Last night I met Lee, Ellen, and Oscar (my one-year-old date) at 8th Street Wine Cellar, a relatively recent addition to what was once Shoe Row; an unassuming spot whose signage is on the sidewalk, so look beneath your feet. A love child of Michael Lagnese and Jonathan Cohen (both of Union Square Cafe), 8th Street opened less than one year ago, in the Village. A few steps down from the walk, 8th Street is a welcome reprieve from the NYU undergrad/tourist haunts, a few blocks over, on Bleecker Street. And while the volume upon entering might be reminiscent of one of these aformentioned spots, the crowd, in general, along with the selection of wines, is not.
While 8th Street does not serve Cheerios, they do offer oysters alongside pigs-in-a-blanket, to accompany their rotating wine and beer list. Showcasing over 100 boutique wines, the list includes a selection of varietals by the glass–Granacha, Malbec, Chianti, Pinot Noir, Riesling, Gruner Veltliner, and Brut Rosé Cremant D’Alsace NV ($14/glass). And though the crowd might have contained only a handful of students, the list seems to have been created with a student’s budget in mind. There are few bottles for over a $100, and many under $40; there’s even a magnum of Montepulciano d’Abruzzo for 46 bucks.
With brick walls and basement height ceilings, the interior is pleasantly dark, with indiscernible music drowned out by chattering voices. There are tables that might seat 28, and a ten stool bar full of spirits, for those who prefer cocktails to wine.
Told by one of the tenders that the riesling was sweet, I was offered a taste of Picpoul de Pinet, Domaine Felines Jourdan 2007, Languedoc, a lovely suggestion, to which I said yes. With its own AOC status in the South of France, Picpoul de Pinet is a white varietal, one of the oldest in Languedoc. I’d never heard of nor drank it before, but I will definitely be seeking this wine soon. Light bodied, with pear, lime, and minerality on the nose and palate, the Felines Jourdan possesses an upright structure that’s flavorful and dry, with medium acidity and a lingering finish.
From the three rosés on the list ($8 per glass), wines of Abruzzo, Piedmont, and Cotes du Provence, I chose the later–a Grenache, blended with Cinsaut, Syrah, Mourvedre, and according to the tender, who knows what else–the varietals of Cotes du Provence. Fruity with strawberry candy, watermelon, and raspberry, its a crisp, dry rosé, whose producer I forgot to write down. For this mishap, I will blame Oscar, who most likely at that point had distracted me mid-sentence, by taking my hand.
[Where: 8th Street Cellar, 28 West 8th Street, New York, NY 10011]