Last night I met Priya, for her bi-monthly dose of wine, at Wined Up on Broadway, blocks from the Flatiron. Puzzled by the blaring music on the stairs, we climbed hesitantly to the second floor and found the bar packed like a jar of anchovies, and to our right, a dining area with tables and chairs. Passing hanging gnarled vines, we sat and opened the menu to look for a wine. I looked and looked and looked some more; the list is long. There are one hundred offerings of Old World Reds by the bottle, and fifty New. White varieties, including Sparkling Wine and Champagne (Old World and New), totaled nearly one hundred too. Needless to say, it took some time before deciding upon a bottle of Crozes Hermitage Yann Chave, 2006 ($60), a lovely soft, ruby red Northern Rhone that developed in complexity as it aired.
Our most patient waitress brought the bottle and two stemless glasses, which we tried, but they just didn’t work. It’s hard to swirl and sense; my fingers make wine warm. She brought us two with stems and we settled in. Showing black cherry and berries, black pepper, and a touch of cardamon, Yann Chave becomes earthier as it breathes; with balanced acidity and tannins, it’s a silky wine that was worth Priya’s wait; in two months she’ll be joining us again.
While perusing the wine list and catching up with Priya on everything, I looked around the room and contemplated the Friday night crowd. What were people drinking I wondered. Who selected what from the 100 foot long wall of wine? And then Wined Up‘s wine director, Joshua Hakimi, stopped by our table, because he noticed my interest in the wines. Just a paper and exam shy of finishing the Diploma Program, it turns out that Joshua is also a student of the WSET. Half-way through the Advanced Certificate, 15-week course myself, I had lots of questions to ask and heard stories of war-like sufferings, including a tall number of folks that do not survive. And though I’d initially said I wasn’t going to take this formal education any further, I’ve been gaining curiosity and am now unsure…
We had a lovely chat. Joshua told us that Thursday is Wined Up‘s busiest night, and that the mid-week crowd consists of many who work the business of wine. And when Priya and I finished the bottle, Joshua returned to offer a nightcap in the form of Fondillón Grand Reserve Solera, 1948, which was very much alive! Unable to detect its natural color by candle light, I was amazed by the dance of savory sweet that rose from this Noble wine. From Alicante, Spain, it’s made of the Monastrell (Mourvedre) variety that is overripe when picked, yielding a high alcohol unfortified wine. Using the soleras system of “fractional blending”, used to make Sherry from Jerez, Fondillón has been maintaining such a system since 1892. Amazing. And what did it taste like?
To quote Priya, it’s “like having a one night stand with someone so gorgeous, you’ll never sleep with them again.”
To that I’ll add tawny port on the nose, nutty and dusty, with raisin and dried apple, oak, lively acidity, and oh so smooth.
[Where: Wined Up, 913 Broadway, New York, NY 10010]