Friday night, I rode the L to meet Caitlin and Alex at Blue Angel Wines. It’s my second time to this boutique shop in Greenpoint, and I almost enjoy the journey as much as the destination itself. Turning left from Lorimer onto Ainslie, I pass by my first apartment in the city, but have a hard time remembering the building…On Grand Street we enter a small shop with shelves made of reclaimed wood from the Central Park Stables, that are lined with carefully selected wines, 70% of which are organic or biodynamically produced.
On that night, Blue Angel was hosting an Amherst Alumni Tasting, and so we joined Caitlin to sample a selection of five holiday feast and fête wines. Clearly a Francophile, wine buyer Kym Apatos lines the left wall with artisanally produced bottles of red from Rhône, Burgundy, and Loire; and this is the spot that draws me–this belly of earth and red fruit with blue dots indicating which are organic or biodynamic wines. On tables, she stocks cheap buys; and around the room sections are labeled by country–Austria, Germany, Portugal, New Zealand, and Greece. With high ceilings, exposed beams, and funky wallpaper, this rustic sweet spot is a welcome reprieve from the street.
Of the wines we drank that night, only one (unfortunately!) was from this great wall of France. But I’ll get to that later because we began first with some bubbly–St. Vincent Brut NV, New Mexico ($11). I’ve heard of sparkling wines from New Mexico, but this is the first I’ve tried. Produced by the Gruet family from Champagne who discovered a bit of earth that is reminiscent of their native land, the Gruets employed Methode Champenoise and produced this entry-level wine. There’s minerality on the nose, followed by yeast and bosc pear, which mid-palate turns fruity/floral sweet. The mousse is fine and the finish is minerally, but in the end I was left with a thin but cloying coat in my mouth.
Otto’s Constant Dream Sauvignon Blanc 2008, from Marlboro, New Zealand–$14 was my favorite wine of the night. Otto’s Constant Dream is all about grapefruit with rocky undertones; passionfruit and herbaceous notes of grass. The acidity causes a cascade in the mouth; it’s light bodied and finishes tart with grapefruit pith.
The Heinrich Red 2005 Burgenland, Austria ($12) is a light bodied blend of Blaufrankish and Zweigelt, with aromas of smoke and earth filtered cherry. The acidity is somewhat low and the tannins are none–so structurally, this wine (in my humble opinion) needs an adjustment. There’s a lingering finish of astringent cranberry fruit, that’s slightly bitter and infused with earth.
Given the great wall of France, the organic Mas de Gourgonnier 2007 ($17) from Provence would not have been my first choice; but then again, perhaps this biggish wine is more of a crowd pleaser than what I would have selected. Made from a blend of mostly Granache and Carignan, it shows notes of plum, ginger, and pepper; followed by a slightly medicinal addition of licorice and chewy tannins. It might be a wine that needs meat, which could explain my lack of affection.
Lastly, we sampled Infantado Ruby Port NV, ($18), with aromas of dates and raspberry, followed by toasted hazelnut. The tasting notes emphasize that this is a port that downplays alcohol content (or adds less sugar), but my notes suggest that the alcohol was not fully integrated on the palate. I recall feeling a bit of burn at the back of my throat before the fruity finish, but perhaps it’s just that my palate was elsewhere at the end of the night…
[where: Blue Angel Wines, 638 Grand Street, Brooklyn, New York 11211]