It was an average Tuesday night in the Lower East Side and the natural wine geeks of NYC had gathered together at the tiny L’Estudio, at 61 Hester Street, including Fabian von Hauske of Wildair (or so I’m told).
What they didn’t bargain for was the huge turnout of unsuspecting attendees who, like me, had undoubtedly seen the grubstreet article proclaiming we could drink the “coolest” natural wines in the world, in unlimited quantities, for merely $50. I think the unlimited booze more than the natural wines was the draw as I heard many guests ask the bartender to just pour them “anything.” The turnout overflowed onto the street and the neighboring restaurant. At one point, I heard guest chef Camille Fourmont, of La Buvette in Paris, proclaim under her breath the the night was “crazy” (but imagine it said in a French accent).
I managed to finagle a ticket to this sold-out event through good old-fashioned begging – I emailed the event coordinators a few times and shamelessly mentioned I was starting a wine blog to cover the sector. Miraculously an email arrived in my inbox that I had been released from the waitlist! A lesson to all to never take “no” for an answer 🙂
As my first “official” coverage event since launching this blog, I was a bit intimidated – and also because I don’t usually drink by myself. Who would I talk to? I found myself procrastinating in the office and had to force myself to attend, in the name of research, dear reader! I quickly found out that my awkwardness was mostly unfounded (I’m quite awkward, but wine helps!), as what I encountered was a close-knit community of natural wine lovers in NYC who were more than happy to help me learn about the best places to buy and try natural wines.
Below is the handwritten wine menu by Camille Fourmont, featuring four producers. I was happy that I got to try many of these wines, most of which were quite good. I will do my best to summarize here.
So who are these four producers making the “coolest” natural wines in the world?
- Laurent Saillard (Loire Valley)
- Lucky You 2015
- La Pause 2015
- Joyfull 2015
- Vincent Marie (Auvergne)
- Fusion 2015
- Rockaille Billy 2015
- Jean-Baptiste Senat (Languedoc – Roussillon)
- Aux amis de ma soeur 2015
- Massimo Marchiori & Antonella Gerona (Catalunya)
- VY 2015
By far my favorite was the 2015 “Lucky You” by Laurent Saillard, a sauvignon blanc that could *almost* be confused with a Sancerre in it’s minerality. Crisp, fresh, and refreshing with citrus notes, very balanced, nice acid. I loved this wine. (Please note 10 mg of sulfur were added at bottling). Would pair well with salads, tomatoes, vinaigrettes or other high acid foods.
I also tried the Vincent Marie “Fusion” 2015 from Auvergne, but had to Google where Auvergne is and what grape grows there. Auvergne is technically southern Loire, but actually closer to the vineyards of the northern Rhone known mainly for Gamay and Chardonnay that are consumed locally and not typically exported. Unsurprisingly, this wine is 100% Gamay and produced through carbonic maceration (think of a typical Beaujolais Nouveau) in volcanic soil. This wine is NOT filtered and has no chemical inputs making it vegan! It also has no added sulfites! This wine was slightly effervescent due to the carbonic maceration. I found it a little simple with a bubble gum essence and bright red fruits – it’s certainly an easy drink. I would not recommend if you don’t like the subtle carbonation.
Third is the “Aux Amis de Ma Soeur” by Jean-Baptiste Senat. This wine is 70% Grenache Gris and 30% Grenache Blanc, a simple white that would be great to start a meal, with dried fruit or even alone. This wine also is not filtered (ie. Vegan) and has minimal sulfites. A little sweet, with citrus but also grapefruit and stone fruit notes (peach?) maybe some honeysuckle? Camille wrote in an interview that this was “a very confidential cuvée that I only have six bottles of at La Buvette.” Maybe I should try it again with a clean palette.
Lastly, the Catalunya (Spanish) wine by Massimo Marchiori “VY”. This wine is a blend of white grapes from the region and is made with a little bit of skin contact. Unlike typical Spanish wines that can be quite high in alcohol, this is very low in alcohol at 10% (typically wines range from 9% low to 15% high). Unfortunately at this point in the night I had too many wines and wasn’t taking good notes, so I don’t have anything insightful to say on this wine other than I think I liked it. Given the Spanish local grapes and low alcohol, I think I remember that this wine was a little funky and interesting.
Note to self: Take better notes, or don’t wait a week to blog about your event! Second note to self: Be more confident in my tasting notes.
Overall L’Estudio is a cute, if not tiny, wine bar / coffee shop in Chinatown with a vibrant scene and knowledgeable staff. Apparently there will be more events like this to come.
Did you go to this event? Feel free to drop me a line with your thoughts and I’ll be sure to reference you here!
So I’ve been dropping some terminology in my last few posts that might be a bit confusing…stay tuned for the natural wine geek’s lexicon coming soon!