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city winery: we report back

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Attention, Manhattan wine lovers: Your dream has become reality. City Winery, which opens in November, will offer Gotham oenophiles the chance to crush, ferment, and bottle their very own barrels of Jesus juice. Pretty groovy, eh? Oh, but there’s more. Billing itself as a “multifaceted experience,” the 21,000-square-foot Soho space will also feature a restaurant, a Murray’s Cheese Shop outpost, winemaking classes, its own commercial wine production, and VinoFile, a Web data program whereby guests can keep track of their every sip. Since the $5,000 annual winery membership fee is just a smidge out of our price range, we did what any integrity-deficient journalist would do and flashed our press credentials to get a sneak peak of the joint. CEO Michael Dorf and Master Winemaker David Lecomte were kind enough to treat us (us being myself and Style.com contributors Maya Singer and Alison Baenen) to a tour and our very own private wine tasting. Between the three of us, we didn’t know our butt (a unit of wine casks) from our bung (another word for cork). But our well-versed teachers had the patience of saints and we came away from the experience a little wiser and a little buzzed. Vino, vidi, vici, as they say.

The Wines

Belleruche “M. Chapoutier” Côtes-du-Rhône 2006

Experts say: This wine is simple, easy to drink, and crisp. It has subtle mineral notes and a hint of white floral.

We say:

MS: Very smooth and earthy. Would pair well with a pungent cheese and a cigarette.
AB: I get honey on the nose and hint of floral. This is a good daytime drinking wine.

Pinot Noir “Viridian” Olsen Family Vineyards 2006

Experts say: This is a light wine, as light as it gets. Pinot noirs are very feminine and sophisticated and they have great finesse. After Sideways their price on the market was cranked up by 50 percent.

We say:
MS: Are there merlot grapes in this one? Merlot grapes can be mixed with everything, huh? They’re like the beige of wine.

EC: It tastes like Manischewitz. [Glowering look from experts.] Is that bad?

Zinfandel “Spencer Roloson” Madder Lake Vineyard 2004

Experts say: This is a fairly restrained style of zin. It’s pretty well made. It retains acidity. You can taste the tannins. See, it’s puckery.

We say:

AB: I’m getting raspberry. Anyone else? [Experts look pleased.] God, I’m good.

MS: It’s smoky. I almost don’t need a cigarette with this. I’d drink this in a lodge, with roasted vegetables, in the dead of winter.

EC: It’s almost too strong. This is definitely not my breakfast wine.

Cabernet Sauvignon “Shed Red” Santa Cruz Mountains 2004

Experts say: Can you detect the clove and violet and the little teeny green note in this one? There’s also some red pepper and mint in there and maybe even carrot juice.

We say:

MS: This is a good late-night wine. It’s a sexy wine. It makes me want to listen to Portishead.

AB: I’d drink it at a dinner party with all my friends and a lot of meat.

EC: The tastes are so intricate, like a Bach fugue. It’s Baroque.

AB: Rococo, even.

Red Wine (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Syrah Blend) “Behrens & Hitchcock” Alder Springs Cuvée 2004

Experts say: This is a good big wine with complexity and subtlety. It has a full mouth, very ripe and jammy, with hints of blueberry and fungus. Also, the terroir is significant.

We say:

AB: The color is so dark and murky. There are some sea creatures potentially living in this one.

MS: I’m tasting a little bit of licorice. By which I mean Twizzlers, not anise.

Photo: Courtesy of City Winery

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