Saturday, September 6, 2008


OK Terroir is new but it is the all time, best ever, saliva inducing, ejaculation producing wine bar. Not to be gross, but seriously it's awesome. Its stern leader of terroirism is Paul Grieco (of Hearth and Insiemme) and I think he's the only man in NYC for the job. He's at every tasting taking notes quietly and seriously. He proclaimed 2008 the summer of Riesling! Yay! But as seriously as Terroir takes its wine it doesn't have its head up its ass. This wine bar is cool, politically liberal, edgy and totally approachable. Now if only I could get a seat.

OK so this is what you need to do. Go early, if you're one of those people who likes to drink wine while sitting down. Let's define early: 5:00 pm. What? you don't get off work that early? Come on people say you have a doctors appointment! You will get an extra special present when you arrive. What's that? Terroir has a happy hour, one sweet beautiful hour from 5-6pm. You will get wine at $5 a glass and no, they are not shitty. While you are at it get something to eat, the food is delicious and it is what you want to eat when you are drinking the vino.

Hofer, Gruner Veltliner, Weinviertal, Austria (Skurnik Wines)
A totally simple, organic, quaffable Gruner Veltliner. It won't change your life, but hey this is happy hour. New Yorkers have been gulping this liter bottle down since it hit the market.

Mattias Dostert, Roter Elbling, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer, Germany (Metropolis)
A lovely little pink German oddity. Notes of fresh strawberries and a tiny touch of sweetness.

Vinos Sin Ley, Monastrell, Three Different Wines, Same Grape, Three Different Regions in Spain (Martin Scott)
This is is a fun little experiment in terroirism displaying how Monastrell displays itself in three different terrains. Fun, crowd pleasing wines.

Highlights by the glass include:


Francois Pinon Vouvray, Loire Valley, France, 2006 $12.75 (Polaner Selections)
One of the great producers in Vouvray putting out consistently excellent wine. This wine has a nose of baby powder with layers of exotic fruit, nice touch of sweetness with the balance of acidity.


Domaine Montgilet, Anjou Rouge, Cabernet Franc $8 (David Bowler)
Enjoy this wine while it lasts on the New York market. It might not have the personality of other wines in this region, but it's a totally drinkable organic earthy red that pairs well with most food. For a wine bar it makes total sense.

Raspay, Primitivo Quiles, Monastrell, Alicante, Spain 2002 $14 (David Bowler)
This confusing and wonderful wine is a product of old school Spanish wine making. The mention of Primitivo has nothing to do with the grape, since this is all Monastrell. This is a lighter Spanish wine that aged and slightly brown in the glass. Very cool and slightly reminiscent of sherry.

WARNING: If you choose to visit their website beware of the possibility of a Riesling induced seizure. You'll know what I mean.

TIPS: This is a place to have fun, so don't be intimidated. The staff is unpretentious and helpful, so feel free to ask for suggestions. If you arrive too late and can't get a seat, slip into their parent restaurant, Hearth. There's plenty of good wine drinking to be done there.

LOCATION: 413 East 12th Street, near First Ave

DIRECTIONS: L to First Avenue



There are a few things you should know about Franny's. Their wine list is one of the best in Brooklyn, It is crowded for a reason and it is not just a "pizza joint." I have confirmed the latter in many heated discussions.

Yes you may have to be wedged closely in between a lesbian couple on your left and a first date on your right. But don't worry you have amazing seasonal sides and clam pizza as a reward. Franny's is subtle and a lot of people don't get it, especially if they are not into wine.

Before getting into the wine I have to say the seasonal cocktails here are worth noting. I was pleasantly surprised on the rare night I opted for a cocktail instead of wine. The cucumber martini is delicate and refreshing, reminiscent of cold sake. It made me feel happy and fuzzy.

Another sign that Franny's is after my own heart is their extensive amaro list (Bitter Italian digestif). Highlights include Nardini ($10) and Nonini ($11). These will make you feel like a normal person again after gorging on pizza.

Franny's has a Rosenthal dominated wine list and hey you can't go wrong there. But the reason I love Franny's is that they clearly search to find cool esoteric Italian selections that are very reasonably priced. The wine list seems in line with the goals of the restaurant: small production, family focused, seasonal and full of character.

By the glass highlights as of September 2008 include:

Bisson Prosecco del Colli Trevigiani, $11 (Rosenthal)
One of the best proseccos on the market. Very dry, light, fluffy with strong minerality. A lovely aperitif.

Hauner Salina Bianco $8 (Bachanal)
I am always extremely happy to see this wine on a list. Although Hauner is known more for dessert wine this wine is great especially at the price. If you a confident to order the least expensive wine on the list you will enjoy a white with nutty depth and interesting complexity.

Villa di Corlo Lambrusco Corleto and Amabile $12 and $11
A dry and sweeter style of Lambrusco from a great producer. It's hard to find good lambrusco but it can be a perfect situation to drink this at the bar with appetizers.

Valle dell'Acate Nero D'avola, Sicilia, Italy $10 (Panebianco)
I've always loved this wine. This Nero D'avola is a slightly lighter style red with notes of dark berries and spice. Amazingly food friendly with lots of character. Also at $10 this is a steal, it's frequently seen at up to $15 glass around the city.

By the bottle highlights as of September 2008 include:


Monastero Suore Castercensi Coenoblum, White Blend, Lazio, Italy 2006 $38

Run don't walk to this wine. I barely know what it is when I drink it but I know I like it. (FYI: it's a blend of Grechetto, Trebbiano and Verdicchio) This wine is full, nutty, weird and mysterious. The first time I bought it in the store it didn't even have a back label. It was like it was dropped from the heavens for the wine dorks. And at this price? Hell yeah.

J. Hofstatter Kolbenhof Gewurtraminer, Alto Adige, Italy 2006 $76 (Domaine)
Would I buy a $76 Gewurtraminer at a restaurant, no probably not. But I did want to pay attention to a great producer and a great region. All of Hofstatter's wines are so good but so damned expensive. Their Gewurtraminer is mind bogglingly exotic with a dancing liveliness. I can't think of a lot of things that would pair greatly with this at Franny's but hey give it a shot.

Radikon Jakot, Friuli Venezia Giulia, Italy 2002 $112 (Dressner/Polaner Selections) $112
Radikon doesn't need its back patted with people like Eric Asimov in this world. But hey I like it too. Radikon is one of the world's great winemakers and his funky unique product is proof. He has even chosen the 1 Liter bottle since the tradtional .750 size is not a proper amount to share at dinner. My kind of man. 100% Fruiliano and aged to layers of full, wonderful complexity. The prices of these wines heart my heart, but they are oh. so. good.


Caves de Donnas Rosso, Red Blend, Valle d'Aosta, 2005 $43 (Polaner Selections)
A cheerful blend of 85% Nebbiolo, Freisa and Neyret (local varietal) produced by a Northwest Italian cooperative. A light style red with less grip than Piedmont's Nebbiolos, but elegant in its own way. Very good with lighter fair and would be amenable to a light chill.

Ferrando, Nebbiolo, Carema, 2003 $53 (Rosenthal)
But you know if you are going to spend $43 why not spend $10 more and upgrade? Whenever I'm at Franny's the Ferrando calls to me and I submit like the helpless slave I am to Nebbiolo. Carema is kind of like a poor man's Barberesco or Barolo but it doesn't taste poor at all, just pretty awesome.

Montevertine, Sangiovese, Toscana, 2003 $58 (Rosenthal)
You can never, I repeat never go wrong with Montevertine, it will treat you right my friend. Produced in the heart of the Chianti Classico region, but winemaker Manetti rejected the Chianti Classico denomination. However, this wine tastes like Chianti at its heartwarming best: Sangiovese that is rich and elegant at the same time.

Emidio Pepe, Montepulciano d'Abruzzo, 2001 $125 (Polaner Selections)
This is a special occasion wine, but be assured that it is special and will make you feel so. Emidio Pepe bares little resemblance to the casual pizza wines typical to this region. Pepe vineyards farm organically and hold back vintages of their wines released every so often to make the world happy. Here we have a 2001 that shows Montepulciano's serious side: this wine is elegant and ageworthy with layers of herbs and rich fruit.

With all this great wine, your cute little neighborhood restaurant can get a little expensive. You can still have great food and great wine without spending too much but be careful. Or invite your parents.

DINING TIPS: Arrive early and if weather permits, sit outside! For a restaurant that's so crowded inside it's deliciously roomy outdoors. You might even see the owners Francine and Andrew dining with their young children, I have seen them there often on weekday evenings.

LOCATION: 295 Flatbush Avenue btwn. St. Marks and Prospect, Brooklyn, NY

DIRECTIONS: 2/3 to Bergen, Q/B to 7th Avenue