Wine and spirits are synonymous with toasting the holidays and ringing in the New Year.
By Janice Llanes Fabry
Wine and spirits are synonymous with toasting the holidays and ringing in the New Year. Local merchants have cellars full of fine wines, bubbly, and spirits to keep the festivities flowing this time of year. They also provide plenty of gift ideas, free delivery, and shipping.
Anthony D’Arpino, owner of Harrison Wine Vault at 289 Halstead Avenue, remarked, “There’s definitely an uptick in sales during the holidays, especially in California cabernets, Bordeauxs, and Burgundies, which drink extremely well.”
D’Arpino is all about seeking and carrying great quality producers. Among his estate- bottled Burgundies are 2011 Domaine Chevalier Corton Charlemagne Grand Cru, 2009 Domaine Coillot Gevrey-Chambertin, 2008 Domaine Bouzereau-Gruere Meursault Charmes, and 2010 Domaine Ramonet Batard Montrachet Grand Cru.
On the corporate side, Champagne and sparkling wines are ever-flowing during holiday entertaining. The Wine Vault’s popular, fine bubbly include Ruinart Blanc de Blanc, Laurent-Perrier 2004 Millesime, Krug, Alfred Gratien Rose, Bollinger Rosé, and Jean Laurent Blanc de Noir.
Store manager Gerry Nastasi also suggests Francois Bauer Cremant D’Alsace. Not only is it an elegant French sparkling wine, but it has a local connection — the winery owner’s daughter lives in Rye.
It should be noted that Harrison Wine Vault stocks the largest whiskey collection in Westchester, including the two rarest single malts in the world — Brora, aged 35 years and Port Ellen, aged 34. Another welcome gift for the whiskey drinker is a Johnnie Walker Black/ Double Black gift boxed set. And for the aficionado who has everything, Wasmund’s Barrel Kit offers everything needed to distill and age single malt and rye at home, including a mini reusable barrel.
Along with their weekly wine tastings on Friday and Saturday from 4 to 7, Harrison Wine Vault is conducting a Champagne tasting on Saturday, December 28 — just in time for New Year’s. Look for whiskey seminars in January.
“Tasting side by side is the best way to enlighten our consumers,” said D’Arpino.
G. Griffin Wine and Spirits at 498 Forest Avenue has only be open for two months, but owner Douglas Kooluris already has a firm handle on Rye’s palate. He also has a flair for holiday gift suggestions and relating the anecdotes behind them.
“287 Single Malt Whiskey is an easy drinking whiskey with a great local story,” explained Kooluris. Indeed, it is distilled at Port Chester’s Still The One Distillery, utilizing the mash from Elmsford’s Captain Lawrence Brewing Company, and named after the interstate highway that connects the two.
He also recommended Ziata Pinot Noir 2010 “for a cold winter’s night.” It is produced by Karen Cakebread, daughter of Napa Valley’s famed Cakebread Cellars vintners. She launched her own label three years ago and named it for her mother. “The wine is from Napa’s Carneros region, famous for its soil, high elevations, and ocean breezes, which impact the wine in a positive way,” noted Kooluris.
For Christmas and Christmas Eve meals, he suggested the full-bodied Freemark Abbey Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 to accompany red meats. “Not only is it the oldest vineyard in Napa, but it drinks well above its price point.” To complement a fish or white meat dinner, Kooluris recommended a Pouilly-Fuisse, dry with a hint of fruit.
For New Year’s Eve celebrations, Kooluris offers a more affordable alternative to champagne. Cava, its Spanish counterpart, offers great value. “This sparkling wine is a fraction of the cost of champagne, yet it’s fun and festive,” he said.
Customers will also find custom gift baskets and weekly wine tastings at G. Griffin.
For eight years now at 4 Purchase Street, Wine At Five’s philosophy has consistently extolled the virtues of bringing small production, family owned and family produced wines to consumers. As owner Cai Palmer put it, “Non-commercial producers are much more interesting and exciting. I like wines made with passion and I also prefer supporting local businesses.”
New Year’s Eve guests may not have heard of the grower champagnes Palmer carries, but they’ll be in for a treat. The boutique shop’s distinct selection includes an organic Lelarge Pugeot Premier Cru, R. Dumont Brut Tradition, and Thierry Triolet Grande Reserve.
For Christmas dinner, Palmer encourages hosts/hostesses to introduce wines step-by-step. “Start with a low alcohol, refreshing aperitif that becomes a palate cleanser,” he said. To that end, he suggested French chardonnays from Burgundy, which he referred to as “some of the most excellent white wines in the world.”
During dinner, it is not necessary to pair a wine with a main dish. Palmer considers the side dishes when determining which wine to serve. Complementing a wide range of foods are: a versatile Argentinian Mairena Malbec; an Italian Table wine, Unilitro, available in 1 liter bottles; and a French Chateau Capdet from the Listrac Medoc region of Bordeaux.
Wine At Five also showcases the largest selection of very special small-batch whiskies, bourbons, and rye in Westchester.
Palmer invites customers, who might wish to explore Wine At Five’s “constant revolving door of exciting, tasty, and value-conscious wines and spirits” to join its Four Bottle Wine Club or Rye Whiskey Club.