Do you know the difference between a Rioja and Ribera del Duero? …that you shouldn’t spend much more than $25 on a bottle from Rias Baixas? …that Spain is perhaps THE most up-and-coming wine region in the world? You asked for suggestions on wine classes in NYC – Used York City delivered! …We learned all this and a whole lot more in a recent wine tasting at Corkbuzz from its proprietor, the young and exuberant Laura Maniec, one of New York’s foremost, and moreover one of only eighteen female Master Sommeliers in the world.
Neither Used York City’s Editor nor I could think of a better excuse for a boozy afternoon out of the sweltering heat than for a “a highly educational experience” on a topic about which everyone wishes they were just a bit more knowledgeable. Jess and I highly recommend a visit to Corkbuzz for one of their themed wine classes where you can sample six wines over a leisurely afternoon while soaking up a broad appreciation for the subtleties of the particular wine region in focus, as guided by the master herself. On a recent visit in May, we had the pleasure of joining Laura on “A Tour of Spain” during which we were treated to a brief and well-organized overview of Spanish viniculture before tasting the best of the best from a cross-section of Spain’s most renowned wine regions:
– Penedès: The origin of cava, a Spanish sparkling wine grown by Barcelona made by the méthode champenoise – the closest cousin to Champagne but at a fraction of the cost.
– Rias Baixas: Low rivers of Galicia where albariño grapes are grown at a stone’s throw from the best seafood in the world – similar in quality and dryness to wines of the Loire and Sancerre in particular; naturally its stonefruit, citrusy and mineralesque notes pair perfectly with shellfish.
– Priorat: Northeastern coast of Catalonia where garnacha is often blended with French varietals to create inky wines prized for their intense fruit flavors owing to the volcanic soil and Mediterranean climate
– Rioja: King of Spanish wines from the north-central region, which has put the noble tempranillo up on the world stage as a result of its stringent aging requirements and standardized quality measures
– Ribera del Duero: New, up-and-coming region heralded by highly acclaimed producers Vega Sicilia and Pesquera, this region is known for bright ruby wines smelling of ripe berries and balsamic with a smooth, rich palate, good structure, soft tannins and a fresh finish.
– Sherry: A classic amongst connoisseurs – we tasted a light caramel colored amontillado or young sherry, chalk-full of rich nut flavors with a sweet and slightly spicy finish
Thoughtfully picked wines, a welcoming space and the perfect guide with whom to enjoy them. All in all, a fun afternoon, a fantastic experience and an absolutely necessary rite of passage for anyone who finds themselves intimidated in the slightest when confronted with the mammoth wine menus we typically find in NYC — that’s everyone!
After the class we had a brief chance to catch up with Laura for the latest on NYC’s wine scene:
(UYC): Tell us about a wine trend in New York that you’re excited about?
(Corkbuzz): I am excited that the world of wine is becoming more approachable in NYC. I love that guests and restaurants are taking wine appreciation more seriously, yet that sommelier’s perception is changing in that interactions have become more casual – we are no longer seen as snobby, elitists who make people feel intimated.
(UYC): How about a wine trend that you’re sick of!
(Corkbuzz): I wish people would stop serving wine out of tumbler glasses… and also spend more time and energy in building great wine by the glass programs that showcase the best of the wines they have to offer.
(UYC): You’ve said that if you were a wine that you’d be “Clouet Cuvée 1911 from the town of Bouzy in Champagne: fun yet serious, bubbly, unique and warm”… At Used York City, we like to pick a bi-weekly bottle for our readers, so in that spirit – If New York City were a wine, what would it be?
(Corkbuzz): I think if NYC was a wine it would be Champage. There are so many different styles from Vintage to Multi Vintage, rosé to Blanc de Blancs – but I have the Marie Courtin “Résonance” Champagne Extra Brut NV ($128 at Corkbuzz) particularly in mind. Champagne goes with all types of food; from low-brow to high-end. There are big names and small grower producers. It is one of the hardest wines to make just like NYC is one of the hardest places to live but the reward is worth all the hard work.
By: Adam Gross