Enjoying a Preview of “Pays d’Oc IGP Wine Week” in NYC: November 2-8
As authors of one of America’s bestselling wine books and regular writers on the subject of wine, we’re invited to countless wine tastings throughout the year. During high season, we could probably have lunch and dinner with a winemaker visiting Manhattan every single weekday. But because of our work and our own travels, we are only able to accept a very small number of the invitations we receive.
Having an opportunity to taste and learn more about wines over a meal is always appealing, given our passion for food and wine pairing, and our belief that one of the best aspects of wine is its ability to make food taste even better.
But having an opportunity to taste wines over a meal at a wonderful restaurant is even more appealing — as was the case yesterday when we joined a tableful of colleagues for a private lunch at Balvanera, one of our favorite restaurants in Manhattan, which was recently recognized by the Michelin Guide.
Just as important is the opportunity to learn more about the kind of well-priced wines that our readers are always asking us about — ones they can open on a Tuesday night that are gentle on the wallet, and both delicious on their own and food-friendly with dinner.
The occasion that fit the bill yesterday was a preview of next week’s “Pays d’Oc IGP Wine Week” celebrating French varietal wines from November 2-8 at more than two dozen participating Manhattan restaurants, which — starting Monday — will offer well-priced wines from the region by the glass, by the flight, or through special bottle offers.
Pays d’Oc has been called “the territory of 56 grape varieties,” because unlike other wine regions of France that are mostly known for just a few grape varieties (e.g., Bordeaux’s Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Sauvignon Blanc; Burgundy’s Chardonnay and Pinot Noir), it is known for a much wider array of wine grapes as well as its characteristic “liberty of style” embraced by winemakers.
The 56 grape varieties you’ll find in Pays d’Oc wines include Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Cinsault, Grenache, Merlot, Mourvedre, Muscat, Pinot Noir, Sauvignon, Syrah, and Viognier — and obviously dozens more — meaning that you could qualify half-way for membership in the Wine Century Club without ever leaving the region!
Of the white and rose wines we tasted at Balvanera, we especially enjoyed the light, clean 2014 Gerard Bertrand Gris Blanc that accompanied empanadas made with sweet corn and roasted red peppers, as well as the nicely-balanced (with just a hint of oak) 2014 Cave des Vignerons de Saint Chinian-Seigneur Jean de Roze Chardonnay and the crisp Sauvignon Blanc and Viognier blend 2014 Domaine de Nizas Le Mazet Blanc that accompanied assorted market mushrooms with soy-truffle butter and cauliflower and rice croquettes.
Among the reds, the juicy, smoky-noted 2014 Pierrick Harang La Rousse Malbec and the luscious (with notes of cherries and plums), organic and “free style” 2011 Domaine Gayda Figure Libre Cabernet Franc were our favorites, both on their own and with the pasta dishes Balvanera chef-owner Fernando Navas created for us to accompany them.
As Balvanera is one of the participating restaurants in next week’s “Pays d’Oc IGP Wine Week,” it would be our top recommendation for the one to visit November 2-8 — but you’ll find the entire list below in case one of your own favorite neighborhood spots is on it.
Restaurants Participating in
“Pays d’Oc IGP Wine Week”
A.O.C. L’aile ou la Cuisse (314 Bleeker Street; www.aocnyc.com)
Babbalucci (331 Lenox Avenue; www.babbalucci.com)
Balon (245 E 81st St.; balonwinebar.com)
Balvanera (152 Stanton Street; www.balvaneranyc.com)
Banc Cafe (431 3rd Avenue; banccafe.com)
Bar Olivino (899 Fulton St., Brooklyn)
The Bounty (131 Greenpoint Avenue, Brooklyn; thebountybrooklyn.com)
Bread and Tulips (365 Park Ave S; www.breadandtulipsnyc.com)
Cafe Luluc (214 Smith Street, Brooklyn)
Cubana Cafe (272 Smith St, Brooklyn; www.cubanacafenyc.com)
Edward’s (136 W Broadway; www.edwardsnyc.com)
Essex (120 Essex Street; www.essexnyc.com)
Eugene and Company (397 Tompkins Avenue, Brooklyn; www.eugeneandcompany.com)
Fish Tag (222 West 79th Street; michaelpsilakis.com/fishtag)
L’Antagoniste (238 Malcolm X Blvd, Brooklyn; www.lantagoniste.com)
Le Philosophe (55 Bond St.; lephilosophe.us)
Lighthouse (145 Borinquen Place, Brooklyn; www.lighthousebk.com)
Maison Harlem (341 St Nicholas Ave, www.maisonharlem.com)
Peque Vino y Tapas (231 W 145th St; www.facebook.com/PEQUE.nyc/info)
Prospect (773 Fulton Street, Brooklyn; www.prospectbk.com)
Provence en Boite (263 Smith Street, Brooklyn; www.provenceenboite.com)
Superfine (126 Front Street, Brooklyn; www.superfine.nyc)
TAVOLA (488 Ninth Ave.; www.tavolahellskitchen.com)
Ten Degrees (121 St Marks Place; www.10degreesbar.com)
VBar Seaport (212 Front St.; www.vbarandcompany.com)
VBar St. Marks (32 1st Avenue; www.vbarandcompany.com)
VBar & Cafe (225 Sullivan Street; www.vbarandcompany.com)
Westville (EAST) (173 Avenue A; www.westvillenyc.com)
For more information on Pays d’Oc IGP Wine Week in Manhattan, visit paysdocigpwineweek.com.