Is there anything better for a wine-nerd passionate about wine (no, seriously, those two are not necessarily traits that go together) to meet another person equally excited about a good drop?
Hardly. So when I went to the little wine bar Terroir, next to the “mothership” restaurant Hearth, I was first ecstatic about the wine list, but then progressed to sheer happiness because of the sommelier Kelsey. She must have sensed a fellow wine lover, because she wanted us, me and Cajsa, to discover all her favorites on the open wine list. We went from oloroso sherry to eastern Europe (a lovely, oily Hungarian dry Furmint, and a sharply acidic, light and spicy blaufränkish relative by J&J Eger), past the deliciously nutty, grapefruity champagne Marie Hanze by Maillart. Her description of the first whiff of the champagne was “fresh rain”, which I can’t help but find a beautiful way of saying it.
By this time, we needed food, so a small, fresh squid salad with lemon and celery came in. The Scholium Project makes a Gewürtztraminer at 16% alcohol called Riquewihr, which was the only Californian white among the open wines. Guess the owner, Paul Grieco, is more of an old-world person and only takes in US wines if they stand out. The wine had an interesting, complex nose reminiscent of oily, floral yeast (it’s been in beer barrels, so no wonder). Not a favorite because of the striking alcohol, but interesting.
We continued with a late harvest Sauvignon Blanc from Echeveria in the Curico valley, Chile, with a lingering flavor of sweet saffron rolls. A highlight was the Später-Velt Piesporter Goldtöpfchen Riesling Spätlese called simply “Jupp”. Beautifully balanced and elegant with long length and good acid. After sniffing the glass, Kelsey had a blissful look to her and burst out “I have the best job in the world.” You and me both, girl.
With hot and crisp fried risotto balls we had a floral, slightly oxidized and nutty chardonnay from Jura. I find the Jura underappreciated, but then again, I like the old apple-and-nuts you get from their flor-friendly production methods.This one, an ’07 En Barberon by Stephen Tissot was lovely and fresh. Better than the other Jura and Jurancon bottles we tasted. After talking, tasting, and oogling the wine list (all me, Cajsa was more into taking pictures), we ended the visit with the Pewsey Vale ’05 The Countours Riesling from Australia’s Eden Valley near Barossa where we were this time last year. I loved the petroleum nose, but on the palate the fresh fruit dominated.
Right before we left, the sweet chef Kirsten came out with another set of risotto balls – this time attractively red from beets, with a creamy center of gorgonzola. To die for. The place was packed, and our seats were filled the second our butts left the comfy bar stools. We left happy and inspired, and not at all as buzzed as you might think, since the place fortunately serves tasting-size pours of all the open wines. Next time we are hitting the reds. And then maybe the beers… Terroir indeed, this wine bar has a sense of… well… place.
TerroirNY, main location 413 E 12th st (between 1st Ave and Avenue A) on twitter as @terroirNY