I think so. Yes. Mostly.
+When it come to making wine list? Perhaps.
+Is it accident that four of the more interesting and thoughtful lists gathered in New York (and Brooklyn) right now are created by women? I don't think so.
+Why? Because women tend to react more emotionally-- even to wine, they also seem less likely to gouge on prices. They also tend to create more personal wine lists. Just as in writing, the best ones have voice, point of view with little pandering to market concerns and somehow also manage to hit decent price points for lovely wines.
These pros have their own distinctive style of working the floor, from classic to rock. Their lists show their individual style and when needed how they work their personal point of view into the vagaries of necessity.
She's got that fetching combo of clear in her palate but yet has a slight, sincere insecurity-- in the most charming way. It was no surprise when she told me, I think the job a sommelier is to curate wine and make people happy. If someone wants to discover new regions, esoteric grapes or wants a wine they recognize I feel they can find it at Corkbuzz. Both Morgan Harris and Stacey Gibson (sommeliers) help me to curate the list of about 250 bottle selections and our 40 by the glass.
She submerges her ego for the greater good--education. The CB list covers a lot of ground, (of note, she only offers mature Bordeaux, with the youngest vintage 2007). But Laura should get this summer's finest wine fairy award for her Champagne Campaign.
Head to Corkbuzz tonight, at 10pm to witness and drink Laura's ground breaking idea of great self-sacrifice! Until she decides to stop, at every night, beginning at the 10pm witching hours, they sound the gong. That means? 50% on all bottles of champagne. This is the best bargain in the NYC wine world. $50 for Lassaigne? $72 for Marie-Noelle Ledru? Pascal's Sagesse for $70? She can't be making money off this but she is turning people on to champagne and it's a thrill to hear the bell tinkle every time someone orders a bottle. She is developing a following, she is growing champagne drinkers, and she is happily taking one for the team.
We are all forever indebted to her for not only this but for Muscadet out of magnum.
Afer her stunning tenure at Louis/Dressner Ms. Lee Campbell
is back. And if you go to visit her at Reynard's (she's not on every night) you'll need sunglasses, that's how much she sparkles in fact her wine list is a French jewel box,
which sidesteps the cliché. Lee has little tolerance for wines that aren't flat out delicious. Unlike Laura, she is not trying to educate, just shut up and drink something good. In her words, "It's a wine list with a particular point of view and welcoming without trying to be everything to everyone," she explained. She also adds that the list reflects the restaurants ethics, "careful sourcing, sustainable farming, good value, distinctive flavors and supporting people we admire and often count as personal acquaintances."
Like Laura (and forthcoming, Pascaline) these femmes all love their bubbles and I love that Lee democratically lumps the champagnes under Les Bulles, mixing it up with Eric Bordelet and two sparklers from Muscadet. She's got the Strohmeier Schilcher for $54! Yet, imbedded is a tight ten champagnes ever, ranging from $78 (Drappier) to $198 for Fleury 1995. Who else? Léclapart, Prévost, Bouchard, Vouette & Sorbbé, Lassaigne and Colin. Then she has the guts to avoid all Bordeaux, and instead push twelve wines from the region of Nantes (muscadet alert!), 12 rosés. Serious burgundy is a little weak, but look at those 11 beaujos. When there last I opted for the $60 Foufone (look it up) the Crozes from Les Chaps Libres. In other words, this that follows my own heart with a ton of stuff between $40-$50.
When she came back from France/Belgium to take over the Rouge Tomate list four years back, she had to contend with some real listicular damage. She proceded to weed out the noxious weed-type wines that 'somehow' popped. She pared and primed until she arrived to where she is today, almost happy with her list. 600 or so references, and vying for one of the top lists in New York City. Honest. This is a list of seriousness, complete with large selection of different formats, and the important references, eccentricities such as 5 deliciously different Barolo Chinato.
This is the only 1-star Michelin restaurant in NYC (possibly in the states) that elevates biody, org and stripped down, to its proper place--great wines made minimally. She has some compromise issues, she's struggled to find enough New World bottles, she has included wines 'she can live with,' because she has to have certain wines for certain clients, I'm sure she would rather have more Loire Valley reds than Bordeaux, but it doesn't take much to find where her personal stamp is.
Again, prices for everyone, even in this location right across from Barney's. 33 champagnes from $63 for La Caravelle La Nina. $780 for 1996 Salon, "Le Mesnil - Blanc de Blancs." Then, let's talk the Loire. Here, a Sancerre will be either Vatan ($119) or a Gaudry ($56)--truly excellent stuff. Chenin? 18+ ($51-$152).
Not saying men don't make great lists, (Michael Madrigal, Aldo S., William Fitch) but often there's an intellectual touch that replaces the caretaking. There had been one notable exception, and that was Levi Dalton. When Levi reigned over Alto and Convivio, yes, he brought that formal service, he slipped into that slicked back hair role, but his selections were marked by Levi's palate and he was going to cover that gentle price point if you needed it. He sensed his customer, he vibed the customer, and he let them gently into their world.
Last night I was at Edy + Wolf, a fun spot on Avenue C. The wine list was mediocre, oh, there were some bottles to drink, but it was near to impossible to find anything under $60. Which brings me to Juliette Pope at Gramercy.
Enough said. Juliette is one of the finest wine directors in New York, possibly the country. So, will you tell me why she's never been nominated for a James Beard award unlike some of her Danny Meyer colleagues? I know, this is more my issue than hers, but still we all need some recognition and she's been going about her non-self-promotional self, just doing the best she can and that is at the top of the heap.
Like Laura and PP, she'll have a wine for everyone, no matter what you want to drink. Yes, this is a mature list and a deep list, she has the benefit of momentum. But still, from $38 to the heavy thosands, these are the kinds of lists that will thrill a drinker, whether broad, or a specific point of view and a trustworthy palate. I would trust any of them to take me there, never upsell, find me a bargain and a little joy.