NEW YORK -- Had dinner last night at Gramercy Tavern – one of my favorite restaurants in New York -- with another senior editor of the magazine, Dana Nigro, and we drank a bottle of 1999 Hartford Court Pinot Noir Marin County. It was a very good juicy and fresh Pinot with lots of strawberry and light earth aromas and flavors. It was full-bodied with soft velvety tannins. Slightly one-dimensional, the wine was fresh and long, especially for being a 1999. We both enjoyed it with our meal. I scored it 88 points.
When I am in the United States and eating in a restaurant, I nearly always seem to order American Pinot Noir. And at least in New York, this appears to be what most people are doing. I spoke to the wine director of Gramercy, Juliette Pope, and she said that most of her customers seem to be ordering Pinot Noir – both domestic and French. Her excellent wine list has about 10 red Burgundies for every American Pinot on it, but she says that most people want the domestic stuff.
“I can’t keep enough of them on the list, and I don’t think it’s only because of Sideways,” she said, adding that Pinot Noir works really well with her restaurant’s menu due to the wine type's balance and freshness of fruit. I agree wholeheartedly. If you haven’t been there, Gramercy’s food is modern American emphasizing the goodness of seasonal domestic ingredients. For example, I had crunchy flavorful sautéed soft shell crabs as a starter and juicy succulent roasted rabbit as a main course – no foam or other trendy preparations with these courses. Straightforward excellent food, and wine friendly.
I also spoke to a number of other sommeliers in town during a tasting dinner of Pio Cesare wines after the Grand Tour on May 2, and they all echoed what Gramercy’s Pope said. Pinot is hot and completely out selling California Cabernet and other reds
“Pinot Noir is what people want to drink,” she said – adding that there were so many new domestic Pinots “coming out of the wood work” that she was constantly tasting and looking for good ones because there were many “that were not very good quality.”
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