N.Y. gives California wines second chance

on 08/11/10 at 9:34 pm


Call it the bicoastal standoff.

For many California winemakers, New York City represents a holy grail – a mystical place overrun with European wines and Europhile palates. For New York’s wine buyers, California still symbolizes a culture of wine and winemaking that resonated with downtown bankers and Upper East Side Baby Boomers, and left everyone else disillusioned.

But as the market for cult Cabernet dangles off a cliff, the city’s top wine shops and restaurants are crafting a market for new and interesting California wines – and with it, a novel enthusiasm among an elite, and often finicky, set of wine buyers.

“It’s easy to write off California – I know I have – but I think now more than ever there’s a reason to pay attention,” says Juliette Pope, wine director at Gramercy Tavern, one of the city’s top wine destinations.

What’s caught her imagination is a growing subset of winemakers “dialing back” on ripeness and making more restrained wines.

“There’s a very European palate in New York, and there’s really no enthusiasm for the style of wine that (Robert) Parker and the (Wine) Spectator are advocates for,” says Wells Guthrie, winemaker and partner at Copain Wine Cellars.

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