The Tasting Panel magazine

June 2015

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28  /  the tasting panel  /  june 2015 T oday's wine drinkers are in pursuit of new discoveries. Sommeliers and beverage directors of several restaurants in the New York City area have already embraced the promise and potential coming into the U.S. through the European Union–sponsored European Wine Treasures program. These venues include Grata, Karloff Restaurant, The Russian Vodka Room, The Barn, the Westchester Hills Golf Club dining room and Bamboo Ya Japanese Restaurant & Bar. Award-winning wine journalists Mike DeSimone and Jeff Jenssen are leading the charge to convince sommeliers and buyers not only to respect the 5,000-year- old history and tradition of Bulgarian wines, but also to see them as a new wave for the future. Hence their involvement in events like the recent Bulgarian Wine Pairing Lunch at Corkbuzz, a popular wine bar and tasting room in Manhattan. "I think the wines [from the European Wine Treasures program] add fresh dimension to wine lists and beverage programs," states DeSimone. "Because it is a region most customers are not familiar with, and there are new grapes to discover and a great value-to-price ratio, they are a welcome addition—not just to restaurants but also wine bars and cafés that specialize in small-plate food pairings and wines-by-the-glass in their program." Although DeSimone and Jenssen affirm that younger wine drinkers are a natural fit with their eagerness to experience never-before-tried varietals like Misket, Dimyat and Mavrud, they insist that wines from Bulgaria have an appeal that spans generations. They also note that on- premise accounts can stock these wines for a great price, offering them to their customers as good values. Adds Jensen, "Once sommeliers and buyers open their minds to Bulgarian wines, they are setting the foundation for a greater aware- ness of what the wineries have to offer . . . . When you bring those new choices to the wine list, this makes the sommelier or beverage director's job fun." CAMPAIGN FINANCED WITH AID FROM THE EUROPEAN UNION, GREECE AND THE REPUBLIC OF BULGARIA New York City somms and buyers discover European Wine Treasures. Comments at the NYC Tasting We spoke with several guests at the Corkbuzz tast- ing about their impressions on these old-but-new European wines from Bulgaria: ■ "I have to say I'm really excited about the Misket [varietal]," said Aimée Lasseigne New, Assistant Manager at Bottlerocket Wine & Spirit store in Chelsea. "It's a beautiful and lighter alternative to Viognier." ■ Brian Dudley, a buyer for Stuyvesant Liquors, liked the white wines if they're "old-style, not fruit-forward." He noted that about 20% of his cus- tomers felt the same way; for them, these clean and "bone dry" whites might fit the bill. He agreed that the wines would be a hand-sell, but with a backstory on the grapes and soils, he thought the price points hovering around $15 would be attractive. ■ Lillian Lai of House of Burgundy, a Manhattan importer, was impressed with Bulgarian wines when she first tasted them a few years ago. "We were interested in them because they were different and the quality was there," she said, noting that at the time she didn't think consum- ers were ready to embrace them. But three years later? "I think the market is now ready for them." —Lana Bortolot The Age of Rediscovery SAVVY SOMMELIERS AND BEVERAGE DIRECTORS WELCOME OLD-BUT-NEW EUROPEAN WINES ONTO THEIR LISTS by Elyse Glickman PHOTO COURTESY OF EUROPEAN WINE TREASURES

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