The Finesse and Harmony of Mencia

Nine years ago, two events converged: Le Du’s opened its doors, and a previously unknown region in the northwest of Spain became a sexy hot spot in the world of wine.   That region was Bierzo, home of alluring Atlantic influenced wines made from the Mencia grape, of which we have stocked on our shelves since 2005. We were not alone in our admiration of Bierzo:

New York Times writer Eric Asimov characterized these wines as “Beguiling.” Charm and finesse are the key points here.

And if you are looking to be charmed (who isn’t?), then do not miss the 2013 vintage of Descendientes de J. Palacios Petalos.  While we have been flirting with this wine for almost a decade, the 2013 is particularly elegant and seductive.

Descendientes de J. Palacios Bierzo Petalos 2013 $21.99

petalosOpens with a compelling bouquet of sun dried herbs, cherry peel, and mineral-tinged earth.  Fine-polished tannins and a distinct vein of acidity work in concert with flavors of bramble, iron, cherry, and toast. Charming and graceful throughout, the 2013 Petalos is a transparent window into the finesse and harmony of Mencia.  The layers of this wine will gain definition with a bit of breathing time.

During the late 1980’s, Alvaro Palacios travelled his native Spain selling French barriques to winemakers. But his journeys had a second purpose: to find the best place to achieve his goal of making Spain’s greatest wine.  After cutting a name for himself in Priorat, Alvaro teamed up with his nephew Ricardo Perez, to make world class wines hailing from Bierzo’s steep slopes.  The result has been nothing short of brilliant and the 2013 vintage attests to the Atlantic influence on these wines:

“These were the ideal vines which had been perfectly adapted to the humidity and to the capriciousness of the climate… Elegant, delicate, full of fresh aromatics, floral, with smoky minerality which reminds us of those first vintages, 15 years ago.”

Ricardo Perez of Descendientes de J. Palacios on the 2013 vintage.

 Matt Beaton

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Rock & Roll Wine Seminar!

Have you ever wondered what wine to pair with Patti Smith?  What about the New York Dolls or The Clash?  Which wine matches best with Led Zeppelin?  As a music fan and winelover, these are the questions which keep me up at night J

On Tuesday June the 30th I will be co-hosting a really cool wine tasting at City Winery with legendary Rock photographer Bob Gruen where we’ll attempt to answer these questions.

Together we will be pairing eight of Bob’s most iconic pictures with great wines from around the world, with behind the scenes commentary from Bob and insights into all the wines from myself.

Back in January we were invited by City Winery to do a similar presentation during their annual executive retreat in Puerto Rico, and they enjoyed it so much they asked us to it again, but this on their club’s stage. Both Bob and I are thrilled to be part of this event and we hope you can join us.

You can purchase tickets directly from City Winery

Bob Gruen is one of the most well known and respected photographers in Rock and Roll. By the mid ’70s he was already regarded as one of the foremost documenters of the scene working with major attractions such as John Lennon & Yoko Ono, Tina Turner, The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Elton John, Kiss etc., and also covering the emerging New Wave and Punk bands including The New York Dolls, Patti Smith, Clash, Sex Pistols, Ramones & Blondie

Jean-Luc Le Dû is the owner of Zagat’s #1 NYC wine shop, Le Du’s Wines in the West Village. He honed his wine knowledge through visits in the vineyards in the late eighties and while working at Bouley Restaurant. He was the Chef Sommelier at Restaurant Daniel for ten years and won the “Grand Prix Sopexa du Sommelier” in 1997. He is a recipient of the 2003 James Beard Foundation “Outstanding Wine Service Award”.

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Austria’s Cutting Edge: Dinner with Bernhard Ott and Hans Reisetbauer at Walls

Join us as we welcome two world-class craftsmen of drink for a very special night of dinner and tasting.  Winemaker Bernhard Ott will guide us though three flights of his singular Grüner Veltliners from the Wagram, accompanied by specially curated dishes from Wallsé’s eminent chef Kurt Gutenbrunner. Following each course, Hans Reisetbauer will show us how he captures the essence of fruit in ways you never thought possible.


344 West 11th Street

Monday, June 15th

Doors Open: 7:00 PM Dinner:  8:00 PM

$175.00 per person (all-inclusive)

 bernhardBernhard Ott took over his family’s estate in 1993 at the age of twenty-one, but at the time, they were already on the forefront of Europe’s green revolution, having dispensed with chemical treatments in 1971.  Since taking over, Bernhard has brought his tremendous intellectual energy to bear in making this arguably the finest estate in the Wagram and one of the most exciting in all of Austria.  We’ll be showcasing ten of his remarkable Grüner Veltliners, including library vintages of Rosenberg, his top Grand Cru, and the Qvevre, a tribute to the traditional wines of the Republic of Georgia, one of the World’s oldest wine cultures.

Hanshans Reisetbauer started with just 1.5 hectares ofapple trees and a small still making eau-de-vie for personal consumption, but in the past 25 years has gained a reputation as one of the world’s great masters of the distiller’s craft, with countless awards to his credit and a generation of young craft spirits pioneers looking to him for guidance.  Using custom equipment of his own design, he now produces nearly two dozen eaux-de-vie from ingredients as classic as apples and pears from his own meticulously-tended orchards, to hazelnuts, ginger, and carrots(!),  as well as exceptional gins and malt whiskies.


Reisetbauer Sloe Gin Fizz

Reisetbauer Blue Gin & Tonic

3rd Course

Organic Chicken with Morels,

Fava Beans, and Sherry

Ott Grüner Veltliner Rosenberg 2005

Ott Grüner Veltliner Rosenberg 2007

Ott Grüner Veltliner Rosenberg 2012

Hans Reisetbauer Raspberry Eau de Vie

Hans Reisetbauer Wild Cherry Eau de Vie

1st Course

White Asparagus,

Slow Cooked Egg, Baked Ham, Tarragon

Ott Grüner Veltliner “Am Berg” 2014

Ott Grüner Veltliner “Fass 4” 2014

Ott Grüner Veltliner “Der Ott” 2014

Hans Reisetbauer Carrot Eau de Vie

2nd Course

Idaho Trout with Peas and Tomato Fond

Ott Grüner Veltliner Spiegel 2013

Ott Grüner Veltliner Stein 2013

Ott Grüner Veltliner Rosenberg 2013

Hans Reisetbauer Williams Pear Eau de Vie


Quark Soufflé with Apricots

Viennese Cookies


Seating is extremely limited so RSVPs are required.  To reserve a seat, e-mail Jean-Luc at or call 212-924-6999.

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Reuilly Pinot Gris…Rose?

Leave it to Kermit Lynch to bring us a Rose made from a grape most people think of as white!  File in the “Little Known Fact” Department, Pinot Gris (aka Pinot Grigio) is actually a pink skinned grape!  99% of the time, they press the grapes and immediately separate the skins from the juice, leaving crisp, ethereal white wine.  But if you leave the skins to macerate with the juice, you end up with what the Italians call Ramato; a wonderfully elegant wine which exists somewhere between a white and a rose.

Domaine Reuilly Rose Pinot Gris 2014 ($19.99)

reuilly“Wonderfully high-toned with subtle notes of pink grapefruit, peach skin, quince, and even a hint of juicy pineapple.  Reuilly is just down river from Sancerre so the wet chalk minerality on the backend holds the quiet fruit-cocktail mélange in perfect balance.  The ultimate effect of the “Ramato” style here is to place the fruit firmly in the center of the wine, rather than a barrage at entry, allowing for a persistent finish which lingers in a swirl of white flowers.” 

Domaine de Reuilly is the leading producer of a Loire Valley appellation which should be much more widely known.  Reuilly is downriver from Sancerre, and has often lived in the shadow of its famous cousin, but a new generation of dynamic producers, led by the owner of Domaine de Reuilly, Denis Jamain.  As Sancerre skews more and more towards becoming a global brand, appellations like Reuilly and Quincy, which offer a ton of value for quality, will start blipping up on the wine radar.


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Bo Barrett’s Secret Passion: Chateau Montelena Riesling

“It’s like walking around in only a Speedo:  nothing to cover you up and just your fruit hanging out”

Bo Barrett on working with Riesling   

Bo-Barret-Chateau-Montelena-10003503 Many people know Bo Barrett and Chateau Montelena through their fictionalized portrayal in the movie Bottle Shock, which relates, among other things, the story of the 1976 Paris tasting that brought California into the mainstream of serious thought about fine wines.    I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Barrett a few years ago and found the man himself as impressive as his wines.  His quintessentially Californian informality belied a keen, penetrating insight.   My only disappointment was that the stellar lineup of wines that did not include his Riesling– there was sadly none to be had at the time.  Since he insists on one single source for his Riesling fruit, the quantity of this wine is inherently limited and most of it is sold direct from the winery.  It was a distinct privilege to taste this rare treat, and to be able to offer it to you today!

Today, Napa Valley seems synonymous with Cabernet Sauvignon, but many of the founding vinegrowers in Napa were immigrants from central Europe who brought the vines they had known in their home countries.  In the 19th century, it wasn’t uncommon to see grapes like Chasselas, Gewürztraminer, Sylvaner, and even Riesling.   A few legacy vineyards planted to these varieties survive, but they were for the most part abandoned when commercial pressures forced the adoption of grapes that were better known and more suitable to the climate.  So when Bo Barrett of Chateau Montelena, the venerable producer of classic Napa Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon, decided he wanted to try his hand at making Riesling, he looked to cooler climes.  His search led him to team up with Guinness McFadden of McFadden Farm in eastern Mendocino’s Potter Valley, one of California’s coolest growing regions.

Chateau Montelena Potter Valley Riesling 2013 – $26.99

img-displayThe 2013 has a juicy, effortless texture, redolent of melon, starfruit, and oolong tea, with a hint of lime marmalade.    The nose is a lovely bouquet of jasmine, honeysuckle, and exotic spices.  Gentle, refreshing acidity is balanced by just a touch of residual sugar.  Spring in a bottle!

Barrett was McFadden’s first customer for his Riesling, and from the beginning had a very distinct idea of what he was looking for.  The canopy is configured to trap warm, humid air around the grapes, encouraging a small amount of botrytis every year, which gives the wine a slightly honeyed, soft-focus character.  The wine is fermented in stainless steel tanks and then aged in a combination of stainless steel and neutral oak before being assembled and bottled. When McFadden planted his first vines, Potter valley was dominated by pear orchards, and many told him it was too cold for grape vines to thrive.  But he made a go of it, quickly setting aside Cabernet in favor of cold-loving grapes like Sauvignon Blanc, Gewürztraminer, and of course, Riesling.   The entire farm is worked organically, not just the vineyards; McFadden also grows garlic, herbs, wild rice, and even has a small herd of grass-fed beef cattle.


Duncan McRoberts

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The Pinot of the East: Two sides of Blaufränkisch

 Wachter-Wiesler Blaufränkisch Südburgenland 2013 – $17.99

wACHTER This exquisitely balanced, juicy red is made from young vines planted in the iron-rich clay soils of Deutsch-Schützen, Eisenberg and Hannersberg.  Sour cherry and black-raspberry, with overtones of black pepper, leather, and violets, a delectable juxtaposition of sweet and savory flavors.  Gentle, fine-textured skin tannins and bright food-friendly acidity make this an excellent companion to a wide range of dishes, especially lamb chops or grilled burgers!

Iby Blaufränkisch Rosé Mittelburgenland 2014 – $17.99

BrilliBYiantly juicy up front, exploding with ripe red raspberry and luscious nectarine, and a hint of grapefruit peel, transitioning to a refreshing mineral mid-palate and a clean finish with notes of watermelon and tangerine peel.  The effortless texture and soft, balanced acidity make this delicious on its own for uncomplicated refreshment, but also a great accompaniment to a spring picnic.

Central Europe in the Middle Ages classed grapes primarily as either Heunisch, belonging to the east (a reference to the Huns of late antiquity) or Fränkisch possibly referring to France or the German region of Franconia, but more likely to the tribe (the Franks) who gave both places their names.  The origin stories of many familiar modern grapes involve cross-pollination between the lordly Fränkisch grapes grown on the upper part of the hillside and the Heunisch peasant grapes grown on the lower hillsides or on the valley floor.  Chardonnay, for example, is supposed to have originated as a crossing of Weißer Heunisch with the noble Pinot Noir, Riesling a crossing of Weißer Heunisch with Traminer.

Blaufränkisch, one of these crossings, is by consensus Austria’s quality red grape.  My favorite thing about this grape is the vividness with which it reacts to different terroirs and microclimates, an aspect in which it mirrors Pinot Noir, from the deep, densely fruited wines of Mittelburgenland, to the finely-chiseled minerality and floral aromas of Südburgenland, to the woodsy spice of examples from across the border in Hungary (which grows even more than Austria does), Slovakia, and beyond.  In flavor and texture, the wines themselves call to mind Burgundy, Cru Beaujolais, and often the more delicate styles of Rhone Syrah, sometimes two or three of these at once.

Burgenland, the spiritual home of Blaufränkisch, is Austria’s poorest and most sparsely populated state, and two world wars and subsequent Soviet occupation were not exactly conducive to quality winemaking here.  But starting in the early 1990s, many young growers, no doubt inspired by their more westward-looking colleagues in places like the Wachau and Kamptal, resolved to give it a go and build a new culture of quality red wine.  They results are uniquely compelling, and I wonder if we’ve even seen the beginning of where they’re headed.


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The Winemaking Monastery of the French Riviera

About a year ago, I read a small article from Wine Spectator about the winemaker-monks of Saint Honorat.  An island off the coast of Provence, Honorat has been a place for Holy reflection since the 5th century AD, when Saint Honoratus left the world of crumbling Roman Gaul to live in quiet contemplation.  It seems he wasn’t the only one as a vibrant monastic community sprang up around him.  Outside of some troublesome centuries where the Saracens weren’t being particularly pleasant, the monks of Abbaye de Lerins have been living, working, praying, and tending their vines for nearly 1600 years.  In the modern era, they almost gave up winemaking, planting lavender instead but struggled to make a living (lavender oil doesn’t fetch the prices it used to apparently).  It was the advice of a local chef which convinced them to go back to their roots (pun intended) and produce top-level wines.

“For more than 20 years, Abbaye de Lerins has made some of coastal Provence’s most prestigious wines—served in the glittering luxury hotels of the Côte d’Azur and at the Cannes Film Festival. But while his wines travel, Marie doesn’t get out much.

He is monk-cellarmaster of the Abbaye de Lérins—a Cistercian monastery on the tiny (less than a mile long), idyllic island of Saint Honorat, about two miles and a 15-minute ferry ride off the yacht-jammed Cannes coast.


Here he lives a spartan life with 20 other monks in an historic abbey basking in sun and sea breezes and surrounded by clear turquoise waters. The community is one of a dwindling number of Cistercian monasteries in Europe (and possibly the last in France) that make and market their own wine. The abbey produces more than 3,300 cases from 21 acres of vineyards in the backyard of one of the world’s great playgrounds of excess.”  Robert Camuto, “Brothers in Arms”, Wine Spectator, July, 2014


What a story!  It was the Cistercians, after all, who essentially created Burgundy.  The idea there were still monks out there crafting top level wines…well, you just don’t see that every day.  The only trouble is the wines are not always easy to obtain.  We carry them when we can but they come and go from our shores.

So, imagine my surprise when I found a cache of 1999 La Vendage des Moines Blanc fresh from the winery.  Now, double that surprise when we tasted it and, to a person, we all flipped!  It’s wines like this which make my job fun.  A white blend made by monks a stones throw from Cannes with 17 years of bottle age on it for under $20?  Yes, Please!

Abbaye de Lerins La Vendange des Moines Blanc 1999 ($18.99)blog1

50% Clairette, 25% Chardonnay, 25% Ugni Blanc.  The honeyed notes of oxidation initially confront the nose upon popping the cork but 20-30 minutes of air reveals notes of fresh mint, hay, ripe pear, cinnamon, thyme, and orange peel.  The palate is remarkably fresh.  There are no sharp edges here, with an insane amount of natural grape tannins and acidity which runs throughout.  The fruit, which I would describe as quiet peach liqueur mixed with lemon zest, coats the palate, flirting with overt viscosity yet somehow maintaining the vibrant ZING of a beach wine.  To be sure, this is a 17 year old wine but it is delicious nonetheless and one of the more interesting white wines I’ve tasted this year.  I enjoyed every sip more than the last, which is the ultimate litmus test! 


With High Regards,

JT Robertson

General Manager

Le Du’s Wines

600 Washington St

NY, NY 10014


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