Choice Libations for A Thin Wallet

by Cynthia Sin-Yi Cheng
December 11, 2008


Pillar Box Reserve label

2006 Henry’s Drive Pillar Box Reserve ($40)

Region: Padthaway, Australia; Blend: 100% Shiraz.

Notes: A winner created by star Australian winemaker Chris Ringland, this 2006 vintage, made by Kim Jackson, is a wine that marries well with hummus or anything sesame-based. Great BYOB for Middle Eastern food.

Retailer: 67 Wine & Spirits, 212-724-6767.

Amisfield Pinot Noir 2006 label

2006 Amisfield Pinot Noir ($39)

Region: Central Otago, New Zealand; Blend: 100% Pinot.

Notes: I’ve been a big fan of New Zealand Pinot for years; still, tasting the 2006 Amisfield blew me away. The sour cherries and layers of spice got me hooked and confirmed my addiction to Pinot, and not just from Burgundy.

Retailer: Beacon Wines & Spirits, 212-877-0028.

Ravenswood Belloni Zinfandel label

2006 Ravenswood Belloni Zinfandel ($35)

Region: Russian River, Sonoma; Blend: 78% Zinfandel, 22% Mixed Blacks.

Notes: In a tasting of all seven single-vineyard designate Zinfandels from Joel Peterson, I picked this one as my favorite twice in a row. An elegant Zin with deep blueberry and blackberry notes, it will make you fall for Zins again and realize they are not all big and brash. Beautiful, integrated acidity makes this so food friendly.

Retailer: Ravenswood Wine, CA, 888-669-4679.


2007 Bouke label

2007 Bouké White ($18)

Region: North Fork, Long Island, New York; Blend: 40% Chardonnay, 32% Pinot Gris, 18% Sauvignon Blanc, 10% Gewürztraminer.

Notes: An aromatic white with fantastic weight. Easy-going but full of verve and personality!

Retailer: Mister Wright, 212-722-4564.

Joseph Drouhin Saint-Veran label

2007 Drouhin Saint-Véran ($16)

Region: Maconnais, Burgundy, France; Blend: 100% Chardonnay.

Notes: No one said you have to give up Burgundy because it’s cher, not if you can find a crisp Saint-Véran from a top producer to fit the bill.

Retailer: Gotham Wines & Liquors, 212-932-0990.

2006 Laurenz V. Singing ($14)

Region: Niederoesterreich, Austria; Blend: 100% Grüner Veltliner.

Notes: I’m a lover of acidity, especially when it lifts the wine and makes for a versatile food accompaniment. Discover Lenz Moser’s Grüner and you’ll be hooked.

Retailer: Garnet Wines & Liquors, 212-772-3211.


Neige: ice wine label

La Face Cachée de la Pomme Neige ($27 for 375ml)

Region: Québec, Canada; Blend: 80% McIntosh Apples, 20% Spartan Apples.

Notes: Sweet wines just aren’t my thing, but Neige is so unexpected. Who would have thought apple ice wine could turn me on to sweet wines? Incredible fragrance from the apples combined with piercing acidity makes this so sippable and not cloying. Very good with cheddar!

Retailer: Astor Wines & Spirits, 212-674-7500.


Enjoy a sparkling holiday with these stylistically diverse bubblies from the world over.

2004 Sparkling Pointe Brut ($29)

Notes: With notes of coconut, a Long Island sparkler with exquisite creamy bubbles. Clean and crisp, perfect with oysters or a raw seafood platter.

Retailer: Sparkling Pointe, NY, 631-765-0200.

Mumm Napa Brut Rosé ($24)

Notes: Lovely pink bubbly for holiday toasting and light hors d’oeuvres.

Retailer: Mumm Napa, CA, 707-967-7700.

Ferrari Brut ($20)

Notes: For those like me who love blanc de blancs, this is a great sparkler from Trentino, Italy. I prefer it with food. I had it with fish tacos and even with the added spice, the wine held up beautifully.

Retailer: 9th Avenue Vintner, 212-736-1310.

Parxet Cuvée 21 Cava Brut ($16)

Notes: This Spanish gem makes one rethink cava; elegant, floral and full of character.

Retailer: The Winery, 212-222-4866.

Familia Schroeder Extra Brut ($15)

Notes: A brut zero sparkler from Patagonia, Argentina, this wine is 60% Pinot 40% Chard, made in Charmat method. It’s fruity and floral; a great sipper.

Retailer: SIP Fine Wine, 718-638-6105.


5 fantastic wines that are easy on the wallet with no compromise on quality.

André Clouet Brut Réserve ($43)

Retailer: 67 Wine & Spirits, 212-724-6767.

Gaston Chiquet Blanc de Blancs d’Aÿ ($45)
Chapuy Brut Réserve Blanc de Blancs ($38)
Pierre Brigandat Brut Réserve ($33)

Retailer: Astor Wines & Spirits, 212-674-7500.

*With free Astor in-store card discount the Gaston Chiquet is $40, so take advantage.

Charles Heidsieck Brut Réserve ($32)

Retailer: Garnet Wines & Liquors, 212-772-3211.

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