Lately I have been doing a bit of shopping around at Fort Greene shop, Thirst Wine Merchants.  I discovered them after a wine tasting dinner at Thirst Bar a Vin, their wine bar and restaurant.  Although the dinner featured some memorable wines, and some interesting service, I have to say that the food was some of the best I have had anywhere in the greater New York City area in quite some time.  At the wine shop they focus on primarily natural wines from small producers, and carry a lot of wines from renowned wine importer Kermit Lynch.  The three selections mentioned here all happen to be from Kermit Lynch, who also happens to be one of my favorite importers.  If you see a Kermit Lynch label, you can be guaranteed a great bottle of wine without a doubt!

Before we dive in, I will say unabashedly that Nebbiolo is one of my favorite grapes.  Besides its flavor profile and the great wines it produces in Barolo, Barbaresco, and Piemonte, I love that it really only makes great wine in that region.  It truly is not grown successfully, or to any significant extent, elsewhere.  One cannot really say that about many other grapes, including Pinot Noir, to which it is often compared.  I would love to see a Burgundy that can rock up with this much class at the under $25 price point!  Following my lead on Nebbiolo’s that fall outside Barolo and Barbaresco designations, I was recommended this Langhe Nebbiolo from Silvio Giamello – Villa Gentiana.  Well, needless to say, this is a fantastic Nebbiolo and I was enamored with it from go.  It rolls in under $25 and is the real deal.

Silvio Giamello – Villa Gentiana 2006 Langhe Nebbiolo ~ $24.00

Starts out with a nose of Frankincense and Myrrh (how biblical).  There are also solid notes of tart dark fruit, dark chocolate, and liver.  The nose is really gorgeous and just really pops out of the glass.  Moderate tannins suggest it will age well over the short to medium term and it has a lovely lingering finish.  This confirms what is so great about Nebbiolo.  HIGHLY RECOMMENDED – GOOD VALUE

Domaine Léon Barral from the Faugeres appelation in the Languedoc is another great selection from Kermit Lynch.  A leader in biodynamic agriculture and natural wine making, this 2007 Faugeres is a blend of 50% Carignan, 40% Grenache, and 10% Cinsault.  Immediately upon tasting this wine reminded me of Sardenga’s Dettori Cannonau 2006, which I have tasted a couple times.  Dettori is also an ultra naturalist and the wines share certain characteristics in common.  Namely a lively initial mouth feel, due to fact that there was probably no SO2 (sulphur dioxide) added by either producer.  The Dettori Cannonau was a very singular and memorable wine and the Barral Faugeres is much the same.  Maybe not a wine for everyone, but if you are looking for something different and about as natural as they come, then this is worth checking out.

Léon Barral 2007 Faugeres ~ $28.00

This is extreme wine, but also very intriguing and delicious.  Lively in the mouth upon initial opening, it calms down as this exciting wine changes and develops.  The color is a sort of opaque garnet and there is quite a bit of sediment due to its natural characteristics.  I passed the wine through a fine strainer to remove.   There are dark cherry and menthol spice flavors mixing with high toned notes .  This wine is a changeable character, but one that is a pleasure to get to know and try and understand.  HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

Maxime Magnon 2009 La Démarrante ~ $22.00

This Corbieres from the Languedoc came very highly recommended from the proprietors of Thirst Wine Merchants.  The wine is made naturally and in small quantities and seemed to be a shop favorite.  And while this is a decent bottle of wine, I can’t say it knocked my socks off as much as the other two wines mentioned here.  It seemed to lack a bit of stand out character and seemed a bit one dimensional.  The La Démarrante is medium violet hued and has some nice light hints of plum and lavender.  There is also a flavor profile to this wine that can be associated with the wine being raised in cement tanks, which I am guessing this one was as it is stated on the Kermit Lynch website that it ages both in cuve and in foudre.  It is a blend of Carignan and Cinsault.  A decent wine, but lacking a bit of the break out factor for me.  Going to try some other wines from this producer to see if I can catch the buzz that Thirst is feeling about this producer.  ON THE FENCE