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Flatiron Wines & Spirits

Flatiron Wines & Spirits
929 Broadway
New York, NY, 10010
212-477-1315

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Latest Blog Entries

James Bond and the terroir of Cognac

by jb-truax

Is there terroir in Cognac? In "Goldfinger" there is a great scene where James Bond and M are having dinner with Colonel Smithers of the Bank of England and learning about the gold business. After a presumably sumptuous dinner the banker brandishes a beautiful cut crystal decanter and says, "Have a little more of this rather disappointing brandy." M looks at and sniffs at his glass and asks, "Why, what is the matter with it?" Know-it-all James Bond states categorically, "I'd say it was a 30 year old Fine and indifferently blended with an overdose of Bon Bois." The banker replies, "Quite right." M, obviously perturbed says, "Colonel Smithers is giving the lecture 007." James Bond knows all about the terroir of Cognac What is Bond talking about? Look at the map of Cognac and you will see at the center, just below the town of Cognac,  the region named Grande Champagne. Around that is Petite Champagne, which is in turn  surrounded by Fins Bois which, finally, is surrounded by Bon Bois. There is even a further outlying region named Bois Ordinaires which obviously James Bond wouldn't touch with a ten foot pole. At the very center of the Grande Champagne region is the village of Segonzac.  The plateau above the village produces the most age worthy brandies of the entire region. For me Cognac is the greatest illustration of the very concept of terroir, indeed I think that it proves that terroir exists.  Here is an excerpt from Nicolas Faith's fantastic article, "Jurassic Vineyard - How Cognac Loves that Crazy Old Chalk"  in issue 14 of "The World of Fine Wine" from 2006: "There is nothing except geography - and geology and all of the other factors that compose the mystery of terroir - to explain the superiority of brandies fem certain parts of the region, above all from the best subregion - and then, as we shall see, not the whole of the subregion.  For there is simply no other possible explanation.  To start with, virtually all of the vines are of the same variety: the relatively neutral Ugni Blanc.  The dominance of this variety has reduced the effect of terroir when compared with the brandies produced before phylloxera from more aromatic varieties like Colombard and Folle Blanche.  All the grapes are harvested at the same time at virtually the same alcoholic degree, which varies only between vintages and not between parts of the vineyard. The grapes are fermented in exactly the same fashion, then all of them are stored for a few weeks with no sulfur or other additive. The distillation process is equally standardized, taking place in precisely the same type and size of stills, with those for the second fermentation limited to 25 hectoliters. The stop and start points of the "heads" and "tails" - the flow of the first heavily alcoholic and last underproof spirit from each individual distillation - do indeed vary, but that's a matter of style rather than of quality and in any case the variations are pretty minimal. The raw spirit is then matured in oak casks of exactly the same size.  They produce two rather distinctive styles of Cognac, depending on whether they are made from the relatively open-grained Limousin type of oak or the tighter-grained Troncais.  But in marked contrast to the to the situation as far as wines are concerned, fine Cognacs are aged not just in both type of casks but also in those of very different ages - the most extreme are those made by the deeply reputable house of Delamain, none of which has ever seen a grain of new wood." So Cognac, unlike any other wine or spirit producing region is produced in the same fashion from the same grape variety.  The differences come from the soils that these grapes are grown in and the blending of the brandies of different ages and the age of the barrels.  The expert blenders in Cognac have found that the only brandies that improve with age past ten or fifteen years are those from the Grande Champagne region, especially from the plateau above Segonzac.  Over the years more and more vines are planted in the very best subregions of Cognac and fewer and fewer in the Fins Bois, Bois Ordinaires and Bond's disappointing Bon Bois. After phylloxera ravaged the region it was replanted to one varietal. In Segonzac the chalk soil is highly porous and the subsoil is composed of thick bands of similar chalk. The thin topsoil drains well and the thick spongy chalk subsoil retains water releasing it slowly. This friable Jurassic chalk, called Campanian chalk, is only found on the upper slopes in the heart of the Grande Champagne region and includes a species of fossil that is found nowhere else: Ostrea vesicularis. The soil also contains lumps of crystallized iron pyrite called marcasite which, incidentally is also found in Pauillac.  Petite Champagne has another variety of chalk called Santonian chalk which is almost as good for growing grapes to be distilled into spirit but that does not quite reach the heights of the best Grande Champagne cognacs. Interestingly more than fifty percent of the land in Grande Champagne is planted with vines, in Petite Champagne it is about thirty percent.  The Bon Bois region is very large - three hundred and seventy two thousand hectares.  In this vast region only twelve thousand hectares are planted to vines.  Why?  Obviously 007 - once again, knew precisely what he was talking about.  

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Clusel-Roch Cote-Rotie winemaker tasting!

by josh-cohen

[caption id="attachment_11602" align="alignleft" width="600"] Gilbert and Ghuilhaume Clusel at work[/caption] Meet-the-winemaker tasting with Clusel Roch Cote Rotie's Cote Rotie is one of France's great regions... and bottles of Cote Rotie are generally priced accordingly. So these aren't wines we get to open very often. But today is special! Not only are we opening spectacular Cote Rotie from a top vintage, we also have the winemaker in the Manhattan store to pour the wines and talk about them. We hope you'll join us for this rare, free Cote Rotie tasting, Friday, November 17 from 5:00-7:00 pm at our Manhattan shop on Broadway between 21st and 22nd! (If you happen to be hanging out anywhere from Chelsea to Grammercy and NoMad to Union Square we're a short walk away and this tasting is well worth it!) Clusel-Roch is a tiny grower in Cote Rotie that makes some of the best wines from some of the rarest, most amazing Cote Brune terroirs. They have some super-old vines in "Les Grandes Places" (going back to the '30s) which transmit the terroir like only old vines can, and when they replant, they use only the traditional Serine clone. `The farming is biodynamic (Ecocert certified, even) and the yields are low. Vinification is relatively traditional (lots of whole clusters and aging in old oak with just some new) and the wines are do that magical thing of Cote Rotie, being both wild and elegant, intense but lithe. Come join us to taste and hear about the magic. We will taste: Guillaume Clusel, Coteaux du Lyonnais "Traboules", 2016, $16.99 Cote Rotie, 2013, $59.99 Cote Rotie, Vialliere, 2013, $94.99 Cote Rotie, Les Grandes Places, 2013 $109.99 (and, anything else the winemaker fancies!) All the wines will be 15% off for newsletter subscribers!

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Free Bourbon, Gin and Reisetbauer Tasting

by milton

Michael Skurnik is famous for importing many of the world's greatest wines. But they also carry spirits--and their selection is every bit as great as you'd expect. Join us Thursday, November 16 from 5-7pm, when Ginger pours 3 gems from Skurnik's portfolio: Medley Bros., Bourbon, $24.99 Classic Bourbon at a great price. Have a taste neat. Neversink Spirits Gin, $44.99 From a base of New York State apples, corn, wheat and barley, this local gin is distilled through a blend of 11 botanicals to create a well balanced, floral and aromatic spirit.  The botanicals are chosen to pair with apples, including three types of fresh citrus, star anise, cardamom, cinnamon, elderflower, and, of course, juniper. It’s a delicious, full-flavored gin that is great to sip on with an ice cube or in your favorite gin cocktail. Reisetbauer, “Sloeberry,’ Sloe Gin Reisetbauer is a legend of liquors, and the Sloe Gin is testament to the magic. A light and dry style of sloe gin with much less sugar than its counterparts, it combines Reisetbauer's earthy and clean Blue Gin with the tangy, bright and 100% organic Hungarian Sloe Berries. It is a delightful aperitif any time of year and especially wonderful for Thanksgiving cocktails.  

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Free Billecart Salmon Seminar

by val

We're thrilled to be hosting a free guided tasting of the wines of Billecart Salmon Monday, November 13, from 7pm to 8:30pm at the New York store. Billecart-Salmon is perhaps best known for their pale, salmon-colored rosé Champagne, a true benchmark of elegance and class. But their whole line up is amazing and each of their bottlings is worth knowing. At this free seminar you'll get the chance to see much of their range in multiple vintages: Billecart-Salmon, Champagne Brut Reserve Champagne, NV -- $49.99 Billecart-Salmon, Champagne Brut Rosé, NV -- $74.99 Billecart-Salmon, Champagne Extra Brut, 2007 -- $87.99 Billecart-Salmon, Champagne Brut Blanc de Blancs, 2006 -- $184.99 Billecart-Salmon, Champagne Brut “Cuvée Nicolas François Billecart”, 2002 -- $189.99 Billecart-Salmon, Champagne Brut Rosé “Cuvée Elisabeth Salmon”, 2006 -- $249.99 Seats are extremely limited and being assigned on a first come first served basis. Please email val here to request yours.

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