When a bartender at one of New York City's hottest wine bars invites you to "nerd out over some grape juice," you say yes.
Branding itself as the "elitist wine bar for everyone," Terroir is one of those rare finds in the wine world that doesn't forsake cool-kid attitude for pedigree. Both are done effortlessly with the same smoothness you might find in a glass there. To be sure, their big, fat binder of a wine list could easily intimidate were it not for the charmingly disarming presentation (think cartoon illustrations and snarky anecdotes) and an on-top-of-its-game staff available to guide you through it all.
Bartender Tanner Walle has been there since nearly the beginning (the East Village location opened in March of 2008, followed by a second one in TriBeCa in 2010). We recently caught up with the wine enthusiast to talk about some of the wines he's most excited about pouring right now.
Stadlmann Rotgipfler Tagelsteiner 2009
"The acid is screaming," noted Tanner of this full-bodied Austrian white. Indeed, there is a strong acid backbone to this wine, made from the Rotgipfler grape, matched by a nice weight and depth. It's pretty, with notes of white peach and a hint of pepper spice — "you can imagine it pairing well with spicy food."
Edi Keber Collio Bianco 2009
This blended Friulian white is a particular favorite because of the unique character each of the three grapes (Friuliano, Malvasia, Ribolla Gialla) imparts to the wine. "Each grape has a specific responsibility," he explains. He points out its "austere, zippy, high-tone" acidity from the Ribolla Gialla. Solid and full-bodied with a soft, coating mouthfeel, you also notice a lovely note of aromatic melon from the Malvasia. Also of note is that the vineyard is located near the Slovenian border and as a result, has adopted their technique of aging wines in cement. "It gives this wine real soul."
Kir-Yianni Ramnista 2006
This Greek wine made from the indigenous Xinomavro grape has much in common with a Bordeaux red — aggressive, structured, and tannic. In terms of flavor profile it has a kind of dusty quality with notes of plum and cherry and a straight-down-the-middle acidity. "Imagine that this might age like a Nebbiolo would," Tanner remarked.
Bodegas Carballo Tinto-Negramoll 2009
All the excited chatter you might hear about the wines of the Canary Islands won't prepare you for the truly unique experience of actually tasting one. Imagine, if you will, the experience of drinking a dark-fruit red wine while having rocks in your mouth — but in the best way possible. The slight grain alcohol aroma on the nose gives way to a super minerality that is a true expression of the region's volcanic rock terroir.
Kollwentz Zweigelt Föllikberg 2008
An Austrian red from Burgenland made from the Zweigelt grape, it is superbly balanced — a touch oaky with ripe tannins. Find notes of deep purple and red fruits, as well as earthiness and brown spice.