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« Dear Huge, | Main | WBW14: New (New) World Pinot Noir »

09 October 2005

A Ten Buck Counoise from Crush

Crush_1I had ten bucks in my wallet and wanted something different, so I made a trip to Crush Wine & Spirits in midtown Manhattan. For any New Yorker who might have been living in a cave for the last six months, this infant wine shop has appeared in just about every food and wine magazine published lately. Justifiably so, as Crush delivers a diverse selection of well-made wines at relatively reasonable prices. Don’t come looking for any Yellow Tail here!

The shop was a little smaller than I had expected, but the modern décor and swanky tasting room were quite striking. So was the temperature-controlled reserve wine room, a.k.a. The Cube, whose glass walls invited me to stand and drool at the rare finds contained within. Back on the main floor, wines hung precariously on racks along a curved wall, requiring some skill to pick bottles off and replace them without smashing them on the cement floor (not to worry – The Cube gets padded floors to break the fall of even a precious magnum). But despite this challenging setup, the selections were pretty fantastic, with many odd finds from the South of France, interesting blends from Spain, and one of the best riesling and Germanic varietals sections I’ve ever seen. My only complaint is that there wasn’t one Alsatian pinot gris, but Thom The Wine Guy said they were “working on that”.

Monpertuislabel2Anyway, I found a ten dollar wine that struck my fancy: the 2003 Domaine Montpertuis Cepage Counoise. A single varietal counoise? Never had that grape on its own before. Thom advised me to let the wine aerate before drinking. Apparently it had some serious barnyard funk, and I’d need to be patient (hmmm, could this be his subtle way of telling me that the wine sucked?). Now even more intrigued, I forked over my ten bucks, or $10.85 to be exact, and eagerly toted the bottle home.

Out came the cork. The nose seemed unclean at first, but this blew off with a swirl to reveal intense medicinal aromas of menthol, wet earth, herbs, black pepper and cranberries. The palate had good acidity and moderate tannins, with flavors of sourish red berries and spicy black pepper. But then the fruit dulled quickly, leaving an unattractive plastic sensation on my tongue. I let the wine breathe a little more and tried again a few hours later, but I got the same result.

Not sure what to make of this wine. Maybe I just got a bad bottle, or maybe Domaine Montpertuis makes a not-so-good counoise (though I’ve had a few of their Chateauneuf-du-Papes and they’ve been great). Or could it just be that this is how the varietal tastes, which is why it seldom goes solo? I’m certainly willing to try this wine again someday, or perhaps a different producer’s version. And I’m certainly willing to pay Crush Wine & Spirits another visit, but next time maybe I’ll stick with an Alsatian pinot gris, if and when they stick one on the wall.



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Wait, was this place the one that was most recently written up in Food & Wine? My bf showed me the article last night..I feel it's the same one. Anyways, looks cool inside. Didn't realize you're a fellow NYer. Hope you're having a good weekend. I love this new cool weather!


Hi Mona,

It is indeed the one featured in F&W.

Sadly, I'm just an honorary New Yorker. I travel there often but live in a literal (and figurative when it comes to wine) desert - Utah. The author of this piece is my wine co-conspirator, "The Winegoddess" (hence the initials "WG" at the end of the post). She lives full time in NY.


what a fascinating looking shop. Certainly more striking than any wine shop I have been to on this side of the pond.


I haven't been yet (been meaning to make the jaunt to midtown to check it out, though). I do hope that my eyes are playing tricks on me and the wall behind that 'wall of wine' isn't internally lit!! That kind of direct light on wine wouldn't do it many favors...


Astute observation! I'll have to check it out if/when I drop by this weekend.

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