Posted on | April 4, 2014
Written by | BevNetwork
About three years ago wine director Olivier Flosse found himself in the cellar at New York City’s A Voce restaurant staring at a 18-liter bottle of Frescobaldi Mormoreto and had a thought: This bottle would be much happier if people were to just drink it. “I told my team we would offer it by the glass one night,” he recalls, adding that no one believed it would sell out. “We sold the entire bottle—the equivalent of three cases of wine—in one evening.” It was the beginning of A Voce’s large format program which has since grown to 100 wines which rotate often (given space constraints, it’s all the restaurant can handle). Flosse has no trouble going through two or three large format bottles per evening.
While big parties occasionally book tables here to consume magnums or even jeroboams with their party, the vast majority of A Voce’s large bottles are consumed by-the-glass, the quartino or the carafe. “We always decant their portion in front of the guest at the table, we don’t do it off to the side, because that’s part of the show,” he says. “Anyone can sell wine, but we want to create an experience.” Tables that are interested but shy away from the often steep price (a glass can cost $40, depending on the wine) are always given a taste—“the point of these bottles is sharing,” Flosse emphasizes.
Not many wineries produce larger formats, but Flosse now has winemakers bottling special releases especially for him. Ridge gave him four of their best vintages of Monte Bello bottling in 3-liter bottles—1989, ’01, ’02 and ’04—and Sonoma’s Soliste Winery produced seven 18-liter bottles just for A Voce. He also carries digestifs like grappa and Averna in 3-liter bottles.
It’s been a massive boon to business: Flosse estimates a full 50% of the calls the restaurant receives inquire about the large format program, or want to know what is being served that evening. On Valentine’s Day, Flosse served an 18-liter bottle of Italian vintner Bibi Graetz’s wine that was banned from the U.S. due to its risqué label. Tables had never booked so quickly.
On one hand, it’s a natural extension of America’s embrace of rosé wine; on the other, a bold push into new packaging territory. This much is certain: Pampelonne Rosé Lime is hitting the U.S. just in time for warm weather. Served up in playful 8 oz. (237ml) cans, Pampelonne is Loire Valley Muscadet wine infused with all-natural lime, passion fruit, grapefruit and sparkling water. The unpretentious new can checks in at 6% ABV, and is available in CA, FL and NY, with NV next. SRP $4.99/can, $19.99/4-pack. enjoypampelonne.com
While Sonoma County’s Simi Winery has long made rosé, it was confined to the tasting room. Until the spring of 2014, that is. Created from Cabernet Sauvignon and touches of Malbec and Pinot Noir, the new Sonoma County dry rosé bottling is fruity but fresh, ripe yet zippy. Interestingly, according to Director of Winemaking Susan Lueker, winery archives show that Simi was the first California winery to bottle a “Vin Rosé,” back in 1935. SRP $13.99 simiwinery.com