Recently, I discovered a new neighborhood wine shop: ANA Wine & Spirits in Hudson Yards. Set on the 1st floor of The Shops, the store is a new twist on the classic neighborhood wine retailer. Inspired by wine cultures from across the globe, it places a strong focus on natural and biodynamic wines and offers a wide array of lesser-known wines and champagnes.
The space itself is beautiful and inviting – designed like a gallery or loft with floor-to-ceiling windows throughout, along with oversized floral displays. Inside, there are literally hundreds of distinctive wine and spirit varieties, many from under-the-radar women- and minority-owned producers often overlooked by other wine shops.
“Businesses in this industry used to be passed from father to son, but now, it’s all more inclusive,” observed ANA Wine & Spirits General Manager and Sommelier David Smith. As this ethos changes, he said, it presents opportunities not only for new generations of wine growers but new audiences eager to enjoy their offerings.
I met with David who shared his four favorite wine regions and a “wild card.” Discover his picks for the best wines to take to family gatherings and your friends homes this holiday season and beyond.
Loire Valley, France:
The Loire Valley, in central France along the Loire River and its tributaries, is distinguished by vineyards, farmland and majestic châteaux. It’s known for dry whites such as Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé. The Loire is home to some great appellations including Chinon, Vouvray, Pouilly Fume, Sancerre and Muscadet and has tremendous value driven wines.
Alphonse Mellot, Satellite, Sancerre, France 2020 – $68
This is such a fantastic sauvignon blanc, crisp and bright as Sancerre usually is but with an added layer of juicy tangerine, and delicate flintstone minerality.
Not all bubbly is created equal, so while “champagne” is often used as a general term to describe all sparkling wine, true Champagne can only come from the small northern region of Champagne, France.
Born largely by accident and, more accurately, climate, Champagne was considered to be a faulty wine hundreds of years ago when winemakers were attempting to make Burgundy-like still wines. But winemakers came to embrace the style, hence the namesake “Champagne method” that must be always be used, and in adapting to their region’s unique conditions, Champagne producers do things just a little bit differently than the rest of the world. By understanding these quirks, as well as the nuances of each area within Champagne, it becomes easy to see why Champagne holds a class of its own in the world of sparkling wine.
Pierre Gimonnet, Grand Terroirs de Chardonnay, 2014 Special Club, Champagne, France – $120
This cuvée is the result of a very careful job at all stages of elaboration. The blending, made exclusively with Chardonnay from the Côte des Blancs, is a delicate blend from old vineyards over 40 years old, the oldest were planted in 1911 and 1913. The Special Club is mainly composed of “hearts of each terroirs” of Cramant Grand Cru, completed by Chouilly “Montaigu” and a touch of Cuis 1er cru to bring freshness, signature of Pierre Gimonnet & Fils style.
Priorat is located in the province of Catalonia in the northeast of Spain near the Mediterranean Sea. The region is characterized by a soil where a kind of slate called llicorella dominates and influences the slow expansion of the grape, giving it character and concentration of flavors, which is great for red wine.
Embruix, Vall Llach, Priorat Spain 2019 – $58
A wine named Bewitched cannot be other than amazing ! This juicy blend of Garnacha / Carignan / Merlot / Syrah / Cabernet Sauvignon is powerful and very dense – figue / blackberry and thyme on the palate – you can drink now or age !
Israel, Odem Mountain:
Galilee is an administrative and wine region in northern Israel. Its name is perhaps most widely recognized in the context of Lake Galilee, via its associations with the Bible, but it is now steadily becoming known as a wine region. ‘Water into wine’ is not a new theme for the Galilee region as the story of the wedding at Cana, in which Jesus turns water into wine, is widely thought to have its origins here.
Alfasi, Odem Mountain Winery, Galilee Israel 2018 – $240
This red blend (Cab/Merlot/Syrah) from winemaker Adam Alfasi is powerful, balanced and atypical for Israeli wines. It would compare to a big Napa blend, aged 36 months in new French oak.
Bandol, Provence France:
The Bandol wine appellation is located in the Var department in the Provence wine region in southern France. Mostly known for rose, Bandol is also the home for many delicious and full bodied red, often Mourvedre based.
Chateau de Pibarnon, Bandol, France 2019 – $65