There is a strong pull these days toward the comfortable and cherished. And if you spent time in south Brooklyn over the past decade, Jean Adamson’s Vinegar Hill House likely has been just that. The Red Wattle pork chop haunts the memory, as does the arrival of farmhouse chic, before that was a thing. And after VHH spending the past near navigating the steep turns (we were particularly keen on them hosting Ha’s Dac Biet) things are shifting back toward normal.
Yes, the pork chop is back. So is a newly refurbed list from longtime wine director William Fitch. His work here has never taken sides — it’s quietly about low-intervention and, yeah, there’s some natural zeal, but never overtly so. And, crucially, there’s never a slack pick, including right now, despite the fact Fitch had to rebuild the selections almost from scratch. So once again, Austrian zweigelt is hanging with Greek rosé and makgeolli from Brooklyn. Everyone gets along. Just as it’s always been here.
Montrieux Picrochole Côteaux du Vendômois Red, 2018 ($68)
Even if you’ve heard of the obscure red grape pineau d’aunis — imagine if mezcal and cabernet franc had a love child — you likely won’t know the Vendômois. Why would you? Situated at the very north of the Loire, nearly as close to Paris, it’s both totally unknown and paradise for this grape. And Ariane Lesne has mastered it as few have. Smoky, peppery, almost poetic — a bottle of this in VHH’s backyard garden will make everything feel like 2020 (almost) never happened.
Walter Massa Derthona Timorasso, 2017 ($78)
Timorasso isn’t much less obscure than pineau d’aunis, but as Piedmont’s other other white grape, it has had a minor renaissance, namely thanks to Massa, who crafts examples that are briny and oily and deeply herbal all at once. Derthona is his benchmark, and just as Lesne’s reds are ethereal, here’s a summer white with both lift and substance.