The Healing Power of Clos des Quarts
It's been a strange year for everyone. F. Rozzo and Sons, a fish wholesaler founded in 1900, had his best year in 2019. In 2020, he had the worst year.
So, he reopened his old location in Chelsea and started selling retail in the neighborhood where his grandfather started the business 121 years ago.
Good deal for me: stone crab claws, oysters, soft shell crabs and fish at wholesale.
One day I asked him how he was doing. He said "Lousy." Why, I asked. He replied, "Do you know how much smoked salmon I used to sell to The Plaza Hotel everyday?"
We knew a lot of people who worked in the restaurant trade. My wife and I loved to go out to eat and one of the things we loved the most about this was seeing our dear friends and sharing wine from my cellar with the sommeliers.
Maialino is an Italian restaurant where we ate frequently, always bringing a bottle of Red Burgundy from my cellar. The sommeliers loved it, they had a diet of 100% Italian wine. That restaurant has now been closed for 13 months. We hope they will reopen. The sommeliers all work in wine stores at the moment. We are glad they found jobs.
A few restaurants reopened over the summer for outdoor dining, some have closed forever.
The Grand Central Oyster Bar had been open for 113 years. In 2020 reopened on September 30th for take out and indoor dining. Ten days later they closed again. They used to serve 1,000 people per day at lunch alone. Many restaurants sold off their wine cellars to try to make ends meet and pay staff. Those great wine lists will probably never recover, even if the restaurant does.
My wife and I really miss our friends in the restaurant industry, but are making the best of it by cooking up a storm at home. Last night I opened some tiny briny oysters from New Brunswick, sauteed a filet of black sea bass from Montauk and boiled the first spring asparagus. Nice dinner. Had a bottle of 2017 Chateau des Quarts Pouilly-Fuisse "Clos des Quarts" monopole.
It was dry enough for the oysters and rich enough for the sea bass. Pale straw-gold color, full, rich, dry with good mouthweight. On release this wine was austere, almost like a Chablis. It has become richer and more rounded with a few years of bottle age. It is still young and will improve more. After it had been open for six hours it had developed a nice lemon character. I could have decanted this wine and if I was serving it to four people I would have.
My white Burgundy collector friends love the 2017 vintage, some of them think it is even better than 2014. Buy the 2017’s while you still can.
In 2012 Olivier Merlin partnered with Dominique Lafon and purchased the Chateau des Quarts in Pouilly-Fuisse, one of the finest vineyards in the appellation. The 2017 is fantastic to drink now. The "Clos des Quarts" will soon be designated premier cru.
It is in Chaintre, the southernmost village in Pouilly-Fuisse. This magnificent walled vineyard is east facing on a gentle slope of clay-limestone which provides excellent drainage. The oldest vines are from 1934, the youngest from the 1950's. Planted to a vine density of 10,000 vines per hectare - very high for the region. Indigenous yeast fermentation, full malolactic fermentation and 18 months aging 6-7 % new oak, most of the barrels are one to three years old.
This is what Pouilly-Fuisse can be but rarely is. The note below is excerpted from Burghound.
BH: "Exotic aromas, pineapple, lychee, marmalade and a hint of wood. Solidly concentrated voluminous middle weight flavors. Refinement, excellent minerality, complex, delicious and impressive long finish with a refreshing bitter lemon character."