On February 26, at the Gramercy Park Hotel, on the Gramercy Terrace, Savio Soares Selection -a Brooklyn based wine importer- held their Pre-Spring Portfolio tasting between 10am and 4pm, marking their second successful collaboration with this unique location and space.
I feel I would be amiss if I didn't give a little history of this site.
According to their website, the name for Gramercy Park comes from the Dutch words krom moerasje and means "crooked little swamp." The hotel was built on the site of what was once the home of Edith Wharton and then famed architect Stanford White. The building was designed by Robert Lyons in the Renaissance revival style, was completed in 1925 and, not to turn this into a history lesson, but for much of the 20th century got by and became known as a place for many of the mid-to-late twentieth century's famous musicians as well as many notable celebrities who have existed in the space at one time or another (Babe Ruth, the Kennedys). Following a tragedy in the early aughts and trading hands, it went in for a redesign around 2006 via a join collaboration between architect John Pawson and artist Julian Schnabel giving the hotel it's now unique and stylish look today.
Savio Soares Selections first tasting at this location was back in October and collected four winegrowers from three countries, featured wonderfully made suckling pig from the famous Maialino Restaurant downstairs, and occupied the south-facing terrace (approximately a little less than a third of the total terrace). With it's second incarnation in this magnificent space -with curry goat this time prepared also by Maialino Restaurant- the Soares team took over the entire terrace with twenty visiting winegrowers from almost every country in the portfolio. Some of the heavy hitters were there like Jean-Claude Chanudet, Christian Bonfils, Vincent Sipp, and Andrea Calek, alongside some of the portfolio's new arrivals (and soon to be heavy hitters) like Bodega Barranco Oscuro, Weingut Weszeli, Weingut Thiery-Weber and Artu Toifl, Ronsel do Sil and La Ferme des Caudalies. It was truly a diverse collection, artists in the field and many of the times insistent that they were doing next to nothing except carefully and skillfully assisting the vines to their final goal; said in more ways than one, the winegrowers treated the vines as if their own kin, assisting when needed and treating them almost individually while operating, for the most part next to organically or bio-dynamically, whether certified or not. In the realm of the industry this is the hallmark of what the portfolio has come to be know for: craftsman, working with the land, producing quality with what it gives them and often in less than 1,000 cases per item, sometimes as small as 125 cases.
Although the centerpiece of the week was the tasting, every preceding day was jam packed with in-store tastings (Appellation Wines, Flatiron Wines), restaurant dinners (Reynard's, Rouge Tomate, Glasserie, and Rouge et Blanc), staff training sessions (Astor Wines), and even a media event (Amali) -the week didn't really end until that following weekend (having worked the tasting and assisted with event planning I can safely say that it was a very long three weeks, not only were there events but educational sessions with almost all of the growers who brought generous samples of their estate's wines which was so much fun).
I don't think it would justice to try and describe the many wines that were tasted that day, let alone the conversations had and overheard but I am fortunate to be able to work with a company whose ties to its producers are almost like family.