If wine can be a portal to another time, well, the wines poured last Monday night at the Hole in the Wall restaurant were a vessel to my book-writing days. These wines had never been in the same room before. Given how few bottles are left of each, it’s safe to say they will never be in the same room again.
Hole in the Wall is a restaurant in Perry, NY, run by the dynamic Billings family. Co-owner Jacquie Billings-Barlow decided two years ago that she would track down most of the wines from Summer in a Glass, and her husband Travis (the restaurant’s chef) would plan the menu.
At $150 per person, we didn’t know what would happen. In the end, the dinner was oversold, with a 20-person waiting list.
Wish you could have joined us.
The wines were remarkably vivid. If we ever needed a reminder that New York wines are drunk too soon, this was it. The 60 guests were experienced wine lovers, but even they were floored with the freshness and added complexity that comes with bottle age.
Wine of the night for me was the 2007 Ravines Pinot Noir, part of a trio of 2007 pinots that showed the potential of this grape in the right hands.
Jacquie somehow convinced the team at Hermann J. Wiemer to part with several bottles each of the 2007 Magdalena and HJW Rieslings, and it was a study in geography to taste them side-by-side.
The 2008 Anthony Road Semi-Dry Riesling that won the Governor’s Cup is in a wondrous place; some guests were turned off by the secondary nose that now includes a whiff of diesel, but the layered palate puts the wine into a memorable place.
I could go on. It was a joy to see John and Ann Martini, owners of Anthony Road, have a chance to drink — not to taste, but to drink — a glass of the 2008 Riesling Berry Select, their TBA-style masterpiece. What a wine.
Travis Barlow had the Manhattan transplants in the crowd musing about how to get him to the big city. His lettuce soup with spicy shrimp was a dazzling partner for the 2007 Red Newt Curry Creek Gewurztraminer. We loved the rabbit pate with mustard caviar, the pan-roasted lamb loin, the foie gras paired with the TBA. The crepe cake was a tower of flavor that required the restaurant staff to start work early in the morning.
This event has inspired me to work with Lenn on future high-end New York wine events. No, the wines at this meal won’t be available together in one setting again. But Lenn and I are going to pursue some of the top wines that have gained some bottle age. It will likely start with a New York Cork Report Wines of the Year dinner series.
Care to join us? You should. Hole in the Wall reminded us all what is possible with a little — okay, a lot of — determination.