New York’s Epicenter Of Fine Wine | Astor Wines And Spirits

Astor Wines - 1

Astor Wines and Spirits is on the radar of many who live in Downtown Manhattan, however it should be on the radar of both locals and visitors near and far. A massive collection of some of the world’s top, rare and hard-to-find wines and spirits – this store truly serves those looking for something unique and different, catering to those who know wine and who are seeking something special.

We’ve known about Astor Wines and Spirits for years, but only recently delved deep into their world. We worked with Lorena Asencios, the company’s lead wine buyer – and oh was that a treat. We asked Lorena to select eight of her favorites in the market right now, four reds and four white varieties. She came up with a list that gave us the opportunity to experience a diverse range of wines, speaking to us in such a profound way – it led us to only want to visit more of the company’s offerings.

We tried these wines, with Lorena’s guidance, and here is what they offered in profile. We also spoke to Lorena about her ethos when purchasing wine, and she helped shed light on Astor as well as trends in the market.

Amigne Sec “1 Abeille” GC de Vétroz, Caves des Tilleuls – 2014 (Switzerland)

Impressive elegance make up this full-bodied Amigne from Vétroz. This vintage yielded a dry version of this luscious white wine (hence the single honey bee on the label), which can be compared to a Chenin Blanc. Rounded dollops of honey play well against grilled nuts, ripe yellow plums and stony acidity. This rich wine pairs with Swiss cheeses very well, Raclette, Vacherin and any Alpine specialties. The Amigne grape is found almost exclusively in the village of Vétroz. Note the indicators of level of sweetness: the symbol of one honey bee indicates a dry version, two bees denote the demi-sec (8 to 25 grams of residual sugar) and three bees represent the ultimate in late harvest with levels of residual sugar in excess of 25 grams.

Metiusco Salento Rosso, Palamà – 2017 (Italy)

Dark garnet in color, this luscious Apulian red wine is opulent and has a nose of aromatic flowers alongside Morella cherries. It’s a blend of 3 indigenous grapes – each of which are harvested at separate times and subsequently fermented separately until blending before bottling. The result is this Metiusco bottling which is a reference to the regions former Greek colonization.

Centopassi, Trebbiano “Tendoni di Trebbiano” – 2017 (Italy)

A rich Sicilian white wine made from Tendoni di Trebbiano which refers to the pergola system of training these old vines. A mere 1000 bottles of this fuller-bodied wine were made. Some of its texture comes from aging in large Tonneau – 50% of which were new. Centopassi wines are made from confiscated mafia vineyards. A successful endeavor that spans not only viticulture but many agricultural endeavors.

“A Pïssou” Dom. des Amiel – 2016 (France)

A luscious Syrah from the south of France that’s made from older, 30 year old vines. The yields are low at harvest and all the fruit is hand-harvested and minimally sulphured. The resulting wine is nothing short of stunning with black fruit aromas, peppercorn alongside great structure. Partially aged in old casks before bottling.

Vincent Couche “Chloé”, Extra Brut NV – (France)

A remarkably delicious Champagne made without the use of any sulphur. An intense nose of stone fruit and brioche leads to a delicate citrus direction on the palate. Fifty percent of the base wine was vinified in old casks.

Ch. Grace Fonrazade. St. Émilion Grand Cru – 2014 (France)

A ten hectare estate nestled in the heart of the village of Saint-Emilion. Under new ownership, this estate is meticulously run with an emphasis on the vines. This is a Bordeaux of contradictions: finesse yet power, fruited yet structured. Certainly a wine you could cellar for years and a must-drink red wine for rare steaks.

Dominio Los Pinos, La Sort – 2016 (Spain)

La Sort is a single parcel of old grenache vines planted 120 meters from the sea. It translates to “the luck” in dialect. This is a formidable red wine that’s full-bodied yet balanced with acidity and lithe tannins. It comes from the Valencian region of southeast Spain and from the first organic winery of the region, Dominio los Pinos.

Milan Nestarec “Forks and Knives” White – 2016 (Czech Republic)

We’re thrilled by the multitude of natural wines coming out of the Czech Republic. Natural winemaker, Milan Nestarec, has made this fun, delicious white from the Müller-Thurgau grape. This an orange wine, it’s color coming from extended skin contact. Bone dry, with notes of cider, meyer lemon, bay leaves and a hint of green olive. Be aware this may have a slight fizz when first opened. The wine is bottled without fining or filtering and zero sulfur is added.

Interview With Lorena Asencios of Astor Wines and Spirits

IC: What makes Astor Wines and Spirits such a unique destination in New York for premium wines?
LA: We have a vast selection of both wines and spirits – the largest selection in Manhattan.
IC: What is your ethos when sourcing wine from around the world?
LA: We look for wines that are under the radar and unknown. This is where you find value and excellent quality wines.
IC: What do you look for when bringing in a new vineyard to the store?
LA: The wine has to taste delicious – it’s that simple first and foremost. Then, the wine needs to be reasonably priced within the context of the wine.
IC: What are your top three favorite wines of all time and why?
LA: My favorite wines are little-known bottles from around the world. Piedmontese Grignolino is high up on that list, next up is Loire Valley Chenin Blanc, then Pinot Meunier Champagnes.
IC: What are trends you’re seeing in wines being purchased and consumed by your customers?
LA: Natural wines are all the rage right now and also skin-fermented white wines (orange wines).
IC: How can New Yorkers across the city access your unique collection of vintages?
LA: You can come to the East Village and browse the store or you can shop online.

Anyone looking for the ultimate unique an diverse collection of wines from around the world should head no place other than Astor Wines and Spirits.