Honestly, I'm still trying to wrap my mind around the bold and brave new wine list at The Pass & Provisions, the newly opened and much talked about effort by chefs/partners Terrence Gallivan and Seth Siegel-Gardner.
The list, by the affable and dynamic Fred Jones (who graciously took time out to speak with me last night), is mostly organized by grape variety. But appellations and estate names also make appearances in the sometimes scrambled hierarchy that reads more like a delicious stream of consciousness than a prosaic ledger.
"Every glass is a live performance," writes Jones in his preamble to the list. I couldn't agree more: One of the things that we often forget about wine is that wine will express itself in countless different and widely divergent ways, depending on when, how, where, why and by whom a bottle is corked. And this truism captures the ethos of his cellar and the unbridled, sometimes histrionic, and felicitously welcomed verve with which it is administrated.
Even though it's farraginously befuddling at times, I loved the list and was thrilled by the selection, the pricing and the wonderful hand-drawn maps that appear toward the end, in what appears to me to be a pleonastic section and yet another window into its author's idiolectal approach to fine wine.
Jones has recently returned to his native Houston from New York, where he worked with the Tutankhamun-mustachioed Paul Grieco, owner and creative force behind the restaurant Hearth and the franchise of wine bars called Terroir. The predominance of Riesling on the list can be ascribed to this legacy: Grieco is one of our nation's self-appointed Riesling ambassadors.
My dining companions were in the mood for a red last night and so we asked for the 2008 Kir-Yianni Ramnista, a noble expression of Xinomavro (pronounced k-see-NOH-mah-vroh) from Naoussa in northern Greece, an extreme value at less than $50 on the list. While I would never compare Xinomavro to Pinot Noir or Nebbiolo (because I believe all three of these grape varieties are as distinct as they are genetically unrelated), their affinity lies in the fact they are thin-skinned red grapes that tend to produce wine light in color but with muscular tannin and bright acidity.
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But there are so many great options under $50, $75 and $100, for both white and red. I'm very much looking forward to returning and drinking the 2003 Musar white (for under $100, a blend of white grapes believed by some to be clones of French varieties grown in Lebanon), the Foradori Teroldego (also under $100, a red grape from northern Italy) or the Domaine de Chardignon Côte de Brouilly (for $40, lip-smacking Gamay from Beaujolais).
Chapeau bas, Fred Jones! Et vive la différence!