Malbec Crush Video: May 10, 2012


This was a very exciting day for all of us here at City Winery. We reached out to many of our good friends and staff to mobilize for the arrival of twenty tons of Malbec grapes from Argentina. This is the most labor intensive aspect of winemaking, and it was “all hands on deck.” Even those not directly involved in the effort came to watch and photograph. It seems that there is something alluring, almost mysterious about seeing fresh grapes transformed from a simple ripe fruit into a product that many regard as a work of art. The draw is even more intense because of the location: right in the heart of New York City!

In this video, you will see the tractor-trailer arrive with its precious cargo, followed by David Lecomte, our head winemaker, doing a quick inspection before the first pallet is removed by forklift. Some of the pallets had to be restacked for greater stability. Once they are placed inside the winery, the grapes are unboxed and loaded onto a conveyor to the destemming machine. There is some interesting slow-motion footage of the destemmer in action. From there the grapes travel onto the sorting table and any remaining pieces of leaves and stems are removed. You will see the whole process taking place for both the kosher and non-kosher wines.

Finally, as the grapes begin to ferment in stainless steel tanks, there is the first of many “punchdowns” of the cap after about four days to ensure an adequate extraction of flavor and color from the grape skins. The fermenting juice and skins, called the “must”, undergoes a schedule of multiple “pump overs” every day to further aid extraction, mixing and to aerate the yeasts that need oxygen to thrive. It is no wonder that the making of a fine Malbec, or any wine for that matter, requires intense labor and attentive nurturing.

Note:  For the highest quality video, please view on YouTube and select 1080p from the settings menu (gear icon)





Legendary Soul Man: Sam Moore on Good Day NY

Legendary R&B singer Sam Moore was recently featured on Good Day NY where he talked about his special, upcoming show at City Winery on July 17th.

On Monday, July 16th, Dave Price and guest co-host Bethenny Frankel spoke to Sam about his new found health, nerves before performing and his upcoming show at City Winery.  They discussed City Winery’s intimate vibe, which Moore really enjoys, as well as the delicious food and wine served during the shows.

Bethenny Frankel, a neighbor to City Winery also enjoys visiting and hopes to come to the show on Tuesday.

New York News | New York Breaking News | NYC Headlines


For tickets to see the “Original Soul Man” at City Winery on 7/27: click here

6:00pm SEATING/8:00pm START

For other Sam Moore tickets, visit his website: click here


Malbec Grapes Arrive from Argentina

Twenty-one Tons of Malbec Grapes

Twenty-one Tons of Malbec Grapes

This May at City Winery NYC we received a twenty-one ton shipment of Malbec grapes from the Mendoza Valley in Argentina. Since our Spring corresponds to the Fall harvest season in the southern hemisphere, City Winery has the benefit of two harvests this year. This allows us to make better use of the Winery and gives our members the chance to make wine twice a year if they choose.

Malbec was the dominant grape variety of Bordeaux in the 18th century. Unfortunately it fell victim to phylloxera, frosts and the vicissitudes of fashion. In France today, its use is best known in the Cahors region of the southwest, not far from Bordeaux, where it produces a rich, meaty and somewhat tannic wine in its youth. The grape has seen a remarkable renaissance in the Mendoza Valley of Argentina where it was probably introduced through pre-phylloxera cuttings. The wines are generally more ripe, fruit forward and less tannic than their French counterparts. The grape is known for its deep purple-ruby color, medium to heavy body and notes of cedar, blackfruit and earth. It is a great wine to pair with meat dishes, especially a summer barbeque.

Packaging to Maintain Freshness

Packaging to Maintain Freshness

Our Malbec originates from the vineyards of Dr. Nicolas Catena, one of the best known Argentinian producers who has partnered with the Rothschilds of Lafite, City Winery and others in order to bring as much respect for Malbec as Cabernet Sauvignon enjoys in other parts of the world. Since our crop comes to us as an international traveler, special care must be taken to make sure it arrives fresh and in peak condition. Once the grapes are harvested, they are immediately placed into special containers that prevent oxidation and refrigerated to maintain optimal ripeness. Three levels of protection are utilized: a few clusters are placed in their own small bag that prevents separation from the stem while allowing excess moisture to escape that otherwise could lead to rot. These bags are then placed in a low-sided box that prevents the grapes from crushing under their own weight. A layer of special paper impregnated with a small amount of sulphur is used to retard oxidation. The entire package is then wrapped again in plastic.

As you can see in the photos below, the crush begins with a team that unboxes the grapes. From there they are loaded onto a conveyor belt to the destemmer. The grapes fall onto the sorting table and undergo one final inspection before being placed into a fermentation vessel.

Unpacking the Grapes

With so many layers of packaging, we found it necessary to setup tables just to open and unpack the grapes. One team of workers carefully removes the grapes so they can be readily placed into the hopper.

Loading for the Non-kosher Wine

Loading for the Kosher Wine

Loading for the Kosher Wine

From the hopper, the grapes ride up the conveyor belt to the destemmer. From there they fall onto the sorting table where two teams of workers, one kosher and another non-kosher, inspect and remove any remaining stem fragments or leaves before the final ride into the fermentation tank.

Sorting for the Non-kosher Wine

Sorting for the Kosher Wine

Sorting for the Kosher Wine

For more information about the resurgence of Malbec via Argentina, Eric Asimov, wine critic for the New York Times, wrote this article in 2010: Here are a few highlights, including a review of the 2006 Catena Zapata, one of the many vineyards owned by Dr. Nicolas Catena:

. . . Over all, these wines were juicy and straightforward, emphasizing fruit flavors with occasional nuances. They were consistent, generally unchallenging and crowd-pleasing. In short, what’s not to like? That really depends on your point of view. Malbecs’ emphasis on soft, ripe fruitiness over more polarizing flavors and their velvety textures make them safe and reliable for people . . . 

Like our top two, the other wines we liked showed admirable balance, and just enough accents to the core of fruit flavors to keep our interest. Malbecs from two of the bigger names in Argentina showed well. The 2005 Viña Francisco Olivé from Trapiche had bright, spicy flavors to offset its jamminess, while the 2006 Catena Alta from Catena Zapata was fresh, mellow and pure.

As the outdoor cooking season gets under way in earnest, with its plethora of grilled and roasted meats, malbecs would make fine choices. I tend to think of them the way I did of zinfandels, before so many zinfandels became top-heavy with alcohol. They are likable and powerful enough in their own right. And if you served them slightly cool, as Florence suggested, well, then you have a fine summer party wine.

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Winemaking Topics: Topping Barrels

Most of the wine produced at City Winery is aged in oak barrels for periods ranging from six months to over two years. When first placed into the barrel, some of the new wine is absorbed into the wood, especially if it is new. Gradually, air will be drawn into the barrel as this happens. Since wood is not an airtight container, some wine is also lost to evaporation. To prevent oxidation the barrels must periodically be “topped” with additional wine to eliminate any air space. The following video is a tongue-in-cheek look at topping barrels, meant to be entertaining as well as informative. Shot entirely on-location at City Winery.

Intro:  A lone cellar intern contends with wine barrels that need topping. The consequences of letting the wine oxidize lead to an out-of-control chemical reaction that has everyone running for cover.