Jhonel Faelnar Somm Pack
Jhonel Faelnar is the wine director at Atomix, the sister restaurant to Atoboy and a two Michelin-starred Korean tasting menu that has garnered numerous accolades throughout its meteoric rise in the city’s dining scene since its opening in mid-2018. Jhonel's selection of three wines is presented below, available to purchase as a pack of three for $225
Luis Seabra, Xisto Cru, Douro Valley, Portugal 2018
Luis started his own label back in 2013 after years at Niepoort, one of the standard bearers of the region. The expertise here is unmistakable as the wines speak to a vibrancy and precision that is present in the glass. The Xisto Cru is a personal preference, made predominantly with an indigenous variety called Rabigato (70%) blended together with Codega (10%), Gouveio (10%), and Dozelino Branco (10%). It has a clear focus anchored in acidity but also a texture worthy of contemplation and a light flinty aromatic for a flourish. According to Luis, Rabigato is great transmitter of terroir and so care is taken to source grapes from great vineyards, some planted back in the 1920’s on the Douro’s schist-driven soils. This wine stands alongside Chardonnay from Chablis and Chenin Blanc from Savennières at their best. All you need now is the Bacalhau!
A. Margaine, Special Club, Brut, Blanc de Blancs, Champagne, France 2013
One such family operated affair is Champagne A. Margaine. The winery is in Villers-Marmery, a village known for its Chardonnay despite being in Pinot Noir country in the Montagne de Reims. Arnaud is currently at the helm but it was his daughter Mathilde whom I met at a tasting at Barbuto over a year ago in NYC. We tasted through several vintages of their Special Club bottlings culminating in a Coteaux Champenois Blanc, a still Chardonnay from 1990, that knocked our socks off.
The family has been a part of the Club Trésors de Champagne since 1977, a small group of vignerons dedicated to rigorous standards of excellence. This Special Cub is made from 100% Chardonnay from choice parcels in Villers-Marmery in 2013. It is a powerful rendition with a fairly voluptuous texture. It sees a little over half a decade resting in the bottle with the fine lees. This is definitely not meant to be an aperitif but rather the main course. There is a lot of dense fruit here and a backbone of acidity that makes it an easy pairing with the heartiest of dishes. (I’m already imagining this with pasta and Alfredo sauce or an earthy mushroom risotto.) Special Club wines are only made from the best of years and this is a great example not to be missed.
Domaine Lafarge-Vial, Clos Vernay, Fleurie, Beaujolais, France 2015
The Clos Vernay is planted to some 40-year-old Gamay vines in Fleurie. The wines of the region have always been elegant and cheerful creatures in the glass, but the Clos Vernay has a certain depth that can only be explained as brooding. This is not usually a descriptor I often give to Gamay, but it certainly qualifies here. Flavors veer more towards blueberries and blackberries as opposed to the expected red-fruited renditions of the region, with undertones of black tea and plums. It’s a sturdy wine that I believe will only get better with time in the bottle and one will benefit from decanting as well.
Tasting through the wines with Frédéric Lafarge and daughter Clothilde at the domaine in Volnay was special. But tasting with them on the slopes of Beaujolais felt like witnessing the nascence of a new project that, like the domaine, will stand the test of time.