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About this Episode

In today’s episode of CorkRules, Alexis Rogers, certified sommelier, offers her expert advice on the extensive wine list of Ai Fiori, a Michelin Star, Italian restaurant, NYC. Ai Fiori has earned a stellar reputation for its wine list and is the 2020 winner of the Grand Award from Wine Spectator. 

Wines reviewed include:

  • 2019 Arbois Chardonnay Vieilles Vignes from Vin Sans Nom
  • 2011 Karthauserhof GG Riesling
  • 2015 Domaine Faiveley Chambolle-Musigny.
Transcript: Ai Fiori

Ai Fiori

Music Intro:

RT: Hello and Welcome to CorkRules! A podcast where (in each episode) we will review a wine list from your favorite restaurants. I’m your

host Robert Tas along with Alexis Rogers, Wine Educator and Restuarant Sommelier. Hello Alexis, Welcome back!

AR: Thanks Robert!. I’m really stoked to be combing through the gargantuan wine list at Ai Fiorii with you today!

RT: This list is a perfect example of why we created CorkRules, to demystify the wine lists of your favorite restauranst. Being handed a wine list can be very intimidating - especially if it’s 60 pages long!

Our aim is to help prepare you to navigate that list, find those hidden gems, value wines, bottles not to be missed or that special bottle that will take your dining experience over the top.

Today we are talking about the illustrious Ai Fiori, located on the 2nd floor of the Langham Hotel on 5th Ave. “Award- Winning” is an understatement here - Michelin Star, Esquire Magazine’s Best New Restaurants in America, Zagat’s Best Italian in NYC, Forbes Magazine 4 stars, the list goes on and on. Most pertinent to our discussion though is the Wine Spectator Grand Award. Less than 100 restaurants in the world have earned this super prestigious award which requires at least 1000 listed bottles and vigorous cellar and restaurant inspections.

So Alexis, I guess the question is, where do we start?

AR: With a list like this, it is probably best to employ the services of a sommelier. While this list is impeccably organized, the sheer amount of bottles alone is overwhelming for anyone. Even if you were able to narrow it down to a grape and a region, a sommelier would be able to help guide you to the specific bottle that’s best for your budget and particular taste. Say you’re looking for a French Chardonnay, they could save you flipping through over 5 pages of White Burgundy to help you differentiate between Puligny Montrachet and Mersault.

RT : I agree 100%! Their assistance is indispensable with a list like this! I do love White Burgundy though! But they sure can get expensive - hundreds of dollars a bottle can be pretty standard and thousands for Grand Crus. Is there anything close in a more affordable range?

AR: Absolutely! The 2019 Arbois Chardonnay Vielles Vignes from Vin Sans Nom. This Chardonnay hails from the lesser-known region of Jura, France, sandwiched between Burgundy and the Swiss border. The climate and soils are very similar to Burgundy so it’s no surprise that the wines of this region are starting to gain a cult following - especially the Chardonnays! You can usually find these bottles on wine lists for less than $100 - that is when you CAN find them on wine lists.

RT: I love trying familiar grapes from unfamiliar regions, it really shows how important location is in wine!

RT: So now I’m starting to get hungry, and I know we can't eat at Ai Fiori and NOT order the Astice entree! This butter-poached Nova Scotia lobster has been called “The Greatest Dish in the World” by a NY Post food critic. What are we pairing with this?

AR : With this dish in mind, I’ve selected the 2011 Karthouserhoff GG Riesling. This is actually a half bottle so it’s perfect to dedicate to just one course. People sometimes balk when I suggest a Riesling and definitively proclaim that they “don't like sweet wine”. But Riesling isn't always sweet, especially these days and especially from its ancestral home of Germany.“ G.G.” is a classification that exists outside of German Wine Law that indicates that the grapes come from a top vineyard site agreed upon by the best producers in the country and that the wine will always be very dry. These bottlings are real stunners! Super juicy, incredibly bright and bursting with notes of fresh lime juice, lemon curd, cold pineapple, green apple, hints of tropical mango, delicate blooming white flowers and beautiful wet rock minerality. The bright acidity will cut right through all that rich butteriness and the apple notes will mirror the apple in the dish.

RT: Wow! My mouth is watering just listening to those tasting notes! With over 1000 bottles, what would you say is one not to be missed?

AR: It’s hard to pick just one, with 8 pages of Barolo, 3 pages of Champagne, and 3 pages of California Cabernet but this list's most impressive offerings are definitely in its Burgundy selections.  The 2015 Domaine Faively Chambolle-Musigny caught my eye in particular. 2015 was a beautiful vintage - not only in Burgundy - but across most of Europe and it’s usually a good bet when it comes to selecting a bottle. While vintage is very important here, producers are just as important here and Domaine Faively is one of the best. Established in 1825, it is now in its’s 7th generation of family ownership. The sub-region of Chambolle-Musigny is famous for the intensity and femininity of both its reds and whites and this Pinot Noir will envelop you in fragrant strawberry, raspberry and violets while a few years in the bottle are going to give it gorgeous earthy truffle, mushroom, and forest floor notes. This wine would be absolutely killer with the veal breast ravioli w/ royal trumpet mushrooms - or nearly anything on the menu really.

RT: That really sounds magical! Alexis, thank you so much for coming through this expansive list and finding us some gems! To our audience, Thank you all for joining us here on CorkRules.

If you would like us to review one of your favorite restaurants, please send us email to:Info@corkrules.Com or visit our web website where we have a request form available and we will do our

best to get it in the queue as quickly as possible. We are looking forward to being with you on

another CorkRules episode soon. In the meantime, please check out our website for other episodes of your favorite restaurant wine lists. And finally, drink what you love and please make sure you drink responsibly.






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