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About this Episode

Wine educator and restaurant sommelier, Alexis Rogers and Robert Tas explore the wine list at Frenchette, 2019 James Beard Foundation Winner of Best New Restaurant, and a hip Tribeca hotspot. Frenchette is known for it’s inventive French cuisine, and the wine list boasts classic French wines in addition to Vin de France wines from winemakers who like to break the rules and bring new blends to the table. Alexis helps navigate the list and breaks down the classifications to help you understand how to read the label on the bottle and make a more informed choice. 

Wines reviewed include:

  • Emilien Feneuil, Totum, Blanc de Blanc 1er Cru a Sermiers 2017 Vintage Champagne
  • 2018 Sancerre Sebastien Riffault
  • Aligote from producer Clarisse de Suremain
Transcript: Frenchette

Frenchette #16

RT: Hello and Welcome to CorkRules!

 I’m your host Robert Tas along with Alexis Rogers, wine educator and restaurant sommelier

Hi Alexis, thanks for being back with us on another episode of CorkRules, a podcast where we help simplify and demystify the wine lists at some of your favorite restaurants. We talk with certified sommeliers and wine professionals who point out interesting bottles, classic food and wine pairings, hidden gems, value wines, or splurge wines that will take your dining experience over the top.

AR: Thanks for having me you know if it’s French wine - I’m there!

RT:  Today we are looking at the wine list at Frenchette. This hip Tribeca spot has been winning awards, turning heads and rolling eyeballs into the back of skulls with pleasure since 2018. The food is rich and the menu changes frequently and can be described as “French, but not ‘classic’ French”. It’s ‘inventive French’ - and from the looks of it, that can also describe the wine list

AR: It does! We have all of our classic French wine regions here, but we also see a lot of Vin de France. Winemakers in France can declassify their wines to this “lower” rating because they want to make wines with unapproved grapes for the region, or age it differently, or make it into a different style. Vin de France doesn't mean it’s “lower quality”, sometimes it just wants to rebel and break the rules.


RT:  That’s good to know! Maybe I’ll pay attention to more of these when I’m buying wine! So where are we starting, Alexis?

AR: With the Amuses, of course. Food critics RAVE about the Coteaux Casino - razor clams with rich buttery breadcrumbs prepared with fennel and leeks. It’s gotta be Burgundy with this - but I’ve picked the “other” white Burgundy - Aligote. The glass I’ve chosen comes from producer Clarisse de Suremain. A former classical pianist, Clarisse comes from a family of winemakers including Uncle Eric de Surmain from the famed Burgundy Chat Monthelie. She employs biodynamic practices, and her wines display careful intent, purity and precision. The Aligote grape has small plantings in the region - it’s rare but it’s there! - and produces light, bright, smokey, herbaceous and delicately floral wines with notes of yellow apple, citrus and unripe peach. And they are a steal compared to Bourgogne chardonnay. This is a great way to prime the palate for what’s to come.

RT: Yum! After Amuse- Bouches is Hors d’oeuvres, right?

AR: Right!, While an amuse-bouche is a bite-size snack, hors d'oeuvres are more akin to full appetizers. I’ve selected the Boudin Blanc. Boudin Blanc is a white French sausage that hails from the Ardenne region of Champagne and we know that what grows together, goes together… I’ve chosen a bottle of Emilien Feneuil “Totum” Blanc de Blanc 1er Cru a Sermiers 2017 Vintage Champagne. Whew, that’s a lot of words - let’s break that down. Emilien Feneuil is the producer - and farmer - making this bottle “Grower Champagne”.Totum is what he named this bottling. Blanc de Blanc means white from white - so it’s a chardonnay champagne without any Pinot - Meunier or Noir. Premier Cru (usually printed as 1er Cru on bottles and menus) tells us that all of the fruit in this bottle came from sites that are rated as Premier Cru - meaning they are designated as higher quality locations. This particular bottle goes further and tells us they are all actually from one single vineyard - Sermiers. A good rule of thumb is that the more specific the origin, the higher quality the wine is. There are obviously always exceptions but it’s usually a pretty safe bet. That also explains the relatively hefty price tag as 1 vineyard can only produce so much fruit so a small quantity of wine is produced. On top of THAT, it’s Vintage Champagne so every grape was picked during the 2017 harvest. This bottle is a very clear portrait of what was going on in a very specific place at a very specific time and should be savored and pondered.

RT: Thanks for breaking that down for us, I love your passion for Champagne and its many complexities.

AR: Thanks Robert, it really is an absolutely fascinating beverage.

So now we have arrived at our Main Course. The Duck Frittes are all the rage here at Frenchette. The rendered duck fat gives both the duck skin and the frites a satisfyingly crispy exterior. The last of our bottle of Champagne would be great with this - but so would a bottle of 2018 Sancerre Sebastien Riffault. When we hear Sancerre, we think “crisp white” or “Sauv Blanc from the Loire” for those with a more advanced knowledge. So why is this bottle listed under the heading “Rouges”? Because there is ALSO red Sancerre. Made from Pinot Noir, these wines are filled with bright red cherry and plum and are marked by soft silky tannins - tannins that won't overpower the duck. This bottle in particular has a little extra added “funkiness” as some of the grapes are affected by botrytis or “noble rot” - the same fungus responsible for your Sauternes and Quarts de Chaumes. Look for notes of cinnamon, balsamic, and graphite. The elevated acidity from this very cool climate Pinot will cleanse some of that duck fat off your palate and get your mouth watering and ready for that next bite!

RT: My mouth is ALREADY watering! I have to head over to Frenchette for all 3 courses! Alexis, thank you for joining us to talk both French wine and cuisine and digging into the list at Frenchette. 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 or wherever you get your podcasts.

And finally, drink what you love and please make sure you drink responsibly.














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