Photo © Bonjwing Lee
June Rodil’s list plays to the curious and adventuresome side of Austin’s dining community by offering by-the-glass wines made with unheard-of grapes and introducing the art of drinking from a porrón. Here, Rodil’s top picks.
VALUE WINE SHE’S MOST PROUD OF ON HER LIST
2011 Királyudvar Furmint Sec ($12 by the glass, $48 by the bottle)
This sells so well and I’m super stoked that my staff loves it, too. It’s a dry Furmint and I put it on the list because I was really wanted to do something by the glass that’s a little bit weightier and has lot of character. There’s this almost salt-like taste and intense minerality on the mid-palate that kind of weighs on you. It goes awesome with Paul Qui’s food because it has such intensity, but it’s still delicate enough for a white wine. Almost all of his food calls for a white wine because there’s a touch of delicacy with it because the proteins are lighter. And then there’s like a huge punch in your face of flavor. I wanted a white wine that was like that as well.
MOST AMAZING DISCOVERY ON HER LIST
2011 Agnès et René Mosse Magic of Juju ($54)
This is kind of hilarious. It’s called the Magic of Juju—a dry Chenin Blanc from the Loire Valley and it just came into town. When I was in college, my nickname was Juju, and when I saw this wine at an importer tasting, I was like, “No way. Please be good. Please be good!” Agnès and René Mosse are such great producers. And then I found out that this wine was named after a jazz composition. It’s just really whimsical and fun. I just like the style of the wine, the style of producer and what they’re about goes with the food. And it tastes amazing.
MOST IMPRESSIVE INEXPENSIVE BOTTLE ON HER LIST
2012 Ameztoi Rubentis Txakolina ($14 by the glass, $56 by the porrón, $112 by the magnum)
At our restaurant, we’re Filipino, so sometimes we do Filipino food and our chef de cuisine used to work at a José Andrés restaurant, so there’s some Spanish influence, too, so we thought, “Let’s start pouring stuff out of a porrón!” And then I got these magnums of Ameztoi in and I was like, “I don’t want to just have magnums and look at them, I want to sell them.” So we serve it by the glass, the half porrón, the full porrón or the full magnum. It’s so cool at first people don’t know what a porrón is. You tell one person and then it comes out into the dining room and guests are like, “What the hell is that?!” Our restaurant is so small that other guests are then like, “What is that person doing?” And then all of a sudden, there are five porróns in the dining room and the energy goes up and people start having more fun because they’re drinking something really cool and delicious. It just kind of wakes up the dining room to see someone having fun. The Rubentis is aged a bit longer than the current release, so you get a little bit more from it, more of the mid-palate. I love Txakoli and I usually tell my staff that it tastes like adult strawberry limeade. But this wine has real finesse to it: a front, a mid and a finish. And it’s got a little bit more bubbles to it, as well, so there’s more texture and a little bit more richness of fruit, and it really shines.
TWO MORE HIGHLIGHTS FROM QUI’S WINE LIST
The Baller Wine Section
We have this really lovely three-pound côte du boeuf on the menu that we only have really small quantities of. It’s usually good for large parties and it is the most expensive thing on the menu, so I wanted to do a really fun, most expensive, baller wine page to match. Right now I have some ‘96 Calon-Ségur, ‘01 Château du Tertre, ‘00 Pavillon Rouge, ‘04 Cos d’Estournel. I just kind of went for it because I know we do have that clientele, even though that’s not the majority of our clientele. We do have these people who really want to go balls to the wall and it’s nice to be able to have that option. So it doesn’t take a lot of real estate in a cellar to do that—to have those things and just rotate them out. And I’m not one to keep the list stagnant. The percentage of côtes du boeuf we sell is that percentage of those wines we keep on the list. We usually sell out of the côtes du boeuf because we only have three to five at a time. We have a lot from a purveyor that ages it for us for a specific amount of time, so we can have only so much. It’s really awesome.
NV Vazart-Coquart Brut Reserve Blanc de Blancs ($98)
At Qui, we’re so into our farmers and try to be as seasonal as possible and to promote our local ingredients, so instead of doing big houses for Champagne, Paul and I had a talk and I said, “I think we should only do grower Champagne because it promotes farmers and small houses, just like we do with our farmers.” And he was like, “Yep, let’s do it.” So we only have a grower list. This is my favorite bottle on the list, and probably one of my favorite bottles of Champagne to drink always, and it’s not even the most expensive or anything. It tastes like the flowers that blossom on the grapevines. I went to that house when I was in Champagne once and the vines were flowering and I just remember smelling the Chardonnay blossom and then tasting the wine and I was like, “That’s just crazy! It tastes like that thing.” It tastes like the very place where it was grown. It tastes like that flower that I just smelled and it is now captured in this bottle—and it’s always like that every time for me. It just smells exactly like the land that it came from. It’s beautiful and crisp and perfect to start out the evening.