What to Drink at New York's Costata

Costata in New York City Photo © Nicole Franzen
By Hristo Zisovski Posted March 12, 2014

Hristo Zisovski balances his list with big-name bottles—such as those from Araujo, Gaja and Quintarelli—and impressive, affordable wines from producers that surprise even him with their quality. Here, his top picks from the Costata wine list.

Hristo Zisovski balances his list with big-name bottles—such as those from Araujo, Gaja and Quintarelli—and impressive, affordable wines from producers that surprise even him with their quality. Here, his top picks from the Costata wine list.


2007 Terredora DiPaolo Taurasi ($70)
I always feel super confident selling this to my friends—especially to people I know are on a budget—because you’re getting some of the most historic vineyards in Taurasi and no one knows about it. The wine is not as powerful as the Taurasis we know today. I don’t think they’re trying to make a more modern–style wine. It’s more elegant and it goes really great with the steaks at Costata, really rich, fatty rib eye steaks.


2010 Vallana Spanna Campi Raudii ($43)
I was introduced to this producer when I first opened Ai Fiori. They make wine in the northeast of Piedmont, in Gattinara and Boca, and the wines are still Nebbiolo-based. This is 90 percent Nebbiolo. The wines are prettier up there. They’re very floral. It’s like if you go to Valtellina where they’re very pretty and Pinot-like—this is in the middle. It still has that smokiness you get in the Langhe, but it’s matched by the very floral. So it’s a really pretty, fresh Nebbiolo. It’s a great value; it’s all stainless steel. Spanna is the name of the grape—it’s a synonym for Nebbiolo.


Niepoort 30-Year Tawny ($55 by the glass)
When I went to Portugal, one of my visits was with Dirk Niepoort and he was super gracious and opened amazing stuff and was very generous. I was in Portugal for a week and tasted all these great ports, but the most amazing port was his 30-year tawny. And the 30-year isn’t released in the States, but I loved it so much, he sent me a case when I was at Jean-Georges. It wasn’t cheap, but was pouring it by the glass at Jean-Georges for a little bit. But when I got the Coravin, it reminded me and I asked, “Can I get some more?” It has a percentage of more than–100-year-old tawny in the blend! It’s one of the few wines that you can put in your mouth that tastes like this fresh, kind of like, wow! amazing longevity and you can taste like this complexity in the wine. It’s very light in color because of the age. This wine, for me, is one of the badass wines on my list. But that’s like one of my most amazing discoveries, because I still remember tasting it for the first time.


2008 Benanti Pietramarina Etna Bianco Superiore ($95)
We have this wine on all of the lists at the restaurant group. When I first started with Italian wine, it was so hard to put a white wine list together. They all taste the same and there’s nothing crazy. And of course, when I train people, I tell them that Italian whites are supposed to be young, fresh and very clean. That’s the tradition of Italian whites. They’re not supposed to be like big Burgundies or Rhônes—they’re classically supposed to be that way. But I think the Pietramarina is by far one of the best white wines in the world. It comes from ungrafted pre-phylloxera vines on the eastern part of Etna. This is 100 percent Carricante. This a current release—2008 is the current release—they wait five years to release their wines. I’m always psyched to teach somebody something about this wine because it’s literally like drinking rain in a glass. It really is—it’s really tart and refreshing, like a nectarine. It has that sour pit fruit going on.

NV Jacques Selosse Brut Rosé ($700)
I’m psyched about this wine because you can’t get this wine. Basically, the way it works is he allocates his wine only to three-Michelin-star restaurants. I was spoiled with it at Jean-Georges and I get a little bit at the restaurants now. It’s the best rosé in the world. Man, it’s super complex. There’s this thing about wines that really have beautiful indications of the best fruit you’ve ever had—this is, for me, the first red plum you eat of the season. It’s still sour and it’s still hard, but it’s so refreshing. It’s just so good. I don’t need to sell this wine. I’m just psyched to have it. I have one bottle at Ai Fiori and two bottles at Costata. I’m not in a rush to sell it.

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