Eduardo Porto Carreiro developed a following in Los Angeles as the sommelier at Grace, before collaborating on the opening of Lukshon. He came to NYC in 2012 to join Daniel Boulud’s restaurant group, then created the list for Untitled when Union Square Hospitality Group opened the restaurant in the new Whitney Museum in the Meatpacking District. Just back from tasting the 2015s in Chablis and the Côte d’Or, Porto Carreiro has promised himself that his next trip will be to Beaujolais.
Chardonnay from Chablis and Oregon at the top of the list.
There were a few wines that I looked at, when I was pulling those numbers, where I thought it was odd that they were so high. People were pulling the trigger on those two wines [Savary Vieilles Vignes Chablis and Crowley Willamette Valley] because they were familiar and they were priced right. At lunch, that’s the sweet spot: Most of the wines we sold during lunch were white wines in and around $60.
Tyson Crowley, he worked for Cameron, and the guy is making really pretty chardonnay, definitely Old World in terms of restraint, and the Savarys are classics—elegant refined wines that are fresh and easy to drink.
45 percent of your wine is sold by the glass.
That has so much to do with the fact we are doing gangbuster business at lunch. 80 percent of our sales at lunch are by the glass, so that skews what’s happening at dinner and overall.
Three gamays made your top ten?
When I did the breakdown, there were two more cru Beaujolais in the top 15, which I thought was pretty rad. With regards to the way the list is physically laid out, when you open it up you see a Beaujolais section, and that invites you into Burgundy, then other reds. Beaujolais is first, and very well priced. Our team and the staff are excited about it, because of the versatility and the fact it drinks so beautifully with what we have to offer.
The last time Danny Meyer came into Untitled, he said: I don’t know what it is, but when I come here I want to just drink Beaujolais. Can you just pick one for me? And I said, I’m so glad you’re getting it.
We usually have ten gamay selections; especially in October and November, we’ll push those bottles to be sold. Right now, we’re selling more northern Rhône than gamay; it’s midwinter. We’re adding stuff on and taking stuff off all the time, so it does run parallel to the seasons as well as what the kitchen has to offer.
You had some success with a merlot-based wine, the 2011 Château le Puy Côtes de Francs.
I had known the producer on the West Coast and was always a big fan. They’ve been biodynamic forever. They recently changed importers in New York, and I tasted the 2011 vintage and fell in love with it—just honest merlot, just delicious. The 2011 vintage in Bordeaux is one I see as old school, old style; the pendulum swinging back to fresher, more savory wines. This is a wine the team really got behind, because of how well priced it was. And it’s also super versatile. We sold it with a caveat, and let guests know that it’s on the earthy, rustic, honest side of the spectrum rather than polished, plush and forward. But people are very excited about it; as the French would say, it’s more digeste. It’s drinkable, and utterly so.
Chenin from La Grande Tiphane and Benoit Courault made your top ten, and you did well with Château de Brézé by the glass. How are you convincing people to drink chenin?
If we take Burgundy off the table, I have more chenin blanc than chardonnay. If someone is going to enter into conversation, me and my team are very excited about Loire Valley whites. One of the first things I ask is, ‘What style of wine do you gravitate toward?’ If someone leans toward something more mineral, light and elegant, the wines of Loire are finally becoming something folks are comfortable with. Beyond the eastern Loire—Sancerre—chenin is becoming more of a household name. A lot has to do with the cool stuff coming out of South Africa, or the folks experimenting on the West Coast, and importers going all-in, and finding great chenin from Loire. The idea of trusting chenin beyond Vouvray is exciting—people are down with it. It’s a great thing to have in your back pocket: a handful of wines that will exceed expectations at that price point.
How would you say your perspective has changed since you left LA and moved to NYC?
In my drinking habits, I have shifted toward gamay and chenin. I was drinking those wines in LA, but not with the frequency I do now. I think I have accepted the fact that I probably won’t be a Burgundy drinker, because of price point. Six or seven years ago, when I was first introduced to cru Beaujolais, there were a couple of examples of wines that moved me in a way that I had only ever been moved by Burgundy before. A life hack—how can I taste, feel, be moved in the way of the greatest wines of the world and not spend that money? I zeroed in on those categories because I feel those wines are flat-out delicious. I love to drink wine, as opposed to putting wine on a pedestal. Too many people are focusing on the greatest, rather than what’s providing the most pleasure. We would all have a lot less heartaches and headaches if we were focused on what makes us really happy and hits the spot. In the age of social media, most of us are only seeing people bragging or posting the greatest wines they have had, rather than the wines they are drinking on a daily basis. It’s the drinking aspect of wine, rather than the tasting aspect of wine, that I’m in this industry for.