Jean Luc Le Dû, a native of Brittany, France, spent a decade as the sommelier at Daniel Boulud's New York restaurants: Daniel, Café Boulud, and DB Bistro Moderne. This fall he took his experience to market, opening Le Dû's Wines in Manhattan's West Village, where he stocks many of the same extraordinary bottles he chose for Boulud. At 600 Washington St.; 212-924-6999; www.leduwines.com.
On Slovenia's Italian border, in the Primorska region, the dominating grape is the old-world Refosco. The earthy berry-laced Santomas Refosco 2000 ($40) is produced according to artisanal methods from old vines in very small amounts—only 100 to 150 cases a year.
A Rare White
The Kerner grape is a hybrid of Riesling and Trollinger. And while such grapes don't often give good results, Köster-Wolf Kerner Spätlese Halbtrocken 2002 ($13), from the Rheinhessen in Germany, is one of the few that deliver. Similar to a Sauvignon Blanc, it's citrusy, floral, and bone-dry.
Long the land of French plonk, the Languedoc region has recently reinvented itself as a center of innovation. For his Bergerie de l'Hortus Coteaux du Languedoc 2003 ($18), Jean Orliac blends regional and cosmopolitan varietals to create a bright wine with pear and honeysuckle aromas.
Olivares Dulce Monastrell 2001 ($30) is a red dessert wine from the Jumilla region of Spain. Like port, it is made with mature high-sugar grapes. The taste is similar to that of a young port—potent, with flavors of blackberries and chocolate—but with a smoother finish.