Blog: Wines of Chile Wine Bar War
It was our own personal version of CNBC’s Restaurant Startup on Wednesday night. The elaborate 5,000 square foot Villain event space in Williamsburg was transformed into a fun and competitive showcase for four talented teams of Sommeliers to design and create their very own wine bars in one unique venue. The festivities brought a collection of a few hundred guests to sample some delicious wines, pose for ridiculous photos and more importantly, choose their favorite wine bar- with the winning team being whisked off for an exclusive trip to Chile.
The “Wine Bar War” is as fun a pop-up concept as it sounds. The awesomely decorated space was replete with intricate artwork, interactive installations and outgoing teams vying for guest votes- and to have them imbibing- all in great fun. Just minutes after each team completed their specific bar’s setup, the Villain doors flung open to the public, where a line had formed out onto the Brooklyn street. Light Chilean inspired appetizers would be passed around for a good portion of the three hour event, with guest hands vulturing toward each tray seemingly instantaneously.
With glasses in hand, we set out to sample the Chilean wines being poured during the “War” pausing momentarily to take in each bar’s character and examine their level of service in light of such a well attended evening. Though swarms of people would crowd each bar front with empty glasses in hand, there wasn’t much time spent on waiting for pours. And fittingly, with eight different wines per station, there was never a shortage of new wines to taste during the course of the event.
Below, you’ll find a thorough rundown of each bar concept, our favorite Chilean wine being poured and the team behind the idea. You’ll also find our chosen winner (and the actual evening’s winner) below.
Wine Bar # 1: Earth’s End
Master Sommelier: Anna-Lisa Campos, Currently at Momofuku Ssam Bar
Favorite Pours: Riutal Sauvignon Blanc 2013, Tamaya T Limited Release Chardonnay 2011
Bar Concept: The organic vibe was evident from the very beginning at Earth’s End, which was among the more crowded spaces that we came upon first. The elaborate wooden shelving which surrounded the countryside artwork of the brand housed each of the bottles being served. Small tea candles lit up the entire display and also proved to be a nice touch. Here, the atmosphere continued with a white enclosed fence with flowered baskets that also provided a small-town feel for the traditional styled nature-oriented wine bar.
Wine Bar # 2: Wena, Weon
Master Sommelier: Morgan Harris, Currently at the American Sommelier Association
Favorite Pours: Montes Alpha Pinot Noir 2011, Los Vascos Le Dix 2011
Bar Concept: Wena, Weon offered perhaps the most refined setting of the entire evening. Tables and chairs, books and lamps and plenty of dimly lit space to get situated were all noteworthy pieces of their portion of the loft space. The decor here around the bar was more meticulous than any of the other ‘bar’ setups, where pourers would actually head into the crowd to refill empty glasses and pause to chat with the guests like this was actually a fully functioning place. The simple signage, basic logo, and relaxed setting made Wena, Weon an immediate favorite for us.
Wine Bar # 3: Carrete!
Master Sommelier: Victoria James, Currently at Marea
Favorite Pours: Neyen 2009, Amayana Sauvignon Blanc 2012
Bar Concept: Carrete is Spanish for a good party night, so the concept was exceptionally fitting for the event as a whole. Here though James’ team used an artsy style to setup her bar, with canvases hung on the white exposed brick walls overhead and a few large plants hanging from above. Carrete was imagined just like you might hope to find at an outdoor garden bar, though in execution, it didn’t necessarily match the wildness that the bar’s name might initially imply.
Wine Bar # 4: Finis Terrae
Master Sommelier: Chris Raftery, Currently at Corkbuzz
Favorite Pours: Von Siebenthal Parcela #y 2010, Montes Limited Selection Sauvignon Blanc 2013
Bar Concept: Chris Raftery’s Finis Terrae, which essentially means the end of the earth, had a very outdoorsy feel to it with draped greens serving to ornament the brown fenced back bar adjacent to the array of wines written on the white exposed brick walls nearby. Projected on the wall behind the bar were digital photos taken in the upstairs lounge which gave attendees the chance to point and laugh at some of the sillier attempts to show up other members of the crowd. Conceptually the bar was casual and simplistic, backed by three friendly shirt-and-tie clad pourers.
The Verdict: Call us old souls, but from the service to the classy setup to the excellent wines, Wena, Weon was our hands down favorite of the evening. Although the rest of the crowd had selected Earth’s End as the night’s champion, each of the four teams did a fantastic job of creating a different experience for the room filled with hundreds of wine enthusiasts. Fortunately, the Wines of Chile team also managed to give them an awful lot to choose from.
- Dave Gendelson