Genuine, cultured, and humorous are the best words to describe wine shop owner Philip Essome. His passion and concern for the wine industry are vividly shown within a few minutes of conversation. He has stubbornly decided to only sell wines he would have in his personal collection. “I sell what I would drink,” he stated. Not many wine shop owners in New York City can say the same. At his shop, Passage de la Fleur in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn, you can only find organic wines also known as biodynamic wines made from natural yeast, fermentation, and grapes grown without pesticides. As a lot of us may be unfamiliar with, the wine industry is now becoming as industrialized as any other agricultural field. Wine makers are now cultivating wines using gimmicks, additives, pesticides, and herbicides to produce and enhance their levels of production at a cheaper cost.
Entering the petite shop you notice the soft French music permeating the room. Sitting on wooden shelves, sparkling wines and ciders are inches away from your first step. Shelves to the left are equipped with red wines ranging from DOC, DOCG, IGP, and Table Wine appellations from all over the world. With a quick turn to your right white wines are intently gazing at you ranging from sweet to dry to semi-dry for any particular taste. Most wines, if not all, are dressed in a hand written note hinting the location and farmer the wine is coming from as well as the aromas and food pairings the wine will beautifully compliment. Overall, most wines in the shop come from the lands of South West France. The South West of France is actually one of the least recognized regions of France. It’s tucked away between the Pyrenees Mountains and Spain. However, although this area lacks recognition it is the fifth largest wine region of France. This region creates clean fresh Sauvignon Blanc’s, fruity Cabernet Sauvignon’s and reds that are artisanally made from the sweet ripe grapes of the Loire Valley. Fifty percent of the organic natural wines at Passage de la Fleur are from France, possibly because Mr. Essome is himself a Frenchman whose childhood memories are rooted in the territories of Burgundy, France.
We may assume that quality comes with quantity, which is not particularly the case at Passage de la Fleur. Organic white wines start at $11.99 for a Prosecco from Veneto, Italy and red wines start at $12.99 for a Cabernet Franc from the Loire Valleys. Passage de la Fleur is definitely a wine shop worth asking questions in. The regions aren’t easily identifiable or familiar because Essome’s organic wines come from very small farmers that are hardly recognized in the wine industry. However Mr. Essome is more than pleased to explain every individual wine with charisma and explicit detailing.
Every Saturday from 4-7pm, Passage de la Fleur has its doors open to free wine tastings for the public. Mr. Essome randomly picks a couple of organic wines and chats with curious locals and encourages all to drop by. If you are yourself a wine lover, natural wines are definitely something worth trying, or at least worth a curious tasting. I ended up buying a grape apple cider from the Aaron Burr Cidery in Wurtsboro, N.Y. because I myself have never tried a sparkling cider before. Mr. Essome highly recommended it and said it was a cider that has many qualities of champagne with its smoothness and lightness. Passage de la Fleur’s charm and concept has made me a bit biased, however wine is joy, wine is companionship, wine is love and we should all enjoy it as we please.
Passage De la Fleur
573 Vanderbilt Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11238