Scribbling in her Moleskine notebook on a plane ride back from a wine festival, Jordan Salcito, the wine director of New York’s Crown restaurant, had an epiphany.
“I wanted to make wine approachable,” she says. “Wine is still an intimidating subject and sommeliers are often stereotyped as being stuffy.”
With a mission to democratize the art of appreciating wine, Salcito launched her own label called Bellus, a Tuscan red made from Sangiovese, cabernet sauvignon and merlot grapes that pairs well with tomato-based foods, red meats, charcuterie and poultry.
Hoping to “empower people to learn their own likes and dislikes,” while extracting wine’s “intimidation factor,” Salcito teamed up with designer Tory Burch to conceptualize the bottle’s label, which succinctly quantifies the wine’s level of acidity, body, tannins, minerality, oak and complexity.
“Tory has been super supportive. She lent me one of her designers for the label to make it more polished,” Salcito says. “In return, I gave back to her foundation.”
For every bottle of Bellus sold, Salcito will donate 75 cents to the Tory Burch foundation. If all 20,000 bottles sell, Burch can expect a hefty $15,000 donation — which is a distinct likelihood — considering the wine’s $19.99 price tag.
Starting today, Bellus will be available exclusively through Gilt Taste for three days. After that, it can be bought through Crush Wine Company and Belluswines.com. Bellus, which means “beautiful’”in Latin, will also be sold at Crush Wine’s retail store in Midtown Manhattan for $22.99, and at select New York restaurants, including Crown, Cain, The Dutch and Locanda Verde.
“I really wanted to create something with superb quality and a really accessible price point,” says the passionate Salcito. “What I love about wine is that there’s no such thing as knowing everything about it. There are so many different regions. Things are always changing. Wine has such history.”