Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Interview with Pierre Bollet, Brand Manager Chamarré

Tell us a little about the history of Chamarré.

Chamarré’s history is a series of firsts. First company putting together the production capacity of 13,000 winegrowers in all main wine regions in France, first association of growers to become public (Paris Stock Exchange), first company to bring to the market the new appellation “ Vins de Pays Vignobles de France”.

To understand the reasons that lead Pascal Renaudat to create Chamarré, we have to look at the world wine market. In a word, France could sell much more wine than it currently does. The reasons for this underperformance? French Wines are seen as too complex, difficult to choose for the non-connoisseur, which means for 9 wine-drinkers out of 10.

Pascal Renaudat achieved this tour de force in 2006 when he convinced 13,000 winegrowers throughout France to start working together on Chamarré. Many entrepreneurs had failed making winegrowers from Bordeaux, Burgundy, and Languedoc work together. Pride and unconditional attachment to traditions made it nearly impossible. If somebody could achieve it, it was certainly not a winegrower. That is the main reason why Pascal Renaudat, a wine import-export expert but not a winegrower himself, managed to create this large association from all around France.

In a world where there are so many good French wines to choose from, what makes the Chamarré concept so unique?

Chamarré is the only wine that combines the quality, freshness and complexity of prestigious northern wine regions like Burgundy, Loire or Bordeaux, with the fruit-forward, approachable style from the South: Languedoc, Corsica, South-West. The result: wines that show a yummy acidity, a subtle combination of complexity and fruit, of freshness and approachability.

Chamarré is also a guarantee that you will not have bad surprises from vintage to vintage. By adapting our blends according to the summer we have in France, Renaud Rosari, our Master Winemaker, is able to maintain a consistency in the style and in the price, which estate wines cannot achieve.

Why did Chamarré choose the wines that it did for the American market?

Chamarré is currently sold in Europe, Asia, and North America. The taste of consumers varies greatly in such different countries and cultures. Chamarré adapts to each market with wines that fit the palate-style of each country. For example the Grande Réserve line has been designed for America, because wine consumption is strongly driven by the grape varietal. Chamarré is focusing on this line in the US, because they are 100% single varietal. We have already many fans of our Grande Réserve Pinot Noir for example. In France, consumption by the region is more important, and we have permanent listing of Chamarré Bordeaux and Chamarré Jurançon in Monoprix, a leading national gourmet supermarket chain.

What is the best part of your job? ... and the worst?

Let’s start with the worst! What I really dislike is when somebody tells me that French wines are either too expensive or to complicated, so they don’t even want to look at Chamarré. Yes, we can produce great wines at everyday price in France!

The best part is when I see the brand growing everyday. Creating a brand demands a lot of hard work and perseverance, but the pleasure of seeing new Chamarré consumers every day is just as rewarding as the job is tough! This is my first job, I am very proud to be a part of this fantastic project.

Describe your perfect meal and the wines you'd pair with it?

To get along with the heat of the summer, I recommend a Mediterranean pasta salad, with penne, cherry tomatoes, olives, peppers, parmigiano cheese and olive oil. A light Chardonnay, not overly oaked and slighty fruit-forward is a perfect pairing to that… try the Chamarré Grande Réserve Chardonnay!

As a dessert, why not putting together a tropical fruit salad with mango, pineapple, peaches and pears, and sipping a Chamarré Jurançon? I tried this one more than once, the mango and pineapple taste in the Jurançon are magnified, it is amazing!

What's next on the horizon?

Chamarré will continue its series of firsts, by launching a type of wine that has never been introduced before! To be unveiled in a couple of months, this release will show how Chamarré is always coming up with innovation, once again! Let’s talk about it in a couple of months…

(About Pierre)
After graduating from a Master’s in Marketing at EDHEC Business School in Lille, France, I knew I wanted to work the Wine Business. I discovered the wine industry during my gap year, where I worked for Champagne Veuve Clicquot and for Nicolas, a wine-store chain in France. As I kept informed about the wine industry, I heard about Chamarré, which had just been created. Chamarré offered me a position in NYC, a great challenge, and a very high quality team, it was perfect for me!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Calistoga Cellars 2005 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

Made from 85% Cabernet Sauvignon aging in French oak barrels for 18 months, then 15% Merlot added to the final bottled blend. This rich deep rose colored Cabernet from Napa, California is full-bodied, clean and smooth. On the nose wafts chocolate, oak and herb. Great flavors are revealed as plum, tobacco, and intense cherry do a tap dance on the tongue. Extremely concentrated and complex with an alcohol content of 14.9% and a price tag of $25-35. Would pair really well with a steak au poivre.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Interview with Vito Polosa of Aroma Kitchen & Winebar

What was the first wine that made you realize you loved wine?

A simple moscato that made me get up at 6 am on a sunday morning at the age of 10 to go have a sip all by myself.

Describe your perfect meal and the wine you’d pair it with?

I like wholesome, fresh vegetable soups and normally like to pair them with a good, vibrant, young white wine like a Tocai Friuliano or Ribolla Gialla...

Raw fish starters like crudo or sushi go wonderfully with a sparkling rose'.

If I’m in the mood for a good pasta dish I’ll go for homemade gnudi with a great bolognese sauce and pair it with a well made, honest Sangiovese.

A juicy piece of lamb that is well roasted but still nice and pinkish in the inside, served simply with no sauces is perfect with an older vintage of Aglianico.

Lastly, I love pies with seasonal fruits, and an old school custard or Creme Anglais and a Sauthern or a Passito di Pantelleria goes perfectly with it.

What’s the most common misconception people have regarding wine?

That it is bad for you.
That the higher in alcohol and concentration, the better it might be.
That it should not be tannic.

What's the advantage of ordering a flight of wine?

It’s always fun to taste different wines and to try to find out for yourself what you personally like and dislike. A flight of wine allows you to sample from a variety of wines without overdoing it.

What's your current pick for best value in an Italian wine at Aroma?

Right now we have a 2000 Bordeaux blend from Veneto that is on our list for $68 that I have seen in Italy selling for over $130 Euros.

Serafini and Vidotto Rosso dell'Abazzia.

Why do you think the concept of Aperitivo worked so well for you at a time when it was almost nonexistent in NYC?

People are still catching on to the concept of aperitivo, but for us it’s just a really great, civilized way to socialize after work.

Alexandra Degiorgio and Vito Polosa’s childhood in the Mediterranean was founded in a culture with a strong, stable culinary tradition where great pleasure is derived from food and where dining is an experience to be savored. Great meals lasted for hours, bringing family and friends together. These meals were always prepared with local and fresh ingredients and with love, care and attention.
Since moving to New York, Alexandra and Vito have seen the same passion for food and drink but found the experience is rarely savored or remembered here. This passion is also often hindered by a fear that delicious food cannot be healthy for you. After they met in November 2002, they created an escape in their home by hosting frequent dinners to celebrate friendships and family, food and wine. They dreamed of creating a restaurant that would bring back the values of fresh, local food that is carefully prepared coupled with wonderful wines and genuine service. Alexandra Degiorgio and Vito Polosa opened Aroma Kitchen & Winebar in March 2005 with a vision to take guests to new levels of Italian food and wine enjoyment, making every meal a memorable experience.

Aroma is a study in contrasts: The urban/rustic interior features exposed brick, a dark wood bar with natural edges juxtaposed with mirrors framed with brushed steel. The room is softly lit by both contemporary chandeliers and flickering candles. Brought together by their shared passion for food, wine and entertaining, owners Degiorgio and Polosa are both as active behind the scenes as they are in front of the house. Alexandra, a native of Malta, was formerly a consultant for American Management Systems (AMS), an international information technology firm. Vito, from Potenza, Italy (just South of Naples) has extensive experience in service as waiter, head waiter or manager at such NYC restaurants as Fiamma, Da Silvano, Bice and Il Gattopardo. Most recently, he was a wine salesman for Winebow, one of New York's largest wine and liquor distributors. The team brings passionate, focused intensity to the art of relaxing hospitality. They plan to share their enthusiasm with wine tastings, directed pairings and other educational programs.

Visit Aroma's Website

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Finca Flichman Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 Argentina

There's an increasing number of good values coming from the South American region these days and this is one of them. Aged 3 months in oak and bottle aged, this 100% Cabernet Sauvignon from Mendoza, Argentina is a full bodied fruit bomb. Very dark deep purple with ruby around the edges, there is a powerful nose of fruit and minerals, and a palate with concentrated ripe berries, cola and a finish of soft vanilla. Nice smooth acidity and mild tannins make this red a pleasure and 13% alcohol gives it a kick but not a jolt. A great buy for $8.99.

Friday, July 18, 2008


Wine grapes have been shown to contain powerful antioxidants, particularly polyphenols which have priceless benefits for the skin, and resveratrol (red wine extract) which has unique anti-aging properties and promotes increased energy. So it’s no wonder there is now a treatment called vinotherapy, otherwise known as wine therapy, or therapy of the wine grape at The Sorrento Spa at the Vail Plaza Hotel & Club.

Their two vinotherapy skin care lines are Olavie, which specializes in the Chardonnay grape, and d’Vine, which specializes in many red wine grapes. The massage oil and body products use extracts of the red and white wine’s seeds, skin, stalk and pulp. These wine inspired oil and skin products contain a balance of nutrients, vitamins and proteins which are absorbed through the pores to benefit the skin and body. They offer personal spa services that emulate some of Italy’s renowned thermal spas such as body treatments, soaks, massage, facials, and nail treatments. Their main product line, [comfort zone], is based in Italy and their products contain a number of well known Italian ingredients such as verbena, lavender, and extracts of olive oil. These vinotherapy signature treatments include; massages, facials, and body treatments, as well as manicures and pedicures.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Trinitas Cellars Old Vine Cuvee 2005 Contra Costa County

©photo 2008 by Dave Trieger

This is another one of my picks from the tasting I attended this past weekend at The Restaurant at Sun & Surf Beach Club in Atlantic Beach, N.Y.

Trinitas Cellars has multiple sources around Contra Costa County, California, with some of the best vines as much as 120 years old. The 2005 Old Vine Cuvee is made from 37% Mataro, 24% Zinfandel, 18% Carignan, 13% Petite Syrah and 8% Alicante Bouschet. Because of the sandy soil there are very low yields and very high concentration, giving the wine a deep richness. Intense aromas of blackberries, blueberries, and a luscious palate of prunes and vanilla make this a delicious food wine. Long on the finish this worked very well with a steak and lamb but I could see it paired really well with pork. This is an amazing deal for $18!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Halter Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon 2004 Paso Robles Estate Bottled

©2008 photo by Dave Trieger
This is another one of my favorites from the tasting I attended this past weekend at The Restaurant at Sun & Surf Beach Club in Atlantic Beach, N.Y.

This Cabernet Sauvignon from Paso Robles, California has a deep violet color with cherries, plums and blackberries on the nose, with a dark chocolate and oaky undertone. On the palate is a mature fruitiness and a rounded vanilla mouthfeel really nicely balanced in a fine example of what a Cabernet is all about. This one is about $28

Cosentino Napa County Merlot 2005

This is one of my favorites from a tasting I attended this past weekend at The Restaurant at Sun & Surf Beach Club in Atlantic Beach, N.Y. There were exclusively California wines that ran the gamut, but I'll be concentrating on the reds I enjoyed.

First up is the Merlot from Napa County, California... it's one with cojones, partly due to the 14.8% alcohol content. Complex and rustic, the earthy aromas carry the spices, leather and juicy cherries. All is balanced by a rich palate of slate and white pepper followed by a super long finish. Range about $22.

Podere La Cappella Corbezzolo 1998

From Italy comes this IGT organic Sangiovese, aged one year in oak and one year in bottle. It's an assault on the senses. First, the pronounced aroma of animal, then varnish, prune and oak, followed on the mouth by ripe cherries, a bit of violets and a good long rustic finish. This wine has body, texture and's expensive but for special occasions, a treat for sure.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Vega Sindoa 2007 Rose Spain

From the Navarro region of Spain comes this rich Rose made from 50% Garnacha and 50% Cabernet Sauvignon. The nose has a citrus raspberry, flint and definite spiciness. On the palate are cherries, honeysuckle and a lemon/grapefruit finish, and a bit bolder than most Rose wines. In the $9 range.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Smoking Loon Cabernet Sauvignon 2006

This California Cabernet is dark deep plum in color with a nose of cherry pie and dark ripe berries and tree bark spice. Flavors of dark berries again fill the palate with a rich fruitiness and tingling acidity while ending with a smokey and concentrated finish that lingers nicely. 13.5% alcohol and $10 range.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Colle Sori Montepulciano D'Abruzzo 2005 DOC

This is a red Montepulciano D'Abruzzo from the Abruzzo region of Southern Italy, where proud, hard working people work the land to produce a great value in an every day wine. This wine has colors of deep ruby with hints of purple and is somewhat reminiscent of a Morellino Di Scansano. Aromas of blackberries waft before a simple palate with lower acidity and soft tannins. Believe it or not this wine can be had for about $6 or $7.