Sunday, November 30, 2008

Castiglion del Bosco Brunello di Montalcino 2003

Owned by the Ferragamo family, Castiglion del Bosco produces this Brunello di Montalcino which is aged in oak for 2 years.

It is a traditional 100% Sangiovese from Tuscany, has ruby coloring and intense inviting aromas of vanilla with flavors of plum, orange peel and a sweet campfire smokiness. Initially slightly tight, I decanted and waited an hour before it opened to a very good balance of fruit and tannins, still it's a powerful red with 13.5% alcohol content.

24 hours later: Tried this wine again today, tannins way softer and overall feel was more velvety. A very nice wine.
photo ©2008 by Dave Trieger

Fantinel Celebrate Life Merlot 2007

This red wine from Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Italy is 100% Merlot and has rich tones of luscious cherries, like a band of red licorice candy and sweet red fruits. Hints of anise, glycerine and and an earthiness invade your senses as if you're walking through a bramble in a lush forest. And a portion of the proceeds help fight world hunger. See below:

Celebrate the gift of life with Celebrate Life Merlot. For every bottle sold, Fantinel donates $1 to IIMSAM, the Initiatives of the Intergovernmental Institution for the Use of Micro-Algae Spirulina Against Malnutrition. will also match the $1 donation to IIMSAM. Open this bottle of wine with family and friends and share the gift of life - and join and Fantinel in the fight against world hunger!

Merlot is an intrinsic part of the history of this region and Fantinel's Celebrate Life Merlot is a classic example of the Friuli Grave DOC, an appellation widely considered a world-class expression of this noble grape variety.

Marco Fantinel, President of the Fantinel Group that includes the wineries of Fantinel and La Roncaia, was appointed as the goodwill ambassador for IIMSAM. IIMSAM (Intergovernmental Institution for the use of Micro-algae Spirulina Against Malnutrition) is accredited as a Permanent Observer Mission with the United Nations Economc Council to fight worldwide hunger. IIMSAM strives to counter malnutrition through the use of Spirulina: a micro-algae abundant in essential proteins, vitamins, nutrients and minerals equired by the human body. Fantinel and will each donate $1 to IIMSAM for every bottle sold at of it's Celebrate Life Merlot.


Saturday, November 29, 2008

Castiglion Del Bosco Dainero 2004 IGT

From the Tuscan region of Montalcino comes this mouthwatering blend of 90% Merlot and 10% Sangiovese grapes.

Aged in barriques for 6 months, it puts on an aromatic show of violet, currant and chocolate all wrapped in a full bodied style. Deep purple and displaying a round, soft fruitiness, flavors emerge quickly of blackberries, cherries and a slightly smokey, vegetal quality at the finish.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Il Borro Lamelle Chardonnay 2006 IGT

This Chardonnay has a pale yellow color, fruity rich aromas of apple and peach with notes of floral & lemon. Flavors of pear and vanilla balanced with nice acidity.

Notes - The Chardonnay grapes for ‘Lamelle’ are carefully selected from vineyards within the Il Borro Estate in San Giustino Val d’Arno in Arezzo. The hand harvested grapes are immediately transferred to the winery and sorted manually. 50% of the wine is fermented in new French oak barriques & 50% in stainless steel for about 10 days.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Podere San Luigi Super Tuscan 1998

On Monday evening, I attended a food and wine tasting organized by Grupo Ristoranti Italiani at Gotham Hall's Ballroom in NYC. There I met John L. Morace owner of Podere San Luigi vineyards located just south of San Gimignano in Tuscany. The wine I sampled was a 1998 SuperTuscan made from 85% Sangiovese and 15% Cabernet Sauvignon.

The aromas were earthy and on the palate were notes of ripe sour cherries and licorice. I found smooth tannins and nice acidity in this very good wine.

Monday, November 24, 2008


Not long ago Gary Grunner--a wine aficionado with a special interest in Italian wines—invited me over to his house for a tasting. He had just returned from the Newport Wine Festival and wanted to share some of his newest gems with a few other writers and friends. As usual, Gary prepared a generous plate of cheese, bread, olives and other tempting noshes to complement the flavors of his wines—always a surefire way to keep me interested.

The conversation that afternoon ranged from where Italy's wine business was heading to what Italian producers needed to do in the US market to keep ahead of the rest of the world. Gary has been in the wine business and selling Italian wines since the early 1980s, and has witnessed first hand the intense growth of the industry as well as the increased competition. But in spite of the obstacles he believes there is more opportunity than ever for new, great wines.

With that in mind, I was secretly thinking that he could be setting himself up for a fall if the wines didn't deliver. But he went down to his cellar and returned with 5 bottles, lined them up on a long wooden table, and simply smiled.

Here are my reviews:

Barbi Brunello di Montalcino 2003 DOCG (Fattoria dei Barbi)

Made from 100% Sangiovese grapes, this Brunello has a really interesting mix of aroma vs. palate. At first the nose reveals roasted meats, toast and ripe concentrated stewed prunes. Then you taste the intense ripe cherries, plums and spices and then a bit later chocolate, more spices and black pepper.

Fattoria Dei Barbi Morellino Di Scansano 2005 DOC

The Colombini family has owned property in Brunello di Montalcino since 1352, and they established Fattoria dei Barbi there in 1790.

Medium weight and bright ruby colors decorate this Morellino Di Scansano from Tuscany's Montalcino area. The first aromas are apparent immediately in a verdant dense forest, mushrooms and barnyard, then on the palate comes the sour cherry. Slightly tannic, but opening nicely within a hour or so with a finish of raisins and cola.

Fattoria dei Barbi Toscana Brusco dei Barbi 2006 IGT

Fattoria dei Barbi uses a patented technique of fermentation developed by Giovanni Colombini to make this Sangiovese Tuscan red wine. The process involves the extensive soaking of the grapes with their pomace which results in an intensity of flavors, softness, color, and complexity.

The initial fermentation lasts 10 days, transforming the sugars to alcohol. Then the stainless steel vats are sealed, the temperature dropped and the wine left in contact with the skins, continuing to ferment slowly. After three months the skins are then removed and the wine remains in the stainless steel vats until bottling.

The color of this wine is a ruby red with aromas of raspberries and spices while on the palate are earthy autumnal tones of underbrush. There is a smoothness in the tannins and a good balance overall with a finish that's full circle back to red berries.

Galarej Barbera D'Alba

Made from 100% Barbera grapes, this red wine is deep ruby-red with aromas of raspberry, flowers and vanilla, and flavors of violets, cedar and pepper spices and a medium-body.

Excellent with grilled meat, steaks, burgers, pizza, red sauce pasta dishes.

Galarej Barolo 2004 DOCG

This Barolo is made from 100% Nebbiolo grapes with colors of deep garnet and a nose of cherries, raspberries, herbs and spice. There's a full, rich, ripe palate of dark berries and leather, along with a warm, smooth finish that reverberates an earthiness. 13.5% alcohol content.

What I have come to appreciate about all the wines Gary represents is his preference for wines that generally over-deliver in quality as compared to the market price. That afternoon he particularly enjoyed discussing wines such as Fattoria dei Barbi, and he beamed with pride as he inducted his new brand Galarej into his portfolio.

Gary also talked about his newest endeavor with importer, Pietro Cavallo called 'Wine Project', as well as 'Grapes on the Go' his new consulting company that offers expert advice on wine, as well as restaurant and fine wine shop ventures.

It's clear that his favorite wines are those that not only best represent their grape variety and region, but also reveal a sense of passion that can only come from family-owned wineries with a joyous commitment to the wine business.

Cantele Primitivo 2005 IGT

This ruby red Primitivo from Salento in the Puglia region of Italy shows a cherries and plum nose but with a touch of a light mineral edge. The soft tannins give way to a thick chocolate and coffee character and is easy to drink because of its good acidity. Finishes with flowers and spices. Good everyday wine.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Borsao Crianza Campo de Borja 2005

From Spain, comes this very nice blend of 50% grenache, 25% tempranillo and 25% cabernet sauvignon. Aged in oak 6 months, it shows pronounced oak with leathery aromatics and floral bursts of black cherries and a smokey cinnamon finish.

Brought this bottle to My Kitchen, one of the restaurants on my new BYOB list and paired beautifully with delicious fall-off-the-bone short ribs.

Thursday, November 20, 2008


With the new economic climate the way it is, it makes sense to try to cut corners wherever possible. You can save about 40% on your dinner bill by eating and drinking at restaurant's where you can bring-your-own-bottle. With that in mind, I'm starting a list of BYOB's in NYC and will be updating it as I discover more. Please, if you find any new ones or have any additional information about the ones on my list, just chime in. Enjoy!

Bella Donna
307 E. 77th St, New York, NY 10021
Corkage Fee: None, Italian food, reasonable, no frills.
Phone: (212) 535-2866

Cafe A
973 Columbus Avenue & 108th Street, New York, New York 10025
Corkage Fee: None
Phone: 305-972-3358

Café Henri
French Cuisine
10-10 50th Ave., at Vernon Blvd.
718 383-9315

Café Loup
105 W. 13th St.
West Village landmark. $2 per person corkage fee.

Cherin Sushi
306 E 6th st, NY, NY 10003
Corkage Fee: NONE
Hours: 5 pm to 12 , closed on monday
Phone: 212-388-1348

Cube 63
63 Clinton St (Between Rivington & Stanton), New York, NY 10002
Corkage Fee: None
sushi and japanese cuisine
Hours: 5PM - 12AM; 5PM - 1AM Fri/Sat
Phone: 212 228-6751

De Mole‎
4502 48th Ave, Flushing, NY‎
718 392-2161‎

Dolce Vita
181 Grand Street, New York, NY 10013
Corkage Fee: $0
Hours: Mondays: Closed, Tuesday thru Sunday 5pm to 11pm, Saturday Brunch 12 noon to 4pm, Sunday Brunch 11am to 4pm
Phone: 646 688-4110 01221

Il Bambino‎
3408 31st Ave, Long Island City, NY‎
Panini, cupcakes, $5 corkage fee.
718 626-0087‎

Ivo & Lulu
558 Broome St, New York, NY 10013
Corkage Fee: NONE
Near Varick st. Cash only. Organic French food, limited menu, but good and inexpensive $12-$15 range.
Hours: Daily, 6pm-11pm
Phone: (212) 226-4399

1272 Amsterdam Ave., New York City, NY 10027-5035
Corkage Fee: ? Small, no frills.
Hours: M-F 8:00am - 11:00 pm, Sat &Sun 9:00 am - 11:00 pm
Phone: Tel (212) 531-7600

La Pizza Fresca Ristorante
31 East 20th Street, New York, New York 10003
Corkage Fee: $25 rustic Italian Neapolitan pizza. Over 500 wines.
Hours: M-F 12-3:30 Lunch, 5:30-11 Dinner, Sat. 5:30-11, Sun. 5-11
Phone: 212-598-0141

My Kitchen
A reincarnation of a popular Queens Mediterranean restaurant/wine bar that was on Austin Street in the 80's.
106-17 Metropolitan Ave., nr. 72nd Dr. Forest Hills

New Orleans Sno-Ball Cafe
1590 Lexington Avenue, New York, New York 10029
Corkage Fee: none
Hours: M-F 10-8pm Sat 11-8 Sunday 2:30-6pm
Phone: 646 423-1596

Nick & Stef's Steakhouse
9 Penn Plaza, New York, NY 10001
Corkage Fee: 0
BYOB Friday and Saturdays Through August
Hours: 11:30am-9:30pm
Phone: 212-563-4444

1608 First Avenue, between 83rd and 84th street.
Corkage fee: $15
212 327-4747

Phoenix Garden Restaurant
242 E 40th St, New York, NY 10016-1732
Corkage Fee: ?
Hours: Mon-Fri 11:30am-9:45pm, Sat -Sun 12:30pm-9:45pm
Phone: 212-983-6666

Poke Japanese Restaurant
305 E 85th St, New York, NY 10028
Corkage Fee: 0
Hours: 5pm - 11pm Close Sun
Phone: 212-249-0569

The Riverdale Garden restaurant
4576 Manhattan College Parkway, Riverdale (Bronx), NY 10471
Corkage Fee: $15. No corkage on Tuesday nights
Hours: lunch and dinner

131 Avenue A, New York, NY 10009
Corkage Fee: 0
Thai food very reasonably priced.
Hours: 7 Days from Noon to 11 PM
Phone: 212-420-5909

212 E. 10th Street, New York, NY 10003
Corkage Fee: None
Hours: 5pm-11pm Sun-Thurs, 5pm-12am Fri & Sat, Brunch 11am-5pm Sat & Sun
Phone: 212-420-8822

253 W. 11th St., NYC - West Village, NY
Corkage Fee: None Small but cute place on treelined e vill block, affordable French fare, excellent value.
Phone: 212-229-2611

The Orchard
162 Orchard street, New York, NY 10002
Corkage Fee: none on Sundays
BYOB on Sundays
Hours: wed-sun 6- 11pm
Phone: 212.353.3570

Wai? Cafe
583 Ave. of the Americas (6th Ave), New York, New York 10011
Corkage Fee: none, new American lean cuisine, low prices.
Hours: 10 A.M.-12 A.M.
Phone: 212- 414-2003

Bigi Vipra Rosa 2007 Rosso dell’Umbria IGT

A blend from Umbria, this red wine is made from 70% Merlot, 30% Sangiovese with aromatics of chocolate, blackberry and cedar over layers of ripe sour cherries and violets and 13% alcohol. Opened nicely within an hour for a soft and smooth attitude. In the $12 range at WRFH.

Monday, November 17, 2008


Last month I wrote a short post about the economic crisis driving higher end buyers into the lower end market trying to find bargains...

...well, it seems like I may not have been too far off base, see link to BBC News:

"...Aldi had seen a 21% rise in the number of shoppers from the ABC1 higher socio-economic groups".

J.M. da Fonseca Periquita 2005

This was my first Portuguese wine and I really enjoyed it.

Made from grapes grown on the Setubal Peninsula, it's the oldest Portuguese table wine. The blend of 70% Castelao, 20% Trincadeira and 10% Aragonez (another name for Tempranillo) is aged for a short time in oak (4 months).

Ruby in color, with aromas of blueberries, strawberries and violets, this red has an intriguing complexity. There are flavors of licorice, plum, pomegranate, raspberries, and cedar... and as if that's not enough, a spicy cinnamon finish. There's an overall smoothness on the tongue combined with very soft tannins to make for a surprising value at $10 bottle from The Wine Room of Forest Hills.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Bonello Cabernet Sauvignon/Primitivo 2004 Sicily, Italy

I found this Bonello red wine blend from Sicily (An Italian branch of the Beringer Blass Wine Estates) for a mere $5.99 at a local wines/ liquor store. I checked on line and it usually goes for $10-11. They are targeting younger consumers and offering old world wines blended in a new world way... even the label has a more contemporary look.

The blend is Cabernet Sauvignon and Primitivo displaying intense ruby red color with aromas of blueberries and plum along with flavors of black cherries and notes of black pepper and spice. Sweet, juicy and full-bodied with a fresh acidity and round tannins, I liked this wine for it's very good finish and freshness. It's a great deal even at the $10 range.

winemaker's notes:
The fruit for this wine was sourced from valley and hillside vineyards on the Salento peninsula located in Puglia of southern Italy. The red soils of Salento, consisting of a calcareous base overlain by topsoils rich in iron, create an ideal viticultural environment. The Adriatic and the Ionian seas that border the peninsula bring a welcome cooling influence at night, tempering the hot summer heat. Primitivo, a native Italian varietal is the same as Californian Zinfandel. It is still grown on low, individual, bush-like training systems that create robust, fruity and strongly spicy red wines.

I have to admit I'm not sure whether this wine is made in Sicily or Puglia. If anyone has any info, please inform us.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

5 wines by Cameron Hughes, Then Dinner With Old and New Brunellos

What follows is a post to the website made by Gregory Dal Piaz, regarding a tasting of 5 new wines by Cameron Hughes, then a great Italian dinner at Il Corso paired with a half dozen or so bottles of old and new Brunello's di Montalcinio and Chianti's:

The start with Cameron Hughes and the end with Vin Santo

by Gregory Dal Piaz

I had a great afternoon on Sunday as I met with Eric Guido and Dave Trieger in the Snooth conference room to try a line-up from Cameron Hughes. I was really interested in these wines and glad I ended up popping them on Sunday, since I was fortunate to have the time on Monday to go through them again... and as well as they showed on Sunday, they were singing by Monday night.

Just briefly the line-up included;

The "fruit bomb" Campo de Borja that was ok but I can see it being a crowd pleaser

The tough, austere Tempranillo that exploded in the glass by day 2

The effusively good old vine zin that everyone liked, and I do mean everyone

The easy going, soft and plummy Meritage that stayed the course over 2 days

The classic Napa Cabernet, rugged yet polished with excellent cellaring potential, a killer value!

We then went out for a great dinner and met up with Dave's friend Allen, and Ben Goldberg for a fine repast including Tuscan delights!

We began with a pair from Chianti, the 1990 Badia a Coltibuono Chianti Classico and the San Giusto a Rentennano Chainti Classcio Riserva.

The Riserva was a finer wine, fleshier and rounder though the Badia a Coltibuono was just so ready, so transparent and peaking that I found it irresistible. I have a soft spot for catching wines at their peak and it was an itch that this bottle scratched!

We followed these up with a pair of Brunello;

The Col d'Orcia was beautiful, almost fully resolved with remarkable freshness and detail, a bottle I could spend all day with. The La Torre on the other hand had just entered it's drinking window and should ultimately prove to be a better bottle than the Col d'Orcia, in some 10 years or so. Perfectly rich and ripe with great balance and structure it was a delight to try.

We ended the reds with a pair of youngsters, both still in the flush of youth.

Both still benefited from the ample baby fat of youthful fruit, The Nando was a rich, oaky, fruit filled Chianti destined for early consumption while the Barbi offered good depth in a difficult vintage with just a touch of the tough tannins that so many wines of the vintage carry.

Finally with a nice array of dessert we shared a bottle of Vin Santo

It was a gorgeous wine, rich yet balanced, complex yet fresh, absolutely smashingly good and much better than my last bottle. The finish was both lingering and ethereal. Hauntingly good stuff and worth the admittedly high tariff.

And that was it, the end to another Snooth dinner. Intimate and friendly, joining friends new and old. I enjoyed the wines, the discussions and the chance to spend some time with fellow Snooth members.

Until the next time...




Wednesday, November 12, 2008, NYC.

The first official bottles were delivered to the event by horse and carriage in commemoration of the old tradition for Beaujolais Nouveau. It is one of the most popular wines in France, normally made from Gamay grapes and fermented for just a few weeks then officially released for sale on the third Wednesday of November. Chamarre slightly twists the concept with a blend of 55% Merlot and 45% Syrah from different regions of France.

I had the pleasure of sharing a glass (or three) with the President/CEO of OWS, Hubert Surville. He gave me a brief history of the company and how they were able to take advantage of the new French wine appellation, "Vin de Pays Vignobles de France" which allows blending across regions. Founder Pascal Renaudat and winemaker Renaud Rosari have access to sources from cooperatives across the country and now can blend the best of each.

Evoking earthy, fruity aromas, along with flavors of cherries, bananas and strawberries and a nice roundness. There is a common thread relating this Nouveau to other style Chamarre wines.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Valdo Extra Dry Prosecco

Prosecco, the Italian version of champagne is not made by the methode champenoise in which the wine undergoes secondary fermentation in its own bottle, instead it happens in large, pressurized tanks.

Straw colored, with aromas like a fresh loaf of bread and, well, grapes... and flavors of grapefruit, melon, apple, stretching into a refreshing finish. We paired this with chicken topped with sauce of red curry and coconut milk, on couscous with sauteed broccoli.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Cameron Hughes Wine

This past Sunday Greg Dal Piaz from had a sampling of some of the new Cameron Hughes wines. Here's their website's mission statement:

With an obsession for quality and innovation, Cameron Hughes Wine, founded by Cameron Hughes and partner Jessica Kogan, is dedicated to building a reputation for delivering the best domestic and international wine values in the marketplace today. Our focus is on buying at the high-end, small available 'Lots' of super premium wine. Because not all wine at the high-end is bottled, we rescue those 'Lots' do some stylistic blending and get it to you at a great price.

Our company produces and markets wine under Cameron Hughes Lot Series, Hughes-Wellman, RockRidge, and Evergreen. We do not own vineyards or ferment wine. Our business model is built around what we call in the industry the “spot” market for super/ultra premium bulk wines. Essentially, what this means in plain English is that we eliminate the middlemen. We use our own palates as guides to deliver delicious, super premium wine that is easily accessible price and style-wise.

Our company is founded on the concept that excellent wine should be available at a value price. We know that it’s hard for the wine lover to know how to navigate the scores, prices and hype about wine out there. By working with vineyards around the globe we bring our customers the finest values and new exciting wines that give them the unique status of truly being "wine insiders."

Sounds to me like a way to get really good wines for very low prices. I believe if purchased by the case (mixed) the average price per bottle is $10. I had the chance to try 5 red wines from Cameron Hughes new "LOTS":

Lot 98, a 2007 Campo De Borja 60% Grenache/30% Syrah/10% Mourvedre blend from Spain: 14% alcohol, jammy acohol on the nose, palate of cherries, pepper, black fruits and oak, mild tannins.

Lot 93, a 2004 Tempranillo from Spain: Deep purple, ultra fruity nose very nice aromas of violets and flowers and red cherries/ red fruit on the palate, really nice.

Lot 86, a 2006 Lodi Zinfandel from California: Nose: warm, wood, jammy on the sweet side of dry, juicy and chewy, also very nice.

Lot 72, a 2005 Meritage from California: Nose: sweet, earthy aromas with a Bordeaux model.

Lot 75, a 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa California:, Nose: oak, Fig Newtons (Eric G called it), raisins, slightly bitter on the palate.

All were very good, my 2 standout favorites were the Spanish Tempranillo and the California Zinfandel.

Saturday, November 8, 2008


(bring your own bottle)

With the economy in the state it's in, I find myself doing it more and more. Many restaurants in NYC mark up a bottle of wine by 100%, and that's OK, I understand a guy's got to make a living. BUT... I found one of my everyday Sicilian Nero D'Avolas (that I buy in my local wine shop for under $10) going for over $45 in a restaurant. Now that's just not right.

So here are a few guidelines and suggestions regarding BYOB's:

Some restaurants waive the corkage fee, and if they do it's generally a good idea to give the waiter/waitress a good tip.

But if you do have to pay a corkage fee, the range is usually from $10-30. And that's still saving you money.

You should also call in advance to make sure the bottle your bringing is not on that particular restaurant's wine list.

Some restaurants may have a "maximum" number of bottles you may bring in, once you go over that number you must buy from the wine list.


Friday, November 7, 2008

Fattoria Dei Barbi Morellino Di Scansano 2005 DOC

©2008 photo by Jill Ortenberg

The Colombini family has owned property in Brunello di Montalcino since 1352, and they established Fattoria dei Barbi there in 1790.

Medium weight and bright ruby colors decorate this Morellino Di Scansano from Tuscany's Montalcino area. The first aromas are apparent immediately in a verdant dense forest, mushrooms and barnyard, then on the palate comes the sour cherry. Slightly tannic, but opening nicely within a hour or so with a finish of raisins and cola.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Italian Wine Series: Part 4-The Wines of Campania: Lava Beneventano Aglianico 2006 IGT

The first thing I think about when I hear Campania is Aglianico. Being Southern Italy's signature grape, it was first brought from Greece over 2,000 years ago. It makes for a strong wine with an almost royal character.

Lava Beneventano Aglianico 2006 IGT

Grown in the lava-rich soil created by the eruption of mount Vesuvius, this wine reflects the minerality and unique flavors of the Campania region. The colors are a very dark, deep, opaque violet/ruby... on the nose displaying earth and black fruit, and firm tannins. On the palate hidden just below the surface, float hints of leather and mocha. The finish leaves white pepper or chalk on the back of the tongue and sour cherries. I'm amazed at the layers of aroma and flavor unfolding as I drink this interesting red wine. Found this at The Wine Room of Forest Hills.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Cote De Loach Zinfandel 2006 California

I have to admit I really haven't tried many Zinfandels, and enjoyed this one from the Russian River Valley. The color is a translucent dark ruby, and on the nose I'm getting warm, ripe red berries with violets and a hint of nutty oak. On the palate I get spices, nutmeg and cinnamon with a mild sweetness that rounds out the whole package very well, and finishes with a good balance of acidity and soft tannins. 14.5% alcohol. Works very nicely with red meats or cheeses. Another good value from The Wine Room at $11.99.

©2008 photo by Dave Trieger

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Sweetbreads: Is it brains or thyroid gland?

Don't bother answering, I know (it's thyroid), because I lost the bet.

It was back in the 80's and I was at a restaurant with friends, and the wager was a bottle of the wine we were drinking, a 1973 (or 74) Robert Mondavi Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve. Whichever it was, it was incredible, but it was really a chore trying to find it. At the time there were less wines available and even fewer wine shops. I did finally get in touch with Robert Mondavi's daughter Marcia and she was very accommodating, but there were no bottles of the wine to be had. Alas, I had to repay the bet with a wine of equal value.

Recently a new friend of mine, Greg Dal Piaz, from invited me to a vertical tasting of some of the Mondavi wines from that period. I am so looking forward to the experience because even though I couldn't describe the aromas or flavors I experienced 20+ years ago... I know after one sip I'll recognize them, like a long-lost, old friend.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Organic Wine & Cheese Pairing (continued)

Last Saturday Dan Olson hosted an Organic Wine & Cheese Pairing at The Wine Room of Forest Hills.

Here are the reds continued from previous post:

Cuma Malbec. Argentina. Rich ruby color with full bouquet of boysenberry, blueberries and oak. Dry and full bodied with spicy cherry flavors.

paired with

Les Freres. Crave Brothers. Pasteurized cow's milk. Soft, washed and rind cheese developed in the Irish-French Style. Earthy, hints of bacon, wonderfully gooey.

Natura Carmenere. Chile. Deep crimson, hints of chocolate, cherry and cinnamon on the nose with powerful, velvety flavor and lingering aftertaste.

paired with

Snow White Goat Cheddar. Carr Valley. Creamy, white, cave-aged 6 months. Sharp, tangy with hints of citrus. 2nd place 2007, Best in Show 2008, American Cheese Society Competition

Luzon Verde Monastrell. Spain. Dark colored, full bouquet of dried ripe fruits, currants, cherries and raisins. Full in the mouth with a spicy flavor of berries, oak, toast and nuts.

paired with

Sole Gran Queso. Roth Kase. Pasteurized cow's milm. Small batches imitating Manchego. Cellared six months. Dry yet smooth texture with initial sharpness and sweet finish. 2008 American Cheese Society Winner.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Brunello Fellows Vote Status Quo

News from Tuscany is that Gaja and other producers voted to keep the rules in place for Brunello standards, namely that they must be made with 100% Sangiovese grapes. It's also alleged they voted that way ONLY because the vote was public and their intentions are to be able to blend whatever they like and still call it Brunello.

I realize these guys are businessmen and they have to think about the big picture and the bottom line. But I would like to think (perhaps naively) that they are craftsmen or even artists first. What probably got them where they are today is the attention to detail and passion for wine that they've exhibited over the years.

So why are they now so fixated on the gearing their wines to the American palate? There's nothing wrong with change, but if it ain't broke....