Saturday, February 27, 2010

Columbia-Crest Two Vines Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 Washington

The "Two Vines" designation by Columbia-Crest is to honor the trellising of the vines, which provides better exposure and richer wines, this one aged in oak for 12 months.

Aromas of vanilla, blueberry, red currant and oak... up front the flavors range from glycerine, black cherries and sweet raspberries to familiar hints of caramel on the back palate. A nice effort by Columbia-Crest and a decent everyday wine, in the $8 range.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Corte Moschina Colle Alto Cabernet del Veneto IGT 2006

A blend from Verona of Cabernet Sauvignon with a bit of Cabernet Franc, this is loaded with intense aromas of black raspberries, vanilla, stewed prunes, and even hints of bacon with an even smaller hint of varnish. Complementing on the palate with delicious flavors of blackberry pie, aromatic dates, dried cherries and a chocolate/cocoa finish reminding me of my youth, that's right... Ovaltine. Seems like a perfect match for a cold snowy February night.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

NYC Gambero Rosso Tasting: Italian Wines of 2010

Last night I only had about an hour to sample as many wines as I could at the Gambero Rosso Tasting Italian Wines of 2010, so I checked out the table listing and went directly to the ones that caught my eye. All of them were exceptional and I took very brief tasting notes of each.

Grattamacco Bolgheri Rosso Superiore 2006 DOC
60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Cabernet Franc, 10% Merlot and 10% Sangiovese. Herbal, tar, cherries, smoky.

Lungarotti Torgiano Rosso Vigna Monticchio Riserva 2006
licorice, tobacco, smoke, black cherries and violets.

Casanova di Neri Brunello di Montalcino Cerratalto 2005
nose: violets, plums, cherries, flavors: cola, ripe cherries, licorice, yum.

Barone Ricasoli Chianti Classico Castello di Brolio 2006
nose: blue fruits, cherries, flavors: raspberries, mint, cola.

Masi Amarone della Valpolicella Classico Campolongo di Torbe 2004
nose: chocolate, mushrooms, roasted meat, saddle, flavors: ripe sour cherries, powder, slate.

San Felice Pugnitello 2007
nose: tobacco, sour cherries, flavors: plums, violet candies.

Firriato Harmonium 2007
red fruit, prunes, black cherries, powdered sugar, white pepper.

Marchesi di Barolo Sarmassa 2005 DOCG
gaminess, rose water, anise, resinous spices, vanilla

Went to the Pio Cesare table looking for the 2005 Barolo Ornato, then the 2006 Querciabella Camartino, ma portroppo hanno finito.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

New West Village Wine Bar: Pudding Stones

Every morning I’ve been passing by a storefront in New York’s West Village that for months had its windows papered to block a view to the inside. But the awning had an intriguing name …Pudding Stones Wine Bar which was printed in small subtle letters.

Finally it’s open for business just in time to celebrate my friend Allen’s success in landing a new job. I get in touch with Laura and Christine with the name and address of Pudding Stones West Village and by the time I get there Laura is at the end of the bar with a look on her face and says, “did you see that?” So I look back towards the entrance and I see what she’s gawking at. A famous movie and TV actor is sucking face with a tall buxom redhead. That’s a good start.

The ambience is a result of attention to detail and just plain old good design. The interior is a sexy and comfortable space split into 3 sections, the tables in the first third, the bar in the second and the raw bar in the third. The cuisine is American Bistro with a French influence.

Behind the bar one of the owners, Joe Rabasco recommends the Costa Del Sol Napa 2005 blend of Sangiovese, Zinfandel and Merlot produced by Bennesere Vineyards. Each varietal within this blend is from a specific vineyard lot. The wine is a full bodied red, barrel aged in a combination of small French and American oak for 18 months. The aromas are an exotic blend of leather, barnyard and toast bursting with intense flavors of jammy blackberries, cola, glycerine with hints of licorice, orange and powdered sugar. And to top it off a super smooth finish.

After the good advice Joe gave us on the wine, he and his brother Peter and another partner, Joe helped us pick a sampling of some Small Plates: Yellowfin Tuna Tartar, a fresh delight with fennel and dill, an amazing Mac and Cheese with gruyere, cheddar, breadcrumbs and truffle oil, a Guacamole with Blue Corn Chips, and to close out the meal a Plate du Jour… a delicious jumbo Lobster Ravioli with Spinach and Ricotta in a Butter sauce.

I don't think they have a website as yet, they've only been open a week or two, but they are located at 48 Carmine Street, Tel (212) 627-6050. I'll definitely be back.

Friday, February 19, 2010

New Amsterdam Market

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from my interest in wines, it’s that “terroir”, or the “sense of place” in which a certain food is grown becomes a huge factor in it’s final product.

Second is a philosophy of organic and sustainable farming techniques many farmers are starting to use, and supporting foods produced locally, lessening the carbon footprint and dependence on ground or air transport of the product.

Both were lessons learned and made sense to me for a long time, making the choice very easy to use farmers' markets whenever possible. Whenever I travel to a new place the first thing I do is find out where the marketplace is.

Over the years the number of Farmers’ Markets have steadily grown, but I’ve been following one in particular, and that’s the New Amsterdam Market in the old Fulton Fish Market location at South Street Seaport. At this stage it’s a very seasonal affair occuring a handful of times during Spring and Summer, but if City Council Speaker Christine Quinn get’s her way the New Amsterdam Market will rival Seattle’s Pike Place Market and will probably be opened 7 days a week. Mayor Bloomberg was also interested in the idea.

If successful, the draw of locals and tourists alike will help local farmers who have been in heavy competition with agribusiness in the area. Not to mention new available jobs for the community. I know for a fact that I'm going to do whatever I can to help make this happen.

I also know I’d rather eat a meal produced by someone who is a true steward of the land.

Dante Rivetti Mara Barbera d'Alba 2007 DOC Piedmont

From Bricco di Neive in Piemonte, this Barbera is sourced from a single vineyard. Many of the best regional producers like Gaja and Bruno Giacosa often source from this very same hillside.

It's medium-body belies it's fleshy and sexy textures. Aromas of red cherries and plums paired with multi-layered flavors of dried herbs, chocolate. Following the curves into a resinous, brambly, blackberry & raspberry jam, white pepper on the back end and showing soft tannins with very bright acidity.

Bought this bottle for $18 at Maslow 6.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Giovello Prosecco IGT Veneto

Aromas of Granny Smith apples greet the nose as this Prosecco di Conegliano from the Veneto region helps you celebrate a birthday, anniversary, or even a nice piece of new business. Fresh flavors full of fruit (but not too sweet) sway in an embrace of honeydew melon, kiwi, peaches and pears, and a lilting refreshing finish, taking it all home.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Make Wine With Us

My friends Justin and Lauren invited me to a barrel tasting and tour in Wallington, New Jersey this weekend at "Make Wine With Us", a place where you can, well, make your own wine... start to finish. Owners John Gizzi and Diane Greco along with John, Michelle and Nicholas Gizzi hosted the event and gave us the tour.

It works like this... you can choose to do as much or as little as you want in the winemaking process, but if you lean toward the active path, you can choose your varietal grape (or blend), do the crushing/destemming, pressing, rent or buy your American oak barrel, racking, bottling & labeling.

The huge facility is packed with rows of barrels most of which are available for tasting using a turkey baster and plastic cup (provided, but many regulars brought their own wine goblets). We got to sample about 20 different California blends along with another 7 or 8 Chilean (most of the grapes are sourced from California and the remainder from Chile). I was really impressed by how good some of these wines tasted, and most were not aged to full maturity.

We also had a wonderful demonstration of hand-made mozzarella done by William Pompeo from Annabella's Salumeria Groceria Italiana. At the end of the demo as the mozzarella cooled a bit, we got to sample some and it was unbelievably fresh, moist and buttery.

So, we have about a month to decide what blend to use, and how many people will participate in our barrel. It should make for at least a year's worth of interesting posts on this blog. I can't wait to start!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Cantine Colosi Nero D'Avola Sicilia IGT 2008

Well, I'm finally getting to taste the 2008 Colosi Nero d'Avola, a year after the newly labled 2007 vintage. Last January my post quoted Gary V's review of the 2007 when I said I could not wait to try it. That day has come and I'm impressed.

It's made from the vineyard's best fruit and aged in stainless steel, a beautifully rounded, full-bodied red with ruby tones, singing of cherries, blackberries, herbs and red licorice. The baseline has undertones of earth and hints of mint, with succulent harmonies of a velvet finish, making this a super everyday wine. It's just such a GREAT value!

Bought this for about $15 at The Wine Room of Forest Hills, 14% alcohol, Wine Advocate: 89.

Thursday, February 11, 2010


At a recent birthday celebration I ran into Erica, a friend I hadn’t seen in years. As we talked we realized a common theme… guess what? That’s right, wine! After leaving her job in July 2008 she began making charms for wine glasses as gifts for friends.
One said, "Hey, you should sell these!". She didn't really think much about it as a source of income but "I have been charming ever since!”

What are Wine Charms?
Wine charms are decorative jewelry for the stem of your wine glass (or martini glass, or coffee mug handle...) to identify your glass as YOUR glass. No more guessing which glass is yours! These are especially useful in situations where all the glasses are otherwise identical, such as a cocktail party. Of course, you don't actually have to use the charms on glasses, you could also add these to a charm bracelet, or hang on a cord as a necklace.

Erica now has a blog called Four Times A Charm where you can order her pieces. She also does custom charms, you send her photos and she creates your very own unique & personalized set... great gifts for your favorite wine lovers.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Cirotto Rosso Rubino d'Asolo 2004 DOC

At the Italian Wine Week/VINO2010 event last week I had the pleasure of meeting Barbara Cirotto from the family managed Cirotto Vini in Asolo in the Veneto region of Italy (the foothills of the Dolomites).

This blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, is temperature control fermented in stainless steel tanks then aged in 5-hl casks for over 18 months.

Delicious aromas of dark violets, and earthy smoked meats mingle with flavors of sour cherries, cola, blueberries and a slight smokiness to create a very sexy blend.

Photo: Dolomites Cablecar view 2009 by chensiyuan

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Tenuta Alzatura Sagrantino di Montefalco DOCG 2004 Umbria

100% Sagrantino grapes fermented in stainless steel tanks then aged in French oak barriques for 14 months and an additional 8 months in bottle. Ruby colors with garnet around the edges, a robust foundation with full body and dry earthy tones, concentrated black fruits like cassis, smoked meats, glycerine, flowers, sour cherries, powdered sugar, cinnamon and coffee on the back palate.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Il Canto di Fondo Antico Nero D'Avola 2006 Sicilia IGT

Attended Vino 2010 (Italian Wine Week) here in NYC last week and had the chance to meet many new friends and experience new Italian wines.

This lively and engaging Nero D'Avola from Il Canto di Fondo Antico, Sicilia is vinified in Stainless steel and aged in French oak barriques for 14 months and six months in bottle.

Wafting with ripe cherries, then morphing into floral aromas, and violets, then a bit of prune, contrasting with exotic flavors of white pepper, green peppers, red licorice and even a bit of chocolate. Soft, complex with a long smooth finish.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Nautique Esprit de Rouge North Fork Table Wine

One of Peconic Bay Winerys’ sister brands, Nautique is a hearty blend of 95% Merlot, 3% Cabernet Sauvignon and 2% Cabernet Franc produced in Cutchogue, Long Island.

First thing that stands out is the bottom-heavy and tapered shape of the bottle, kind of like… well, a lighthouse. Ruby colors with likewise aromas of dark red fruits and blackberries. Flavors of cherries, cola, forest floor, coffee and spices with hints of tobacco, with soft tannins and a good finish.

In the $15 range, 13.6% alcohol, and a good everyday wine.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Sandro de Bruno Cangrande Soave Superiore 2007 DOCG

This week The Alta Cucina Society in New York hosted wines from the Veneto region of Italy, namely Soave made primarily from of Garganega grapes. Grown in the rich, volcanic soil of the area, the results are a wonderful complexity with an earthy minerality.

Sandro de Bruno ferments this wine in large oak barrels, 90% Garganega grapes blended with 10% Chardonnay, intense aromas displaying tropical fruit, kiwi, apricot and some citrus on the back palate.

With mirth and laughter let old wrinkles come,
And let my liver rather heat with wine
Than my heart cool with mortifying groans.

The Merchant of Venice
W Shakespeare

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Monte Tondo Soave Classico DOC 2008

This single vineyard 100% Garganega Soave is fermented in stainless steel with aromas of pear, apricot, golden yellow colors, lychee, fresh flavors, distinct minerality, white pepper, pear, ends with a nice clean acidity.

Photo Bryant Park NYC