Monday, April 21, 2014

Sharing #WorldMalbecDay With My Son

World Malbec Day was Thursday, April 17 and I was so glad my son could share in it with me. When Michael told me he was coming to visit last Thursday I was thrilled! I told him we had some nice wines to tastes and critique but that he had to tweet about it.  At 22 he is a huge wine enthusiast,but not that active on twitter, well until that evening.

I must say, the years he spent at home watching Paul and I every evening sharing in a glass of wine and analyze it, certainly rubbed off.  He's a chip off the old block, or should I say "the grape doesn't fall far from the vine."

We began the evening with the two whites which we both really enjoyed. If I had to pick a favorite of the whites it would have been a tie.

The Amado Sur Chardonnay, Mendoza Argentina produced by Trivento is a blend of 78% Chardonnay, 12% Pinot Grigio and 10% Viognier.  Nice lime and floral notes with expressions of honeydew melon and pear on the palate. Nice acidity.  You can really taste all the flavor profiles of all three varietals blending nicely together. I served this wine with chicken & broccoli stir fry with soy sauce, ginger and garlic and it   paired nicely. SRP $14

Torrontes...the white grape of Argentina.  The 2013 Leo Torrontes comes from the Dona Elsa Vineyards situated in Rama Caida, San Rafael, Mendoza 760 meters above sea level.  The grapes are crushed and fermented over 10 days in stainless steel tanks. The wine is released after bottling.

A really nice fact about this wine is a portion of the proceeds of the sale of the wine go to Leo Messi Charity Foundation that focuses on health care and educational development of socially-disadvantaged children.  SRP $16.99

Now about the wine...aromas of grapefruit, lime with a meadow of flowers filled the glass.  The palate was crisp, flavors of green apple and a hint of peach with some kiwi on the finish. Michael thinks this will be a great beach wine!

Now we moved onto the reds. We began with the 2010 Domaines Barons de Rothschild 2010 Caro which is a Malbec blend.  60% Malbec Malbec and 40% Cabernet Sauvignon.  

When I first tasted this wine it was tight. Had aromas of toffee, chocolate oak and a hit of cherry. On sitp and I got dark chocolate covered cherries, lots of tannins, raspberry, plum and a chocolate finish that ended hot. When I looked at the bottle it was 15% alcohol. 

We let this air for a little bit and returned to it after the tasting at which time it opened up very nicely.  There was some cigar aromas on the nose and some serious wild cherry with some baking spices on the palate.  This moved the wine into a tie for the best red.  Sometimes you just need to let the wine air and get the juices mixing.

Now we are into the #winechat and Michael who isn't a tweeter is really getting into it. I was so surprised, but then again, he's watched me for years. Even though he was sitting next to me, we weren't talking to each and when I saw his tweets I looked at him and was so proud at his observances. 
The second Malbec we tasted was the 2011 Famiglia Bianchi Organic Malbec from Mendoza, Argentina. This wine was another high in alcohol clocking in at 14.5%. The nose of the wine was a little bit hard to take at first but opened up nicely.  Lots of black fruit, blackberry with some bittersweet chocolate and a bit earthy. SRP $24.99

The last wine of the evening was the 2012 Trivento Malbec Reserve. Strong aromas of raspberry and plum filled the glass. The wine was very "jammy" as Michael put it.  I got lots of raspberry jam and blackberry with nice tannins.  This was one of the favorites of the evening. SRP $11

It was really special that I got to share this day with my son and he got to participate in the #winechat.  It was so nice to see him getting to know the wine and see his tweets.  I realized I taught him well and wasn't even aware of it.

Final verdict on what was our favorite wine.  At first it was the 2012 Trivento Malbec Reserve and then when we re-tasted the Caro we couldn't decide.  So they both came in first.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Book Review: Buy The Right Wine Every Time by Tom Stevenson

I received the Buy The Right Wine Every Time: The no-Fuss No-Vintage Wine Guide by Tom Stevenson for review recently from his PR Company.  Just from flipping through the good at first glance, I thought this was the perfect book for my wine enthusiast 21 year old son.

The book is grouped alphabetical order and goes into general notes about the wine. An example is Chateau-Fuisse Pouilly-Fuisse Les Brules.  The review has the price indicator $$$ and alcohol content and Toms comment "To Die For" (others say "highly recommended or recommended) The review explains the type of wine it is, what it tastes like and if you like the wine you might also like and he lists suggestions.

He reviews and gives advice on the most widely available wines found in wine stores and restaurants.  This is a plus, so you won't go out seeking wines that are hard to find.  As I flipped through the book, many of the wines I see are available in both NY and NJ.

Tom lists 20 useful tips at the end of the book that are great for the new wine enthusiast. Such tips as:

  • How to allow a wine to breathe
  • How to open a Champagne bottle
  • How to pour Champagne
  • How to identify a corked wine
If you are looking to get into wine or just began to have an appreciation for wine, this is a book you should pick up.  You have to keep in mind that every vintage is different and Tom doesn't reveal what vintage he is writing about.  Along with that, if there is a winemaker change, that will also change the final outcome of the wine as every winemaker puts his/her own signature into the wine.

With that being said...guess who is getting this book for his college graduation.  At least I'll know he'll be able to order a decent bottle of wine at a business dinner. 

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Notes From the Captain Lawrence Tasting Room: Brews Travelers’ Year of Beer

For most everyone in the tasting room—and particularly on the patio on this don’t-forget-the-sunscreen kind of day—it is simply a perfect Sunday: A few locally brewed craft beer samples and lots of laughs with friends before the work week starts. 

For Brandon Wurtz and Michael Roberts of Dallas, the work week can wait…and wait…and wait.

Visiting the Captain Lawrence tasting room on a 75 degree Sunday, the two are about a third of the way through a year spent visiting breweries around the nation, visiting all 48 continental states, sipping brew in as many breweries as they can get to, and writing about their experiences (exbeeriences?) at To date, Brandon and Michael—who look the part in beards and beer t-shirts—have visited 126 breweries in 15 states, and written about over a hundred. “We look for what is unique, what the scene is,” says Brandon.

They’re shooting for 365 breweries in 365 days. Highlights thus far?

“Oh, man, that’s tough,” says Brandon as he shakes his head.

Michael, who quit his job in merchandising to make the trek, gives it a shot. “The people,” he says. “Every single person we’ve met on the trip has been overwhelmingly kind and cool.”

Captain Lawrence offers “one of the coolest setups I’ve seen,” says Michael. “Chill, open, everyone hanging out.”

From here, they are on to Connecticut (Two Roads Brewing, Back East Brewing), then back to Westchester (Peekskill Brewery) before heading west.

But first, there is the 4 p.m. tour. A foursome from Poughkeepsie already had their own; Billy Kistner won a private tour in a raffle at a pub called Schatzi’s that was hosting a Captain Lawrence tap takeover. Each beer you bought spelled another raffle ticket.

“He bought so many beers he had to win,” says pal Tony Paonessa.

It wasn’t hard to get Tony, Billy’s sister Andrea and friend Tom Kinsley on board for the schlep south. “I said, ‘Sunday? Beer?’” Billy says. “They said, ‘Sure.’”

The foursome agrees that the tour was way more informative than another they recently took in Brooklyn. Talk turns to the “overexposed” hipster scene in that borough, which includes people naming their kid Brooklyn.

“My kid’s gonna be named Elmsford,” says Andrea as she enjoys a Fiona Irish red ale.  

The mood is ebullient inside and particularly out. Village Dog sells barbecue grub out of a tent, but Shane and Honore Adams of Hawthorne will do their own ‘cue at home. Shane likes the hoppy Captain’s Reserve Imperial IPA, while Honore prefers to tone down the hops, opting for the flagship Freshchester Pale Ale.

“It was such a long and hard winter,” says Shane of their decision to pop in. “We had cabin fever. When we saw the opportunity to come out, we took it.”

Honore plans to fill up the growler with the Pale Ale, then they’ll head home to get the barbecue cranked. Shane says he uses it year-round, but tonight will be special. “It’s the first time we get to go outside and enjoy a meal,” he says.

Patio seats are hard to come by. There must be close to 140 characters out and about--fitting, because Emily Santis of Long Island City works at Twitter, where her duties include stocking up the office fridge with Captain Lawrence, including the summery wheat beer Sun Block. “We drink a lot of beer,” she says.

She, Justin Barros of Bronxville, Kwasi Osae-Kwapong of White Plains and Lisa Raho of Tuckahoe did some hiking up by Bear Mountain, then decided to cap off a postcard-perfect spring day with a few beer samples. “This is a nice hidden gem in Westchester,” says Kwasi.

He swears by the Belgians and sips a Liquid Gold, as does Lisa. Justin’s Sun Block is “perfect on a nice, warm spring day.” Emily has the small-batch Fiona. “It goes down easy, it’s smooth, it’s delicious,” she says. “I like her.”

Meanwhile, the Brews Travelers Brandon and Michael are making mental notes for their Captain Lawrence review. They’ve seen the brewery on a particularly special day: under a big, bright sun after a harsh winter.
Brandon says you can’t go wrong with a year spent visiting breweries. “I’ve never not had a good time,” he says, “or not met someone new, at a brewery.”

Captain Lawrence Brewing, at 444 Saw Mill River Road in Elmsford, is open Wednesday through Friday (4-8 p.m.), Saturday (12-6 p.m.) and Sunday (12-5). The author is paid by Captain Lawrence, partially in India Pale Ale.

The “Notes From the Tasting Room” book is available at the brewery and on Amazon:

Monday, April 14, 2014

Heading to South America: Wines of Uruguay & Argentina with Courtney Quinn

In this episode of Uncork Your Mind I talk with Courtney Quinn of Our World Our Community importer of wines from Uruguay and Argentina.

Like many people, Courtney didn't begin her career in the wine industry. She actually worked in the not for profit sector and wanted to make a career change. All it took was a trip to Napa and she knew the wine industry was for her.  She went home and enrolled in San Diego State Business in Wine program.  Then quit job, sold house and moved to Napa and studied at CIA Greystone in their wine immersion program. 

Now that she had some wine education she needed to decide what to do and where to go with it.  When talking to people one thing was constant they kept telling her  "Have you thought of Mendoza Argentina" she thought this was sign and she packed up and went to Mendoza.

One thing she realized very fast is she needed to learn Spanish. So she enrolled in a Spanish class, and spent the mornings in class and the afternoon scouting out  vineyards.

Returning to the states, speaking with people in the industry, she took their advice and began OWOC.  She began importing with wines from Argentina and then someone suggested Uruguay wines.  She did her research and went to San Francisco for the wines of Uruguay tasting.  She was very impressed with Bodegas Carrau's Tannat and Sauvignon Blanc and the rest is history.

Courtney sees her growth in the South American market.  At the moment she only imports to California, but  wants to expand to other western states.  She wants to focus on other producers in Argentina, Chile and Brazil.

You can find more information on OWOC wines at and if you don't live in California, you can order her imports from Protocol Wine Studio

Listen to the podcast below as Courtney talks about the wines she imports and the history behind the wineries.

Wine Review: Bodegas Carrau
There are only 230 wineries in Uruguay and Bodegas Carrau  has two different vineyards , one in the southern part of the country and one in the northern part of the country.  The Sauvignon Blanc is from northern vineyard in the Cerro Chapeau region which is a continental climate at an elevation of 1000ft.  The highest vineyard in the country.  Down in the southern part the Las Violetas region has a maritime climate.  This vineyard has the influence from Atlantic ocean. Two very different terriors, two vineyards, one winery. The only gravity flow winery in Uruguay.

2013 Bodegas CarrauSauvignon Blanc Sur Lie - Amazing!  Aromas of passion fruit and fresh citrus just pouring out of the bottle.  Nice soft acidity with hints of lime.

2010 Bodegas Carrau Tannat Reserva - Aromas of black cherry,oak and vanilla. Plums and hints of raspberries on the palate with soft tannins.  I paired this with Paul's Chicken Marsala and it was a great pairing.

Remember you can find the podcast and subscribe by:

Thursday, April 10, 2014

My Week With Ed Hitzel

Unless you are in South Jersey you won't know who Ed Hitzel is.  I didn't know who he was until a few weeks ago myself. I'm a newbie down here and just learning to find my way.
Chef Michael Dangelo of 2 Mile Restaurant, Ed Hitzel and me

Ed is the MAN and Restaurant Critic for South Jersey. What Ed says goes! He has his own TV segment "Hitzel Approved", Radio Show "Table for One", Restaurant Magazine and Newsletter.  Don't let all that scare you, he is indeed a very nice man!  I was a lucky girl last week and got to spend time with Ed on both TV and Radio.

Ed is the go to for South Jersey food!  Who in the restaurant industry doesn't he know?  When I was on his TV segment he had 6 other chefs from various restaurants showing their menu items.  All of them looked so good! It was a real education for me, since I am new to the area and not sure where to eat.
Luke Palladino
The highlight of my week was co-hosting his 3 hour radio show.  It was just me, Ed and special Chef guest Luke Palladino.  Wow! is all I can say about Luke!  What a very talented and committed chef with a passion for great food and service!  Luke is the first Chef I have found in South Jersey with a passion for farm to table.
Braised Beef Marubini (a style of ravioli from Cremona, Italy) Shaved Parmesan

Beside from being very handsome (yes ladies, he's taken) he has traveled all over the United States and Italy and has incorporporated many things he has learned into the menus at his restaurants. Luke's Italian Restaurant is located in Linwood NJ, his Steakhouse in Northfield, NJ(that has a 5 pound Tuscan Porterhouse Steak on the menu. That's a big steak!), Luke's Kitchen & Marketplace at the Revel in Atlantic City and Luke Palladino at Harrah's Resort in Atlantic City.

A few things I learned about Luke in the 3 hours I spent with him.  He's a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America and just this year his daughter graduated from the CIA as a pastry chef. Luke worked under Emeril Lagasse at Commanders Palace in New Orleans.  He spent 4 years working in all the regions of Italy by traveling around with his knife set looking for work to gain the experience that has made him the wonderful chef he is today.

He loves chocolate and not everything is learned in chef school.  Nope, his Pierogies that you will find on the menu is from his longtime girlfriend Christine. Yes, Christine spent time in the kitchen teaching Luke and his chefs the proper way to make them from her family's special recipe. They were all good students.

As I write this today and you read this, Luke will be changing his menus from winter to spring as he incorporates the vegetables of spring into his menus.

Although I have not been to any of Luke's restaurants I can assure you I will be soon. As the radio show was from 10a to 1p, I left starving!

Look for Luke's new restaurant opening this fall in Philadelphia.

Thank you Ed, for having me as your guest on TV and Radio this week.  I enjoyed it and learned a lot about the food scene in South Jersey.

Monday, April 7, 2014

From Vine to Wine: Millbrook Boot Camp 2014

Registration is open for Millbrook Vineyards & Winery's 2014 From Vine to Wine, wine camp for the adult child in you.  Guaranteed to have fun, learn about wine and make new friends.  
I participated in this program two years ago and had a great time, learned lots!  What they changed up this year is they added up a red wine blending class.  That should to be great!  The information is below and here are some links to video I shot when I was in the class. 
To sign up call 845-677-8383 ext 17

Thursday, April 3, 2014

A Taste of Hungarian Wines

I was asked a few weeks ago to take part in a #Winechat featuring Hungarian Wines.  How could I refuse. This was my chance to taste wines from my home country.  One of the wines is produced about 40 minutes from where my family is from.  Below were the selections for the evening.
I have to say the selections were very unique.  That's what I LOVE is tasting wines from different regions made with grapes indigenous to that region.  Not your mainstream wine.  Also an interesting not is that it's been 20 or so years after the re-establishment of private and faily wineries in Hungary.  My father actually had papers claiming our vineyards and I believe the filed them with the consulate but nothing ever came from it. Today, Hungary is in the midst of a huge wine renaissance.

2011 Bodrog Bormühely Lapis Furmint - The Furmint grape is widely grown in the Tokaj-Hegyalja region of Hungry.  It is the principal grape in the Tokaji dessert wines people think of when you think Hungarian wines.  Actually this was was relatively dry.  It is said the grape was introduced to the region during the Austro-Hungarian era of the Middle Ages.

The grape is very high in acidity and with residual sugar at 4.9 g/l it doesn't taste sweet at all.  The acidity is really nicely balanced. The aromas of this wine are of sweet ripe peaches and toasted sugar.  The minerality of the wine comes out in the taste along with a nice creaminess felt on the palate. The wine did go through a full malolactic fermentation furmentation and spent 9 months aging in Hungarian oak sur lie.

2011 Fekete Béla Olaszrizling - This wine comes from the Somló region about 40 minutes from Tapolca and Hungary's smallest appellation.  The region was once an underwater volcano. The grape is also known as Welschriesling in Austria and is no relation to the Riesling grape you are accustomed  to.  This wine had lemon on the nose with a hint of floral.  It was very soft on the palate and had a hint of spice on the finish. This wine is aged two years in 1200 liter Hungarian oak casks before bottling.  SRP $25

2011 Eszterbaur "Nagyapám" Kadarka - This wine comes from the Szekszárd region which is in southern Hungry. When I first tasted this wine I immediately characterized it as a Gamay with a hint of Pinot Noir.  Fermented with native yeasts, the wine had flavors of tart cherry, raspberry, soft tannins and a nice spice on the finish.  I tasted it room temperature as well as chilled for 15 minutes in the fridge.  It is definitely better when slightly chilled. SRP $18