Thursday, August 27, 2015

The Back Story of Ventosa's Award Winning Lemberger

You know there is a story for everything.  I have a story about Ventosa's Lemberger which I didn't realize until Courtney told me Thursday evening at the REO Speedwagon concert. If you aren't sure what I am talking about, Ventosa's Lemberger won the Governor's Cup at the New York Wine & Food Classic, which is the wine competition I work the back room in.

First a little background on Ventosa and Jenna Lavita their winemaker.

Ventosa is a taste of Tuscany in the Finger Lakes. They have 23 acres planted of vinifera grapes that include Pinot Noir, Lemberger, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Merlot, Pinot Gris, Riesling and Chardonnay.

Ventosa is the Italian word for "windy".

Jenna Lavita came to Ventosa after she worked with Peter Bell at Fox Run Vineyards, and has also worked under Rob Thomas of Shalestone Vineyards and the former head winemaker and vineyard manager at Ventosa Eric Shatt.

Jenna takes a holistic approach to winemaking and vineyard management.  Her daily walks through the vineyard allow her to listen to the vines and adjust accordingly.

What I didn't realize is that the panel I was pouring for and taking care of during the Classic had the flight of Lemberger.  I knew it did, but I didn't connect it at first.  When working the back room, I very look at the bottle name and number and make sure it's poured in the right glass with the right number on the tuit.

The first flight of the day and the first wine brought out happen to be Ventosa's Lemberger.  I don't know what the second wine was, however, when I was putting down the second glass, stupid me was reaching around and the glass hit glass #1 and glass #1 shattered.

How powerful was the wine, well, it went across the table and cut Courntey's hand. But she didn't realize it until she looked down while writing and realized there was blood on her paper.  I at this point was cleaning up the mess, getting Anna-Catherine a new pour of glass #1 and new bread and plates for the table.  Boy did I feel bad.

The wine really showed well as the judges elevated it to the sweeps where it had to compete with 11 other red wines to move up and then compete with the finals in all categories.

Your probably thinking "Poor Courtney, I could have killed her." At least that is what I was thinking.  However, she lucked out and I got her 5th row seats and back stage passes to REO Speedwagon.  A night to remember and new friendships were born.

Congratulations Ventosa.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Wine Word Wednesday: Terrior

Monday, August 24, 2015

Notable Quotes from Wine Bloggers Conference in the Finger Lakes #WBC15

There is so much to be learned at the Wine Bloggers Conference.  Both about wine and and about marketing.  Instead o writing an indepth review I thought I'd share with you notable quotes. Some are funny, some serious and some educational.

Karen MacNeil Keynote

"Wine should never be stripped of its culture. To know Malbec, you need to know the Tango" ~ Karen MacNeil

"Be on top of your game all the time!" ~ Karen MacNeil

"Why are hybrids such crappy grape" ~ Wine Folly (Madeline Puckette)

"Wineries that make bad hybrids, also make bad vinifera"

"Generation Open - tired of Cabernet and Chardonnay"

"The only barrier we have to fight is medocrity" ~ Karen MacNeil

"I want to make wine that people can drink" ~ Craig Camp, Cornerstone Cellars

" I travel so much I passed myself in the air" ~ Sally, Brix Chocolate

"This is the most engaged group of people to talk to" ~John Wagner

"There are 13 different soil types in Alsace"

"Alsace has 38,300 acres of vines, 90% white wine, 15% of the vineyards are organic or biodynamic."

"Swiss tour guide says if you don't look someone in the eye during a toast it's 7 years of bad sex."

"We are heading to Lodi to get dirty for #WBC16"

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Finger Lakes Wine Country Trip: NY Wine & Food Classic to Wine Bloggers Conference #WBC15

I just got back from a packed filled week in the Finger Lakes.  Here are some of the highlight of my week that began working at the New York Wine & Food Classic which is a wine competition of all of New York State wines.  When that concluded I moved from Watkins Glen to Corning for the Wine Bloggers Conference.

I had a week full of eating, drinking and learning lots.
Chef & Wine Judge Jerry Pellegrino preparing our opening evening dinner

Smoke Salmon Belly which was amazing
All the wine glasses ready for the final sweeps

The view from our room at Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel

New York State wine tasting I hosted in my room Wednesday
Tour of the Corning Glass Museum

Wines of Virginia at Hand & Foot Restaurant

A trip to Finger Lakes Community College to see REO Speedwagon. Me and Bryan Hitt the drummer

Ribera &  Rueda wine seminar and tasting

Education on the bus to Wagner Vineyards

Along with wine & cheese on the bus

All local and homemade dinner at Wagner Vineyards

Chocolate covered onion and Tawney Port pairing

Pouring Hudson Valley Wines at the NY wine tasting at Rockwell Museum

Jordan Wines after party

Miner after party

Packed room for my seminar on Blogging to X

Alsace Riesling seminar and tasting

Austria Riesling tasting

Conclusion dinner at the Corning Glass Museum

Banfi after party

Spanish wine after party

Time to go home and back to reality

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Notes From the Captain Lawrence Tasting Room The Captain’s Log: Elmsford to Ireland, and Vice Versa

What do you get when you pair up a revered global whiskey brand and a treasured local craft brewery?
The Trans-Atlantic Imperial Red Ale, that’s what. Scott Vaccaro, Captain Lawrence founder, was invited to the Jameson Whiskey distillery in Midleton, Ireland—one of five U.S. breweries represented at the famed distillery. In exchange, a half dozen Jameson barrels were shipped to Elmsford to harbor the malty, rich and hearty Trans-Atlantic Red brew. Scott Tobin, Captain Lawrence brewhouse manager, made the trip as well. “I had to bring an Irishman just to be let into the country,” quips Scott Vaccaro.
The guests got “free reign” in the distillery, says Scott, to see how Jameson selects its raw materials, and how the top-notch whiskey is produced, start to finish. “It was quite an immersive, very insightful trip,” says Scott.
There may be some more history being made in the brewery. The Effortless Grapefruit IPA, a follow-up to the way-popular Citrus King small-batch brew, looks as though it will be moving on up to the major leagues, sold around the region as a six-pack. “It tastes absolutely fabulous,” says Scott. Scott adds that he’s “seriously considering” putting the Effortless Grapefruit in cans, making the beer well-suited for the golf course, the beach and other outdoor, on-the-go settings. If it comes to fruition, it would represent Captain Lawrence’s first canned beer.
Of course, bottles are still going strong at the brewery. The Fermento Funk Factory, as the new aging facility adjacent to the brewery is known, produced its first beer on the corking and caging line, as the barrel aged Frost Monster–the imperious beast spending alone time in apple brandy barrels–is being put in 375 ml bottles, and will be available next month. The deep, dark imperial stout is a fearsome tasting room favorite.
And here’s a new word for you to learn: Foudre. Captain Lawrence now has six of these massive aging casks on site. Four of them recently arriving from Napa, the oak barrels have an opening on top for adding fruit or other flavor enhancers; one’s got 800 pounds of strawberry in the mix, another has a thousand pounds of apricot. Before long, they’ll produce some beloved sour ales, such as the Cuvee de Castleton, Rosso e Marrone, and ones for the new Hudson Valley Harvest Sour Ale line.
Speaking of sours, Sour’d in September event is coming up September 19. Some 40 breweries spanning the nation, including Smuttynose, Peekskill and Troegs, will be showcasing their finest sour brews—those tart, tangy, often fruity and typically barrel aged beers. “They’re definitely not the average, everyday beer by any means,” says Scott.
There’ll be a giant tent in the parking lot, and part of the brewery will be open for sampling sours as well.
Sours are not for everyone, and there’s the usual eclectic lineup of traditional beers on tap in the tasting room–from standards like the Captain’s Kolsch and Hop Commander IPA, to pilot-system short-timers such as the dark ale Sisyphus’ Smile and passion fruit brew Passion of Perrone.
The pilot system is actually backlogged for the first time, says Scott, with small-batch concoctions waiting their turn in the 12-tap lineup. “Justin Sturges has been really cranking out the beers since he was put in charge of the pilot system,” Scott says. “We’re super-excited about what he’s doing.”
–Michael Malone (
Captain Lawrence Brewing, at 444 Saw Mill River Road in Elmsford, is open Wednesday through Sunday. The author is paid by Captain Lawrence, partially in India Pale Ale, for “Notes From the Tasting Room.”