Thursday, January 29, 2015

Hanna Winery 2013 Chardonnay

Located in the Sonoma Valley and founded in 1985 by world-renowned cardiac surgeon Dr. Elias Hanna to get back to his farming heritage, today is run by his daughter Christine. They own 600 acres of vines in Sonoma's Russian River Valley, Alexander Valley and the Mayacamas Mountains.

Their 2013 Estate Grown Chardonnay from the Russian River Valley is hand sorted at harvest and pressed whole cluster while still cold.  It is then racked into 60 gallon French oak barrels and fermented.

The wine was beautiful in color, slightly gold with lots of aromas coming out of the glass.  Hints of minerality, butter, pear, melon, and lemongrass.  I was looking forward to what I would taste.  Once on ,my palate the wine was so enjoyable and refreshing.  Flavors of soft pear, apple with a finish that had hints of lemon and soft buttery notes.

This wine retails for approximately $25.  Would be a great Chardonnay to serve at a business function.

**Disclaimer: I received this as a media sample.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Wine Word Wednesday: Racy

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Notes From the Captain Lawrence Tasting Room: Small Batches, Big Flavors, Fond Memories

The Super Bowl is a week away, which means it is time for the Captain Lawrence Hop Bowl, pitting a dozen memorable small-batch brews from the past year—staffer-created concoctions such as the chamomile-infused Sleepy Time Saison, the session IPA Hop Chug, the porter Funky Town Brown—against each other for bragging rights. It’s a democratic process; each beer has its own mason jar, and the tasting room visitors vote by dropping a dollar, a chip, or another token of respect in the jar.

By 2 p.m., the espresso stout Shaky Bones has the lead, but we all know those exit polls can be misleading. “It’s still early,” says beertender Jack Reilly.

A foursome from the River Towns would have no problem seeing a stout take the title. Millie and Pedro Ceron are from Tarrytown, Lourdes Lebron (“Like the basketball player,” she says) is from Briarcliff, and Peter Blass is from Irvington. They are smitten with a deep, dark, potent brew called the Frost Monster imperial stout. “It’s my baby,” says Millie. “It’s…just right.”

(Notably, Frost Monster is one of the few brews to start off in the pilot system—the brewery’s minor leagues—and make it all the way to 12 ounce bottles for sale in stores.)

Millie and Lourdes usually come on Fridays but happened in on a Sunday when reading about the Hop Bowl on Facebook. “It’s some of the old, some of the new,” says Millie of the pilot system selection.

Peter likes one of the newer entries—the strong lager I’ll Be Bock from Scott Tobin. “Nice body, doesn’t have the aftertaste of an IPA,” he says.

For Pedro, it’s the Shaky Bones, authored by Justin Perrone. “It definitely has a coffee presence and it’s got some hops, but it’s beautifully balanced,” he says.

Meatloaf is cranking out of the house speakers, perhaps a first in Captain Lawrence history. There is talk of Snowmageddon—the forecast seems to increase by six inches with every passing hour—and of who will win the Super Bowl. Scott Bixler of Verona, New Jersey likes the Seahawks. Actually, he dislikes the Patriots. “I went to school with a lot of people from New England,” he says. “I prefer Seattle.”

Wife Kathleen shrugs her shoulders. “I don’t care,” she says of the big game.

The two were stuck at home in the snow the previous day, but ventured out to Ridge Hill on this day, and decided to complete the excursion at Captain Lawrence. Kathleen likes the session IPA known as SIPPA, while Scott digs the red IPA called Batch O’ Love. Here’s a cool story about that beer: Mark Batchie, who handles the plumbing around the brewery—a vital role at 444 Saw Mill River Road--whipped that up to serve at his wedding, at Captain Lawrence, in September.

Scott plans to leave with a growler for his twin brother, a gift to mark the birth of his brother’s baby. The Batch O’ Love may be the pick. “It’s the front runner,” Scott says.

Speaking of brotherly love, there’s a sizeable party gathered around a table in the tasting room—guys and gals enjoying samples and each other’s company on a sunny day. In fact it’s a birthday celebration, albeit with a bittersweet twist. Pete Kirschner of Stamford and bro Dave of Hoboken gather a crowd every year to mark the birthday of their brother Matt, who died from cancer in December 2013. They’ve mourned the loss, but the brothers—and a giant group of Matt’s old friends and loved ones—would much rather toast his memory these days. “Matt enjoyed life,” says Pete.

Dave sips the Batch O’ Love and Pete the Sea Nymph calypso pale ale; he seems to enjoy the beers’ funky names as much as the brews themselves. “The names are killing it,” he says.

Their group is festive. It’s how Matt, who would’ve been 36, would want it. “He was a happy guy,” says Dave. “A happy-go-lucky guy.”

UPDATE: Love Conquers All! The Batch O’ Love took the title, with Shaky Bones in second.

--Michael Malone (

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, January 26, 2015

Shades of Chardonnay

Wine tasting can be complicated, or as complicated as you make it.  We are all individuals with different tastes. Our taste are as individual to us as our fingerprints are.

When you taste a wine and don't taste and smell all the aromas and flavors your friends do, it's okay. Your taste buds are tasting other flavors that are a bit stronger to you.

When tasting Chardonnay the flavors and aromas that you can be experiencing from the glass are below.

Keep in mind, a lot will depend on the type of Chardonnay you are tasting.  Cool climate Chardonnay vs. warm climate.  Oaked vs. unoaked. Young vines vs. old vines and the type of soil its grown in.

You might get 4 or 5 of the flavors/aromas or 2 or 3. Next time you are drinking a Chardonnay, swirl, sniff and taste and let me know what flavors are on your palate.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Friendship Discovery Renewal; Under The Tuscan Sun

Best known for her book "Under the Tuscan Sun",  Frances Mayes has created a line of wines to compliment her Tuscan Sun lifestyle.

Pensiero, a Pinot Grigio that comes from the vineyards of the Dolomites in the Trentino-Alto Adige region of Italy is aged in stainless steel tanks with 5 months on the lees.

The color is strawish yellow with aromas of green apple, pear and a hint of floral notes. This gives way to some nice green apple and pear notes on the palate with an nice expression of key lime on a minerally finish.  The wine is nicely balanced with nice acidity.

The wine will pair great with shellfish!

Pensiero defined by Mayer: "a basket of figs, a melon warm from the garden, an armful of pink hydrangeas, a carved walking stick, a jar of wild cherries." Tuscan always arrive with a little gift.

Next time you have an invite, think about bringing a little Tuscan Sun to the party.  Very reasonably prices at $13.99

Monday, January 19, 2015

Podcast: Wines of Turkey

Wines of Turkey 

 In this podcast I talk to Shane Rai of Vino Rai a Turkish wine importer.  When you listen, you will get an overview of the history of the wines of Turkey. We talk about the 4 wine regions along with the vinifera and indigenous grapes of the region. To get you excited I'll briefly touch on the 4 regions and the indigenous varitials and then you can hear the details in the podcast.

Diren, Tokat Region, Sahova valley Narince Vineyard
Diren, Tokat Region, Sahova valley Narince Vineyard

    Wine Regions of Turkey
  • Marmara - Bordering the three seas, Black, Aegean and Sea of Marmara.  The climate is Mediterranean with hot summers and mild winters.  The soil depends on the subregion, but you will find limestone to gravelly loam to cracked clay.
  • Agean - This region is in the western part of Turkey and faces the Greek Islands and the Aegean Sea.  They have a Mediterranean climate with soil ranging from clay loam to calcarious chalk.  This wine region accounts for 53% of all the wine produced in Turkey
  • Mediterranean - This region is in the southern part of Turkey and accounts for only 1% of the wine produced in the country.  You will find a Mediterranean climate and soil that ranges from pebbly clay loam to calcareous chalks.
  • Anatolia - This is the second most wine producing region in the country.  This region produces 33% of the wine in Turkey.  Located in the middle of Turkey, it is divided into 4 sub-regions.  The summers are hot and dry and the winters cold.  The soils vary per sub-region but you will find sandstone, volcanic, pebbly clay loam, glaciated alluvial fan, red clay, granites, chalky, so just about all kinds depending on region
Yazgan Vineyard
Yazgan Vineyard

 Indigenous grapes of Turkey
  • Narince - Grown in Anatolia, it has a profile similar to what you know as Pinot Gris.  Often sees oak and has flavors of apple, pear, citrus and pineapple.
  • Okuzgozu - Red grape the word means "eye of the bull'. You will find it produces a medium bodied wine with dark cherry, pomegranate and hints of earth and spice.  It is often blended with Bogzkere
  • Bogzkere - Primarily grown in Anatola, this grape produces a full bodied wine with complexity.  You will find dark fruit with dark chocolate flavors.
  • Emir - This is a grape that I am looking forward to tasting one day. Grown in Anatolia, it has citrus and tropical fruit aromas with a crisp refreshing palate of pear and apple.  Sounds like a great wine for the summer!
  • Kalecik Karasi - Grown in mid-Northern Anatolia, this grape produces a fruity wine with low tannins and bright acidity.
Shane imports 4 soon to be 5 wines from Turkey and you can find information on them on his website.
Gali Winery Stainless Steel Tanks
Gali Winery Stainless Steel Tanks

      Podcast: Wines of Turkey