Thursday, November 20, 2014

5 Thanksgiving Day White Wines Under $20

Picking out wine for Thanksgiving can be a challenge.  Do I serve a white, red, rose, sparkling?  Well actually all three are fine.  Perhaps you have one from each category with each course.  Here are my suggestions for reasonably priced white wine to serve on Thanksgiving Day.

Well begin first with whites.  For this holiday I like to stay away from traditional whites like Chardonnay.

Of course I have to get in a Hudson Valley white!  Robibero Family Vineyards Traminette.  This wine has nice aromas of green apple, lemon and spice.  A beautiful mouth feel with nice acidity and flavors of lime and green apple.  Now only will this pair well with your turkey, but also with Triple Cream Blue Castello Cheese. SRP $19

Second on my list would be a Riesling from the Finger Lakes. You can see my previous post on some of them at here.  They range from dry to sweet.  Now at Thanksgiving, I make a spicy stuffing, so I would go with a semi-sweet Riesling. You would need to pair the Riesling with your tradition. Most of them retail for under $20.

Pinot Gris is another wine although that varietal isn't a favorite, it is now becoming one.  I was really wowed by King Estates Signature Pinot Gris from Willamette Valley in Oregon.  It aged sur lie for 4 months in stainless steel tanks. It's fresh, racy and has a great mouth feel.  It sells for around $17.

Gruner Veltliner, another grape I don't drink a lot of that I should.  Its origins are from Austria where it is the signature grape.  Pick up a bottle of Hermann Moser 2013 Per Due Gruner Veltliner. You'll get some citrus aromas, coupled with pear and passion fruit and a little white pepper on the finish.  It retails for around $12.99

Last on my list is Torrontes from Argentina. Try the Recuerdo Torrontes.  I reviewed the 2011 vintage here. Not sure if you'll be able to find the 2011, but the 2012 I am sure is just as good.  It retails for $15.


Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The Captain’s Log: A Thanksgiving Day Monster, and We Don’t Mean Turducken

The leaves are all but down, the cold weather is very definitely upon us, and the tap lineup at Captain Lawrence has shifted to heartier brews. The Frost Monster is back! Hibernating all summer, the monstrous imperial stout, brewed with a massive amount of malt and sporting a fearsome 11% alcohol by volume, is on draft and available in four-packs. The Monster’s makeup is slightly different from last year’s iteration. “We cranked up the roasted malts—we’re always trying to make things better,” says owner Scott Vaccaro. “It’s a big, strong, warming beer.”

Nearly as bold—OK, nothing is really nearly as bold as the Frost Monster. But also packing a substantial punch is new release Hopsomniac IPA. A partnership between Captain Lawrence and Stumptown Coffee Roasters, Hopsomniac is an india pale ale brewed with Stumptown Cold Brew coffee. The coffee side of the equation is rich and intense, and the IPA end citrusy and hoppy. It’s unique and it’s good, and it’s for sale at Whole Foods and at Captain Lawrence.

“Hopsomniac combines the best elements of an IPA and a good cup of coffee,” says Scott. “What better way to stay up late, drinking IPAs than drinking them with coffee?”

Sticking with the big, bold beer theme, the Captain’s Reserve Imperial IPA—for years a draft beer and a 17-ounce bottle sold individually—will debut as a four-pack of traditional 12-ouncers in January. “It’s more bang for your buck,” says Scott of the new packaging.

And that same Imperial IPA—it’s perhaps the most popular offering in the tasting room—has led the Captain’s charge into Philadelphia. The Imperial IPA kegs arrived in the City of Rocky, Adrian and Brotherly Love a few weeks ago, and followed by the Smoked Porter in the next few weeks, the IPA in December and the rest in January. All are in kegs; Captain Lawrence six-packs hit Philadelphia further along in ’15. Philly represents a major branching out for Captain Lawrence. (For the record, famous resident Ben Franklin did not actually say “Beer is proof that god loves us and wants us to be happy,” though countless t shirts at beer fests credit him for saying it.)

Such expanded production requires extra brewing space, and Scott is planning to take on an extra 4,800 square feet next to the existing 19,000 square foot facility in February. The extra leg room allows for both barrel storage and a second bottling line. Oak tanks are en route from all over the globe, including a pair of 1,400-gallon vessels from a winery in San Diego, and two more 800-gallon barrels from Italy. All told, more than 4,000 gallons worth of oak tanks are headed to Elmsford.

Any of the aforementioned full-bodied beers would be a fine selection to bring to Thanksgiving dinner. The brewery has also held back a batch of Pumpkin Ale kegs, with growler fills on sale this week. They’ll go quickly.

Other Turkey Day options include small batch brews like the easy drinking Hop Chug IPA, a 4.9% ABV beer brewed with Mosaic and Chinook hops; and Second Runnings, a cousin of the Frost Monster jazzed up with espresso from Black Cow in Pleasantville.


Scott says the classics do just fine on Thanksgiving too. “There’s nothing like a cold Freshchester Pale Ale,” he says, “to go with turkey, football and family.” 

Monday, November 17, 2014

Mira Winery 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon

As you can see the weather is getting a bit chilly and I'm drinking more reds now that whites.

Mira Winery's 2010 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon will keep you warm this winter.  This wine is a blend of 91% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Cabernet Franc and 4% Syrah.  You will find blackberry and plum aromas and a hint of black pepper and licorice.

On your palate it's juicy and ripe with blackberries and blackcherry with hint of herbs.  As the wine opens it will begin to finish with strong black current.

This wine will pair nicely with a nice hard cheese and steak.  It retails for $52

Thursday, November 13, 2014

A Proud Wine Blogger Mommy Moment

I don't talk that much about my kids but raising them, you never know what they absorb.

For them, growing up in our house, when Paul and I got home from work, we uncorked a bottle and shared our day ventures with each other and the kids.  After we uncorked the bottle, we always discussed it, the aromas, the flavors. Yes we did let the kids smell and if they wanted to taste. Neither of them were really interested.
Michael & Melanie playing cards while we tasted.
I'll never forget in 2003 when we visited Williamsburg Virginia and we spent the day wine tasting. We went to First Colonial Winery in Charlottesville.(this was the Richmond part of the trip).  We arrived the same time an "older" couple did. I could see their disapproving face when we got out of the car with two kids. We entered the winery and were the only ones there with the "older couple."

We took the tour with them and their disapproving facial expressions never went away until the end of the tour when Randy(I believe that was his name) asked if there were any questions.  Michael raised his hand and asked "How do you know when to pick the grapes." OMG, the older couple smiled as Randy said that is a great question and answered him.

Michael never really drank.  OK, I think he began his sophomore year in college.  Most kids then can't tell a good wine from a lousy wine.  Well Michael could.  While most kids come home from college and take food back with them, Michael took wine (he was 21 then)

For his college graduation this year, we gave him a subscription to the California Wine Club.  I felt that was a good introduction to California wines. (he gets lots of NY wines  from us)

Two weekends ago he traveled to meet a friend in the middle of Pennsylvania somewhere, about an hour east of Pittsburgh. As I'm talking to him on his ride out (hands free of course) he is telling me there is a winery there and they were going to go wine tasting. I could hear the excitement in his voice.

After the weekend when I spoke to him, I asked him if he went to the winery. With great enthusiasm he begins to tell me all about it.  How they had a great blend that was a Lemberger, Cabernet Franc and Merlot (and also told me the percentages, although I didn't write them down). Their Cabernet Franc was very good and that he purchased a bottle.  He told me all his tasting notes.

I can't tell you how proud I was at that moment.  For a 22 year old to be so well versed in wine and have such a good palate.

Melanie isn't to far behind.  Although her palate sways sweet, she is open minded.  She recently won a pasta basket at a bridal shower that contained a bottle of Pinot Noir.  I received this picture from her. Although she said the wine wasn't the best, I'm glad she could tell the quality.  I'm just as proud of her too!



All I can say is Paul and I  did well!  They actually listened all those years during wine time.

My advice to my wine blogging friends, even if your kids are young, include them.  Talk to them. You never know what they absorb and where it will take them in the future.


Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Notes From the Captain Lawrence Tasting Room: Getting Out While the Getting’s Good

A group of six men is gathered around a Samsung phone resting on a barrel on the Captain Lawrence patio. They’re watching the Jets. The screen goes blank.

“Please deposit 25 cents for the next minute,” jokes one of them in a robotic voice. They laugh. The game comes back on.

The Jets are actually winning.

How could it not be a special day?

It’s classic fall weather, crisp and clear, and there’s the feeling there aren’t too many left this year where you can enjoy a beer on the patio and not rattle your sample glass against your chattering teeth. Jason Barber and Kathleen Morris of the Upper East Side spent the day traipsing around Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, then googled something else to do in the area when Captain Lawrence popped up in an old Time Out New York story.

“We’re both brewery and beer enthusiasts,” says Kathleen. She and Jason utter “enthusiasts” at exactly the same time, in perfect harmony--the sign of a winning couple.

“Beer brings people together,” adds Jason. He’s got the Imperial Pale Ale, which proves to be a popular choice on the day. “I like the hoppiness, and the bang for your buck,” he says, a nod to the Captain’s Reserve’s 9% ABV.

Kathleen, meanwhile, is enjoying her first Kolsch since sipping one in Cologne, Germany.

The pair has been sampling various small batches too, such as the session IPA known as Hop Chug and its cousin Hop Commander, and running rampant over all opponents in cornhole. “We played three different teams and we haven’t lost once,” says Jason proudly.

Elsewhere on the patio, a couple Men of Mystery—so mysterious they only go by first name and last initial—are also trying out hearty brews such as the Imperial IPA and the Smoke Up smoked porter. 

Ramsey A. of White Plains had been at Captain Lawrence the previous day, and made enough of an impression on pal Victor N. of Harrison that both ended up arriving at the brewery a day later. A doctor specializing in interventional radiology, or minimally invasive image-guided procedures, to you and me (“I play video games all day,” he explains), Ramsey learned of the place from his “much hipper, much younger brother,” who hangs at Captain Lawrence frequently.

They’re enjoying the fine fall weather while they can. “I think today might be the last,” Ramsey says of the al fresco imbibing days.

“We’re getting outside while the getting’s good,” adds Victor.

Some prefer the warmth, not to mention the moody Jeff Buckley tunes, inside. Rita Carter of Buchanan is enjoying a beer with her son, Jeff Tyc. Rita used to visit Captain Lawrence back in its Pleasantville days, and is regaling Jeff with the story of the brewery, and founder Scott Vaccaro before he got, as she puts it, “rich and famous.”

“It’s a great local story—some guy who just loves to make beer,” she says.

Rita enjoys the Kolsch, and Jeff the Imperial IPA. Jeff is plotting what to bring home, and it looks like a sixer of the IPA. A growler, he says, “is a big commitment.”

Speaking of commitment, Dan Schasse of White Plains and Cristiane Silva of Mount Vernon have their rescue dogs at their feet. Cristiane did not expect the brewery to be dog-friendly. “I was waiting to be yelled at,” she says, though her Dachsund named Mama is more than welcome, long as she doesn’t smoke or drink from open bottles, same as everyone else.

Dan’s lab/shepherd mix is named Farley. “As in Chris,” he explains. “I worked with a guy named Farley; I just like the name.”

Both are enjoying the Liquid Gold, a Belgian-style ale. “I’m not crazy about beer,” says Cristiane. 
“But this is good.”

Veterans Day is just a few days away, but most everyone in the tasting room will be working that day. Cristiane spent time in the Air Force and has several friends in the military. She makes a point to salute their service. “Thank you for all the work they do, the sacrifices they make,” she says. “I couldn’t be more grateful.”

A fine fall day and a salute to America’s bravest—we’re grateful too.

—Michael Malone (malone5a@yahoo.com)

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.


Monday, November 10, 2014

Give the Gift of White Rose

I bet you though I was talking about the flower.  Nope I am talking about the 2013 White Rose 75% Traminette 25% Gewurztraminer blend from Whitecliff Vineyards & Winery in Gardiner, New York.

This wine is father and son in a bottle.  Traminette is a Gewurztraminer hybrid.  It's a cross of the French American hybrid Joannes Seyvve 23.416 and the German Gewurztraminer.  Whitecliff named this wine after the climbing route in the Shawangunk Mountains that you can see from their property.

The wine had a beautiful nose with aromas of melon, citrus, hints of lychee and rose petals.  You could also smell the minerality of  the wine.  

One sip and you detect a hint of sweetness with flavors of honeydew melon, a touch of lemon and other citrus fruits along with its minerality.  The wine is well balanced with bright acidity.

Priced at $19.95, this wine will look and taste very well with your upcoming Thanksgiving dinner. 

Thursday, November 6, 2014

A Powerful Polished Malbec & Steak Pairing


Grown on 25 year old vines about 900 meters above sea level the grapes are picked that go into Trapiche's 2011 Broquel Malbec.

Aged in oak for 15 months this Malbec comes alive with plumberry, black raspberry, vanilla and a hint of smoke.  There is some nice plum spice on the palate.  The wine is full bodied with light tannins and nice acidity.

Pair with a nice grilled steak or prime rib. This wine is great now or cellar it for 2 or three years.

SRP$ 11.95