Friday, September 30, 2016

My Favorite Chef Peter X. Kelly to Guest Chef at Millbrook's Harvest Party

I am sooo excited!  One of my favorite chefs is going to be the "Guest Chef" at Millbrook Vineyards & Winery's harvest party.

If you have never attended one of Millbrook's harvest party, you must come.  It is a first class event with the beautiful fall foliage of the vineyard as the backdrop. The food is always amazing and this year will be no different with Chef Peter X. Kelly.

Peter X. Kelly is the Chef  owner behind Restaurant X & Bully Boy Bar, X20 Xaviars on the Hudson, Xaviar's at Piermont and The Freelance Cafe and Wine Bar. A Hudson Valley native and although he's a couple years older than me, we went to the same high school (Roy C. Ketcham). His food and service is outstanding!

What can you expect at this harvest party? Definitely a good time and great food! You get to meet new friends and in my case, I got to meet two twitter friends at the last harvest party I attended, Marty Gardner (@MartyGardner)  and Veronique Deblois (@foodwinechickie). I can't wait to see them again this year.

There is always the question of what to wear. Most people get somewhat dressed up. Paul wore jeans with a nice shirt and that was acceptable.

The event begins in the Vineyard Grille where we will be sipping on 2015 Tocai Fruilano Proprietor's Special Reserve, 2015 Hunt Country White, 2014 Pinot Noir and Hunt Country Red and snacking on some wonderful appetizers. Then we move into the big tent for a first class meal featuring 4 courses paired with their wine prepared by Chef Peter X. Kelly.You know it is going to be good! Then there is usually a game played where everyone participates and your table is your team. Not sure what Stacy has in mind this year, but you know it will be fun.

Here's your invitation along with the delicious menu. Come join me and have some fun at the Harvest Party. Reservations must be made by October 10. I'll see you there!

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Wine Word Wednesday: Pinotage

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

5 Facts Everyone Should Know About Umbria's Sagrantino Grape

*This tasting and seminar took place just hours before the earthquake.  My thoughts go out to the people of Umbria and LeMarch. If you would like to help in the relief efforts visit Italian American Relief or the Italian Red Cross.

Umbria is located in the middle of Italy. It borders Tuscany to the north, Le Marche to the east and Lazio to the west. It has rainy winters and sunny summers. It is referred to as  "Green Heart of Italy" because of  the rolling hills and ancient towns.

When visiting Italy, the easiest way to get to Umbria  when you visit Italy is a train from Rome. Joining us during this conversation was Giselle Stafford who with her husband Mark own Gusto Wine Tours. If you are planning a trip to Italy, I suggest getting in contact with Giselle who can arrange day trips to many of the wineries in Umberia including Fongoli which is the wine reviewed below.

In addition to the Sagrantino grape which we'll discuss in a minute, Umbria is also known for Orvieto which is a blend of the Grechetto and Trebbiano grape. It's a nice dry white wine.

There are 6 facts you should know about Umberia's Sagrantino Grape:

  1. Sagrantino the wine of Montefalco was originally made as a dessert wine, In 1979 the DOC allowed it to be made as a dry wine.
  2. Vino Secco which appears on the label means dry and is displayed as so  because it was once only made sweet.
  3. The Sagrantino grape is onlly grown around the hilltown of Montefalco.  You will not find it anywhere else in the world.
  4. Sagrantino grape is a very tannic grape. One of the most tannic grapes in the world.
  5. The leaves of the Sagrantino vine turn bright red by the end of October

I was very fortunate to be able to taste a 2010 Fongoli Montefalco Sagrantino DOCG.  Montefalco Sagrantino DOCG dictates that the wine is  100% Sagrantino grapes that is aged for 12 months in oak for a total of 37 months of aging.

The Fongoli family has over 80 years of winemaking in the Montefalco area. The San Marco Estate was purchased in 1927 and since then it's been passed down through three generations.  The grapes are all hand harvested and aged in large Slovenian oak barrels from 5 to 40 years.

The 2010 Fongoli Montefalco Sagrantino is aged for 30 months in large Slovenian oak barrels then 6 more months in the barrel. This wine is a very full bodied and  bold wine. But yet after decanting has a soft and elegant side.

Yes this wine needs to be decanted at least an hour before entertaining the first sip. You can smell the boldness coming out of the glass with the oak and dark fruit.  As the wine enters your mouth it's got a soft and beautiful feel.  Dark fruit leads the way with tannins that make it a little chewy.  Hints of black cherry plum and some clove with a bit of cigar box on the finish. This wine is very well balanced and a real treat.

I paired this with a  grilled rib-eye steak that I seasoned with Montreal seasoning and sprinkled it with truffle dust. I served it with sauteed mushrooms on top.  Just a tiny bit of the truffle dust really blends with the wine to bring out the wonderful flavors of both the wine and steak.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Understanding Harvest with Monica Pennings from Christopher Jacobs Winery at Pennings Vineyards

This is the last in my series of "What harvest means to you." As now we are in the beginnings of the 2016 harvest. Long days and hard work for the next 6 or so weeks to bring the new chapter "The 2016 Hudson Valley Harvest" to a close so you can enjoy the wine in the years to come.

Monica Pennings gives us her view on harvest and what it means to her.

1.  "Harvest" to us is a celebration of the completion of our growing season and the beginning of our wine making season. It's a pivotal point where gears shift dramatically.  It's an exciting time.  It is when a new chapter begins.  We especially get great gratification of seeing our fruit looking ready for the next step. 

2. What are factors in knowing when is the right time to pick the grapes?

 We harvest our grapes based on maturity, ripeness and what we hope to achieve in terms of a style of wine.  Some parameters used in our decision making process of when to harvest can be acidity, tannin, aroma, flavor.  Basic measures of brix and pH are key components.  All this will vary by variety of the grape.  There is also weather to consider, as rain may effect grapes just before harvest time.

3. Once the grapes are picked, what is the process of getting it from vine to bottle?

  The process of getting grapes from vine to bottle is extensive.  In a nutshell, it starts with the harvest.  The preparation and care of the fruit before beginning any processing would be second.  Crushing the fruit is next.  Depending on the wine we may immediately press or we may start the fermentation, then press.  The fermentation process is a major phase in transforming grapes from vine to bottle. There are many details to account for and a watchful eye throughout the process is important.  Once fermentation is complete, there may be the need to press.  Ultimately, the fresh wine is racked (taken off the remaining slurry that settles to the bottom of your fermentation vessel) into a clean tank or barrel.  From there the wine will develop more with time. 

4.& 5.  Do you have any activities that allow the public to participate in harvest (ie. grape picking, cellar rat for a day?) and . What events do you have for the public if any to celebrate the Harvest? (ie. Harvest party, grape stomping etc.)

At Christopher Jacobs Winery, we coordinate a Harvest Festival.  The invitation is extended to all those interested in experiencing the "harvest" of some of our grapes.  We provide a picnic spread of sandwiches, local cheeses, and other finger foods along with our wine!  Interested grape pickers pick and harvest grapes by the bin full.  Each bin awards them a ticket that can be exchanged for the picnic spread choices and wine.  It's all hands on deck for our Harvest Festival!!  The Pennings Family is out in full force, as we facilitate and host this super fun and rewarding experience!

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

What I learned on the First "National Prosecco Day"

Yes there is a day to celebrate everything!  On Saturday, August 13 we celebrated Prosecco with the first National Prosecco Day.  I thought it was fitting to  celebrate at the pool with a bottle of Riondo Prosecco Spago Nero.

One of the things I loved was this small bottle (187ml).  Made it very easy to twist off the cap, consume and enjoy in 100 degree heat and I didn't have to share. Not to mention it was the perfect fit for my cooler.

Refreshing it was and I was immediately hit with flavors of apple, pear a kiss sweetness and just enough frizzante to put a smile on my face. After all, I was the only one at the pool with a bottle of bubbles. 

The small (187ml) bottle retails for $6.99 and the regular size bottle retails for $14.

What else did I learn about Prosecco.....
  • Riondo Prosecco founded National Prosecco Day this year (2016)
  • It can only be produced in the Veneto and Friuli Venezia Giulia regions of Italy
  • It is made with 85% Glera grape. Other grapes used for the 15% are Verdiso, Bianchetta Trevigiana, Perera, Glera Lunga, Chardonnay, Pinot Bianco and Pinot Grigio
  • In 2009 to stop imitators from using the Prosecco designation the Italian government officially changed the name of the grape from Prosecco to Glera
  • Versions of Prosecco can be made Sparkling (Spumante) Semi-Sparkling (Frizzante) and still (Tranquillo)
  • There is a range of sweetness to Prosecco with Brut being the driest and Demi-Sec the sweetest
  • Prosecco should be enjoyed young and fresh

Saturday, September 17, 2016

HELP! Suggest a Book Title

Help!  I need a book title.

Many of  you know I've been working on a book and the title was going to be "Hudson Valley Uncorked!".  Well, the publisher who contracted with me to write the book has fell on hard times.

Monday I received a message from him that his wife suddenly became very ill. My thoughts and prayers go out to him.  And if you could say a prayer for them too, I'm sure that will help.

However, he said he can't work on my book until the earliest now 1st quarter of 2017. I was very disappointed as the work is done.  All it needs is a good edit.

I asked him to relinquish the rights to the book and give it to me to self publish. He agreed, since it is pretty much ready to go out.

Now I need to come up with a new title of the book.  The title can not use the words Uncork or Uncorked.

Please go over to my facebook page and suggest a title 

The winning title will get a free copy of the book when it is published.