Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Books for the Wine Lover this Holiday Season

Are you like me and feel like BAM it’s the holiday season and everything is rushed and crazy. You are trying to find that right gift for everyone on your list. As we are taking part in the holiday cheer and going to parties, shopping, January is right around the corner and BOOM, it’s quiet. That is the best time to curl up with a good book, try a new recipe and begin to plan your 2018 travels.

Among all the holiday gift guide posts there are out there, I hope you take a look at my three suggested books for the wine lover this holiday season. There is one for the cook, one for the traveler and one novel for the person to curl up on the couch in front of the fireplace with a good glass of wine.


Pinot, Pasta and Parties
Paul Sorvino and Dee Dee Sorvino

This cookbook is from Actor Paul Sorvino and his wife Dee Dee Sorvino. They share with you their background, their stories and their recipes. They love to cook Italian of course. Each chapter has a theme and a well thought out menu and begins with a special cocktail. Their stories about growing up, what influenced them, how they met are all intertwined within. I tried the Spaghetti Western Mac and Cheese. Easy to make and delish! Also for those movie nights is their Italian Popcorn. At the very end of the book there is a section that explains the major red and white grapes of Italy. SRP $30 but Amazon has it for $20.60


Tapping the Hudson Valley
 Debbie Gioquindo

OK, so here is where I have to give myself a plug. Tapping the Hudson Valley is your guide to visiting the craft beverage producers of the Hudson Valley and the sights along the way. Comprehensive one and three day itineraries complete with restaurant and lodging suggestions along with directions should your electronics fail. Even has suggestions for day trips from New York City on Metro North to visit some of the lower Westchester breweries. I have had people who purchase this book tell me they use it and get autographs from the craft beverage makers (winemakers, distillers, brewmaster, & cider makers.) Create memories with Tapping the Hudson Valley. Available on Amazon $12.95


Crush - A Wine Thriller
Jennifer M. Fraser

This novel is a great read for a cold winter day, in the ski lodge(if you don’t ski) or on the beach and by the pool. You won’t be disappointed. Jennifer M. Fraser will have you on the edge of your seat trying to guess who’s behind he situations that occur and it’s not who you think. There is a little bit of spy, romance and wine in this wonderful novel. After you read the last page, you will want to take a trip to British Columbia’s Okanagan wine region. You can read my review here. Crush is available on Amazon for $9.95

Friday, December 8, 2017

Welcome to Winephabet Street F is for Furmint

Welcome to Winephabet Street F is for Furmint. Winephabet Street is a series where every month Lori Budd of Dracaena Wines and I work our way through the alphabet in exploring wine and wine regions. We learn about the history of the grape or region, the characteristics, fun facts and suggested wine pairings. The show is live the third Monday of the month at 8pm, it’s free but you must register to attend. Put it on your calendar to hang out with us, pour yourself a glass and chat with us.

This episode takes us to Hungary where we explore their signature grape Furmint. This grape and country are close to my heart. My grandfather is from Budapest and his family is from Tapolca located near Lake Balaton. It was here where my Great, Great, Great Grandfather and his brothers established himself in the wine trade. The main Lessner house on Main Street is the house my family lived in and they held the keys to the cellar. From the research I’ve done, they were very instrumental in the Hungarian wine trade. Now that I got you all off track, let’s get back to Furmint.

Furmint is a white grape indigenous to the Tokaji region. Many people think of it as a sweet wine like Furmint Aszú but over the last 15 years they have been producing single varietal Furmints made in one of three styles; stainless steel and barrels both old school and new school.

The Furmint in my glass wasPajzos T Furmint 2015.The blend is 90% Furmint, 6% Harslevelu and 4% Yellow Muscat, clocks in at 13% alcohol and was aged in stainless steel for 6 months. It’s a high acid wine that lingers on the finish. Love that acidity! At first the wine was skunky, but as it warmed up the skunkiness went away and white flowers, lemon and minerality came to play. It’s a nice white wine and would hesitate to purchase it again. $11.99 at Viscount Wines & Liquors in Wappingers Falls.

 Sit back and enjoy a glass of Furmint and watch or listen to the show. The podcast is just below the video and can be downloaded. Don't forget to sign up for next month when we explore Gruner Veltliner. Sign up at https://events.genndi.com/channel/Gruner 



Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Jordan Winery's Big Heart

Jordan Winery has the corner on hospitality but they also have a big heart and give back to the community tremendously. It is so nice to see the love that goes into the community. I was invited to a private lunch by Lisa Mattson, Jordan Winery’s Director of Marketing & Communication at Bird and the Bottle the newest restaurant for the Start Family in Santa Rosa. For some reason it didn’t look to far from the hotel, ha, famous last words. It was about 40 minute walk so I got my exercise in.

There was a lot of thought put into why Lisa chose this restaurant for our lunch. This restaurant is owned by the Stark Family who lost their flagship restaurant Willi’s Wine Bar to the Tubbs fire. When lunch was served family style (because we are all a family) we had a few dished from the Bird and the Bottle and some of the signature dishes from their flagship restaurant Willi’s Wine Bar. Of course there was wine with lunch.But the wine served was off their wine list in support of the wineries that were affected by the fire, Paradise Ridge, Trione Vineyards, Gundlach Bundschu and Matanzas Creek.

Jordan Winery is the largest donor to Sonoma County Toys for Tots. Last year there were 9,300 kids that benefited from the operation. This year they expect to be an additional 2,000 kids from the fires in need. We were asked by Lisa to donate funds to Jordan’s Toys for Tots campaign. We raised $1,000 and Lisa and Taylor went shopping.

There will be a lot of happy boys and girls this holiday season and I can say I was happy to be a part of this wonderful group.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Jordan Winery - Taking Hospitality to the Next Level

One of the wineries I’ve always wanted to visit was Jordan Winery. I not only love their wines but I have heard wonderful things about their hospitality and what you experience when you visit the winery. You can imagine I jumped at the chance to register for the Jordan dinner at the Wine Bloggers Conference and was blown away by the experience!

The winery located in Sonoma’s Alexander Valley was founded by John’s parents Tom and Sally Jordan. John parents fell in love with wine when they traveled to France, Bordeaux was their favorite and they fell in love with food way before wine. It was in Autumn 1971 when they were in San Francisco having dinner at their favorite restaurant Ernies when the waiter suggested they try a California Cabernet Sauvignon, one that he finds extraordinary, but they were looking forward to having a French Bordeaux. If they don’t like the wine, the waiter said, Ernies will take it back and you can go onto your French Bordeaux. Out came the Beaulieu Vineyard George Latour 1966, they tasted it and were amazed that a beautiful Bordeaux style wine was made in this country. If Beaulieu Vineyard can do it so can we and the rest is history.

 I knew I was in for a treat because Jordan has their own chef and garden. What they don’t grow they source locally. Then the Cabernet and Chardonnay. Yes they only make two wines and they make them good!

 The evening began with a caviar and wine pairing. I have to admit, I was a bit skeptical, this was my first time with caviar and I really liked it! Our first pairing was wasabi roe paired with their Jordan Cuvee Brut Champagne made in partnership with AR Lenoble. I always heard people have Champagne with caviar and now I know why. The wasabi wasn’t over powering and it was a match made in heaven perfect spice for the bubbles. The 2014 Chardonnay was paired with ginger roe which was a beautiful pairing, the wine got rid of the ginger flavor. With the sparkling the bubbles make the ginger more pronounced. The 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon was paired with beet-saffron roe. This had a nice contrast between earthiness of the beets and fruit and the wine got rid of any of the fishiness of the caviar. Black raspberry in the wine really showed with the caviar. The 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon was paired with the truffle roe. This was my least favorite pairing. Not sure why on my palate, but something just didn’t mix right. I tried the roe with the other wines as well and wasn’t successful. I felt like each item kept to themselves. The last pairing was the chef’s reserve caviar by Tscar Nicouli paired with the Jordan Cuvee Brut Champagne. This pairing was awesome. The caviar was a bit creamy and while it went well with the Champagne I liked it with the Chardonnay. This my friends was just the beginning.

 Next we moved to the big barrel room for dinner. This is where we met John Jordan. He greeted us with a warm welcome as if we were part of his family. “One of the great parts about this industry is you get to meet great friends and socialize” says John Jordan “ and we like to say they do three things right - Cabernet, Chardonnay and Hospitality. We never chase trends and our emphasis has always been on restraint. Restraint in the cellar and let the fruit and terroir speak for themselves”.
 Dinner was served.

[ Abalone and Jordan Extra Virgin Olive Oil Poached Alaskan Halibut paired with 2015 Jordan Chardonnay, Russian River Valley

Grilled Mary's Duck Breast with Olive Oil Confit, Chanterelles and Pomegranate Duck Jus paired with 2013 Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon, Alexander Valley

Cowgirl Creamery Mt Tam, Nisasio Valley Cheese Company Square, Matos Cheese Factory St. George, Moonside Creamery Lunetta, Membrillo, Jordan Bee Pollen and Sonoma Wild Honeycomb paird with 2003 Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon, Alexander Valley, Magnum

The hospitality didn't end here.  I was invited to a lunch the next day by their Marketing Director and Communications, Lisa Mattson and that will follow on Monday and involves Jordan's giving back to the community.

 I highly suggest a visit to Jordan if you are in the Sonoma area. Reservations are a must and trust me, you won't be disappointed, Reach out to me  I will assist you in the process. 

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Get Your Cabernet Franc On During Hudson Valley Cabernet Franc Week

This week marks the first Hudson Valley Cabernet Franc week leading up to #CabernetFranc day on December 4. I’ll never forget my first Hudson Valley Cabernet Franc. It was a Whitecliff Cabernet Franc and the year was somewhere around 2003 or so. I was in love. So impressed by the grape and the hint of pepper on the finish. Now fast forward to 2016 and the Hudson Valley declares Cabernet Franc their signature grape, and now Hudson Valley Cabernet Franc Week.

Here are some fun facts about Cabernet Franc:

  • Cabernet Franc is the parent of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.
  • It is one of the 5 grapes in a Bordeaux blend.
  • Cabernet Franc is also known as Breton, Véron, Noir dur, Bouchy, Bouchet, Gros Bouchet, Carmenet, Grosse Vidure, Messanges rouge, and Trouchet noir.
  • Flavor profile of the grape you can look for expressions of violets, raspberry, strawberry, blackberry, tea, tannins, oak and black pepper.
  • December 4th is Cabernet Franc Day where Cabernet Franc is celebrated throughout the world

In celebration of Cabernet Franc the Hudson Valley Cabernet Franc Coalition has organized a week of Cabernet Franc tastings, events and discounts all leading up to December 4th, Cabernet Franc day. Get your Hudson Valley Cab Franc on this week and join me Monday, December 4th from 8pm - 10pm on Twitter where we will be tasting and talking Cabernet Franc from all over the country. Follow the hashtag #CabFrancDay and tell us what Cabernet Franc is in your glass.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

What You Need To Know About Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superior DOCG

As you reach for that bottle of Prosecco this holiday season, reach for one with the DOCG label. Why? During the months of September and October I took part in a program all about Prosecco with #winestudio and boy was it an eye-opener for me. I wasn’t a big fan of Prosecco and I guess I just didn’t understand it. Not all Proseccos are produced the same. There are some from the DOC, some DOCG, some produced in the Charmat method some produced with the second fermentation in the bottle. How do you know what Prosecco you should purchase? As for the price, it can all be relatively just a few dollars apart in price but miles in quality. I previously wrote about Prosecco fermented in the bottle. If you missed it click here.

Prosecco has a few tiers of designations. The DOC is on the bottom, so there aren’t so many strict laws governing the production. The DOCG designation is a higher more prestige designation and quality than DOC. The famous day was August 1, 2009 when the territory of Conegliano Valdobbiadene became Italy’s 44th DOCG which represents the highest quality for wines in Italy. When labeled Conegliano Valdobbiadene Superior DOCG it is grown in the hills and hilltops of the region where the vines have been custom tailored to the shape of the hills. The east-west running chain of hills deriving from the collision of tectonic plates that created the Alps. The altitude ranges from 50 to 550 meters above sea level. The vines are planted only on the south facing side of the hill due to the great variation of micro-climates. Conegliano Valdobbidene DOCG consists of 15 villages in the province of Treviso. Vineyards located in Conegliano Valdobbiadene can use Conegliano Valdobbiadene, Conegliano only or Valdobbiadene only on their label regardless where they are located in.

As we climb the Prosecco pyramid, nestled in Conegliano is the area or Rive. Rive wines are often obtained from the most precipitous high-quality vineyards. The term Rive indicates in local dialect, the slopes of steep hills that are the characteristics of Conegliano. In Rive, the area doesn’t refer to the steepness where the vines are planted, it refers to the distinctive combination of soil, exposure and microclimate. There are 43 single vineyards in Rive and the wine produced from them are some of the most terroir driven wines in Conegliano.You will find Processo produced from Rive are vintaged, hand picked and usually Brut or Extra Dry. The words Rive on the label followed by the name of the designation indicates a Prosecco Superiore made entirely of grapes from one of the designated Rive vineyards grown in a single commune or area. The restrictions are that to be labeled Rive, grapes must come from the prescribed area, maximum 13,000 kg/ha, be vintaged dtated and hand picked.

At the top of the pyramid is Cartizze, the most expensive vineyard land in all of Italy sometimes referred to as the “Grand Cru” of Prosecco. Superiore di Cartizze is produced in a well-defined area of 107 hectacres of vineyards in Valdobbiadene and managed by 131 growers located on the south facing hillsides in the hamlets of San Pietro di Barbozza, Santo Stefano and Saccol. The glera grapes coming from Cartizze are riper which gives the Prosecco a more fuller, rounded flavor profile. The sandstone and clay soils allow the grape to achieve full maturation and with an unusual concentration of aromas. To be called Superiore di Cartizze it must be Spumante. The prices are generally more expensive due to the limited acreage and difficulty of harvest. Unfortunately there is limited imports of the Cartizze to the United States.
Tasting notes from the wines during #winestudio that changed my perspective on Prosecco.If you would like to follow #winestudio, tune into twitter Tuesdays at 9pm and follow the hashtag #winestudio.

Val d’Oca “Rive di Santo Stefano” Brut Natural Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superior DOCG - Soft bubbles with nuisances of honeydew melon, pear and macintosh apple with a hint of lime zest.
Masottina Extra Dry Rive di Ogliano 2016 Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG - Pale in color with notes of broiche, flowers and lime leading to sweet apricot and citrus flavors.Great to impress the boss with.
Tenuta degli Ultimi Rive di Collalto “Biancariva Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG- Golden in color with chalky minerality, passion fruit, green apple and lime make for a great romantic occasion.
Colesel Brut Valdobbiadene Superiore di Cartizze DOCG - A hint of sweetness derived from the ripeness of the grapes with nice sandy minerality, honeysuckle, fresh stone fruit and citrus zest.
Le Colture di Cartizze Dry Valdobbiadene Superior DOCG - Rich, complex and flavorful with fresh peach, lemon, orange peel, white flowers and minerality. As it warms in the glass you can tastes the ripeness of the grapes.

As you reach for that bottle of Prosecco this holiday season, look for the ones labeled DOCG.  - Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Disaster Relief - Are We Prepared?

After spending a week in the Napa and Sonoma after the fires I occurred to me what kind of emergency management processes does your town have in effect. What can we learn from what happened in the wine country fires.

The fires happened so fast and changed instantly when the wind shifted many people didn’t have time to gather belongings, they had to run for their lives. It was difficult to get information due to power being out, internet down. Natural disaster is not just the fires that happened in California, there are the floods in Texas after the hurricane. Natural disasters happen in many forms; fires, tornado, earthquake, floods, blizzard,hurricanes…is your town or region ready?

During the Wine Bloggers Conference I sat in on a discussion about the role bloggers and citizens played in the fire to warn people what roads were open and closed, how to escape from an area where the fire was heading, where the fire was heading. This made me think is my town ready for a disaster? And what can we learn from this tragic event.

Some key items to think about that happened during the fires:
 1. When an event happens in the middle of the night, how to alert people. I heard stories of cats waking their owners to the smell of smoke.
 2. People like you and I have smartphones we get alerts on, what about the elderly who don’t have smartphones, perhaps a flip phone or no cell phone. With the electric out, how can they receive information.
 3. What happens when the cable and electric go out 4. What happens when the cell phone towers are compromised.

These are all questions that came up. I remember reading my facebook feed and sharing the information because I have friends in that area and didn't know if they knew. Social media played a huge role in alerting people what was going on.

Don't dismiss local social media influencers. These people are front and center and disbursing the information because they care and are trusted. During the fire, not only were they disbursing information, they were finding people and relaying the info via social media back to their loved ones that grandma was okay. These aren't people the influencers knew, but people who saw their posts on the fire, and realized this way was the only way they were going to get information about what was really going on in the region.

Another item everyone should do is sign up at Nixle. This is a public safety service that will keep you informed and up-to-date with safety information in your area.  Either sign up on the website or text your zipcode to 888777 to opt-in.

My question to you is 'Does your town or county have an emergency management plan?' If they do, does it cover these situations?