Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Memorial Day Graduation Party Wines

Memorial Day - the weekend we all wait for in the winter as it signals the beginning of the summer season. This Memorial Day will be a busy one.  My daughter graduated from college with her MBA in Hospitality and we are throwing a party at the beach house. (Pic above is last years Bachelor's ceremony. She didn't want to walk again and truthfully, I didn't want to sit through it) Along with that my California friends are coming to town, which is a change as I’m always heading out west.

 Now the dilemma is what to serve and what to drink and pray for good weather! This is a celebration so we will have to begin with some bubbles! This does take some preparation since I don’t want to spend all the time cooking, I want to enjoy myself.  After all, Melanie might of received her MBA but I footed the bill for it.

At the time of writing this, the menu will consist of flank steak that is in the freezer marinading in a homemade teriyaki sauce. Last week we smoked a bunch of ribs and pulled pork and froze it. The chef next door suggested monk fish so he cleaned it for me, marinaded it for a few hours and skewered it for the freezer. There’s some shrimp in there too.  No all I have to do is worry about the sides the day of and the wine.

Wine menu:

Grower Champagne - this is Champagne produced in the Champagne region of France but usually a bit less expensive than Champagne from the well known brands. Grower Champagne is produced by the vineyards that are owned from the producer. Over 88% of Champagne is negociant meaning the wines are made from grapes purchased from many different growers throughout the region. Think of purchasing Grower Champagne as buying local from the little guy.

I have these two Grower Champagne in my cellar so I think I will be uncorking them.

Les Longues Voyes - Blanc de Noir Premier Cru is produced by 7th generation Aurelien Laherte. It is farmed biodynamically and he has 25 acres of vines spread between 10 villages and 70+ small parcels. The Champagne is 100% Pinot Noir fermented in used Burgudny barrels a minimum of 4 years old. There was no malolactic fermentation. There were 249 cases produced and it retails for $56.

Vieilles Vignes 2008 F. Cossy comes from old vines the family owns dating back to the 1960s. It is a blend of Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay, tank  fermented and spent 8 years on the lees. There were 256 cases produced and it retails for $46

While my California fiends are big bold red wine drinkers, I need to have some white wine and my new favorite white wine is Albarino. After spending 2 months learning about it last year I have come to really enjoy and appreciate it. Albarino is nice and refreshing and will go well with the seafood.  While I don't have any in stock at the time of this writing, I will have to venture out to my wine shop and get some. This wine will satisfy the thirst of most white wine drinkers, especially ones that like Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc.

I am going to have to pull out my reserves for the red and dig deep into my cellar.  Selections from Hall, Goosecross and Chappellet will definitely get uncorked and I’ll see what else I can fine. (Look for pictures on Instagram to see what we drink)

Whatever you are doing this Memorial Day weekend have a good time and drink some good wine!

PS: If you are in the hospitality industry, Melanie is looking for a job

Friday, May 19, 2017

On the Radio with Marie & Ed

I am very lucky to say that sometimes it pays to have dual residency.  I split my time between the Hudson Valley and Cape May, NJ.  I met Marie and Ed at a Slow-Food dinner a few years back and we've been friends since then. When my book got published they asked me if I would be a guest on their radio show.  Of course I said yes.  I'll begin with a little video I did leading up to my guest appearance on the show.  Then you can listen to the show from the link on the bottom.


Tuesday, May 16, 2017

It's not all about Malbec: The Two Cabs or Achaval-Ferrer

When I think if wines from Argentina I automatically think Malbec as probably you do. Today, Argentina produces more than Malbec, like Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, the two Cabs. Last month during our #winestudio session we got introduced to Achaval-Ferrer’s Cabernet Sauvignon and their first release of Cabernet Franc. Now Cabernet Franc has always been in their portfolio, but used in the blending of their Quimera. This is their first stand alone Cabernet Franc.

Once again I want to bring into light that not all Cabs or any wines taste the same, but similar. Yes even though they are the same grape, where it’s grown, the growing season, the soil, the weather all come into play on what you taste and smell. When you taste a Cabernet Franc from Cahors, France; Napa,California and Mendoza, Argentina they will taste similar, but yet different. And it’s that difference that you learn to love about the grape and the region it’s grown in.

Cab Franc is one of my favorite wines and I tend to prefer the cool climate Cab Francs and Argentina falls into the cool climate because of the altitudes the grapes are grown in. This 2015 Achaval-Ferrer Cabernet Franc is grown in the Uco Valley at an altitude of 3,280 feet with 2,600 plants per acre. The Cab Franc comes from a special block in the Finca Diamante vineyard. The soil is sandy-gravelly with some volcanic ash. The wine was fermented in cement tanks with extensive pumping over for better extraction of flavor and color. It then aged for 10 months in 3 year old French oak barrels. The first initial notes coming from the glass were red cherry, tobacco and violets. The palate was full of black raspberry, black cherry,sharp tannins a hint of forest floor and that black pepper on the finish. As the wine opens some chocolate notes appear. This is a great cigar wine. This wine is very well done and a fantastic first vintage for Achaval-Ferrer. When I asked Gustavo Rearte, their winemaker if they plan on planting more Cab Franc he said they want to perfect and understand growing Cabernet Franc at higher elevations so it can benefit the variety. This production will only get better! SRP $24.99

The 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon comes from two appellations in Mendoza, the Agrelo and Medrano.Each of these appellations contribute different attributes to the wine. The Agrelo appellation is at an altitude of 3,608 feet with 2,800 plants per acre. Agrelo is a unique place with clay soil and brings elegance and smoothness to the wine. The Medrano appellation has sandy soil, a bit warmer climate at 2,297 feet altitude. This contributes to the structure and acidity in the wine. Tasting notes, I found aromas of black cherry, coffee, cedar, black currant and a hint of juniper. On the palate Ripe blackberry, plum, black cherry, clove followed by smooth tannins and a nice finish. SRP $24.99

Achaval-Ferrer’s philosophy is to let the flavors and fruit of Argentina shine through and they certainly do with these wine. I would not hesitate choosing any of their wines in the wine shop or at a restaurant.

Food Pairings:

2015 Cabernet Franc - Paired with Chorizo & Polenta Lasagna. Paired very well with the dish.

2015 Cabernet Sauvignon - Paired very well with my grilled flank steak and asparagus. The marinade of the flank steak really brings out the cherry in the wine.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

I Could Have Been In Ribera del Duero with Jose Moro.....

But instead I was stuck in New York City grid lock for 4 hours after having lunch with Jose just to go 2 miles to the Holland Tunnel. Total time to get home was 6.5 hours, and I could have been in Spain in that amount of time!

Lunch and an opportunity to meet with Jose Moro personally and try his portfolio of wines was well worth my time in traffic.

Emilio Moro wines are located in the Ribera del Duero region of Spain. Ribero de Deuro is the highest appellation in Spain with continental influence, long hard winters and hot hot summers. The topography of this region is divided into three areas. Low Plains, Low and High Plateau with different altitude and soil. Low plains are at 700 meters, low plateau at 800 meters, high plateau at 1000 meters. Each has different soil that brings different characteristics to the wine.

Chalk Soil - brings finesse and elegance to the wine
Clay soil - brings structure and color to the wine
Stony soil - brings more maturity and sweetness to the wine.

Some Moro wine history. Jose’s grandfather started the winery and taught his father how to farm the land. His father passed that knowledge on how to love the wine to the third generation who is now passing it to the fourth generation. Jose worked in the vineyard since he was a child and the love of the land and knowledge shows. Jose says that was the best form of education. Today the 4th generation is working at the winery with his 24 year old nephew Alberto in charge of the American market.

“If you don’t take care of the vineyard, you can’t produce quality wine” ~ Jose Moro

Emilio Moro takes great pride in the Tino Fino and Tempranillo they produce. All the Tinto Fino is grafted onto the rootstock in all their vineyards with a specific clone used by his grandfather. There are 250 acres with this specific clone that produces smaller fruit with clusters that are looser, producing a harvest of grapes with more concentration on flavor and more structure.. The philosophies with the two grapes are totally different.

Tradition is very important, they feel that tradition guarantees the quality of the wine. With tradition comes innovation. That is why they work with 5 different universities to learn more about the tradition and knowledge of the grape clone and selection of native yeasts. To understand the relationship of the terroir.

They also believe in giving back, a social responsibility and created the Emilio Moro Foundation in 2008. “The Wine Help Water” provides and distributes safe water resources to the people with the most needs. They also work with providing education to young people on the risk of social exclusion. Allowing them to develop their skills and knowledge to access the working market. This foundation helps worldwide.

"Tradition, Innovation and Social Responsibility" ~ Jose Moro

At lunch we tasted 5 delicious wines. I didn’t have a favorite as they all were very well crafted and had their own special identity.

2016 Finca Resalso Tempranillo, Ribera del Duero - Very fruity and fruit forward. Hints of clove with a spice of pepper on the finish. The grapes for this wine comes from their youngest vines between 5 and 12 years old. SRP $12

2015 Emilio Moro Tinot Fino, Ribera del Duero - Jose said this was the best vintage ever! Nice fresh young wine. SRP $23

2014 Malleolus Tinto Fino, Ribera del Duero - Rich and dark in color. A mature wine with lots of dark fruit, black raspberry, black cherry, earthy notes, cocoa, well balanced with nice intergration of of oak. SRP $40

2011 Malleolus Tinto Fino, Ribera del Duero - This wine was very complex.It just kept giving. The vines are 25-75 years old. This comes from two vineyards one with clay soil and one with stony soil. You can taste the minerality of soil. Notes of balsamic on the aroma with dark fruit. Lots of black fruit, black currant, black cherry, red cherry. Very nice and soft mouth feel. SRP $160

2011 Malleolus de Valderramiro Tinot Fino, Ribera del Duero - The grapes from this come from 15 year old vines. Spicy aromas, with earthy notes, black fruit, white pepper coffee and a nice rounded finish. This wine has aging potential. SRP $140.

Friday, May 5, 2017

I want to thank everyone who came out for my book launch this past weekend.  You all made it a success! Thank you Lydia at Dutch's Spirits for hosting the event.

 I am so lucky to have wonderful friends and family.  My daughter took a break from studying for finals and drove in from Rhode Island and my son drove in from Philadelphia just for the event.  Not to mention many of my longtime friends that came by.  Eileen my freshman year college roommate who originally is from Rochester and now lives in the Hudson Valley. My friend Dawn who I've known from the age of 10  and we got our first apartment together after we got our first jobs. My wine night ladies (they might of only come for the wine and spirits..just kidding). The people I grew up with Cathy and Demetria, the Merrywood girls. Everyone else that attended.  It couldn't of been a success with all of you.


 People ask is it easy to write a book.  If you have a passion and knowledge no. It does take time and honestly I didn't think it would take all the time it did. It took 6 months from the time I began to the time I finished. Read up on self publishing and listen to webinars. My one suggestion is to find a good editor. The person I found was okay.  Proofread and proofread and have friends and family proofread. Even with all that proofreading there are still going to be errors. The brain knows that dick is suppose to be duck and when you see it, you will read it as duck breast when it really in print says dick breast. When you hit publish, you get all nervous and excited. The real deal is when the UPS man delivers those books and he realizes the books he is delivering you wrote.

Thank you all for your ongoing love and support! Without it I wouldn't have been able to write this book.  What's next?  I'm not sure, but I do have some new wine regions to learn about and taste. Make sure you tune in and learn with me.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

The Indigenous Grapes of Anatolia

You are probably wondering, where is Anatolia? Anatolia is referred to as the western part of Asian. We know it as modern day Turkey. It is said that Anatolia is the birthplace of wine.

There are approximately 1200 varieties of grapes that are indigenous to the region. The two I am going to talk about today are Narince pronounced Nah-rin-djeh which is a white wine grape from the Tokat province in the Black Sea wine growing region and Kalecik Karasi pronounced Kah-le-djic-car-ah-ser a red wine grape originating in the town of Kalecik in Central Anatolia.

The producer of these two wines is Vinkara Winery, founded in 2003 by  Ardic Gursel a pioneer of the indigenous grapes of Turkey.  Their 200 acres of vines is located outside the village of Kalecik,320 miles from Istanbul.

2013 Narince Reserve comes is grown in a vineyard with an altitude over 2,000 feet surrounded by the Kizilirmak River and mountains.  The wine sits on the lees in neutral French oak barrels for 14 months. The wine is aged in the bottle for 6 months before it is released. It is straw yellowish gold in color. On the nose you can smell the minerality with white flowers, asian pear and citrus aromas. It’s a nice balanced dry white wine with notes of tangerine, a hint of caramel with a spicy finish. I served this with some flounder sauteed in the wine over greens.

2012 Kalecik Karasi Reserve comes from a vineyard located in the same area as the Narince. Grapes are picked by hand. Cold pre-fermentation maceration and controlled temperature fermentation with the skins takes place in stainless steel tanks. Kalecik Karası Reserve spends 14 months of aging in new French-oak barrels and an additional six months in the bottle. Nice garnet in color with aromas of raspberries, strawberries and a touch of the earthy soil notes escape from the glass. The palate was light with flavors of raspberry, black and red cherry. Smooth and fruit forward with soft tannins.  This wine I served Easter Sunday with Lamb.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Live on the Mark Bolger Show - Book Launch Weekend

If you missed me on the Mark Bolger Show Friday, here is the interview.

Thank you Mark for having me on your show!